At a recent industry conference, we polled people running DRTV campaigns with Web sites to learn what percentage of incremental sales was being generated from e-commerce Web sites. The answer was surprising: 1 percent to 2 percent. These sales were typically the result of tacking on a URL to an infomercial or TV spot adjacent to a toll-free order number. I was personally surprised because this is the same 1 percent to 2 percent that companies were getting a year and half ago, and I know it's possible to achieve sales of 20 percent to 30 percent. Here's how to reach those higher numbers:
Don't treat Web sites as an afterthought
Make sites a central part of your overall marketing campaign. If you take the time to invest in creating eye-catching spots or page-turning copy do the same for your Web sites. Track sales, analyze the information you collect and test options. One of the best benefits of working with the Web is how easy and inexpensive it is to test new offers. You can test 10 offers for a fraction of the cost of making one great spot.
Do more than list the URL at the end of your commercial
Plan to creatively integrate the URL. Use a voice-over with an announcer to list the URL. Directly refer to it in the commercial and show people using the site. The more integral the URL is, the more traffic you will generate to the site.
Go beyond simply using TV to promote a Web site
If you are offering products that require customers to reorder, include the Web address in the packaging insert and design.
Incorporate the Web site and the address in your collateral material. And, of course, use online promotional strategies such as listing your site with search engines, sponsoring another site that provides a link, and using banner ads.
Make sure the Web site reflects the creative look and feel of the TV commercial
If a customer hits the site before seeing the commercial but doesn't recognize it, they may leave. The Web site should amplify the commercial, not compete with it.
Take the time to test the site for ease of use
Evaluate how long it takes to load graphics, navigate through pages and order information. And realize that not all users have the same equipment. Use the slowest computer you can find. Remember, you may be developing a site with the fastest equipment available, but your customer may not be viewing it with the fastest equipment available.
Develop a program of continuous testing and improvement
Evaluate the offer placement, copy strategies and illustrations. Use traditional (but time proven) direct response elements. How good is the offer, the creative concept and the upsells? Be sure to monitor the progress of the site. What is the closing percentage, the upsell percentage? If you don't have these answers, you are not paying attention to the right things.
Be careful whom you listen to
There are many talented people with technical Web site design and implementation skills who “know” the Web. But do they know your customers? Do they feel that downloading a plug-in is trivial? Do they recommend against highlighting a toll-free line because anyone who is on the Web has no reason to use the phone? Do they argue that MP3 files are essential to the functionality of the site?
Take the time to remember there is a customer at the other end of your Web page, and he may want to order your product — if it is easy to do so. Also remember that the purpose of the site is to highlight the product or service you sell, not to promote the talents of the Web designer.
I know sales of 20 percent to 30 percent are achievable because I see it every day. We treat the Web as a new tool. A fully integrated direct response Web site should be an integral part of every DRTV campaign, as essential as a toll-free number.
The Electronic Retailing Association reports that in 1998, 62 percent of all online sales came from direct marketers and brick-and-mortar merchandisers with a Web presence. That means someone is doing something right. If you use what's in your direct response toolbox, you'll build better Web sites, drive more traffic and see incremental sales of 20 percent to 30 percent or even more. When the question rolls around next year about what percentage of sales are being generated from the Internet, I hope to be surprised, this time pleasantly.