Multichannel Mix and Match

For consumer catalogers, a mean 36% of their direct sales come in via the Web, according to MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT’s most recent Benchmark Report on E-Commerce (June 2005 issue; http://multichannelmerchant.com/mag/ecommerce/; for b-to-b merchants, that figure is just shy of 25%. For multichannel companies, the challenge is to market to online customers and prospects accordingly. It’s not enough to drive customers to the Web; you have to retain their business for the years to come.

Below, a few suggestions on how to do just that:

  • Use paid search to drive online shoppers to relevant products on your site. For a shopper, there’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to find a product you need. Online search helps prospects take the guesswork out of where to find products.Bidding on keywords relevant to your product base allows for a more successful search process for the online shopper by linking his needs to your Website and product line.
  • Provide an environment that enhances the shopping experience for prospective customers. Online search listings will only get a prospect to your site. It’s up to you to provide a Website that converts him into a customer. So be sure to link paid search listings directly to the landing page of the product being searched for, rather than to the home page. Also, provide a soft upsell that lets customers know of other items that have been purchased along with the item they are looking at. And it’s very important to provide an internal site search feature that is easy to use.
  • Recognize the channel by which a customer was introduced to your brand. If a customer first came in contact with your company via a search result, chances are he is an avid online shopper and may not be familiar with your print catalog at all. Be sure to first communicate with this customer online, as that was the original method in which he established a relationship with your brand.
  • Mirror your offline marketing efforts in the online channel. Just as you would immediately mail a catalog to a catalog requester to get him to convert, you should send an e-mail right away to e-mail registrants to confirm you received their request. It’s also a good idea to provide an offer in this confirmation that directs them back to your Website to shop now. This will help to quickly convert inquiries into customers. After they receive the confirmation e-mail, they should automatically be put in the pipeline to receive the next e-mail campaign you send out.
  • Market and track segments of your e-mail file separately. As house files grow to substantial numbers, you should start segmenting files and tracking results to maximize revenue. It’s important to track different segments of your e-mail database to determine the best way to market to each. For example, your e-mail registrants should be marketed to differently than your online buyers. E-mail recipients who continue to purchase from you on an ongoing basis may not need as much of an offer as inquiries that are not familiar with your brand. Be sure to test different offers to different segments.
  • Integrate your marketing efforts across all channels. Studies continue to show that multichannel shoppers are spending more with you annually than single-channel buyers. As your customers start to shop from all the channels of your business, be sure to integrate your marketing plans to complement each channel. For example, you may want to send an e-mail message to your catalog recipients heralding a catalog in the mail and offering a sneak peek online.
  • Analyze results on an ongoing basis. Just as you would read the results of a catalog mailing to decide which lists to rent in your next mailing, you must read the results of all your online marketing efforts to optimize your efforts. In terms of your paid search efforts, you’ll want to determine an average return on advertising spent to be applied across all terms. Then as you analyze the results across different categories of keywords, you can make adjustments that will increase revenue overall. You should also be monitoring your Website reports to determine what source is driving customers to your site and where customers are falling off. This will help you grow your acquisition efforts as well as tweak your site to maximize the shopping experience for your customers and ultimately drive more sales.
  • For your e-mail campaigns, you should be tracking not only click-throughs, bounces, and unsubscribes but also total sales and sales per e-mail, drilling each campaign down to the product level. This will help you make smart decisions about what products to feature in future campaigns. And remember, many factors can affect results, so be sure to analyze results on a campaign basis as well as a seasonal basis. Keyword terms that work for you in spring may not get the same return in fall.
  • Lynn Anne Badurina is sales and marketing manager for Hackensack, NJ-based list firm MokrynskiDirect

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