E-commerce newsletter

Topics this issue: * Events calendar * Buy.com's latest tactics to win customers from Amazon.com * The fewer questions you ask, the more data you get * Livingston's Top 10 News Picks O' The Week * WebBusiness Insights: KM: Knowing the Difference Reload: Tuning Out Web Radio Management: Figuring out Tribal Lessons Leadership: His Side of the Mattress Metrics: Bottoming Out

Topics this issue:

* Events calendar

* Buy.com's latest tactics to win customers from Amazon.com

* The fewer questions you ask, the more data you get

* Livingston's Top 10 News Picks O' The Week

* WebBusiness Insights:

KM: Knowing the Difference

Reload: Tuning Out Web Radio

Management: Figuring out Tribal Lessons

Leadership: His Side of the Mattress

Metrics: Bottoming Out

* Events calendar:

Auckland

09 October

Big System Performance at a Small System Price - SAP

17 October

mySAP Enterprise Portal and mySAP Business Intelligence Infodays - SAP Auckland

Wellington

16 October

mySAP Enterprise Portal and mySAP Business Intelligence Infodays - SAP Wellington

Overseas

10-14 November

OracleWorld - San Francisco, USA

* Buy.com's latest tactics to win customers from Amazon.com

By Sandra Gittlen

Here's an interesting approach to toppling a competitor: Have customers try out your site and then e-mail your CEO directly about the experience.

That's just one of the many things Buy.com is doing to gain an advantage over Amazon.com. CEO Scott Blum invited new visitors to the site to send messages to him about how his company handled their purchases. He also published a letter to Amazon.com customers in The Wall Street Journal promising them better customer service through his site.

When Amazon.com lowered its free shipping promotion to purchases over $49, Buy.com eliminated the bar by offering free shipping on all purchases.

And just for good measure, Buy.com recently announced it would sell books at 10% below Amazon.com's price.

If that's not a line in the sand, I don't know what is.

Blum has now brought in reinforcements. The company announced it will join with Fandango to offer advance movie tickets, and I'm sure you can expect price breaks to follow. Buy.com refers to the deal as e-commerce outsourcing and goes back to the whole build-or-buy argument. It seems Buy.com is intent on, well, buying its way to the top of the e-commerce heap.

It's a smart plan. Brand loyalty online is almost nonexistent when price is involved. Comparison shoppers are vicious on the 'Net and are quite willing to switch sites if the prices are lower. Throw in free shipping and you'll have them pounding down the virtual doors.

But how long can Buy.com continue to undersell Amazon.com? After all, Amazon.com learned the hard way the costs of going too low. A lot of e-tailers did. Free shipping eventually dents your bottom line. And that does not lead to longevity.

It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. Will Buy.com "buy" customer loyalty away from Amazon.com? What do you think? Let me know at mailto:sgittlen@nww.com

* The fewer questions you ask, the more data you get

By Brian Livingston

I reported last week that MarketingSherpa and Intermarket Group have published "The E-Mail Marketer's Guide: Hard Data for 2002." This information-packed study has more than 100 pages of results from surveys of some 1,700 directors of online marketing.

Here's the second part of my summary of the findings:

1. DON'T BE NOSY. The report cites NetLine, a marketing program that sent out an offer of a free white paper. One registration form requested contact info plus one optional question. A nearly identical form asked for the same things, but with THREE optional questions. The longer form garnered a 50 percent response from the pre-qualified group, but the short form received a 74.6 percent response. The less you ask, the more you get.

2. OFFER SOMETHING. When consumers were asked by Jupiter Media Metrix what a Web site could promise in exchange for typing in their personal information, 48 percent wanted a chance to win a prize in a sweepstakes. About 31 percent wanted frequent-flier miles or a similar affinity program. But most important, 73 percent wanted a guarantee that the information would not be misused.

3. KEEP IT FRESH. One site, iEntry, which sends 50 million e-mails per month to its opt-in subscribers, noted the percentage of readers who opened each issue.

"If they subscribed within the past three months, they open at 85-90 percent," says founder Rich Ord. "If they're two years old, on average they could be down to a 15 percent open rate unless you really revamp content and find new reasons to make them open."

4. MAIL EARLY. More than 3 out of 4 Internet users (76 percent) spend their first few minutes online reading and sending e-mail, according to figures from the U.S. Yankee Group. Gartner estimates that business users spend an average of 49 minutes per day managing their e-mail. This may explain why Travelocity found that it obtains the best results when it sends its messages between 8 a.m. and noon of each recipient's local time.

The report is chock full of other good stuff: e-mail opt-in rates, click-through rates, and much more. You'll find an overview and table of contents of the study at:

Email Marketing Metrics Guide: Hard Data for 2002

* Livingston's Top 10 News Picks O' The Week

1. Webshots.com registers 150,000 new users per week in comeback success story

2. Visa implements new rules for online credit card transactions

3. "Micro-size" e-commerce sites profit by staying small and simple

4. Elvis Costello music auto-upgrades you to Windows Media Player 9

5. MIT is posting its materials online for no charge as "OpenCourseWare"

6. Many online "personals" lead to bogus pay-per-minute telephone lines

7. Eight ways to dramatically increase your sales from online auctions

8. Kevin Yank, "god" of SitePoint, discusses Java, PHP, .Net, and J2EE

9. FTP tips: The basics on File Transfer Protocol and tricks it can do

10. Woman caught embezzling $2.1 million to buy into African e-mail fraud

* WebBusiness Insights:

1. KM: Knowing the Difference

Columnist Daryl Morey says the first step of a KM initiative is to determine whether KM is the answer or not.

2. Reload: Tuning Out Web Radio

New royalties, an unclear advertising proposition and a flawed business model could signal the end of Web radio as we know it.

3. Management: Figuring out Tribal Lessons

Ever wonder why your IT staff acts a little clannish? There's a perfectly good reason - one you should know.

4. Leadership: His Side of the Mattress

Mattress Giant CIO Steve Williams had to figure out a way to save the company's ERP project, but first he had to figure out the company's business.

5. Metrics: Bottoming Out

According to the ITAA, the demand for IT workers dropped 27 percent from January 2002 to July 2002. Yipes.

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