The power of the transaction path

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Marketers use a great deal of resources to drive consumers to a transaction. Fully maximizing the return on this investment requires strategic planning for what follows that transaction. This “path” is an extremely valuable, responsive moment during which savvy marketers are increasing revenue by up to 30% or more.

To evaluate your own transaction path, first consider the initial product being offered. In the case of a magazine subscription, perhaps you've given the consumer the option to pay now with a credit card or be billed later. Your first concern may be to offer a slightly better price or more issues as an incentive to get the customer to change their chosen payment method. Whatever the term the customer chooses, consider a better incentive for them to upgrade to a longer commitment. Regardless of what is offered on the initial order page, always make at least one post-transaction attempt to make the offer better – for both the consumer and for your business. At Hearst, for example, we now routinely offer not only incentives for credit card payment, but also offer term extensions before the customer leaves.

Second, focus on the other products and services your business has to offer. Since the customer has already provided her name and mailing address, and possibly an immediate method of payment, consider offering your best possible deals at this time. You are likely to find that at this moment, where ordering more product can be as simple as one click to accept, these new customers respond at an extremely high rate. Multititle publishers can offer complimentary magazines, as Hearst does, as a trial offer or incentive for potential subscribers. Perhaps, there are related digital services your company is offering.  Even free offers like site registration or e-mail newsletter sign-ups or alerts can be highly effective when presented in this path. 

Third, think beyond your own offers and find ways to generate incremental revenue by introducing third party products into this moment. Generate leads for your advertisers.  Build lists for your partners. Conduct research. Gather demographics that can be used to better target offers.    

As you review your own operation and make plans to grow, don't underestimate the power of the transaction path. Ensure you're testing every possible way to get the highest possible contribution from this valuable asset.

Chris Wilkes is the executive director of consumer marketing for Hearst Magazines Digital Media. You may reach him at cwilkes@hearst.com.
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