Live From NEMOA: Make Web technology work for you

Want to create more intense 1-to-1 relationships with your customers? Start taking advantage of the broadband and rich media technology now available. That’s the advice of Joe Cha, vice president of strategy services for Sunnyvale, CA-based Internet services giant Yahoo! Cha addressed a standing-room only crowd during the opening general session at the New England Mail Order Association’s (NEMOA) fall conference, held Sept. 25-27 in Portsmouth, NH.

Citing figures from market researcher MRI, Cha noted that by 2005, Internet usage will grow to 977 million people, up from about 522 users today. Cha estimated that 15-26 million people already use broadband technology such as cable DSL and T-1 lines, and those numbers are increasing rapidly.

So what does that mean for direct marketers? “You will be able to do more,” Cha said. “You will be able to interact with your customers through streaming audio and streaming video, and when you combine exclusive merchandise with a powerful customer service element, you start to reach your customers in a meaningful way online.”

Catalogers that pair their marketing expertise and merchandising savvy with online technology innovation will have an advantage over others. While he noted that many marketers are already doing this, Cha encouraged the NEMOA audience to break down the walls dividing marketing with technology. “Think of it as marketing with technology rather marketing vs. technology,” he said

Marketers also need to remember that “customers are being deluged with more information today than ever. They are smarter and well-informed so there’s a lot more competition out there.” For that reason, Cha is a big proponent of permission-based marketing, which he contended always works better than spam. “So be respectful get their permission first.”

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