Direct-to-Customer Commerce

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Strategic insights into the direct commerce industry, including ecommerce, direct marketing and related fields

Online Catalogs v Paper Catalogs

Today, DM News reported on the 2006 edition of the National Directory of Catalogs:

  • 11,438 catalogs
  • 8,903 catalogs were online — representing 78% of all catalogs. That’s up from 60% in 2005
  • 1,320 catalogs were available only online — up from 772 in 2005

Why be online only instead of online & paper?

I recommend being online only, if the demand for your merchandise is based only on real perceived need of your customers, and the timing of that need is unpredictable.

For example, the cost of producing a paper catalog of replacement parts, for consumers is very difficult to recover. There are exceptions — but those exceptions tend to be parts for modifications rather than parts for simple replacement due to wear and tear.

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Filed under: Direct Commerce, Uncategorized

Just because you have someone’s email address …

… doesn’t mean they’re a prospective buyer at your web store. What you want to know is they are part of your target market or they’ve specifically expressed some interest in your merchandise, services or offers. If they’ve shown their interest, then you definitely include them in your promotional mailings. If they’ve not expressed any interest or are not clearly part of your target market, then you’re wasting time trying to sell them. This fact is what makes “permission-based email marketing” effective — because people have said they’re interested in hearing from you. This is the most fundamental concept behind “targetted marketing.” 3-20-2006

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Uncategorized

Learning the basics of direct marketing

I’m pleased to see a growing emphasis on ecommerce practioners to learn the basic techniques and strategies of direct marketing. Denny Hatch, in his Business Common Sense newsletter, has recently noted that the Goodmail/AOL delivery fee will lead to improved segmentation, improved creative and better economic analysis. ExactTarget not only reported on Open and Click Thru rates, which is displayed below under “Links to check out,” but also noted that open rates decline as list size increases — which further highlights the need for better targeting and segmentation in email marketing. This is not news to anyone with a history in direct marketing. 3-15-2006

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Uncategorized

What are you measuring?

An article on April 5, 2006 in the electronic newsletter Chief Marketer reported on the difficulty marketing executives have in measuring their achievement of the objectives set for them by senior management. This results, in large part, from the influx of non-direct marketing executives into the direct-to-customer industry. The traditional marketing strategist relies on macro-measures, which are often uncontrollable and even un-influencable. While direct marketers rely on measures of actual marketing results. Knowing your “market share” may be interesting, but knowing that you’re adding new customers, keeping previous customers, increasing average purchase frequency, or average purchase amount is more useful and more important. 4-7-2006

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Uncategorized

Missing the point about customer service

MSNBC published an article last week, entitled, “Biggest Customer Service Blunders of All Time.” The writer, Paul Levesque, cites five blunders and they’re pretty good points. The theme of these five blunders is that companies approach customer service as something they do after the fact — which is often true. But the solution to providing good customer service is not what you do after the customer contacts you, good customer service is what you do before the customer realizes something has gone wrong. Think through the implications of that!! 4-10-2006

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Uncategorized

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