Webserts can work wonders for your ROI

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Post-purchase offers in transactional e-mails offer companies connection to third-party customers, drive revenue and attract qualified customers. Four industry experts share their thoughts on webserts

Bryan Seastead
Senior manager, global partnerships, VistaPrint

A websert — a subtle third-party offer embedded in a transactional e-mail — offers marketers significant advantages over traditional box insert media. Webserts are more cost-efficient, offer more accurate source tracking, and can be dynamically served more easily.

By cross-selling offers and adding them to the cart, there is a seamless checkout that avoids any conversion-killing redirects to a partner's site. Once the conversion is made, the coupon of the chosen offer is automatically e-mailed directly to the customer or displayed on the checkout page.

The critical success factor is to use real-time customer data, source channels, product interest or basket value to predict the most customer-relevant offers and then serve those that will produce the highest gross margin per transaction. Using data to serve more productive and profitable ads ensures that transactional profits are maximized while helping advertising partners acquire the most qualified customers.

Order path webserts benefit your company by driving more dollars into transactions, yet with no risk to conversion. Partners are satisfied because they receive highly qualified and traceable referrals. Customers are pleased since they have coupons they can redeem at any time. They can also forward offers to others, which provides another advantage for both advertiser and merchandiser.

THE TAKEAWAY:
Use real time customer data to efficiently track your websert programs


Jill Vidal
Director of third party marketing, 1-800-Flowers.com

Like a package insert, a websert offer is marketed to a customer post-purchase and does not disrupt the order completion process; carries an implied endorsement of the brand hosting the banner; and can produce real revenue for your company.

These Web site order confirmation-related banners are a viable means of generating revenue without sacrificing your brand. However, the days of charging per impression vs. a commission per lead or order are nearly a thing of the past, unless you are willing to guarantee volume to your partner and/or provide unique functionality — for example, a datapass of customer's information to make the order easy to complete. This functionality almost always requires IT support, and a smart legal eye to ensure you are clearly stating all terms and conditions of your offer, as well as an auditing mechanism on impressions posted.

Leveraging your real estate in this environment is simply a smart thing to do. Be wary that you don't host too many offers in this space, and make sure your banners are large enough to easily read. Of course, the larger the banner, the more attention you can draw to your partner's offer creating more a valuable asset to your partnership and/or more income to your bottom line. The most successful offers, naturally, are those that have the most relevance to your brand/customer demographic.

THE TAKEAWAY:
Manage expectations and don't oversaturate with too many offers


Damian Coverdale
Media sales director, Response One

Recent research by Nielsen showed that nine out of 10 Internet users log on specifically to make a purchase. Every time a transaction occurs online retailers are obliged to issue order confirmations to the customer. From a marketing perspective, these communications are a gold mine that has not yet been fully uncovered.

In the world of print, transpromo is being employed tentatively, but it is still not the norm — so it is not surprising that the practice of including promotional messages within digital documents is, as of right now, fairly unusual.

Digital inserts are a key window of opportunity when it comes to up-selling and cross-selling a company's own products at a negligible cost, but it can also be an interesting source of potential revenue from affinity partnerships. In fact, as these are compulsory communications that would be issued anyway, it is possible to increase revenue by offering partner organizations this advertising blank space.

To take the temperature of the public on this issue, Response One asked consumers earlier this year whether they would be happy to receive third-party advertising messages on their order confirmations and found that not only was half the population happy to receive these messages, but they were also likely to click through to the advertiser's Web site.

THE TAKEAWAY:
Digital inserts are an underutilized channel to reach willing consumers


Andrew Degenholtz
President, ValueMags

I believe webserts can work, because they are a cost-effective way to add revenue per transaction by offering an add-on product during the checkout process.

For example, you can promote an offer for a magazine subscription with a customer's order. This can work because a magazine subscription typically has a value of $10 or more. The offer stipulates that the customer has to place an order above a certain dollar threshold, say $25, in order to qualify for the bonus magazine. This encourages an increase in the average value of each order, and the customer perceives added value because they are not being charged extra to get the subscription.

In fact, you can even offer the customer the option to request a rebate for the value of the magazine if they chose not to receive it — the publisher, of course, underwrites this rebate in this case.

The mechanics of such an offer are also not very complicated. The magazine publisher would not require the sharing of any data from the retailer other than the mailing and shipping information. And the retailer can earn 30 to 50 cents per transaction. This adds up to a profitable promotion and a win-win for the retailer who gives away a relevant magazine and the magazine publisher that gets a new subscriber already identified as having an interest in the editorial content of the publication.

THE TAKEAWAY:
Targeted add-on offers during the checkout process can be effective

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