Q&A: Jeff Wisot, VP of marketing at Buy.com

Jeff Wisot, VP of marketing at Buy.com, explains his portal’s e-mail campaigns and why it is turning to social media

Q: What are Buy.com’s direct and digital marketing priorities?

A: Since our margins are razor thin, almost all digital marketing has a dual focus on ROI and branding. If you look at any of our online marketing avenues, you’ll find most of them are performance-based and analyzed on a daily basis. For instance, with search engine marketing, most companies pay per click with Google or Yahoo. We have relationships where when we are paying, it’s performance based. If someone clicks on it, we don’t pay then. We pay when the customer buys the product, and we pay a small percentage.

Q: What methods or channels work best for Buy.com? Why?

A: We have more than 6 million people subscribed to our e-mails, and those are deliverable addresses that we can send out [e-mails to] in a 30-minute span. Our goals have been to promote ourselves as the “low-price leader” with a huge selection. In one e-mail, we can have products from 20 different categories. When we deploy an e-mail, we are always sure we have the lowest price on the Internet on every price cut in that e-mail. It’s the most inexpensive way to bring a customer back to our company and bring in that order. We actually get more e-mails to customer service asking to receive our e-mails than customers requesting to opt out. That’s a fact that we are all pretty proud of. Our goals are not only to build customer retention, but to build customer loyalty.

Q: Do online retailers face any specific marketing challenges that other brands do not?

A: One of our biggest challenges is that we have several marketplace sellers for each product category. Who do you promote? Do you promote the Buy.com price or the market seller’s price? We came to a company policy that we would not compete against our market resellers. Our goal is to delight our partners and to push their products as much as we would our own.

Q: What are you looking forward to doing this year?

A: We are launching many social elements that will improve stickiness on our site and make Buy.com much more of a gathering place for customers — not just to buy products but to talk about products and to walk their friends through the different elements of products that they want to discuss. We are making it a major initiative and even bringing in a social media expert during the next few weeks.

Q: Why social media?

A: It’s the future. It is really limitless what you can do. We work with Facebook directly, and we are extremely impressed with the tools they put on their site for us to use, to improve the customer experience or empower people to communicate better. Social media is growing at a humongous rate.

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