Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

Mailers that make the most money

July 24, 2008

I’ve talked about this before, and research keeps confirming what I’ve said. “The State of Retailing Online 2007,” published by Forrester Research, Inc., cites a report from Shop.org on the most cost-effective ways to market on-line. Here are the results:

Marketing method/Dollar cost per order

E-mail/$ 6.53

Affiliate programs/$17.47

Paid search/$26.75

Banner ads/$71.89

Of course, e-mail shouldn’t be a generic sales pitch if you want to maximize your return. You need a message targeted to the sender, based on analytics: where he’s located, how he got to your site, what information/service/freebee he asked for. It’s not necessary to write a personalized response to each lead, but buyers fall into categories, and the more accurately you can describe your potential client, the better you can rifle your message to him.

The letter is only partly about “selling;” it’s mostly about providing your product/service to someone who already wants it – remember, he came to you.

Not every prospect who comes to your Web site, landing page, or opt-in will proceed to the purchase. But the text of your message will help him see all of the reasons he should go to the next step. How do you know what his reasons are? Analytics will show most of them. Your targeted e-mail response to his request will help you close the deal at a lower cost than other on-line marketing methods.

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Customer loyalty extends to the Web

April 9, 2008

When you buy a product or service from a Web site you like, you tend to go back to it. The site might be Priceline, Amazon, or Target, but if your first shopping experience there is good, chances are also good that you’ll return when you’re in the market again. The same applies to bricks-and-mortar stores.

 

You may have known that intuitively, but now the stats are out to prove it. According to the most recent Nielsen Global Online Survey, as reviewed in the 3/1/08 edition of the AMA’s Marketing News, 60% of on-line shoppers say then usually buy from the same site again. And if you think that there aren’t enough on-line buyers to make a difference, think again.

 

The same Survey reports that there has been a 40% increase in on-line shoppers worldwide since 2006, from 627 million to 875 million. Doesn’t sound like so many? It’s more than twice the population of the United States.

 

Surprisingly, the US is not among the leaders, although we’re in the Top Ten (number eight, to be precise). In this country 94% of Web users made a purchase last year. Compare that with leader South Korea, where 99% of users were also buyers, including 79% in the 30 days preceding the survey.

 

The most popular purchases, as you might imagine, include books, clothing/accessories/shoes, videos/DVDs/games, airline tix and electronic equipment. But today you can find almost anything on the Web, very probably including your product or service.

 

What does this mean for you as a business person?

 

1. If you don’t have a Web site, you are ignoring one of the fastest-growing categories of purchasers in the world.

 

2. If you do have a Web site, make sure is it the most user-friendly in your competitive group. Who else is selling your product/service on-line? Look at their sites! Remember, if your first-time visitor likes your site he’ll come back. If you competitor snares him, though, there’s a better than 50-50 chance he’ll never find you again. So look at your competitors, see what they’re doing right and imitate it. As well, see what they’re doing wrong, and do it better.

 

Building (or rebuilding) your Web site is too expensive to do frequently, so put in the time to do it right.

 

Not rebuilding your Web site, of course, will prove even more expensive.

Your future customers

March 31, 2008

A leading marketing consulting company, Forrester (http://www.forrester.com/rb/research) has just released an interesting report, US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2007-20012. I’ve had a chance to look it over. It won’t tell you how to write better, but it has some interesting statistics and predictions on this kind of marketing in the US.

What I found most interesting is that while your current customers may not be using the Internet, podcasts, Webinars, Blackberries, etc., enough for you to invest in that market today, your future customers are already there. People in the 18-27 age demographic, for example, spend twice as much time on the Internet for work and play as those in the “Boomer” generation, and comparatively less time watching TV. You may not be targeting 22-year-olds today, but ten years from now, you’ll need a strong Internet and interactive presence if you want to compete for this customer. The time to build for the future is now, not when your sales and growth start to tail off.

 

Having said that, it’s probalby time I updated my Web site to make it less like a portolio and more like a marketing tool. If you have an opinion I’d like to hear it.

Guaranteed. Period.

February 26, 2008

 

When I lived in Italy, I worked with a guy who said to me, “What is Italy famous for? Three things: its history, its art, and its food. Well, we can’t sell history and art, but we can make a lot of money from its food!” His company made low-budget TV commercials, and he wanted to make a series of how-to videotapes (not CDs; this was in the olden days, back before the new millennium) of a chef preparing the culinary masterpieces of Italy. By the time I met him he’d let the idea simmer for too long.

 

I said, “We need some kind of guarantee to reassure buyers. If the customer doesn’t like it, he can send it back.”

 

I told him about L. L. Bean, the mail order company in the US that will accept merchandise back for ever. Their motto is “Guaranteed. Period.” You can send a piece of clothing back if you don’t like it, of course, or if it doesn’t fit. You can also wear it for ten years, send it back, and still get a refund. I told him it was a great sales tool, and that he’d sell more tapes that way.

 

“Absolutely not!” he cried. “’Caveat emptor’ which is Latin for “buyer beware.” Italians love to use Latin slogans. “If they bought it, they own it!”

 

We had a lot of other marketing disagreements, and I stopped working with him after a short while. He was able to turn his idea into a half-baked sales proposition.

 

The point of the story is the brief article that appears in the American Marketing Association’s February Marketing News (2/15/08). It listed L. L. Bean as the highest in customer satisfaction.

 

It’s true that some people will always abuse the returns system, but it really doesn’t matter what system is used – 30-day return, or return with receipt only, or exchange only, etc. – someone will always try to beat it. What matters is the public perception of the quality of the product, and the willingness of the company to stand behind it.

 

The markups in clothing make this a good place to use such a strategy. In fact, of the ten companies listed for highest customer satisfaction, five either sold clothes exclusively or sold them in conjunction with other merchandise.

 

Would such an offer work for high-end clothiers, for a Brooks Brothers or a Giorgio Armani? Might be worth a try.

 

How much is writing worth?

February 21, 2008

A recent article in the American Marketing Association’s Journal of Marketing discussed pirated music downloads. A study cited for the article said that for commonly-available products, those which have virtually no cost to reproduce (like recorded music in MP3 format) the sales price tends to go to zero. Music is expensive to produce, but is commonly available and very cheap to reproduce and distribute (we all know about Napster). And although the study said this effect was not applicable to unique or customizable products (like writing), I’m not so sure I agree.

Writing requires a skilled, experienced journalist to deliver interesting, persuasive text. It takes time, money, and effort to produce the journalist (or musician) and the product. But today, a couple of keystrokes can make the product available to the world at no cost. In my opinion, we are seeing the same trend in both music and text.

Small-town and regional newspapers have been free on-line for years. They don’t have the market size, demand for information, or quality of writing to support selling their text.

 

It used to be different for the big publishers. But in September, 2007, the New York Times, which up until then had charged Web viewers for access to its “premium” content, switched to free, advertising-supported service. In October London’s Financial Times said it would offer 30 free articles on its Web site each month. My favorite magazine, The Atlantic, began offering its content on-line for free last month. I felt offended because I’ve been a subscriber to the magazine for years, and now everyone else will get for free what I’ve been paying for.

 

These and similar publications will always attract readers willing to pay. The question is whether subscription-based Web sites are the most lucrative way to market the text.

It looks as though the answer is no. Instead, the big publishers now put their content in a different package. They can still make money by selling it to readers, it’s true, but they make more money by giving away the writing and selling ad space next to it.

My concern as a copywriter is the perception that “great writing shouldn’t cost much, and that’s the way it should be!” will become pervasive.

What is this thing called… marketing?

February 15, 2008

 

A big part of this blog is about marketing, so maybe we should start by defining exactly what it is. Since selling and marketing is based on emotions, needs, and perceived values, things that have been with us since we lived in caves, I would expect the definition of marketing to be static. Without giving it a lot of thought, I would define it, “Helping sell a product or service to a potential customer.”

 

The “official” definition is reworked every two years by the American Marketing Association, based on their perception of changes in how, where, and by whom things are sold.

 

The latest definition was published in their monthly magazine, Marketing News (1/15/08). According to the AMA,

 Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. 

What a mouthful. Compare this to the original definition, made up back in 1935 by the National Association of Marketing Teachers. That was the group the preceded today’s AMA:

 

“(Marketing is) the performance of business activities that direct the flow of goods and services from producers to consumers.” 

 

The big difference that I see between then and now is that marketing is currently used by everyone for everything. People “market” themselves to employers, spouses, and their children as well as their clients and customers. Marketing is no longer about business products and services, but about anything that has to do with creating a favorable impression, justified or not.

 

As individuals, we used to want to be witty and charming and interesting. Now it’s all about “marketing” yourself. I see this definition applied more than ever here in New York City where I reside and work.

 

Is that so bad? Maybe. When you stop thinking “I’m going to do a good job” and start thinking “I’m going to convince someone I’m doing a good job,” you can get distracted from doing a good job in the first place.

Marketing still has its place by any definition, but only after you’ve created the best product or service that you can. Especially if you’re the product.