Internet Marketing FAQs
Answers That Can Help Get the Creative Wheels Rolling
By John Deneen
E-commerce is a lot like philosophy—questions are answered only by asking more questions. The following are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) that are pertinent to inquire about your Web-inclusion program.
Now that Web orders comprise 20 percent to 25 percent of most catalog orders, does it still make sense to manually enter these orders?
While there will be some upfront costs associated with developing the programs and systems to automate the process, the question really involves whether this is the time to do it. One major cataloger reports that it costs the company 50 percent less time to take an order via the Web than the telephone. Crunch the numbers yourself—would these cost savings make sense for you?
Can your Web site reduce customer service costs?
If customers can check the status of their orders online, they won't be calling your customer service center. Amazon, Lands' End and other online marketers have automated order notification, a tool that can reduce your customer service costs.
Do your customers have other questions that could be answered if you posted better data online, such as sizing charts and installation instructions?
Calculate the amount of time it takes to answer your FAQs, and discern how much of this can be done by improving the information on your site. The savings could be substantial. Credit card companies estimate customer service problems solved by the Web save them 60 percent to 70 percent when compared with the phone.
Are you allocating a portion of the revenue generated from your Web site back to your print catalog?
While it's hard to track, clients have estimated as much as 75 percent of traffic driven to their Web sites is a result of a catalog drop. For proof, look at sales spikes on the Web right after an in-home date.
Are you spending enough on e-commerce?
If 25 percent of your revenue is being generated through your Web site, is 25 percent of your marketing budget being allocated to e-commerce? Even after re-assigning revenue to print advertising for driving traffic to the site, most companies aren't investing enough in staffing, programming, design, testing and merchandising of their sites.
Shouldn't a Web marketer's time primarily be focused on marketing issues and not just on getting new products and images online?
You wouldn't have your marketing and circulation people directly involved in the production and printing of a catalog. The same idea applies to Internet marketing. A marketer should be focused on partnerships with companies and Web sites such as Catalog City, Google, Yahoo, AOL and The Sharper Image's Galleria. Do you have an affiliate program? Do you use e-mail marketing? Banner ads may or may not work, but the latest trend is pay-per-action, such as pay-per-click engines. Chances are your present e-commerce team may not have time to explore all the low-hanging fruit.
Why are Web orders less (on average) in dollars than print orders?
Some catalog companies report that the average order size from the Internet is less than those placed by phone. A popular theory is that not enough upselling and cross selling is done on the Web. Amazon increases Web orders by recommending products with a purchase.
John Deneen is president of SiteForm, an e-commerce development and consulting company. He can be reached at (773) 334-8030, or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.