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Using a Web Micro Site for Response

Americans are now used to calling a toll free number in response to promotions. By now everyone is sick of voice response (“For a menu of options, push 7”).  And everyone is really tired of being put on hold (“Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line…”)  So what is next? Micro sites.

More than 60% of US households now have Web access. For business, the number is more than 90%.  It is now possible to ask customers to contact you through the Internet, with a response rate that increases daily.  What companies have yet to understand is how to set up a micro-site for web response.

Too many companies direct their respondents to their company web site. What a mistake!  Company web sites are developed by a committee chaired by IT.  They are usually expensive to build, and offer the visitor a thousand options all at once. To see what I mean, click on  This is a great site. But, on one page you have more than 200 choices. What if you called a toll free Sears operator, and when she answered, she began to read off all the things on the landing page.  You would hang up after 30 seconds.

This is where micro sites come in. We know from direct marketing experience that if you offer people two choices instead of one, your response is reduced. How about 200 choices?

If you are promoting a wide screen TV in your direct mail piece, TV or print ad, give your customers the address of a micro site which you have created. Put your wide screen TVs on that page – AND NOTHING ELSE.  You can, of course provide financing options, a store directory, and a link to your company web site. But make it very easy for people to select the wide screen TV that they want, entering their name and address and credit card right on the page. Let them order from the micro site, or print out the page on their printer so they can take it in to the dealer.

Why are these micro sites so powerful? Customers love it because they never get put on hold. They can access the site 24/7/365. You will love it because the cost per order is about five cents, instead of five dollars. You can measure how many people come to the site, what they click on, and what they do. If it is not working, you can change it right away.

Access to these micro sites can be customized. If you send your customers an email promoting your product, the email can say “To see a wide screen TV in action click here.”  When they click, the micro site can say, “Welcome Susan. Take a look at this TV”. How does the site know that it is Susan? Because you sent the email to Susan, and you have a lookup database.

If you are sending a direct mail piece to Susan, tell her to respond to The GRV2 is your database code for Susan’s database record.  With four characters you can keep up to 1.5 million names in your lookup table.

What all this means is that real one to one marketing has now arrived. Using a micro site, you can correspond with each customer, addressing her by name, and putting on the site just what she wants to see, and what you want to show her. Micro sites can have a live operator button, if she wants to chat with a sales associate. They should provide your toll free number in case she wants to hear a human voice.  But they should be so good that she does not need to go anywhere else.

Your micro site should be equipped with collaborative filtering. When your toll free operator sells Susan a wide screen TV, she is supposed to ask her whether she wants a DVD player to go with it. She gets a cross sale rate of 20%. Your web site could be better than a live operator. Not only should you offer the customer the next best product, but to be better than a live operator, you can show and demonstrate that product on the micro site.

Direct mail is a direct response vehicle. It is so much more powerful if it leads the customer to a micro site which begins a real dialog which has a variable cost to you of absolutely zero.

A few cautions: No flash pages. Just the facts, Mam. Make the page load instantly. To be sure your micro site is working right, test it on a home PC with a dial up 28 baud modem.  Most of your customers have that. If it does not come up right away on an ordinary home PC, you will lose your customers.

Your micro site is linked directly to your database. You will know on an hourly basis how your promotion is doing.  You can find that out from your toll free operators, but it is a nuisance to call them every hour. With a micro site, you can get hourly data and no one minds.

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