What percentage of your prospects and/or customers get the majority of product and service information from your company electro

John G. Swanson
June 13, 2007
THE TALK...
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 Survey Results for 06/13/2007:

What percentage of your prospects and/or customers get the majority of product and service information from your company electronically?

Less than 10%

 

 

33%

 

10% to 25%

 

 

22%

 

25% to 50%

 

 

20%

 

More than 75%

 

 

13%

 

50% to 75%

 

 

12%

 

 Introducing some refinements to WDweekly last week, I decided to use our poll question to take the pulse of the industry about electronic marketing and communications. I’m not sure how effectively the question and response options did that, quite honestly, but the results suggest that while not everyone is there yet, plenty of customers are going online with us as an industry.

Slightly more than a third of you report that less than 10 percent of your customers get the majority of their product and service information from you electronically these days. Looking at that number alone indicates to me there are still good reasons to develop quality printed materials, continue with traditional advertising media and work to get old-fashioned face-to-face time with customers—whether it’s in a showroom, on a sales call or at a show.

The results also make clear that our industry—and many of our customers—are willing to use and rely on electronic communication tools. More than a quarter of our respondents report that more than half of their customers get most of their product and service information via the Internet. They see their customers going to their own company Web sites, visiting vendors’ Web sites, and probably going to Sweets, Energy Star, This Old House, AAMA or countless other sites. We also know of course that many customers go online and directly configure and place orders electronically.

Our poll results clearly show there are customers across the entire spectrum when it comes to using/not using or liking/disliking electronic communications. I don’t know if anyone would argue what direction we’re heading in, however. Finding the right balance when it comes to investing time and money in electronic communications versus other efforts will remain a question mark for all of us for some time, but I suspect most window and door companies will continue to up the ante online.

In fact, I heard from two companies this week that recently started electronic newsletters for their customers. Dennis Smith of Sea Coast Window & Door in Florida reports that cutting-edge marketing techniques—not to mention database management—are a high priority at his company. I like what his company does on its Web site, www.seacoastwindow.com—with lots of photography, even video, and a newsletter that highlights some new product introductions and provides other helpful information to its customers. The issue I looked at showed how an aluminum casement window can be trimmed out with wood extension jambs and casing to create something that “looks more like furniture for your walls!”

Douglas Powell submitted the following sample text from Alternative Window Services’ newsletter: “This month we are looking at the cutting-edge technology of sealants. Sounds boring, right! Not. Have you ever felt that draft or drippy leak from a poorly sealed window or patio door? Now you’re listening.”

Powell notes that to date, it’s been well received by customers, and he clearly sees benefits for his company. “You know they say that ‘if you put it in writing you must be an expert,’” he suggests.

Since we do WDweekly, I know how much work can go into such a program. I admire these companies for making the effort.

Based on our experience, I can also say such an effort can pay off. It puts you top-of-mind with customers and encourages a lot more instantaneous feedback. I get much more reader e-mail now, which is terrific. It’s also worth noting that I get a new kind of old-fashioned, face-to-face feedback. Our e-newsletter went out during last week’s AAMA and IGMA meetings, and showing up for breakfast, after people have just read your articles, can be really interesting.