Twelve Tactics for Mailing Web Buyers

Web buyers are different from traditional mail order buyers. What legendary entrepreneur Ray Kroc said about McDonald’s customers applies to online buyers as well: They are here, they are hungry, and they are in a hurry.

Web buyers are direct mail buyers. They buy direct, without touching the product or going into your store. For the most part, however, they come to you without source codes, so they are hard to measure. Nonetheless, you can profitably mail catalogs and other types of direct mail to online buyers. Here are 12 tactics you can use to convert Web buyers into multichannel shoppers:

  1. Segment RFM (recency/frequency/monetary value) into RFMC (recency/frequency/monetary value/channel). Then change your contact frequency for pure Web buyers: Mail them less frequently but send them more e-mails.
  2. Segment 1x “tryers” from 2x+ “buyers.” One-time Web buyers may be a huge profit drain.
  3. Segment low-ticket Web buyers. If your lowest dollar segmentation is now $0-$50, divide that into $0-$25 and $26-$50, then measure those low-ticket orders. Low-ticket Web orders are another profit drain.
  4. If you’re a business-to-consumer merchant, suppress holiday Web buyers during the nonholiday season.
  5. Keep in mind that Web buyers shop for the holidays later and later each year. Cyber Monday—the online equivalent of Black Friday–is the Monday after Thanksgiving, so don’t expect to drive it with a October in-home date mailing. Schedule postal mailings to your Web buyers to arrive the week of Thanksgiving. Sned them e-mail blasts in early December.
  6. Call center peak demand is Monday and Tuesday. Web peak demand is over the weekend. Staff accordingly.
  7. Web buyers are promotion driven. Give them ink-jet messages with promotional offers. Offer only your online buyers a $3 discount when they reorder on the Web. Web orders are cheaper to service than phone orders. Reward them for ordering on the Web.
  8. Web buyers love the words “clearance,” “overstock,” and “closeout.” Drive them to those landing pages using your catalogs.
  9. Consider mailing fewer catalog pages to Web buyers.
  10. Test-mail a postcard or another mailing piece that’s cheaper than a catalog. Especially with promotions, a postcard with links may be all you need for Web buyers.
  11. Give them lots of reasons inside your catalog or newsletter to visit your Website. Every spread should have a URL. And the more unique landing pages you offer them, the more high-quality Web traffic you’ll get.
  12. Consider different covers and opening spreads to feature best-selling Web products.

Jim Coogan is president of Santa Fe, NM-based Catalog Marketing Economics.

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