Rolling Out the Welcome Mat: Selling Directly to Consumers on Your Website

  |  January 14, 2014   |  Comments

A growing number of companies are realizing they are doing business in a brave new world, where marketing to consumers can't be left to their online retail partners, distributors or affiliates.

shopping-online-ecommerceA growing number of companies are realizing they are doing business in a brave new world, where marketing to consumers can't be left to their online retail partners, distributors or affiliates.

Historically, manufacturers only needed to provide product specifications or utilitarian overviews on their websites and could leave the marketing and sales sides to ecommerce specialists. However, connecting directly with consumers is now a must-have, not a nice-to-have, in order for any company to gain brand exposure, market share and revenue.

The question is: Where to begin?

The first step is to create an online marketing program that will educate the consumer on new innovations or product releases and to build all initiatives around a transaction.

Take, for example, a major car company. The executives knew the corporate website offered opportunities, but they couldn't pinpoint them, nor could they associate a value to each of those engagement possibilities. Once we took a look at the company's website, we immediately were able to highlight the most valuable interaction points and start to optimize areas for conversion.

These kinds of breakthroughs can mean increased profits for companies as they begin to turn their once stale websites into information and transactional hubs.

Think Bigger

What companies must understand is that their ecommerce counterparts are way ahead of them; practicing a handful of online marketing tactics isn't enough. Find tools to help marketing programs accelerate exponentially -- not one or two potential programs at a time, but 50, 60 or more.

While marketing programs are created to fight for mindshare, the messaging is all about wallet share. The key to this second phase is getting that right message in front of consumers in every possible interaction.

Here's an example: A building supplier needed to delineate between two types of customers, the professional builder who knows the ins and outs of the construction industry, and the do-it-yourself consumer researching a home project. The company needed its one-size-fits-all website to meet the needs of both customers. By creating different profiles and adding a personalization engine on the website, the building supplier was able to utilize the existing site infrastructure to better serve both types of customers while increasing interaction and response.

This may sound daunting, especially if a company has never thought of its website in terms of the end user, but even moreso is the prospect of not doing anything.

Late to the Game Doesn't Mean Second-Best

Understand that not having yet developed a direct-to-consumer offering doesn't mean a company can't or won't be successful. In many ways, there is an advantage to waiting and developing later than competition or contemporaries.

Ultimately, a company that traditionally used resellers can gain a tremendous advantage by developing its own programs and technologies with their customers in mind. Use this time to create an agile environment of people, process and systems. SaaS technologies afford companies an advantage of connecting their legacy systems (and customer information) with front-end delivery technology that results in quick acceleration into the marketplace.

Challenge Accepted

Once a company realizes that its brand and revenue are at stake, there really won't be much that can get in the way.

The next step is to realize that acceleration is the name of the game. Don't be afraid to find the right partners and programs and move quickly. Yes, the weeks and months ahead may be challenging, but the end result will mean more loyal customers and more opportunities for new revenue and profit.

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Nathan Richter

Nathan Richter advises top enterprise clients including Best Buy, QVC, Urban Outfitters, Sports Authority, and PETCO on website optimization. A veteran of digital marketing and online retailing, Richter has extensive hands-on experience helping enterprise clients implement successful multichannel marketing campaigns. Richter has directed online marketing and site optimization programs for David’s Bridal, QVC, The Franklin Mint, and dELiA's.

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