How to capture and keep the online consumer-Bug on my Shoulder

Online customers have an ephemeral attention span – they’re always just one click away from the next site. Brand loyalty is not as entrenched in the online world as it is offline. Even a customer who has chosen brand name Yahoo! as a homepage may be quickly lured away by the new portal.

That’s why e-commerce sites spend an average of $108 to acquire each customer. Yet most sites lose 60 percent of their customers every six weeks. Such a business model is not conducive to profitability and long-term viability. Imagine if an offline retailer had the task to replace over 60 percent of its customers every six weeks!

Sticky marketing is designed to capture and keep the Web’s fickle consumer. It is the ability to target, personalize for, and interact with customers in order to turn them from ad hoc buyers and casual surfers into loyal customers. To stay on a particular Website, customers need not only incentive, convenience, and competitive prices, but interactivity, a customer service experience, and brand loyalty. All this can be achieved by using the following nine sticky marketing techniques:

1. Know your target customer. Implement a customer-centric data mart that stores and aggregates customer and potential-customer information. Web marketers currently spend millions acquiring data that are often scattered in several disparate applications. Customer data need to be organized into consolidated customer profiles with all the necessary variables, so that if you want to target families in the Midwest who own home computers, you can act right away.

2. Profile the target customer. Ask the right questions. Name, address, and credit card number is not enough information to build a relationship. You need to ask your customers questions specific to the way they use the product or service you are selling or plan to sell. If you’re selling cars, ask customers if they prefer manual or automatic transmissions. At its site, Volvo offers customers a special invitation to be one of the first people to preview its new year 2018 models. This helps Volvo know who its customers really are.

3. Provide effective and consistent communications. Often Web marketers collect and analyze data but fail to implement an effective mass communications strategy. An interactive medium requires a continual exchange with clients. Some sites provide an immediate automated response to client emails and then follow up with a specific answer to a complaint or question the same day.

4. Conduct permission marketing. This is the science of gathering information without being intrusive. Permission marketing includes questions such as “Would you like to get on a list that gives you information about these products?” or “Would you like a newsletter mailed to you that gives you tips about how to improve the use of these products?”

5. Apply one-to-one marketing. Personalization helps to create stickiness. Electronic marketers must design one-to-one communications to provide a unique and relevant interaction., for example, has a customized homepage for each customer, with products recommended according to the customer’s buying habits.

6. Conduct interactive marketing. Web marketers must build a relationship with the customer, like those offline in frequent-flyer clubs and buying clubs. Some techniques are very simple, such as sending and answering personal email. But beware: Don’t offer this feature unless you are prepared to do it well.

7. Reinvent database marketing for the Web. Direct marketing is a $1.5 trillion industry. In the offline world, Wal-Mart conducts a direct-mail campaign every month, based on database marketing principles. The superstore understands the ability to segment its customer base by certain variables. Web segmentation techniques must include not only demographic, behavioral, and purchasing variables, but also observations found in click-stream data. Inputs such as what page a surfer came to, how much time was spent on that page, which offer was read, which email opened, and so on, lead to the creation of campaigns based on specific inputs. A site such as might use data to decide that everyone who spends three minutes on its page gets an offer for a $50 discount on a set of premium golf clubs.

8. Conduct continuous relationship marketing. Have repeated interaction with the customer over an extended period of time using multiple channels – the Web, email, phone, and fax.

9. Use the community concept. Get like-minded customers to talk to each other, share opinions, and troubleshoot issues. Create chat rooms, special-interest newsletters, and other community activities that will drive purchasing behavior.