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Give your site visitors a good reason to keep coming back

April 8, 2005

In an effort at being more successful than others, MotorcycleUSA uses a marketing plan that has now become one of e-commerce's most effective: the website brings in visitors interested in reading about motorcycles, with a vast array of content and 'How To' articles.

What's more, once they're on the site, these same visitors see the virtual store that sells motorcycle gear, parts and accessories.

The content, "gives them a reason to keep coming," says Erick Barney, MotorcycleUSA's marketing manager. The site offers daily news updates and features about racing events, as well as classifieds, videos, and chat rooms.

MotorcycleUSA has in-house journalists who turn out a full-fledged online publication. "It's a complete e-zine package," Barney notes.

The site hoped that the e-zine's advertising revenue would pay for the costs of running the publication. But until recently, "it's been difficult to get advertisers in there and get the ad revenue up to where it can float itself," Barney says. But this picture is improving, he says.

At any rate, "We can justify its value because of the sales it refers to our e-commerce site."

MotorcycleUSA's benefits from an aray of marketing initiatives including affiliates and traffic driven from the main e-zine.

MotorcycleUSA's online magazine is just one of a handful of marketing techniques it employs.

The site relies heavily on its affiliate program, administered by LinkShare. It has about 8-10,000 affiliates, about 200 of which are significant, by Barney's account.

To get the most out of its affiliates, MotorcycleUSA provides all of them with a base offer. "But above and beyond the base I can deal with them one-on-one," he says. Barney can sweeten the deal for well-trafficked affiliates. "It's really competitive between the merchants," he notes.

MotorcycleUSA is "heavily reliant" on paid search, and has a full time person to run it. Again, "it's kind of nasty out there, there's heavy competition there's constant jockeying around," he says.

Additionally, the site sends out a mass e-mailing every other week. Barney strives to provide a seasonal hook to the mailings, so customers don't perceive them as spam. E-mail, is "our number one marketing tool," Barney says.

As Barney sees it, success in e-commerce is a two-step process: acquisition and customer relationship management.

Acquisition the process of attracting customers is "going to be good for a few years to come," he predicts. There are still many new shoppers coming on board the Web. But longer term, he sees acquisition as getting tougher all the time. "Google AdWords used to be dirt cheap, now more and more little companies jumped in there and everyone's bidding on terms."

As customer acquisition grows ever more expensive, e-commerce success "will become a game of customer relationship management," he says. That is, the continual process of communicating with customers, promotional e-mails, and aggressive branding will make the difference.

The winner will be the merchant who best "creates expectations and then lives up to them."

Source: eCommerce Guide

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