Surrounding a Market
March 1, 2004

A Powerful Blend of Direct Marketing Science and Market Research Drives The Hartford’s AARP Insurance Program. Every seven minutes, a U.S. adult turns 50. For AARP, a nonprofit membership organization that advocates on behalf of Americans age 50 and older, that translates into a little more than 200 new potential members a day. And for The Hartford, a 190-year-old investment management and insurance firm based in Hartford, CT, it also means a steady influx of new names for prospecting. Due to The Hartford’s relationship with AARP as the exclusive provider of discounted automobile (and homeowner) insurance to the association’s members, it has more of

Creative Corner: Problem > Solution?
March 1, 2004

Position Your Offer as a Solution When you get down to it, everything we do in direct marketing is based on coming up with a solution to a problem. The way we sell our products and services is to identify people’s needs and wants, and then position our offerings as the fulfillment of those desires. When I think of problem/solution marketing, NetFlix immediately comes to mind. What’s the problem with Netflix? Nothing. As far as I can tell, it’s the perfect Internet-driven direct marketing business. In fact, it’s a solution to a problem. What problem? It goes back to the birth of the Internet,

E-commerce Link: Generate Traffic Without Getting Run Over
March 1, 2004

10 Steps to Reduce Risk in Online Affiliate and Pay-for-Performance Relationships. For the past few years, there’s been an ongoing battle over which path marketers should take when seeking to acquire customers online. In the beginning, marketing departments told CEOs that online advertising was the golden goose, citing the millions of eyeballs ready and waiting for their company’s message. That goose never laid a golden egg, and those eyeballs certainly weren’t always translating into open wallets. In the late 1990s, a new generation of online marketing that “made sense” emerged: Direct marketers took hold of the power of the Internet, and “affiliate marketing” and

Optimize Search Results Now
February 1, 2004

Make your Web site click with algorithm search engines … and customers. You may be under the impression that getting your Web site ranked on “spidering” or algorithm search engines such as Google involves the dark arts, or at least a secret handshake. If so, you can’t be blamed. Some search-engine optimization (SEO) companies make it sound as if high rankings are more hocus-pocus than strategy—that the algorithms (part computer program/part math equation) that determine page rankings are designed to estimate something other than how relevant a site will be to an Internet searcher. While there are a number of complicated and technical aspects

E-commerce Link: Channel to Channel
February 1, 2004

Use universal business logic to create a consistent shopping experience In the next few years, e-commerce will play an increasingly significant role in the long-term success of multichannel retailers. Not only will Web site sales account for more and more of an organization’s direct business, but the Web site also will be expected to support sales in retail stores and catalogs. The walls that currently stand between channels must cease to exist if online marketers are to satisfy the expectations of increasingly sophisticated customers. Universal business logic is the key to success in this new era of all-channel selling. Universal business logic relies on

Outsource Solutions: Web Analytics
February 1, 2004

Track Your Traffic In “Web Analytics: Getting Down to Business,” Diana Cirillo and David Flint of research and advisory firm Gartner wrote: “It has long been said you cannot manage what you cannot measure. Nowhere is this truer than on the Web, where examining what works and what doesn’t directly influences the bottom line.” Unfortunately, the Web allows you to measure and test everything, even information that has no relevance or actionable data to be learned from it. For example, tracking hits has gone the way of the dodo bird, giving way to metrics such as conversion rate, navigation paths and revenue. Before

5-minute Interview with Brad Shapiro, Date.com
February 1, 2004

Date.com, an online personals site, never wanted to be an e-mail marketing bad guy. But it found out one day that it was. “Our privacy director went to a conference,” explains Brad Shapiro, Date.com’s vice president of marketing and sales. “He introduced himself to the guy from the [Federal Trade Commission], who basically told him: ‘Your company is on my watch list for spam complaints.’” Date.com, which relies heavily on e-mail prospecting, knew it needed to act quickly and decisively. Shapiro spoke with Target Marketing about this process. Target Marketing: What were the first steps you took to right your image? Brad Shapiro: It was about putting

Famous Last Words: A 2-cent Tax on Every E-mail? Yes!
January 1, 2004

A member of Congress averages an annual salary of $154,000, which means it costs taxpayers roughly $60,000 an hour (plus expenses) for their elected politicians to meet. When the Senate and the House of Representatives debate silly stuff—like an anti-spam bill that is not enforceable or legislation against porn on the Internet that is unconstitutional—my money is wasted by a bunch of grandstanders looking to garner points for their re-election. Let’s face it, everything in the life of a free society with a free economy is driven by one thing—money. Money is the great leveler. By the time this column sees print, Congress will

Batteries With That?
March 1, 2003

Most people think of the checkout as the final step of a shopping session. But any visit to your local grocery store will prove otherwise. Racks of candy and magazines flank the checkout lines, and the cashier asks, "Do you need batteries or film with that?" Newspapers, firelogs and steam cleaners line the front of stores near the exits. Clearly, the selling continues right up to, and beyond, the cash register's final beep.

Convert Browsers into Buyers
November 1, 2002

The key to successful sales conversion is making a relevant presentation to the shopper. This is just as true on the Web as it is in any other sales environment.

Here are seven proven techniques you can use to make the shopping experience more relevant to your customers' needs, make the buying process easier, and remove roadblocks along the path to purchase. Whether your shoppers are newcomers or long-time customers, these techniques will help you convert more of their shopping sessions into actual sales.