Be at their beck and call

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Scott Parker
Scott Parker

January is a quiet month for shopping, but a popular time for dieting. People looking to shed the extra pounds they may have acquired during holiday feasting make New Year's resolutions to leave bad eating habits behind them with a new diet or workout regimen. For weight loss powerhouse Jenny Craig, this is an excellent time of year to acquire new customers by reaching those searching for diet advice and support on the Web.

However, without e-commerce options, Jenny Craig previously found closing sales a challenge. The company's Web site is not structured for e-commerce because its program specializes in personal one-on-one consultation. Instead, the site is mostly informational — and while this content serves as a great brand­ing device and can be very helpful to consumers researching diets, the impassioned searching of post-holiday wannabe dieters requires immediate options in order to make a sale.

“Losing weight is frequently an emotional, impulse-driven decision and once you've made the decision to join a weight loss program, you want to get started quickly,” explains Scott Parker, VP of marketing at Jenny Craig.

High-touch increases conversions

About two years ago, the company discovered VoIP provider eStara's click-to-call technologies, which al­low consumers to click on a link on the Jenny Craig Web site and get connected directly by phone to a lo­cal weight loss center.

“It's great because we've got a per­son who is very interested in losing weight and all they have to do is click a button and they're on the phone with a consultant,” says Parker. “It has provided a more immediate means of responding — our consumers find it much more convenient than dialing an 800 number. They can actually just click to call and it rings almost instantaneously.”

While Jenny Craig advertises through television, direct mail, search marketing, e-mail and banner ads, its click-to-call responses have come to represent 10% of overall sales. Once a consumer is on its Web site, the click-to-call feature is embedded on every page, encouraging them to make a direct line of communication with a Jenny Craig consultant. In addition, conversion from contact to ultimate sale is about three times as high for those customers who have responded on click-to-call than if they just regis­tered on the Web site.

Simple but effective technology

Jenny Craig's click-to-call technology works simply — Web site visitors see an icon which reads “Talk to a con­sultant now.” After clicking on the icon, a visitor enters a telephone num­ber and name. Then, the click-to-call platform triggers Jenny Craig's hotline to call the inquiring custom­er directly within 30 seconds.

When the customer picks up the call, a prerecorded message from Kirstie Alley, a celebrity spokesperson for the brand, thanks the customer for their call and informs them that they will be connected to a consultant. Within the seven seconds it takes to have Alley call the customer, a call is then placed to its local center, where telephone operators are alerted, via the potential customer's area code, to the fact that a caller is on the line.

“This tool is better than a normal phone call to a business because there is data on what Web page and even what keyword brought them to the call,” says Dan Obregon, who as eStara's then director of marketing worked on the effort. (He has since left the company.)

Jenny Craig is just one of many marketers implementing click-to-call technologies to drive customer acqui­sition and retention.

For example, online insurance agen­cy Esurance, which offers prospects estimated rates on insurance based on personal information, wanted to improve its insurance buying process. When the firm surveyed its customers, it found that most inquiries required a customer service representative's assis­tance, rather than just a Web quote. It tried offering self-service tools on its site, but found that consumers are less satisfied with FAQs and site search than they are with phone-based cus­tomer service.

To improve its existing online sign -up process, the firm added the click-to-call feature — and prospect inquiries rose by 30% after six months.

“When customers get quotes, they understandably have questions about their price or our company,” says Tom Capp, director of telesales at Esur­ance. “Now they have another way to get in touch with us.”

As marketers continue to look for creative new ways to get consum­ers to interact directly with their brand, click-to-call is becoming a viable option, whether that business is set up to offer e-commerce or not. After all, many marketers looking for leads, such as Jenny Craig, still require a customer service represen­tative on hand.

“All of our marketing is designed to generate a response to our consul­tants at the local center, which will hopefully lead to an appointment and therefore a sale,” says Parker. “What click-to-call represented to us was an opportunity to make the Web work more quickly and directly connect to generating leads.”

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