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Plan Ahead for DRTV Orders Over Web

Media drive Web traffic. We’ve all heard for some time that media drive retail sales. Some direct response television companies have built their businesses on this axiom. Their retail distribution would not work if it were not for the media support given to their product. This also is accurate when it comes to driving Web sales.

DRTV also can drive Web site sales. By displaying a Web site address along with a toll-free number, DRTV advertisers can create traffic at their Web sites. Once on the Web, the number of orders that can be processed at one time is limited only by the size of the server. Some marketers actually prefer to receive orders this way because the data are immediately available for fulfillment and processing. Credit card authorization and declines can be handled in real time. The best news is there is no additional cost of media for these orders. A 2-to-1 ratio show means 50 percent of your revenue goes to pay media. Imagine the effect on profits when half of your costs go away.

For pricier offers, however, this strategy can lead to disaster if it is not planned correctly. Here’s why: Call center experience shows that as the advertised price approaches $60, fewer of the inbound calls will be “lay-down” sales. More often than not, the caller has questions or reservations that must be addressed before the order is made. Consequently, order-to-call ratios decline. That is why it is so important to have salespeople on the phones as price points increase. It is the same reason more savvy DRTV advertisers are turning to inbound telesales.

The passive order-taking teleservices approach is consistent with the passive order taking of a Web site. It rarely converts inquiries into sales. Even worse, the nature of the Internet creates a price-sensitive shopper. Once a television viewer acts on the impulse to visit an advertised Web site, it’s all too easy to start comparison shopping. This does not play into the strength of most DRTV offers.

For the Internet to become an effective form of customer contact for DRTV, you need the same salesmanship on the Web that you get from your telesales call center. Enter live sales support – e-contact, chat-based services where customers can communicate with a live person like they do on the phone. Yet, here, too, you need to plan carefully before promoting your Web site to television viewers. Here are some of the issues to consider when choosing and working with a live Web support company.

Recognize the difference between salesmanship and service. Most of the live Web support firms were created to answer customer service questions and provide basic ordering assistance. This has become an invaluable addition for e-commerce companies, but DRTV marketers need more.

Most television offers require proactive salespeople who know how to anticipate objections before they arise and those who work diligently to close the sale at every opportunity. Fortunately, telesales companies have already built their infrastructure to support the Internet with this service. These companies bring the proactive sales mentality that DRTV campaigns need.

Don’t just settle for the sale – work to maximize the revenue from every inquiry. Many successful DRTV campaigns barely break even on sales of the advertised offer – the profit comes from up-sells of related products made during the call. (The recent success of buying clubs illustrates this point.)

It is important to plan ahead to ensure you don’t lose this added valuable income when people choose to respond over the Web. It may be as simple as showing these up-sells on your site when the customer responds. More likely, you will find that your profits skyrocket when you have a live sales representative confirm each order as it is placed. That way, every customer receives a direct presentation of the up-sells. Sure, it’s tempting to avoid the added cost, but what does it cost to lose that sale?

When you test it, you will find that net revenue increases when you add a live salesperson to the transaction. Just make sure your Internet sales consultants are fully trained and motivated to sell additional product this way. In the call center, marketers monitor the order-to-call ratio. How many track the Web site hits-to-orders ratio?

Treat orders from your DRTV spot as the first step in a continuing relationship. The companies that have survived and thrived in today’s challenging DRTV environment are those that have moved from producing “one-hit wonders” to developing a loyal customer base that generates repeat sales on the back end.

Live e-contact sales support can help cement a lasting relationship by demonstrating your commitment to make customer service easily accessible. Invest in this relationship by encouraging or requiring each potential customer to order through a sales consultant. Once customers experience this personal attention, they are far more likely to become repeat buyers on your site.

Your media buyer, call center and e-contact firm must work closely together to achieve the best result for you. To prepare for the hits you will get when a show airs, e-contact sales centers have to schedule their online staff the same way a call center does. The spikes are not as dramatic as traditional inbound, but increased hits do correspond with media airings.

By improving communication among your media buyer, call center and e-contact center, you can minimize the number of abandons that occur not only over the phone but also on the Web.

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