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!

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

Axle Digital Announces Launch of Grand Central Commerce Platform for Multi-Channel and Social Commerce | Virtual-Strategy Magazine

Axle Digital Announces Launch of Grand Central Commerce Platform for Multi-Channel and Social Commerce | Virtual-Strategy Magazine.

This is an interesting develop … the continuing integration of social media into the marketing mix, especially, the marketing automation mix.  This is especially worth reviewing, if your target demographic is on the younger side … < 30.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Filed under: multichannel commerce, , , , ,

How to use Social Media as a Customer Service Tool

This headline is taken from a post you can find here.

The younger your customer base, the more important it is that you pursue this strategy.  Granted, it’s not exclusively relevant to younger customers.

In additional to the Social Media, you should also add SMS capability to your customer service arsenal (if I can use that term).  I’m sure you’ve noticed how many younger people use the phone less for talking than for texting.

That’s a trend you should not fight … instead, go with it.

While I don’t think you can avoid using social media for customer service — over the long term — I’d also push people towards texting, if you can.  After all, texting is at least private, by default.

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

After all is said and done, it’s still about what you sell

I’m a fan of Kevin Hillstrom’s blog:  MineThatData.  He posted yesterday about the impact of social media on sales, profits and stock prices, and specifically compared HP, Dell and Apple.  The post was entitled, Dell, HP and Apple:  It’s the Merchandise.

In summary,

  • HP has lackluster products, declining sales, declining stock price and no social media presence.
  • Dell has a spectacular social media presence, uninspiring products, pretty flat sales, and less dramatic, but still declining stock price.
  • Apple has products that continue in high demand, growing sales, skyrocketing stock price (even though it’s down over the very short term), and absolutely no social media presence.

Hillstrom concludes that superior products that customers demand still does more to drive business success than most marketing, and certainly more than social media.

Another relevant consideration to keep in mind, as you budget and strategize about your marketing efforts.

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

The Inconvenient Truth about SEO

I like this title, in part because of the parody of Gore’s book on the environment.  But this article is a revelation about SEO, warrants your reading and review … here’s a link to the article in Smashing Magazine.

Paul Boag waxes eloquently about what SEO is truly about, and why you don’t need a consultant to optimize your web site for SEO.  You just need the discipline to develop content about your business.  And if you don’t know more about your business than some consultant, then shame on you.

Boag’s also makes the case which I began in an earlier post on this blog … that social media is really about your own publishing business.  You have to develop and editorial plan of action for posting new content daily, weekly monthly … whatever frequency is warranted by your business.  Start slow and build, because it may be a new skill set.  You may even need to hire someone specifically for this task, as Boag suggests.

Content marketing or management is mostly about content development.  Without development, there is nothing to manage, and no marketing.

 

Filed under: 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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Ground Rules for Content Marketing

Useful reading about Content Marketing by Ann Handley at Marketingprofs.com.  These rules also apply to Social Media Marketing.

Filed under: Ideas, , , ,

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, , , , , , ,

Getting the proper point-of-view regarding Social Media

I’ve grown a little weary of all the people who claim to have a solution for how to make money with Social Media.

The problem, it seems to me, is figuring out how to view the role of social media.

I recall shortly after the internet began getting attention for retail purposes, some young consultants from IBM presented at a trade show to reveal the great insights they had gained into consumer behavior by aggregating internet sales data by region.  At the time, nearly everyone I spoke with in the direct marketing industry reacted to their presentation with a “ho hum.”  No big news.

Earlier, the company I was with got a promotion contract with Glaxo Wellcome to promote a “bulletin board system” to doctors.  We got the contract because we admitted that no one really had any experience in how to do this type of promotion.  Of course, we found out the BBS had to be promoted just like anything else.

So what is new about Social Media?  And what is the paradigm for getting the most out of it?

I have a hypothesis to answer both of these questions:

  • Think of social media as your own private media outlet.  You control all of the content.  You control all of the ads.  You are the editor, publisher and advertiser.

If this view is correct, then Social Media should fit into your media planning just like any other media channel.  For example, timing of content on Facebook should coincide with other promotions you’re running elsewhere.  Coupons on Twitter are “calls for action” which should follow the content … after all you have to get the message out, before you ask for the order.

If this view is correct, getting followers on Twitter or “likes” on Facebook are the equivalent of getting subscribers to a magazine or viewers on a television program.  Of course, the most significances of these followers or likers is that they are just yours.  There is no intermediary to filter what you say to them or when you say.  And that’s a big plus.

 

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

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