Don't Forget Sound Marketing
4. "What does my customer want and expect?"
If you're a successful direct marketer, you've learned how to target the right audience with the right offer at the right time and then meet (or surpass!) your customers' expectations on the back end. This means you've not only learned how to generate sales through effective targeting and advertising, you keep your advertising promises by offering reliable fulfillment.
The following building blocks of your mail-order business also apply to the customers and sales you generate online:
• Your customer service (in-person, on the phone, by fax, through the mail or e-mail) should be impeccable.
• Your delivery time should be appropriately prompt—or faster.
• Your product quality should meet or exceed the expectations set by your advertising.
• When there's a problem, your customer should have every right to believe you will go the extra mile to solve the problem because her problem is your problem.
• The resolution of any problem, including product returns, should be fast and hassle-free.
If there's been any post-holiday negative press about online shopping, it's focused on this last point: product returns. And the culprits are e-commerce companies that are not seasoned direct marketers with direct mail experience. The companies that were excited about getting involved in e-commerce and making online sales forgot that the "big moment" for the customer is not when he or she hits the Send button, but when the order arrives and how he or she is treated after placing the order. You've gained less than nothing if you attract a customer to your site and he or she has a bad experience returning a product.
What are the rules to follow that assure success in building profitable synergy between your Web site and direct mail? At this point, it's difficult to find tried-and-true rules to follow. E-commerce is too new. The technology is constantly changing. But that doesn't mean you're dealing with a mission that's impossible. Instead, return to where this discussion started: Use common sense. Don't give a premature heave-ho to the direct mail that made you successful. Continue to do what you've always done by practicing sound direct marketing principles online. And when in doubt, ask the expert—your customer.