Multichannel: From TV to PC
Nearly 30 years after the Ginsu knives hyperbole hit the airwaves, the URLs scrolling along the bottom of today’s DRTV spots are proof that the channel has evolved. More than that, consumers are responding. Sales that once were the sole jurisdiction of the call center are now shifting, in large percentages, to the Web.
“I’d say over the past four years it’s probably gone from an average of 10 [percent Web sales] to 35 percent,” says Shari Altman, president of direct marketing consultancy Altman Dedicated Direct of Rural Hall, N.C. “Ignore it at your peril.”
Steve Schulze, CEO of Vital Intentions of Corona Del Mar, Calif. and Altman’s client, thinks prospects are shifting their reactions to DRTV advertisements from 100 percent call-center responses to a percentage opening the direct marketer’s Web page. That’s saving Schulze money.
He estimates that a live operator costs him 70 cents to 80 cents a minute, interactive voice response call centers run 18 cents each minute and, for him, the Web pulls almost nothing out of his pocket—except maybe $1 for a conversion.
Based on trial and error, Schulze has learned that it takes more than Web-only incentives to drive online sales. More important than a free trial is simply getting prospects to the site without confusion.
Altman also stresses: “No. 1, you need to have either a landing page or micro- or mini-site that mirrors the offer you made on television. [If you] dump somebody into just your basic homepage, [you] will never convert these people. Like everything on the Web, you need to respond very quickly to what the prospective customer’s expectations are. So if you ran a TV campaign, when they show up at that URL that you just advertised, they’d better recognize it.
“So the look and feel should be consistent with what you did on television,” she continues. “The offer needs to be consistent, and it needs to be right there. Not, ‘Go to the homepage and hunt around for our TV offer.’ Basically, what you’re doing on the Web is closing the sale.”
To that end, Schulze’s PowerPurify.com is simple. It displays the product, mirrors the commercial and allows customers to enter their credit card information—all on the landing page.
“A number of years ago, there were traditional sites that you would contract out and each person would have sort of a different online shopping cart,” Schulze says. “Today in DRTV, 90 percent or 95 percent of all DRTV providers use the simple, almost one-click formula, where the order page is the homepage. And that is a big thing, because a lot of people can get lost.”
For that matter, marketers can route distributors and resellers to a different site that caters exclusively to them, rather than having them hunt around on the DRTV-oriented site, Altman suggests.
Improving the DRTV Marketer's Web Site
Essentially, the main way to improve Web site conversions is to test, Altman emphasizes.
Schulze chooses to employ many measurement methods. He uses source codes by providing viewers on FOX, CNBC and Oxygen, for instance, with different phone numbers and individual domain names.
“We can link exactly where that person is coming from,” Schulze says. “That’s the easiest and most effective way [to measure]. That’s the only place that they’re going to get that particular offer or special.”
Altman says DRTV marketers usually test creative, offers and price points. Sadly, many ignore their sites when they do this. That’s a mistake, she says.
“A DRTV marketer who, on their telemarketing, wouldn’t hesitate to listen to phone calls, to review scripts, to change scripts around, to do extra training with the reps, [in order] to improve their conversion—I have seen many DRTV marketers then create a Web site, pay attention to what it initially looks like, and then ignore it from that point forward and test nothing about it and barely even look at anything other than the total orders that they get there,” Altman says.
When PowerPurify.com tested its creative—changing its homepage art from a woman smiling directly at the viewer to a woman reclined and resting—site conversions increased 60 percent, Altman says.
So until someone creates a TV remote that allows customers to click and buy directly from DRTV ads, Altman believes marketers can optimize their sites in many ways. For instance, live chat helps. Interaction may tend to move the fence-sitting Web surfers closer to the impulse-driven call-center customers.
But most importantly, Altman opines, DRTV marketers should make the initial sale on the site before they try to upsell and cross-sell customers. They should structure the site to show the offers one by one. In this respect, she says, DRTV marketers are way ahead of the curve on Web site upsell and
Creative DRTV-to-Web Approaches
Not all DRTV-to-Web campaigns measure success by ROI.
Federal officials and nonprofit groups faced the challenge of educating parents, who were perhaps not so tech-savvy, about the dangers their children find online.
Rather than directing their target audience to an alphabet soup of URLs, those concerned created easy-to-remember URLs aimed at specific demographics. The public service announcements, four of them, directed viewers to find more information on Web sites geared toward them.
From Nov. 12-26, those federal officials and nonprofit groups teamed to air 116 public service announcements on seven national channels, creating 53,205 ad impressions. Those airings included the first PSA ever aimed at potential predators, who learned that exploiting a child online is a serious federal offense.
Parents were directed to KnowWhereTheyGo.org, while potential predators visited StopAnOnlinePredator.org. Spanish-speaking viewers were directed to ProtegelosAhora.org, for parents, and NoTeArruines.org, for potential predators.
As of Dec. 16, parents logged more than 41,000 hits, including nearly 800 to Spanish-only content, says Lou Ann Holland, program manager for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Child Protection Division, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Each site view lasted 2.26 minutes.
Also as of Dec. 16, far more viewed the site for potential predators—43,661 visitors took 53,606 actions that moved beyond the homepage. StopAnOnlinePredator.org viewers could, for instance, click on the “Crimes and Consequences” tab and learn about lengthy prison stays that result from breaking laws, then click on “Resources” to find links to organizations that could help.
“I think the department would deem this campaign to be extremely successful,” Holland says.
“I think the biggest challenge we face in bringing Internet safety messages to communities is bridging that digital gap between parents and kids,” says Amber Lindsay, director of program development and outreach for the nonprofit, Internet Keep Safe Coalition, which teamed with the Department of Justice. “And often parents are scared to talk to their kids. So, I think, the main message was, ‘You don’t have to be a computer expert to keep your kids safe online.’”
Avi Savar, CEO of the marketing and communications agency Big Fuel of New York, which handled the campaign, took a storyline approach to the creative. To illustrate the point that computers can be unsafe even when children are safely at home, Big Fuel placed a strip club background in a bedroom behind an innocent-looking boy during one PSA. When his father entered to talk to the boy, their worlds appeared split between the father’s view of reality and the boy’s strip club view on his laptop.
“We don’t expect parents to know exactly what a social network is or what MySpace is,” Savar says. “The idea was to show parents where their kids could be. To put the child in a real-life backdrop.”