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13 Platinum Ideas for Successful Web Marketing

E-commerce. Web marketing. Selling over the Internet. There are many descriptions of marketing, direct marketing and selling on the World Wide Web.

No matter the words, the process is important. And very similar to marketing through any channel. Broadcast. Print. Mail. Telecommunications.

From the sales side with an in-house or captive sales force, through independent reps or tightly tied distributors.

"...from What? to WOW! on the Web" is based on experiences gained from my site.

And an outgrowth of being online since the decade of the '80's! Yes, since the late 1980's I've been playing around in cyberspace. Not long, yet in this world an eon.

Let's get started with this Baker's Dozen Collection of 13 Platinum WWW marketing ideas.

1. Think. Plan. Organize. FIRST!

Marketing plans are equally important to financial plans. To having a mission statement. A set of objectives -- goals to reach.

This means for Web marketing, too.

Begin by asking "why"? Why are we going to create a Web site? Are we looking to acquire new customers? Service existing customers? Cross sell? Up-Sell? Handle basic operations or administrative tasks? Fulfillment? Or is this image/awareness and position building?

What will our P.o.D. -- "Point of Difference" be, compared to our competition? i.e., do we have a reason to exist on the Web?

We must first THINK what it is we wish our WWW site to do. We must PLAN the process to achieve that goal or set of objectives. We must ORGANIZE ourselves to make it happen. And we must do all this FIRST ... before anything else.

2. Your Name & Ease of Access

When customers and potential customers can't "see" your site they can't do business with you.

So, as you are planning the guts of your site, think about your marketplace and how they will find you. Your name is important. It must "make sense" to those you're trying to attract.

Once I've found you is it easy to get inside your site? Here are 5 things I've learned are important to make your WWW site visitor friendly;

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Fast is in.

Quick is in.

"Shorter" is in.

Ease of Access is very much in, and

Good writing is in.

Fast is relative. No matter your definition, if it takes the surfer too long, by their standards, to get your Splash Page or Home Page to "pop", they move on.

Quick means it's easy to move about within your site -- from page to page, top to bottom, section to section. And to "use" your information. If you ask or offer anything, the "form" needs to be quick and easy to complete, to use.

"Shorter" is relative. This does NOT mean you should not have loooong sets of data. It does mean if you do, get a summary on top -- and have the short version be the first thing your visitor sees.

Each of these points ties to making it easy to get about. If it's not fast, quick and easy to understand, you loose.

Last point; Good Writing is important to keep your prospect / your customer with you. Remember, the Web is a read medium.

Above all -- be interesting! Nothing is worse than a boring Web site. One that ignores these 5 points and has little to say.

Be interesting.

3. Type for Readability

The same basic "rules" that apply to all print marketing, advertising, sales promotion and direct marketing apply to your Web site.

To begin, serif type, the type with hooks or feet, is more readable. Anything you hold in your hand, such as a magazine, newspaper, piece of direct mail reads with more understanding with serif type.

That fact has been proven again and again by research around the world.

Yes, the screen is different. To start with it is usually several inches further away from your eyes than a letter, a newsletter or memo. And there can be a glare. Still, until research proves otherwise -- I strongly recommend serif type.

These 7 "facts" are truly non-debatable:

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ALL CAPS DECREASES READERSHIP

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Anything vertical is impossible to read

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too much italics decreases readership

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Too much reverse type reduces readership

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Type size less than 9 point is unreadable -- type should be 11+ on Web sites for max readership. This equates to "standard" for today's HTML coders.Coming versions of the HTML specifications will give devlelopers more control, but today's "standard" size is the best choice for most sites.

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When you indent the first line of a new paragraph you pullll a reader into your message,

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When you write using short words, short sentences, short paragraphs you greatly increase readership and thus understanding.

Today the WWW is a read medium. Make your site readable.

4. Understanding the message -- & your Content

Some one said it long ago. And it is still true: "Content is King."

Yes, a WWW cliché that is 100% true. Cool is out. Difficult is out. Wondering about is out. Your site must have direction, a focus, a purpose for being (see Idea I., Think, Plan, Organize -- FIRST).

Simple is in. Useful is in. And "interesting" is in. You make your site interesting with content. With data, knowledge, information of interest to your readership. Your prospects and customers.

Have something to say ... and say it.

5. Graphics for support & "White Space"

There is no doubt we live in a graphic world. Yet, "reading" graphics is tough! And the World Wide Web is a read medium.

This will change. Yes, surely it will change. Yet ever so slowly. For the next several years you need to rely on copy to sell and graphics to support that copy. ala catalog marketing today.

As with copy, the same "rules" apply as apply to print. Which means too much background is out. Not only does an overkill of dark colors and "descriptive" screens make the copy difficult to read -- it slooooows load time. Something universally discussed and ... ignored by far too many.

Graphics on the Web is similar to graphics in print -- newspapers, magazines, direct mail. They are there to get your attention, to draw you in, to get you involved, to interest you. And then the copy takes over and SELLS. Ditto Web marketing.

6. The Marketing Offer

An offer is a reason for your prospect to consider you -- NOW.

It is a reason to STOP, to look at your proposal, your idea, your product or service. And to decide "yea" or "nay" "I'd like to know more".

An offer is NOT the reason very much is sold. An offer IS the reason a lot of sales are made. Why? Because an offer STOPS the prospect. It gets them thinking ... do I know all I should about this opportunity? It stops them long enough for the sale to be made.

Every discipline uses offers; advertising ... marketing ... public relations ... sales promotion ... direct marketing ... sales.

Your offer on your WWW site should compliment, not compete, with your offer made in other avenues. You may throw a "bonus" to those that come to your through your Web site. After all, it is still "new" -- you need to build traffic. No matter, DO include an offer as part of your message on your Web pages.

7. Ability & Ease of Response

All good direct marketing and sales communication should go 2 ways. From you to your customer or prospect -- and back. You are looking for a dialogue -- not a monologue. And your customer is, too!

On your Web site offer your visitors several ways to communicate with you. E-mail is obvious. Ask for a site evaluation ... not only will you get feedback, a bit of it will help make your site better.

Do an online survey. And ask those surfing your way to allow you to send your news to others. Ask them for E addresses of friends and co-workers who might also benefit from a visit to your URL.

Make it easy to do business with you. Give your Web site visitors options on communicating with you.

8. Links for Getting Around

Your Navigation Bar must be EVERYWHERE.

And easy to use, with LARGE type, descriptive copy. Navigation is an extension of Ease of Access.

Once inside your site, how do I find what I need? Or if I'm just cruising through, what do I see to STOP me -- and encourage me to stay?

When people come to you to look for something specific, it must be "transparent". If the search takes too many "clicks", the cyber jockey will move on. An internal search engine may help. Especially when you get beyond a few dozen pages.

Any links you have to other sites must also be in working order. This can be tough -- the other guys site is not your responsibility. So, every month or so check 'em out. To make certain all is in working order.

9. Gimmicks for Attention

Moving icons. Flickering banners. "Things" that move, change and run across the page -- the screen ... they are all "Gimmicks for Attention".

On the surface there is nothing wrong with the concept. What has happened within far too many sites is the Graphic team got together with the Technical team and the Content team got left out. Don't do that too yourself.

Gimmicks are fine -- as long as they do not become "the site". Or distract from the site. Use 'em early on to STOP the surfer. To pull them in. Use them sparingly to move the reader to the next page, the next stop within your site.

Do NOT use gimmicks as the message. And STOP them after 5 or so "spins" or "flicks" -- freeze them in place. If they haven't gotten your reader by that time, they will not.

And remember -- today the WWW is a read medium!

10. Bringin' 'em Back

A good Web site is a "process ... not an event".

Which means it is an "animal". It moves, changes, grows. And just like anything that moves and changes and grows it is somewhat different every day, week, month.

What does this say? Well, let's quote industrial designer Raymond Loewy; "Never leave well enough alone".

The management team at Pepsi-Cola follows a similar direction: "At Pepsi we're constantly fixing things that aren't broken ... just to make them better".

A good Web site, like any business, needs repeat business. Think about what to offer to get repeat visitors. An on-going game. Articles and tips changing every day or week or 2 weeks or month. "Special" events that come and go.

With your prime message -- your content -- change, update, build upon it. Set a cycle and keep your message current. Something happens at least once a week, can you add it to your site. Content is always "moving".

There is no "magic" to bringing your visitors back. It is work ... and it takes planning.

11. Marketing Your Site -- Getting Traffic

"Don't just stand there. Make something happen." So says Lee Iacocca.

Research indicates that for most first time sales it takes 10 conscious impressions to make a buying decision.

Combine these 2 thoughts and you know you must market your site. If you are going to enjoy high and growing levels of traffic, you must tell your world about you.

There are as many ways to market Web sites as there are disciplines. The only thing I'm absolutely certain of is you must go outside the electronic media to build traffic to your electronic media. Which is why we see WWW sites listed in most print, during many broadcasts and in direct mail.

In fact, just as you list your address, phone, fax -- you should also give your Web site and E-mail address to anyone you wish to do business with. It is only good business.

12. Measuring Your Results

"If you can't measure it you can't improve it." So said Alex d'Arbeloof, President Teradyne.

True for Web sites, too.

So, is your site justified? Should you continue it? How can you improve upon it?

Your objectives -- your plan -- will determine your measurement. You may count the total number of leads. Maybe how many of those turn into demonstrations. And those into sales.

Whatever your direction, there are 4 questions to ask -- and answer -- about measurement:

A. What worked? What part of your site is getting the action you're looking for.

B. What does NOT work? Opposite of A. And you need to know so you can fix it.

C. Why? Why what worked did ... why what did not work did not. Ask questions to learn "why".

D. Now that you have all this knowledge, what are you going to do with it? Important -- you must Think, Plan, Organize -- FIRST ... from the beginning, so you have answers to this question.

13. Over all . . . What? or WOW!

Okay, you've done it. Now what?

Well, your WWW site is no different than your sales promotion displays, your television commercials, your direct mail, your trade show exhibit:

It must get measured, evaluated and taken to the next level. Is it What? ... or WOW!

When you've been on line for a week or so, and then 30 days, look at what's happened. Get in the habit of looking at results frequently.

For most of us a peek every few days to a week is enough. For some in high volume mail-order your looks need to be by the hour, if not the minute.

And, surf your site. You will find mistakes, things that "just happen". You'll find obvious ways to make easy improvements.

Surf other sites, both in your business, your industry, and out. Some of the greatest ideas you can "steal and adapt" by spending time every week working the Web.

Okay, that's it.
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About Ray Jutkins, October 3rd, 1936 — January 6th, 2005.
Ray was one of the NMOA’s most generous contributors. Over the years Ray supplied the NMOA with hundreds of tips and articles for members. This is just one of many. Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa. Keep an eye out for more of Ray’s marketing tips and how-to articles in the pages of Direct Marketing Digest and the article archive on the NMOA website.

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