Before the internet, there was something called direct marketing.

One thing common to that industry – people really liked to keep tabs about successes and failures. Winning innovators like Sears and Robuck had volumes written about the company they built using direct mail.

The failures – often political campaigns – were painfully dissected component by component.

The result of all this was a body of information that made direct mail more of a science than an art.

Direct marketers tackled their problems head on. One of the biggest was getting someone to first look at a direct mail piece, and then respond to it. This topic alone generated countless books and articles.

Internet marketers face exactly the same problem, but in most cases they don’t even know it. They figure someone comes to a website, and their job is done. But in truth, it’s just begun.

There’s a new word to describe the situation where visitors come and decide whether or not to buy. It’s called sales conversion.

Direct marketers knew a thing or two about what boosts sales conversion.  Actually, they knew the three things that really counted – and here they are in no particular order.

  • The offer, the offer, and the offer.

When my company designed a direct mail campaign we  started by figuring out an offer that would bl   the competitors. If we couldn’t come up with it – we stopped – because we knew the campaign would fail.

Yes, internet marketing does not have the pressure of a direct mail campaign. A failed effort could result in a business closing its doors. The entire marketing effort often hinged on the success of a mailer.

Nevertheless, most internet marketers completely ignore a key sales motivator – a well planned bribe.

Today’s offer is usually the ubiquitous free ebook. More free content. Something to really get excited over.

How about some free steak knives? JC Penny made a fortune from it.

Maybe I’m stretching a good point past its useful life – but you get the idea.

I’ll end by saying that direct marketers  had two centuries to perfect their craft, and what they learned about the psychology of buying are as relevant as ever.