Direct-to-Customer Commerce

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

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, , , ,

When Customer Service is Marketing

This is the title of a post by Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief, Direct Marketing News.  You can read it here.

She writes about the proactive messaging from several companies in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy hitting NJ & NY.  I agree with her point, as far as she goes.  But she doesn’t go far enough.

Customer Service is always marketing.

Every time you have an interaction with a customer, a transaction with a customer, it’s marketing.  The customer is testing whether she/he can trust you enough to do business with you.  It’s hard to gain that trust and easier than it should be to lose it.

If you don’t see Customer Service as Marketing … you’re missing an important factor and may be losing a lot of customers.  Although, if it’s any consolation, there are too many businesses in that same boat.

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

E-Commerce and Retail

Kevin Hillstrom: MineThatData: Multichannel Wednesday: E-Commerce and Retail.

The link above takes you to an outstanding set of observations about how multi-channel customers behave in the various channels, and how you should adjust your marketing communications based upon the acquisition channel.

Great insights that are worth your attention

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

Survey Says …

Customer service is tops at retaining customers …


Here’s a headline in Internet Retailer, I love to see, because I’ve been “preaching” this forever.  Most of the people who buy via direct commerce channels (web, phone, mail) are more concerned about convenience and customer service than about price.


Price and breadth of merchandise selection are now table stacks or irrelevant.


After all, it’s so easy to find a specific product at a price I’m willing to pay, that breadth of selection is not inherently a strategic advantage — especially when attracting new customers.


And as far as price goes — follow me on this:


Have you ever used one of the comparison price engines?  You can find 20 web sites, all selling the exact product you want to buy.  And you can site at your computer and see all their prices simultaneously.  Do you always pick the lowest price?


I know I don’t.  I first look for a familiar name.  And if I don’t see one, I look for customer ratings (not completely reliable, but at least a good indicator).


I steadfast avoid companies who don’t accept returns (unless I know it’s something I’ll keep).


You see, my concern is about my convenience.  I don’t want to get stuck with something that disappoints.  I want a company I can trust to treat me reasonably, if not unreasonably well.


Even in good times, Customer Service is the best way to keep the best and the most customers.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Opinion, , , ,

Proving the Obvious

Now, I don’t want you to take this post the wrong way.  I do believe in research.  And even when we know something to be “generally” true, research and provide important granular information.

Yesterday in the electronic version of Direct, there is an article with the headline:

Poor Returns Service May Affect Future Shopping: Study 

You can click the headline to read the entire story.  And it’s good information.

What gets me is the headline!  Poor returns service may affect future shopping?

Of course, it does.  This headline shows some of the disconnect between marketing and operations.  Most customers care as much about service as they do about price and quality of the product.  And this is especially true in all direct marketing channels.

If your customers don’t trust that you will treat them right after you buy, they are less likely to buy from you.  If they’ve never bought from you before, their first purchase is a kind of test to find out if you’re trustworthy.  That explains why a customer’s second purchase from you is so important — it proves you’ve earned their trust.

Filling an order correctly, promptly, and treating a customer well if they’re not happy with the product is equally important to earning and keeping a customer.  And customer retention is the key to success.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Opinion, , ,

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