Archive for the ‘e-commerce’ Category

“Call me now” buttons back?

June 16, 2008

A long long time ago, many sites had a call me now feature that allowed users to request the company to call them. That was lost in the shuffle as sites focused on converting on the site and removing the need for a call center. However, as times are getting tough, some people still like the good old telephone. Especially when it is a high ticket item, they like the comfort of someones voice on the other end to answer any questions.

As long as you are not using an affiliate model where they will drop you like bad habits as soon as they see a phone number prominently placed with a large call to action, a “call me now button” might be a good test. The call must be as close to real time as possible as people have come to expect it, but it might close a sale that would not have happened, or worse, gone to your competitor because they answered the question online.

It’s not the holy grail for increasing conversion, but something worth testing again as others focus on fancy technology and flash. Let them play with exciting things that might help adn might not, and focus in on what consumers want, information the way THEY want it.

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Rethinking Google’s ad spend in budget

February 20, 2008

An article today on imedia connection discussed how marketers often look at Google as the ultimate converter and spend a third of their online budget with Google. The article, written by and definitely biased to support Atlas argues their tracking technology is going to change the model of online tracking and advertising. That is great and all, but the technology and ideas have been around for awhile and it just takes time to reach critical mass and that still might not be enough to change the model.

I agree that Google probably gets a relatively large conversion rate due to other advertising mediums, whether it be print, TV, display, email, word of mouth or whatever but the fact is, search is usually the last touch point before a conversion. I thought about a baseball game and thought it was a decent metaphor for the scenario. Starting pitchers cost a lot of money and can usually get through roughly 2/3 of a game, then there are several changes in the 6th-8th innings depending on score, batter, etc. Then finally the closer comes out of the bullpen and attempts to close the deal. Google/Yahoo is the closer in this scenario. Companies need to use other mediums to raise awareness and “put them in the lead” for Google to be the last touch point and close.

I still believe a multi-channel advertising campaign is best suited and technology like Atlas provides a lot of value, but Google will always be seen as the closer. I think it is important to be able to track touch points, view through conversions, and frequency before someone converts as that data leads to better multi-channel campaigns. Companies also like to piggyback competitors ad spend and advertise exclusively on search thus reducing the marketing budget and becoming more profitable than their competitors who are using offline media to drive people to the web to use who else, Google, to find out their competitor offers a better product. Some affiliate portals are making a killing off companies who use offline media to drive interest and thus people go online to search for more info. Affiliates in the education space gobble up those leads and sell them back to the company that spent so much money on TV ads.

The article was a good read about tracking and the importance, but I disagree that the model is going to change in any time soon.

e-commerce- the relationship-less sale

February 15, 2008

I wonder if e-commerce sites will try and create a better relationship with customers like myself, rather than try and sell things that other people bought when they bought the same item I did. I understand math and statistics and database modelling and how in an ideal world it all makes sense, but from a customer view, I want a trusted relationship with a site. If I trust a site and felt that they understood my needs and situation like a brick and mortar sales clerk, I would be inclined to purchase more.

My example was when I went to a Banana Republic recently. I had a good conversation with their employee about what I was looking for and why. She helped me find some items, but then let me know that they were getting the new spring line in a couple of days and theme matched what I was looking for. I am not suggesting sites become the obnoxious sales force like some retail stores have and ask “Can I help you?” every two minutes, but I believe they could possibly build a relationship better. Hell, their emails seem to act like there is a relationship, just don’t relax when I get to the site. This is the kind of relationship that I would love to see from e-commerce platforms. Suggest some items I might be interested in, and allow me to enter what I am looking for and give me suggestions and then keep that established “e-relationship” alive throughout the visit. Retail salesman can read cues from shoppers about their shopping habits, the person who tries on everything, the person who buys all and returns 90%, and the shy guy who walks in and looks around and doesn’t do much and buys a few items without help. Now in an online world, web analytics can help us tell some of these cues. The person who clicks on a bunch of items and then clicks back, the one who views every single image of the product, length on site, returning customer, etc. etc. E-commerce sites now just need to be more progressive with the data and think in terms of relationship selling.

Some platforms are more progressive than others like iTunes and Amazon, but most are a little behind the times. In order to decrease abandonment rate and increase the industry average conversion rate of around 3%, I suggest e-commerce sites look into the psychology of a purchase, rather than strictly rely on what people “like me” bought.

Hoodia affiliate hit with $2.6 million Can-Spam penalty

February 6, 2008

The Can-Spam law is rearing its ugly head for a Hoodia affiliate out of Las Vegas, Sili Neutraceuticals. The complaint filed against them states that they were using misleading subject lines and falsely advertised the product, stating that Hoodia and growth hormone could make an individual lose 40 lbs a month. That seems to be a lot of weight to lose in a single month, unless the person is so obese to begin with. They are being hit with $2.6 million fine by the FTC.

Anyways, this will be the largest fine the FTC collects over Can-Spam as the HiTech Marketing fine was larger on paper, but they were only able to pay $485,000. It looks like the FTC is going to be more active regulating the Can-Spam law, but I would recommend they rewrite it first, as there is a lot of grey area and everyone seems to have a different view on what you can and can’t do. Obviously there are best practices that most corporate marketers take, but the affiliate/co-reg marketers like HiTech and Sili Neutraceuticals use mass email as their marketing medium and there is not a lot of regulation on this.

Hopefully we will see more spammers fined, but ultimately, I would like to see the Can-Spam law more solidified and easier to understand.

Banners that allow commerce

December 22, 2007

Tailgate Technologies signed a deal with Paramount to advertise movies through their banner technology where users can then purchase tickets through the banner. When Tailgate first announced this technology, a lot of negative comments were left on marketingvox.com saying that consumers would never trust this kind of commerce. Well it appears Paramount disagrees and will try this out. I believe this is an intriguing step in interactive marketing, allowing the customer to complete a transaction within a banner ad, and not having to leave the site which they were on. If this begins to gain traction, it will allow a new wave of interactive marketing. I can only imagine how creative rich media ads will become for items that range in the $10-25 range. I hope that consumers understand how this works and become accustomed to it so that other items will become available for sale through display ads.

Major retailers slow to adopt interactive

November 15, 2007

I am a little shocked at how much press hoas been pointed towards Sears and JC Penny for their “new” interactive holiday guides. These kind of ideas are not new. The user can go and create wish lists, and send e-cards and the such and this has been around for quite awhile. I think it shows how slow major retailers are to adopt new media and how to maximize the interaction with their customers. It seems their is still quite a divide of those that get interactive marketing and make it easy for people to get their ideas out, and those that think that having a website and e-commerce is sufficient these days. The leaders in e-commerce are moving ahead with user reviews and video reviews, while these major ‘brands” are not just building list creatintion sites. I personally thought that high end retailers such Saks and Neiman Marcus would have caught on early with the “list building” microsite and allowed kids to build wish lists worth thousands that they could send to their parents.