CatalogLink Redesign Improves Order Process

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List management firm Direct Media Inc., Greenwich, CT, launched a redesigned version of its CatalogLink Web site this month, and the firm is laying the groundwork to let clients run promotions on the site to increase consumer traffic.

About 250 consumer and business-to-business catalog companies are on the site, which links customers to catalogers' commerce pages or forwards orders to clients.

CatalogLink has been on the Web since July 1995. "At the time, the technology was cutting edge, but it's not any more," said James Ferrier, CatalogLink general manager. He noted that the site was essentially an online directory of catalogs offering everything from computers to apparel.

To remedy that, Direct Media changed CatalogLink's look and switched the site to a Microsoft Corp. e-commerce server that is designed to let the company better customize offers based on consumers' past order histories.

Direct Media plans to broaden the site's promotional aspects later this year, although there is no timetable for adding features. Future enhancements include the ability to let vendors sell directly from the site and online coupons.

Special offers will follow as well. Order confirmation pages will give shoppers the option of receiving free trial issues of catalogs that match their buying habits, and the site will select products from catalogs to promote as "picks of the week." Ferrier added that the company will make more seasonal and holiday promotions.

Though the growth of CatalogLink's consumer traffic has not been explosive, it has been steady. The site serves about 25,000 consumers daily, up from roughly 10,000 a year ago. But Ferrier said drawing shoppers has been the site's biggest challenge.

Building traffic is a central goal for CatalogLink, which charges clients 50 cents per lead regardless of whether a sale is made.

"We're trying to find new methods to bring people to the site through affiliate types of relationships and a little more e-mail marketing," Ferrier said, adding that advertising targeting women's sites on the major Internet networks has cost more than the company can justify spending.

The vast majority of CatalogLink's visitors are consumers rather than businesses. The company uses banner ads on sites that appeal to women between the ages of 35 and 65 - the demographic group that makes about 85 percent of all catalog purchases. Direct Media also promotes the site through print ads and e-mail campaigns.

CatalogLink has used e-mail campaigns sporadically since 1997, but such marketing will become "more and more of an initiative," Ferrier said. The site has worked with e-mail list and distribution company The Email Channel Inc., Boca Raton, FL, and uses E-mail Campaign Management, a campaign product owned by Direct Media.

Direct Media is owned by data warehousing giant Acxiom Corp., Conway, AR.
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