Direct marketers, like their advertising counterparts, are plenty guilty of creating nonsensical buzzwords to sensationalize industry trends. But I’m gonna defend Jeff and Bryan Eisenberg to the hilt for their characterization of marketers addicted to online traffic: “crackvertisers.” Besides the fact that it’s just plain fun to say, the term aptly describes those companies that are so focused on traffic volume they’ve forgotten that buying more visitors is not the only way to make money from a Web site. When keyword prices spiral—and they will, Jeff promises in his article about the future of SEM (turn to page 101)—these traffic junkies will be facing a painful withdrawal. As Nancy Reagan said in the late 1980s, “Just say no.” Say no to traffic dependency and work on how your site can better convert the traffic it already gets.
If you like Jeff’s musings on the SEM world, keep an eye out for his contributions to Target Marketing’s E-commerce Link column in 2007. He will be sharing the spotlight with long-time contributors and Editorial Advisory Board members Reggie Brady, who covers all things e-mail, and Ken Burke, who discusses cutting-edge techniques for Web design and e-commerce architecture. As you might have surmised, Jeff will offer insights on SEM, including the latest ideas on effective SEO, pay-per-click, paid inclusion and more.
One marketer who is putting tremendous effort into making the most of her organization’s online traffic is Margaret Carter, officer of the direct response fundraising unit at the American Red Cross and Target Marketing’s 2006 Direct Marketer of the Year. In response to the devastation of the 2004 tsunami and last year’s horrific Hurricane Katrina, millions of new donors landed on the nonprofit’s site and made gifts. A significant percentage of these supporters were first-time donors, a valuable segment that, as Carter put it, “could help sustain us or bankrupt us.” In addition to a project to merge the Red Cross’ local chapter databases with that of its headquarters, she and her team have launched several initiatives to make the most of donor touchpoints. These include a revamped Web site that offers visitors more gift options while also promoting the Red Cross’ fundraising goals, and a multichannel renewal campaign that is more targeted than traditional second-gift efforts sent to donors who were brought in during less turbulent times. As Carter and her colleagues report, their efforts are proving successful; her story starts on page 50.