The Thank You Page: An Overlooked Gold Mine

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Internet marketing has become a race between the boastful hare and the persevering tortoise. The "hare-brained" rush to employ the latest technology has rushed past "tortoise-minded" traditional marketing principles.

The list of Internet technology available to help marketers reach customers is endless - cookie files, cache busting, rich media - but Internet marketing is not solely about technology. There is so much at the fingertips of today's marketer that sometimes the most useful tools are overlooked.

Also, some of the most successful online marketing tactics are the most basic. A case in point is the thank you page/post-purchase page.

Here is a marketing opportunity that is seldom used but rarely fails.

The concept is simple: Many e-commerce sites accept banner advertisements. While having the opportunity to market to someone in a buying mode is great, even better is to take advantage of the thank you/post-purchase page. This area can be found directly following a user's purchase of a product. It typically thanks the customer for his or her business and provides the price, shipping date and other order-confirmation details.

With no technical hurdles to jump, the rationale behind buying this ad inventory is simple. The customer has just completed a purchase online, and presumably is satisfied with the experience. He or she is familiar with e-commerce, and has already proven to have no reservations about giving out credit card information online.

Perhaps most importantly, they have nothing left to do on that site. The thank you page gives the marketer the chance to be in the right place at the right time in front of the perfect person.

One site that clearly understands the benefit of this area is CDnow. With low margins on compact discs, CDnow is forced to turn to ad revenue to enhance its bottom line. Banner and tile advertisements can be seen throughout the site.

After CDnow customers make a purchase, they are brought to an order summery page that details the buy and thanks them for shopping at the site.

A number of advertisements appear that are unique to this area.

One is a credit card offer that targets people with established credit lines. The other is for, which asks "where would you like to shop next?" Both of these advertisements were placed on this page to reach a specific type of consumer.

Finding thank you/post purchase inventory isn't necessarily easy. Most e-commerce sites don't accept advertising, and the ones that do have limited space on this page. However, putting together a program focused on this inventory is worth it. Click-through rates tower above the 1-percent norm, and the conversion rates exceed almost any other type of media buy.

Also, many sites that sell this type of inventory have yet to understand its true value. This allows marketers to take advantage of these targeted areas without paying an inflated cost-per-thousand impressions rate.

A smart marketer will negotiate a yearlong buy for an ad on the thank you page to reach any minimum advertising expenditure the site may require, and then take advantage of surges in visibility during the shopping seasons.

This represents a tortoise-minded solution to the hare-minded world of Internet marketing options. Such a media buy allows the marketer to reach customers while they are in the process of buying.

Cookie targeting and other technology-based marketing tools are valuable shortcuts, but will never take the place of a disciplined, traditional marketing approach.

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