Letter: Online Channel Offers New Ground for Customer Acquisition

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The article "Holiday Sales Show Internet Is Taking Its Place in List Industry" (Jan. 10) and the points made by the professionals interviewed all ring true, and I enjoyed reading it as written. I would offer the following additional comments on the thought that direct marketers stand to gain from, or is it that they are currently missing, a key opportunity to acquire customers online?

Today, direct marketers freely rent and exchange offline assets including postal files, catalog blow-ins and package insert space. Yet the same organization balks at working collaboratively online. The application of direct marketing practices, as they pertain to co-marketing or asset utilization, in the online channel offers new ground for customer acquisition.

Consider online order confirmation pages or e-mail confirmation assets. Remember the last time you placed an order or subscribed to a magazine online? Typically, the order confirmation page or e-mail confirmation includes a thank-you message and little else. The customer experience needs to be protected, of course; however, this is a sizable opportunity. Direct marketers that have identified the opportunity for co-marketing on order confirmation pages offer the customer access to additional sites of affinity without impacting the overall experience. Consider it an online version of a package insert.

Equally, the direct marketer should seek out sites of affinity to drive prospects. Media buys on related content sites are great, but think about the possibilities of marketing online to a prospect that just completed a transaction. The recency could not be greater. The astute direct marketer can leverage these existing assets for cooperative marketing for customer acquisition or direct rental income.

It is only a matter of time, perhaps a very slow march of time, before more direct marketers become active in this space. The reach and revenue opportunities, as more and more orders are transacted online, behoove all direct marketers to spend time thinking it through. I know there are few that already have.

Sam Young, Internet services manager, Millard Group Inc.



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