Netflix is in many ways the epitome of the 21st century company: It's based in Silicon Valley, it sells its services exclusively online, and it employs a hip bit of Web-speak in its name. But even as it boasts many of the trappings of a New Economy juggernaut, Netflix is still almost entirely reliant on that most 19th century of institutions: the United States Postal Service. Indeed, Netflix is the Postal Service’s biggest corporate customer.
The letter is the most important part of any direct mail package. Write a brilliant, compelling sales letter and your response rates can shoot up. Make a few thoughtless blunders and you're in deep trouble.
Some years ago, I bought a pair of charcoal gray Monsanto socks. On the sticky label that holds the socks together was a little guarantee written in tiny type below the company name. It informed me that if, at the end of a year, my socks had worn out, I could return them, along with the receipt, for a brand new pair.
In today’s economy, acquiring highly qualified customers while increasing the amount of products and services they purchase is of critical importance. By making small, manageable improvements, online merchants can increase the lifetime value of each customer, drive repeat purchases and create stronger customer loyalty.
The obstacles were many for Microsoft and its business intelligence (BI) products. Not only were there many fellow BI products in the IT marketplace, many of those competitors had been on the market for considerable time, and Microsoft's set of BI solutions was more expensive than most of them-and adding to this were concerns about its ease of use among a wide range of workers.
Two years since catalog marketers were hammered with a 20 percent-plus postage increase, many continue to reel and retreat. Traditional bulk catalog mailings are becoming unaffordable for many. So, facing up to the economic reality of soaring catalog production and mailing costs, party supplies, toys and novelties cataloger Oriental Trading Co. since last fall has implemented a wide-spreading postcard mailing program targeting primarily its proven customers.
The early mantra of online marketing simply was, “build it, and they will come.” With thousands of shopping opportunities jostling for attention in today’s Web 2.0 world, direct marketers must employ sophisticated tactics to entice browsers and buyers.
Despite a challenging economy, online commerce remains a primary driver of growth for businesses. While improved Web site performance is an obvious target for most retailers, the path to achieve this goal is less clear. Online advertising, if successful, will drive qualified visitors, but traffic is only half the battle. The Web site must quickly establish high relevance to user needs, direct users to desired products and provide value and information to support the sale.
Establishing a brand image that is fluid, one that can flex to move with the marketplace and "that consumers can adapt to their own individuality," according to fashion icon Ralph Lauren, is a worthy goal for any marketer.
As the playing field levels for online retailers in terms of basic transactional capabilities—e.g., fast checkout processes, accurate shipping calculators, e-mail order confirmations—how can we increase sales and build competitive advantage in the years ahead?