October 2006 - After the Phone Rings

Continuity Customer Acquisition Tactics

By Shari Altman

Last month, I addressed identifying a continuity concept. Assuming you have a valid concept, it’s time to get it in front of prospects and acquire continuity customers.

You’ll have a number of decisions to make in determining the best approach to acquiring continuity customers. First and foremost is whether to offer the continuity on a negative-option (each buyer gets it unless he or she cancels; default is to receive the continuity) or positive-option (each buyer must positively opt to get the continuity; default is no continuity) basis, or some combination thereof.

The biggest plus of negative-option continuity is a larger database. With a negative option, every one of the 1,000 new customers you acquired today is a continuity buyer. Even if 50 percent cancel with the first continuity shipment, you are left with 50 percent of the original orders on continuity. With a positive-option offer, you are unlikely to convince 50 percent of the initial buyers to opt in to receive the continuity.

However, with positive-option continuity, buyers generally stay around for more shipments, because they specifically chose to receive the continuity. If both negative and positive options could work for you, it is best to test and analyze your results. You should track customers from each option through two to three continuity follow-up shipments, before determining the approach that is more profitable. The negative-option continuity may look good initially, but if cancellations are excessively high, the costs for processing them and dealing with the service calls may exceed the negative option initial sales benefit.

You may decide a mixed approach is best. In your infomercial where there is plenty of time to explain the benefits of the continuity, a negative-option approach may make perfect sense.

As you launch your continuity, test different offers to find what is most effective for you.

Above all, make sure your communication about what the continuity customers get and how often they receive shipments and billings is crystal clear. Any confusion or miscommunication will result in cancellations and deterioration of your hard earned profits. It’s critical from both a legal and customer satisfaction standpoint that customers know they may cancel out of the continuity at any point they wish.

Run projections that include the number of estimated continuity shipments when deciding how much you will pay to acquire a continuity customer. Also, recognize that the number of projected follow-up shipments will be different in different mediums.

Finally, methodically offer your continuity wherever feasible. Include inserts in outgoing shipments, encourage and reward customer service to upsell continuity to non-continuity customers, etc. Give yourself every chance to increase your continuity database and grow your continuity business.

Shari Altman is president of Altman Dedicated Direct, a DR marketing consultancy based in Rural Hall, N.C. She can be reached at (336) 969-9538, or via e-mail at [email protected].


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