Direct-to-Customer Commerce

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

Insights on Email Marketing

I don’t know anyone who does not feel like they get too much email.  So, if that’s true, how does it effect what you do in your email marketing.

I think it emphasizes three things:

  1. If and when possible, tie your emails to something happening in the news and put the link in the subject line.
  2. There should be a reason why your Call to Action is important right now.  Otherwise you email is just another of the hundreds of emails I get every day.
  3. If you cannot leverage one of the first two points, then inundate your customers, donors or prospects with your offer, repeatedly over some period of time — because all you can hope for is opportunistic matches between what your offering and your customers’ needs.

Just a little food for thought.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas,

Eight email failures … Seth Godin

Seth is a great observer and writer and he hit the nail again with this post:

Eight email failures (and questions for those that want to do better)

It’s not so much based upon any decisive research … but rather just a lot of common sense.  I think one of the burdens carried by the new generation of marketers, is the ease of using short cuts to the execution of marketing programs, and often the associated low cost of most digital-based messaging.

This short cut has allowed many marketers to be less discriminating about what works with whom and boasting about remarkable ROI’s because of the low cost.

Seth’s insights are worth examining … and marketing management should consider the impact of excessive digital marketing on the customer experience / satisfaction / annoyance.

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

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, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Keeping Email Marketing in Proper Perspective

Kevin Hillstrom writes today on: Within E-Commerce, Email Marketing is Not Dead.  Using very simple and clear data, he demonstrates the continuing role of email marketing in maintaining customer buying habits.  He also highlights that this same data does not support using email marketing for customer acquisition.

Boy, now that’s a lesson I wish a lot of merchants would learn.

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

What’s the line between email marketing and building store traffic?

Kevin Hillstrom proposes an answer to this question in his blog: Mine That Data, in a post entitled Store Distance and Email Marketing.  check it out and tell me what you think.

Kevin hypothesizes that the line relates to the distance someone is from your store.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, Opinion, , , ,

Kevin Hillstrom: MineThatData – A/B Testing: Here’s An Example

Kevin Hillstrom: MineThatData – A/B Testing: Here’s An Example.

In the article linked above, Kevin makes a great point — some sales happen without marketing.

Do you know what that percentage is for your business?  Kevin outlines a testing strategy to find out.

It’s worth looking into.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, , , ,

e-marketing verses p-marketing?

That’s short for electronic marketing verses paper marketing.

I’m raising the question of what is the balance between electronic marketing (in the form of email, etc) and paper-based marketing (in the form of direct mail or catalogs.

As a rule of thumb, I sense a general agreement that response rates from electronic marketing is about 10 percent of similar paper-based marketing efforts.  Obviously some do better; some worse.  Comparisons are difficult.  Because the market segmentation is less strictly enforced for e-marketing efforts — since cost is so minimal, compared to the cost of p-marketing.  Therein lies one of the more significant issues.

When the focus is on acquisition, any new customer is valuable.  So the low cost and similarly low response rates seem to be a non-issue.  However, when attrition rates are considered, part of your strategy must be to maintain and grow the size of the current customer file.  Can you rely on e-marketing efforts alone to meet your customer acquisition goals?  It’s certainly more difficult.

When the focus is on customer files, finding this balance becomes very important, because customer marketing is generally the source for the most profitable sales revenue.  And if response rates for e-marketing are 10 percent of p-marketing, profitability of e-marketing efforts must be about 10 times higher than p-marketing, to maintain profit goals — as sales revenue declines.

How likely is that?

Certainly possible — but not always a likely outcome.

In my view, this calls for more of a balance between these two marketing strategies that I generally see in the marketplace.

Personal anecdote — when I get a paper catalog, I routinely drop it on the reading table where I watch TV.  Then often, while watching/listening to the news (or some other equally mind-numbing program), I flip thru the catalogs.  I never know when something will catch my eye — something I can no longer live without.

I can’t do the same thing with e-marketing — at least not yet.  Maybe when I get an iPad, that will change.  But Apple has only sold a couple of million iPads, so market penetration of iPads is still small.

Several years ago, we heard catalogers talk about the “shelf life” of their catalogs.  That is, how long did a customer let the catalog sit around before they trashed it.  A few days ago I noticed one blogger write about the “half-life” of a marketing promotion.  Both terms get after the same point.

Back to business:

e-marketing seems to require a bulls-eye shot to produce revenue.  While a paper catalog or other p-marketing efforts have the potential for a much longer shelf-life.

We need more balance.  I think it will produce more loyal customers, more revenue, more profits.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, Opinion, , , , , , ,

Kevin Hillstrom: MineThatData: 16 Multichannel Marketing Myths

Kevin Hillstrom: MineThatData: 16 Multichannel Marketing Myths.

This is a great post, which you should read in detail.  I picked it up from a consultant friend, Ernie Shell, who blogs at Direct Commerce Systems.  Kevin’s post, in effect, reminds me of how much the direct commerce trade press struggles to report real information, rather than the self-interested sales pitches of companies who will benefit from promoting their view of what builds sales via the direct channels.

Read and learn from Kevin’s post.  It’s great stuff.

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

Are electronic catalogs an alternative to paper catalogs?

Well, frankly, I don’t know the answer to that.  But as an avid direct marketing buyer, I know I’d rather get an electronic catalog than the collection of paper catalogs I get.  And it’s not because I’m trying to save the trees.  The trees (in reality) don’t need saving.  There are more trees in North America today than there were in 1776.

Web sites are for buying.

Catalogs are for shopping.

I’ve migrated from paper trade magazines to almost all digital trade magazines.  Why not catalogs as well?

Add functionality that let’s me click on any item in the e-catalog to add it to the order form.  Or, add it to my wish list.  Or add it to my gift list.

Like most Lands End buyers, for a long time, I got a catalog every week.  Now, I get an email every day and a catalog only once per quarter or so.  I don’t think I’ve bought as much from Lands End as I used to.  I like to browse thru catalogs — I find things I had not previously thought of buying.  Sure when I need a new pair of jeans, I go to Lands End and buy them.  But there is more that I might buy, if I ran across them in a catalog.

Do you ever wonder if the staff at the largest direct marketing companies are direct marketing buyers?  I kind of doubt it because I feel like they miss what it’s like to be a customer.  And that’s why we don’t have very many electronic catalogs yet.

Maybe soon.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, Opinion, , , , ,

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