Direct-to-Customer Commerce

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

Low Cost Digital Marketing leads to Lazy Marketing

Digital Marketing … especially, email and social media … is leading to marketing the easy way.

Marketers are just buying keywords, or blasting emails to everyone on every promotion, disregarding whether any part of the target market is already a customer.

I’ve bought vitamins from the same company for over ten years.  They send them every 60 days.  Once or twice a year, I start seeing Ads by Google for this company, everywhere I go.  Why?

Lazy marketing.

There are two broad categories of lists:  compiled lists and response lists.  In the digital world, we haven’t figured out how to “purge” our existing customers from email campaigns or PPC campaigns, because we perceive that the cost to purge them exceeds the cost of including them.

But, we’re ignoring the cost of irritating our customer base.  Denny Hatch, writes in Target Marketing, this month about getting a promotion from Amazon for two books he’s already bought from them.  How long before Denny just marks Amazon promotional emails as “Spam” and never looks at them?

There is a sense in which the Golden Rule applies to marketing as well.  Your customers are likely annoyed by the same things you’re annoyed by … pay attention out there!

Filed under: Ideas, Opinion, , , , , , , , , , , ,

The eighth step to multichannel commerce

Step 8 is marketing & promotion.

What a can of worms that is … or at least can be!  And obviously, in a single post, I’m not going to cover this topic.  This is a topic of unending variables.

I really only want to make a few points.  First recognize the difference between the channel or medium and the activity.  You can advertise by mail, market by mail and promote by mail.  Mail is a medium of communications.  Advertising, marketing and promoting are the activities.

Multichannel commerce, it seems clear, by definition refers to conducting commerce (which means generating sales) thru multiple channels.  So, I’m not taking about advertising, which is just sending a message.  I’m thinking about making an offer to a customer or prospective customer to conclude a transaction with me.

We have more channels than ever, for commerce:

  • brick and mortar stores (fact-to-face)
  • paper mail (flyers, postcards, letter packages, catalogs)
  • electronic mail
  • social media
  • web store
  • smart phone app
  • tablet app
  • telephone
  • direct response broadcast (radio, television)

… and I’m probably leaving something out.

So, in the ideal world, your marketing & promotion efforts will generate commerce transactions with your customers.  And it should be your customers choice to use any particular channel.  Your offers, products, promotions should all be visible to your customers across all channels.  And that takes no small effort.

Here’s the next important point:  If you can’t measure it, consider not doing it.  The beauty of direct marketing, direct commerce, whatever you choose to call it, is that it’s measurable.  And with technology you can almost measure everything.  But not everything is worth measuring.  But if you’re not measuring anything, you’re wasting a lot of time and money.  And if you’re measuring so much you can’t comprehend the data or analyze the data, you’re still wasting a lot of time and money.

So, be deliberate about what you measure.  The most basic and most useful things to measure are:

  • customers who got an offer
  • customers who bought
  • how much they bought
  • how many they bought
  • what it cost to make the offer
  • what it cost to fulfill the offer

You’ll know a lot, if you keep these six data points for every channel and every promotion.

Think about this … it’s a lot to think about.

Filed under: Ideas, multichannel commerce, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The fifth step to multichannel commerce

Step five is building a content management system … a nice overview of CMS appears in Wikipedia — click here.

The principle idea behind CMS is to both capture all the content you develop about your company, your products, your services, your people, etc.  And make it available, in a consistent way, for use in any media.

Of course, the most common use is on web sites and in emails.  But it can also be used in the social media … and should be.  Because at its essence, social media is a private publishing solution, which enables you to build your own subscriber base, present your own content, and advertise your own company.

Thus, content becomes a significant asset, which should be created, maintained and leveraged as much as possible.  A CMS enables these functions.

When you consider how difficult it can be to create good content for your company, and the increasing opportunities to leverage that effort across multiple media for multiple purposes, the obvious value of content management simply explodes.

Filed under: Ideas, multichannel commerce, Opinion, , , , , , ,

The State of Social Marketing — a report

Awareness Social Media Software has just released a set of three white papers under the heading of The State of Social Marketing.  You can register and download the reports at their web site.

Of course, the purpose of the reports is to promote their Social Marketing Hub, an integrated solution for social media marketing management.  I’ll leave you to evaluate that.

However, these reports are pretty interesting reading.  And informative.  They’re worth a look.

Overall, the reports tell me that social marketers still have not figured out what this is about.  There seems to be a tendency to measure things that are relevant to social media, but not relevant to increasing sales.  One of the reports, entitled “New ROI Framework” presents some real world formulae for calculating meaningful measurements of social media.  Very useful.

I continue to believe that too many businesses engaged in social media don’t know why there are there … they just believe they need to be there.  Which is probably true, but without a rationale and strategy — a point-of-view — a business can spend a lot of money without knowing the value.

I continue to believe social media should be viewed as private publishing — subscribers, content/editorial, advertising — it’s all under your own control.

Developing content may be the most difficult for a business to get their hands around.  But just as in any publishing business, content is the reason for the channel’s existence — from a business’ point of view.

Filed under: Ideas, Opinion, , , , , , ,

Are you using Social Media for Customer Relationships

If you’re not, you probably should be.  When your customers mention you in Twitter, on Facebook, or in any other social media, they are giving you feedback — good or bad — and it’s your chance to interact with them.

Don’t let these opportunities go by.  And don’t let social media only be the domain of the marketing staff.  Because social media are not just for distributing promotion codes or advertising messages.  Social media are for venting.  For praising.  For bashing.  For ….

Social media are your chance to demonstrate you are listening, paying attention, and willing to do something.

New tools are coming out regularly … they are very affordable for most companies.  You should monitor the social media with the same discipline and focus as you give your phone calls and emails.  Well, maybe more focus, because a lot of companies try to avoid answering the phone and take forever to answer emails!

Filed under: Ideas, Opinion, , , , , , ,

Acquisition Spending, Direct Mail on the Rise: Winterberry Report

Acquisition Spending, Direct Mail on the Rise: Winterberry Report.

Interesting market analysis and forecast for 2011 by Bruce Biegel, managing director of Winterberry Group, interviewed in Chief Marketer.

In general, direct and digital marketing are not the dominant advertising channels, as compared to traditional media.  Paper-based direct mail is making a little comeback, expected to rise 5.8% in 2011.

Worth reading the whole piece.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, News, Opinion, , , , , ,

Shipping Options for Residential Deliveries

UPS and FedEx are providing new options for residential deliveries.  Here’s the complete story in Multichannel Merchant.

The real news here is that UPS is offering it’s “Basic” service to a broader range of shippers, with much lower volumes.  Up until recently, UPS only offered this service to very large volume shippers, and as they usually do, offered only to clients who also had large volumes of commercial shipments as well.

This simply reinforces the conclusion that there is continuing pressure to find lower cost shipping solutions, especially in the face of increasing rates.  And, the USPS remains the lowest cost solution for “the last mile.”

For some time, it’s been the conventional wisdom that the USPS’ most profitable segment was parcel delivery, but the USPS does not seem to have been able to fully leverage that fact in their own marketing.  Thus, the recent USPS campaign around Priority Mail flat rate shipping.  Which is probably the most sensible advertising campaign the USPS has ever executed — good for them.

Good low cost shipping options remain an important component of direct commerce strategies — driven largely by the near universal attractiveness of free shipping offers.

Filed under: News, Opinion, , , , , , ,

Direct Mail Fades As Mass-Marketing Channel: Winterberry

This is a headline in Direct, here’s a link to the entire article.

I pretty seriously disagree with the implications of the headline.  The jist of the article highlights how the total direct mail volume is declining — which has nothing to do with the headline.  There are fewer advertisers on TV these days — fewer on radio — fewer in newspapers.

The decline in advertising activity relates to the general decline in the economy, and has little to do with the impact of the medium itself.

While general TV advertising is down, direct response television is increasing pretty dramatically.

What is changing is the economics of the marketplace.  Companies who have not been managing themselves well are fading or disappearing.

On top of that, if anyone sees direct mail as a “mass marketing” channel, they probably should not have been using the medium in the first place.  Every competent direct mail person I’ve every known would have loved to eliminate every non-responsive name they could.

Jacking up mail volume, just to get big numbers is always a losing proposition.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, News, , ,

Prime Time Direct Response Ads

Here’s one of the headlines in today’s Washington Post Newspaper:

New Prime-Time Ads Act Now

The article relates the plight of local TV stations where their rates for prime time advertising have dropped, in some cases as much as 75%, and there are still a lot of availability.

As the article points out, this is translating into a dramatic increase in direct response television advertising, because the spots are available and cheap.  So, DRTV merchants can afford the spots and can make money with them.

We need to watch to see if how long this trend lasts.  Certainly, it should last until the economy recovers enough for traditional advertisers to reclaim their budgets.  But it could also have the same type of impact that the internet had on print advertising.

The internet taught mainline advertisers that there was a way to measure their print advertising directly, rather than just thru “gross rating points” or “gross impressions.”  This may do the same for television  advertising — we’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, we may see a boom in DRTV advertising while the economy remains in the doldrums.

What fascinating times we live in!!

Filed under: Direct Commerce, News, , , ,

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