Dos and Don'ts: Webserts

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Webserts — banner ads placed in confirmation e-mails sent after an e-commerce purchase — have grown in popularity as e-commerce expands and list brokers look for new sources of income. Experts share their “Dos and Don'ts” for marketers looking for opportunities in this emerging channel.

Rob Stanton
Stanton Direct Marketing

Do: Push for an integrated message across several platforms
If a site owner allows banner ads on a confirmation page and a confirmation e-mail, even though they may be different opportunities and negotiated separately, this can really help increase visibility. Repetition helps response. For example: after ordering from a particular Web site, a person may see an offer on the confirmation page, then in a confirmation e-mail and ultimately see a printed piece in their order package. These touch points are in a defined sequence and can be coordinated to give a third-party advertising partner the best chance for a successful campaign.

Don't: Forget that Webserts are a direct response channel for customer acquisition
One of the worst practices I see — particularly with larger ad networks — is that the offers are less than compelling. The offer isn't selling the product, it's just making the viewer aware of the product. This is not a branding venue, it's a direct response venue. If the offer doesn't motivate the prospect to move to the landing page and if that landing page doesn't turn that person into a new customer, a lot of time and opportunity has gone down the drain. We've had a hard time converting offers issued through ad networks because generally they don't move a prospect to make a purchase. They aren't “closing” kinds of offers.

Jill Eastman Vidal
1-800-Flowers.com


Do: Make it easy for the customer to convert from your ad
Publishers should make it as easy as possible for their customers to take advantage of their partner's offer. If you can negotiate a data pass — an agreement between the consumer and the Websert host through which payment data are transferred to the third party for a purchase — this more expressly endorsed offer will undoubtedly yield higher results. Be sure you are prepared to manage this more sensitive experience appropriately and from end-to-end from a customer satisfaction perspective.

Don't: Leave your customers scratching their head about the initiative
While there are many offers that can be broadly interpreted as relevant to each other, it's important that both the advertiser and the host are comfortable with the relationship. For example, jewelry is a great upsell to apparel, but maybe doesn't work for an online vitamin offer. All parties should also click through each offer to ensure all understand the full transaction process. Are there any upsells? Does everything work as it's supposed to?

Hillary Taylor
RMI


Do: Keep it simple
If you start out just thinking of the websert as an online package insert, you take a little of the mystery out of it. You can certainly target a category based on your inserting. You want to be promotional, but you also need a great headline to get a clickthrough. The goal should not only be securing an order, but also collecting an e-mail address.  Your creative and your copy are very important. Less is more. So many people look at webserts and they're afraid of them — but a lot of its principles are the same as offline, but you're doing it quicker, cheaper with instantaneous response.

Don't: Limit your testing
This is similar to offline inserting. What you're really looking here, though, is your click-through rate. Your response rates are going to be determined by your Web site, so you need to get good volume from one program or decent volume in a number of programs to gauge your effectiveness. Make sure your landing page is consistent with the ad.  Remember, order confirmations have a 90% open rate, which is even higher than an envelope in a package. It's a 90% chance of someone seeing your ad.
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