Articles - Written by Arthur Hughes - 309 Comments
The Benefits of Web Response
Most responses to customer promotions come in by phone or mail. Increasingly, though, companies are looking to web response as the preferred method. Let’s see how it works.
Your outgoing promotion can use any channel:
- Direct Mail
- On-product offers
- Web Pop-ups
- Partner sites
To get a response (or a sale) today, most ads list an 800 number. You should still do that, since there are still many households not yet on the web. But you should also use a micro-site for response.
A micro-site is not really a website, but a part of a database. The customer enters her order, or responds to the survey questions posed in the communication with the data going directly into the database. The database thanks her for her order, which is passed directly to the web ordering system. It sends her a confirming email. If she has previously provided her credit card, she can order by One Click, instead of giving her name, address, and card number over and over again.
Why do customers prefer this system of response? Because they never get put on hold. They can make an instant response in 24/7 time without getting a busy signal, or a “Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line and…” Why do companies prefer this type of response? Because it saves millions of dollars. Each call to a live operator costs any company between $3.00 and $7.00 per call. Each response to a micro-site has a variable cost of less than $0.02.
To use web response, you should list an easy web address like: RCA23.com in your promotion media. When your responders go to www.RCA23.com they will find a web micro-site that has been set up specifically for that promotion. It is not your normal “do everything” corporate web site. It is expecting people who are responding to a particular dated promotion. If your promotion is by email, popup, or partner site they reach your micro-site by a click here in the text. There they find the survey form, order form, or information that was promised in the promotion. There is no flash page, or clicking required. Customers just enter their name, address, and email (or credit card if a direct sale is involved).
The micro-site is connected to a database that collects the information entered by the responders. The database can be accessed by your company to get hourly results of your promotion. Who is using this technique today? Business Week, America Online, Time, Forbes, Conde Nast, Value Line, Barton-Cotton, ESPN, Mayo Clinic, Universal Music, and Iomega to name a few.
What does it cost to use web response? The setup costs are surprisingly low. A micro site with three pages can be set up for under $8,000. It you were to get 100,000 responses to your promotion, your cost per response would be about eight cents each. Compare that to $3 or more for phone or mail response. A big advantage of web response is that the customers do all the work. There is no need for a live operator entering data, or for uploading data. Fulfillment can take place the same day as the customer responds, since the micro-site can be electronically connected to the fulfillment process.
One of the best aspects of web response is that your micro-site can deliver content that cannot be provided by a live operator. Customers clicking on your micro-site can:
- See maps, diagrams, pictures, or video
- Download samples of music or text
- Download white papers and information
- Shift, with a click of a mouse, to your main web site, or a landing page for additional products
- Look up local dealers, and have a text or phone chat with them while on line.
Web response is an excellent way to maintain contact with your customers or employees. With these folks, you know who they are, so you can say, “Welcome Arthur” when they click on the site using a cookie. We know from experience that communications increase relationships, loyalty, and continued sales. The problem is that communications have always been so expensive. Today it is easy to send out a million emails, and many companies are doing it. But many companies haven’t figured out how to answer a million emails.
That is where the micro-site comes in. In your outgoing email you provide a click here that is the only way available for the customers to respond. When they do, they come to your micro-site where they can respond to your message at no cost to them, or to you – no phone calls to make, no stamps to look for, no need to compose their own email.
When customers do come to the micro-site you can use viral marketing. This technique of web response works like gangbusters. You invite your customers to send emails to their friends by entering their email addresses right on your micro-site. You can put a box on the site that looks like this:
|Name||Click Here to See Messages|
When the customers click “send” they see the text of their message which could look like this:
Dear Helena: Rick and I are going to Hawaii on January 7th. We thought it would be wonderful if you could come with us. We are staying at the Maui Surfside which is a great deal. To find out about it click here! Hope you can join us! Susan
This is a way of using web response to multiply your message many times over without your having to spend any money at all.
In short, the benefits of web response are many, the costs are low, and you should be exploring how you can use it in your business.
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