What's The Buzz?

Pull up a virtual seat at the ClickZ Forum and listen to Jim Novo draw parallels between today’s e-commerce environment and the early days of the Home Shopping Network (HSN).

“People probably don’t realize how interactive HSN used to be,” he wrote. “…If the item wasn’t selling, the host would cut price (an early form of ‘reverse auction’) until they [built] demand and the item sold out. All customers always got the last and lowest price… So it was a ‘community’ banding together…to set demand and price in real-time.”

Jim’s tips for online marketers:

“…Reach out quickly if you see a buyer lapse…you’re wasting your money if you let them go too long without a purchase…The customer can be ‘won’ quickly, but the relationship will dissolve just as quickly if not maintained…

“Giving discounts to customers who buy very frequently can easily cost a ton of money. Instead, give best customers special services or special recognition. Target product discounts to best customers only when they begin lapsing…

“Like HSN, [online marketers] have a ton of undifferentiated people sweeping through the site each day Reach out and grab them, get them to take the first purchase plunge with compelling offers…The same offer has varying results depending on the hour of the day it’s presented.

“Hopefully, you’re tagging visitors and know who has bought before and who has not, enabling the presentation of a custom offer to non-buyers. This is one thing we couldn’t do at HSN, so everybody got in on the special deal. We controlled it by product category, doing special deals on products with a history of attracting a high ratio of new buyers. This approach could work if you are unable to ID your visitors.”

Defining Visits

In an exceptionally prolific week, Jim also discussed the potential for TV and the Internet to function as a tag team, and he kicked off a thread on how to define and measure visits and views.

On the latter topic, Mike McClure referred him to the definition proposed by the IAB’s (Internet Advertising Bureau) task force; that a visit is a series of page requests by a visitor without 30 consecutive minutes of activity.

But, as with many things in life, it’s not quite that simple. “Each site owner needs to determine what makes for a QUALITY visit and then design metrics to measure their success,” Mike wrote.

In Next Week’s Episode

ClickZ Forum moderator Richard Hoy posed “permission marketing” as a discussion topic for next week. He wonders: Can permission marketing scale? “How do you have meaningful dialog with (lots of) customers that isn’t an obvious form letter?”

Internet-Advertising – What’s In a Name?

Domain marketing captivated a number of I-Advertising members who collectively expressed a strong preference (branding-wise) for a dot-com domain as opposed to a dot-net or dot-anything else. For a contrarian view, consider Joe Clark, who pronounced the advice to use .com or nothing “americentric.” (Great word.)

“In a multilingual country like, say, Finland, Canada, Switzerland, or Belgium, do you really think .com will always give the visitor what he or she needs? Don’t you also think that the use of .com in those countries will instill an expectation that you’ll reach an American company whose web page is written only in American English?… Further, there are some company names that work well with .net…

Direct Email Marketing

Randall Evenson took strong exception to Jaffer Ali’s earlier post in which Jaffer contended that “offer, creative and media” are the three dynamic forces that shape response.

The implication “that other forces (like the correct list/target audience) are minor by comparison is dangerous advice,” Randall wrote. “The importance of the ‘right list’ is absolutely critical. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen any one, or in any combination, of great offers, wonderful creative and the perfect media do poorly simply because the target audience was wrong or very weak.

“I’ve also seen, too many times, an acceptable response when the offers, creative and media were weak themselves but the list was right on…Numerous times I’ve taken strong packages and simply determined the best cross-tab selections within that list and turned a losing campaign into a winner. Why? Because the ‘right list’ matters a whole lot!”

“It even goes further than that,” added Chris Donaldson, “for if advertisers do not use targeted, well-defined lists, chances are they will hit an audience that is not particularly interested in the offer.

“Result? A potentially huge audience backlash for not having received what they consider ‘opt-in’ material. Or, put more bluntly, effectively ‘unsubscribing’ our audience base.”

Too Many Ads

Jumping into the online ad saturation fray, Michael Abramovich wrote, “Heads-up guys, you reached saturation from a users point of view some time ago. You aren’t in danger; you are up to your necks in the consequences of unbridled advertising, infiltrating (chat rooms) etc. Dropping click-throughs etc. kind of tell you that, don’t they, or are you all justplaying ostrich and hoping that problem will go away.”

Online Ads — The Next Big Thing

A thread on how to value a web site for sale continued on Online Ads. Bahman Eslamboly offered to let members use an Excel template he’s created. It’s available at http://www.websitebroker.com/forms/ forms.html.

Richard Polkowski’s article on buying and selling web sites can be found at http://www.webwab.com. “My guess is that the buying and selling of ‘profitable’ sites will be the next big thing on the net as stock rich IPOs scramble to increase revenue,” Richard wrote. Jeff Allen contributed seven criteria for web site valuation.

Among Other Hot Topics

Tim Lee, Ken Cooper and others continued the debate over whether or not personalization is really personal. Tim thinks not.

GoTo.com’s Dan Scholnick contributed to the thread that Doug Bates kicked off when he complained that GoTo wouldn’t sell him the Adobe PageMaker-related search terms he wanted.

“People searching GoTo.com expect relevant search results,” Dan wrote. “In Doug Bates’ case, if the GoTo editors can find a clear path to information on the site that indicates his candidates know PageMaker, then they would certainly reconsider the term he would like to bid on. If Doug is trying to link users to his home page, there is no mention of PageMaker there, nor is there a link that says something like, ‘software packages our candidates know.'”

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