Engaged Customer: The New Rules of Internet Direct Marketing

Engaged Customer: The New Rules of Internet Direct Marketing

by Hans Peter Brondmo

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In the age of the Internet, how do you keep your customers coming back--again and again--when your competitors are always just one click away? How do you turn casual, anonymous surfers into profitable, "engaged" customers?

The answers to these questions can be found in The Eng@ged Customer, written by Hans Peter Brondmo, one of the Internet's best

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In the age of the Internet, how do you keep your customers coming back--again and again--when your competitors are always just one click away? How do you turn casual, anonymous surfers into profitable, "engaged" customers?

The answers to these questions can be found in The Eng@ged Customer, written by Hans Peter Brondmo, one of the Internet's best known and most successful direct marketing experts. In this new marketing classic Brondmo introduces readers to the new rules of Internet direct marketing and shows them how to use email to build service rather than marketing relationships.

A visionary in both the technology and marketing arenas, Brondmo has shown more company executives than anyone how to build lasting, profitable, one-on-one relationships with customers on the Internet. His client list includes such household names as Palm, Hewlett-Packard, Victoria's Secret, Amtrak, Wells Fargo Bank, OfficeMax, Wegmans Food Markets, as well as such Internet leaders as CDNow, E-Trade Women.com, Petopia.com, Sparks.com, and eBags.com.

The Eng@ged Customer makes Brondmo's expertise available to executives, managers, and marketers in both Old and New Economy businesses. The book combines a strategic perspective with tactical guidance, showing where and how to invest in order to build an Internet direct marketing program, and how to plan, develop, and implement your program for maximum success.

While sending email messages to customers may sound like a simple process, retailers and marketers all over the world have discovered just how difficult it is to do it well. Let Brondmo show you how to

  • design email communications and marketing programs that have your customers complaining if they don't hear from you
  • understand and manage customer information so that you can "get to know" each and every customer--even if you've got millions
  • avoid spam and the potential nightmare of privacy violations
  • anticipate the organizational impact of customer-focused Internet direct marketing
  • define, measure, and track your success.

Whether you are an executive or a manager, The Eng@ged Customer will show you:

  • how to keep your customers coming back
  • how to rise above the increasing Internet clutter
  • how to become the trusted voice that your customers rely on.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this valuable guide to niche marketing, Brondmo, the head of an Internet direct marketing firm, leads readers step by step through preparing for and launching an e-mail campaign. To his credit, he addresses both strategy--how a direct mail campaign should fit into a company's overall marketing efforts--and specific tactics for implementing it. (For example, it's best to first ask potential customers if they want to hear about a product, to avoid flooding them with messages if they say yes and to customize the e-mail as much as possible.) He even shows the reader sample marketing copy as well as how to determine exactly how successful a campaign has been. While Brondmo's writing tends to be flat, he provides enough potent images to keep readers engaged, as when he encourages Internet marketers to try to replicate the approach of the old-time shopkeeper who truly knew his customers. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Chapter One

Back To The Future

It may sound odd, but the Holy Grail of Internet commerce and marketing is to provide the same kind of service that merchants and storekeepers did about a hundred years ago. At the turn of the last century, if you were a good customer your butcher might set aside his best cut of meat for you. He knew your tastes, your preferences, perhaps even how many family members you were buying for and whether any of them had special dietary needs. He might even suggest a few recipes every once in a while.

Customers--whether they're buying online or walking into a store--have always patronized companies that offer good products and services. But that has never been all there is to a purchase decision--and the old-time butcher knew it. He understood four basic principles: recognize and greet every customer by name, communicate with each one as an individual, reward the best customers, and provide great service to everyone. Consumers responded accordingly, giving their business to companies that recognized them, respected their time and privacy, simplified their choices, knew when to talk and when to listen, and engaged them in open, honest communication.

But in the era of mass merchandising and mass marketing, getting to know every customer and interact with each one individually is a financial near-impossibility, especially if you've got tens or hundreds of thousands--perhaps even millions--of customers.

As we look at the history of retailing and customer marketing over the past one hundred years, it's clear that there's a direct link between technological innovation and change in retail. Incredibleimprovements in manufacturing, transportation, and communication technologies made three things happen. First, manufacturing made it possible to produce and distribute an enormous range of new products with incredible efficiency. Second, new forms of transportation and communication allowed consumers to travel greater distances to shop or even transport goods directly to consumers. The railroad made it possible to open the first department stores at the turn of the last century. Goods could be manufactured at geographically remote locations and transported by train in large volumes and at reasonable costs to the department stores. Customers, in turn, could jump on a local passenger train or streetcar and go shopping downtown. A few decades later the automobile made it feasible to build big malls outside of the town center, where there was ample and cheap real estate. New forms of communications technologies had eliminated distance as an important factor in where and how people could shop. Credit cards were invented in the 1950s, and toll-free 800 telephone numbers were introduced in the late 1970s. Both these advances gave catalog and telephone shopping and marketing a huge boost. But even though new manufacturing, transportation, and communication technologies resulted in increased product selection and reduced costs, what we as customers lost was the personal relationship with the neighborhood store owner. Service and individualized communication was not a cost-effective option for the large retail superstores and the catalog marketers. Enter the Internet.

Thanks to email, there is now a way for companies like yours to regain the ability to communicate and maintain ongoing dialogues with their customers the way they used to so many years ago. You'll be able to get to know each one individually and give them all personalized attention and service in a timely way. You'll be able to offer all your customers a nearly limitless selection of products and services and still set aside the best deals for the best customers. And you'll be able to do it all not just with a few hundred customers but with millions.

What's the secret? Email marketing, which we define in this book as personalized Internet direct marketing and communication based on strategic marketing program design, and data analysis. Email marketing is about helping you to understand who your most valuable customers are, establish meaningful dialogues with them, and offer them individualized service in order to realize the maximum value from them over time. It's about allowing your customers to communicate with you in ways they never could before. More broadly, email marketing is about helping you understand how you can use customer insight combined with finely targeted, personalized, and timed communication to meet your bottom-line business (and marketing) objectives.

The problem is, email marketing is still largely misunderstood and misused. What could and should be the single most effective tool for building a lasting dialogue with prospects and customers ends up not only wasting a lot of time and money but alienating customers who are sick and tired of receiving spam. It doesn't have to be this way.

An Engaged Customer Is A Valuable Customer

Although every company will take a slightly different approach to designing a strategic email marketing program, they are all realizing how important it is to engage their customers--to have an ongoing dialogue with them, to get to know their likes and dislikes and treat them as individuals. Why? Well, let's start with a quick definition of what the word "engaged" means. Engagement is often a first formal step on the road to marriage. We can also be engaged in our work or in extracurricular activities and hobbies. Wherever or however we use the word, engagement involves some form of ongoing, active participation in a relationship. To be engaged is to be committed. To engage is to show interest and participate.

The same applies to your business. Engaged customers listen and interact with you. They care about what your company can offer them. They spend more time with you and give you a greater share of their attention. This translates into something far more tangible: a greater share of their wallet and increased long-term value. Engaged customers are also loyal; they tell their families, friends, and colleagues about you and get them engaged as well. Simply put, the more engaged your customers are, the more valuable they are.

The New Rules Of Engagement

In the old world of direct mail and telemarketing companies controlled customers' access to the information they housed in their databases. Not surprisingly, customers usually considered themselves victims, rather than beneficiaries, of direct marketing campaigns. But today customers are no longer willing to be passive targets. Increasingly, they're taking control, choosing which companies they will engage with and defining the terms of the interaction...

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