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Consumer Electronics

Re-Charging Consumer Electronics

1 Dec, 2008 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response

After a disappointing second half of the year, electronics retailers are looking to DR to reinvigorate 2009 sales.


Tweaking the Message


Although most CE companies are not planning drastic drops in 2009 DR budgets, they are changing the messaging to highlight lower-end products. How is Systemax adjusting its marketing for holiday sales? One way is by pushing the sales of components, which will be more popular this season as people buy computer and video-game system parts and build the electronics themselves to save money.

AT&T uses SMS texting for customer upsell and retention as part of its "lifecycle" direct response marketing campaigns.
AT&T uses SMS texting for customer upsell and retention as part of its "lifecycle" direct response marketing campaigns.


"Consumers will look for value. They will look for products that will 'pay for themselves,'" contends DuBravac. "They will look to make trade-downs and substitutions that will save them money but won't drastically change the experience. Marketers need to speak to this need."

Even communications company AT&T is making changes in its messaging. Instead of creating ads featuring high-end devices, the ads are tailored toward value components or "AT&T advantages," such as the company's rollover minutes. In a recent campaign, the company offered 1,000 free bonus rollover minutes for mobile phone users as protec tion on overage. The focus is less on devices, more on value and retention.


Lifestyle Marketing


Stephen Boulton-Wallace, AT&T's vice president of direct marketing and customer lifecycle management (CLM), refers to the model as "lifestyle marketing" because it follows customers from acquisition to retention. "When I'm trying to retain customers, the act of marketing to them can actually cost us more money sometimes than leaving them alone," he says.

The challenge to marketing wireless devices is timing; it can make or break a sale. Wait too long to tell subscribers that their contracts are about to expire, they may start shopping for other services or devices. But if you remind them too soon, you may cause them to go out shopping.

AT&T is careful to personalize its marketing campaigns. "We move into the upsell as we learn their behavior and based on what we think they will find interesting," says Boulton-Wallace. "We'll make sure they're still feeling engaged with the brand."

Over the years, AT&T has found DR quite successful in helping the brand find and measure advertising. And recently, the trend has been to shift away from DR mail toward online and SMS messaging. SMS has proved a successful channel for AT&T's cross-sell and upsell marketing.

"You have to be very careful when it comes to SMS and handset-based media to keep an eye out for managing customer privacy," says Boulton-Wallace. But when it is relevant and highly targeted, an SMS campaign can yield a 15- to 20-percent return rate, as opposed to direct mail, which generates 1- to 2-percent response. "It's personalized media to a personal phone, so it's got to be highly relevant, and have careful timing," he says.

Another fairly new and successful DR channel for AT&T is called "Whack pushes." This marketing channel starts with a message to a handset device and then the customer is able to interact with the message, using it to buy a service or feature. For instance, if AT&T knows a customer is browsing the Internet on a handset and using it to text message, the company can push the consumer onto a link that will let he or she buy directly. It's a low-cost communication and fulfillment vehicle, since AT&T owns the network and it doesn't require a sales person.

No matter what the marketing channel, the best way to retain customers is to keep them happy. "If they're feeling engaged, good about their experience with AT&T, then the more likely they are to stay with us and to buy from us. So, we use DR to market our support services initiatives," says Boulton-Wallace.

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