These days, most B-to-B catalogers have a good handle on just how many new customers they’re acquiring through their online marketing efforts. With matchback and allocation systems in place, most can determine the results of all their integrated online efforts vs. their offline efforts. This is necessary to allocate sales to the proper marketing effort.
The challenges arise when deciding what to mail buyers who have chosen to do business with you online. A percentage of such buyers will gladly tell you what they want if you ask them, but not all will. You could just mail everyone everything. But that’s likely to offend buyers who have deliberately chosen to do business with you online. So, what do you do?
Here are nine tips to help clear up the picture. Of course, not every one will work for every business or product line, so pick and choose what might work best for you.
1. Allow everyone on your housefile the opportunity to set or update their preferences and/or profiles. Ask them what form and frequency of communication they prefer. Position your request as a service. For example, “Help us communicate efficiently, effectively and environmentally.”
2. Assume those customers who found you online would like to communicate and order through that channel. So, if you need to mail them at all, consider mailing postcards, miniature catalogs or some other format with the intent of driving them back online for more information and to complete an order. Ideally, it would be a mail piece that’s less expensive than your full-line catalog.
3. Test mailing a full-line catalog to a segment of online customers, and track the results. Always make it easy for consumers to tell you they don’t want a print catalog. This test helps confirm their stated preferences but isn’t final.
4. Test mailing your mail piece designated for online customers to a segment of your traditional catalog customers, especially those who placed their most recent orders online.
5. Examine channel preference by age. If possible, overlay a buyer’s approximate age on your housefile. By asking your customers for their birthdays and doing something special to recognize them, you gain valuable data and build buyer loyalty at the same time.
6. Call a segment of your online buyers, and ask them how they want to be contacted. Test an e-mail program with the same objective, and compare results. The goal is to get as many of them as possible to tell you what they want via their profiles or preferences. Calling generally provides better feedback, as you’re able to pick up nonverbal cues or other related customer feedback.
7. Respect their wishes! Nothing loses your buyers’ trust more than asking for their preferences and then not following them.
8. Update regularly. Communicate their selected preferences regularly, asking for updates. This is especially important if you feel what they’ve selected doesn’t mesh with how they act.
9. Employ the standard brand-building promotions for new customers — welcome, second order offer, related purchase offer, etc. — regardless of channel. Just because the order came online doesn’t mean these tried-and-true programs no longer apply. Your goal is always to turn a first order into a lifetime customer.
In the end, matching your communication to a buyer’s wants and needs will make your mailings and e-mails more effective. And you’ll save money through reduced mailings, too. Online buyers will read your mail and open your e-mails when they remember they asked for them and see that you’re giving them exactly what they asked for, when they asked for it. It keeps you relevant and builds trust.
Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 383-5221 (direct line).Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221
Comments or questions are welcome.