Don't Forget Sound Marketing
• Use your direct mail to drive people to your Web site, giving them another option for how they do business with you.
• Put your Web site address on everything: letterhead, catalogs (see Gooseberry Patch example at left), orders forms, shipping boxes, space ads, invoices and statements. If you've invested in developing a user-friendly Web site, use every opportunity imaginable to lead customers and prospects to it.
• Use your Web site as a source of additional product information for customers who still prefer to complete credit card transactions by mail or phone. Martha Stewart uses direct response techniques to link her readers/customers with her magazine, TV show, catalog and Web site.
• Use a direct mail piece (postcard, invitation, letter or self-mailer) to drive first-time users to your Web site.
• As a direct marketer, remember that your offer is the secret to getting people to take action and change old habits.
• Special online offers generate Web site traffic, but use common sense and a sense of fairness when you develop e-commerce offers. Do not make offers that penalize customers who spend their money at your store, by phone or by mail. If you're going to make a free shipping or buy-one-get-one-free offer at your e-commerce site, be prepared to honor the same offer for customers using other methods of shopping. A more appropriate traffic-generating offer for your Web site would be one that is tied specifically to an online activity such as providing a "Talk with a Technical Expert" chat room or online weekly special.
3. Continue to practice sound direct marketing principles.
As a direct marketing professional, don't lose sight of the basic direct marketing principles that have helped you succeed. Track, measure and analyze results. Make sure the traffic you generate, the orders you fill and the offers you make fit with your financial objectives. It's possible to get so involved in generating traffic to your e-commerce site that you lose track of the cost of generating the traffic and the cost of making the sale. While giving away free product may get customers to your site, you are attracting a customer who then expects significant "deals." What is the acquisition cost and lifetime value of this customer? What happens to his or her interest in your company and the integrity of your organization when you can no longer afford to make these unbelievable offers? Just because the Internet is a new medium with new bells and whistles, you shouldn't set aside the direct marketing principles on which you've built your business.