Many companies make the mistake of viewing a Web site merely as an online promotional brochure. In fact, the interactivity of the Web allows your company to develop a community of interest among visitors to your Web site. The key is to add value to the visitor’s experience. With your Web site, you can handle:
- Lead generation
- Product sales
- Customer service
- Frequently asked questions
- Electronic newsletters
- Promotions, contests
- Cooperative advertising
- Links with other marketing programs
- Biographies of principals
- Press releases
- Related conferences, continuing education, etc.
- Legislation watch
- Industry glossary
- Services and product lines offered
- Employment opportunities/human resources
- Intranet-Information used internally
- Extranet-Information exclusively for clients and business partners
- Mission statements
- Copies of newspaper magazine articles and other publications written by company
- Links to allied industries
- Links to appropriate content-related sites
- Search tools
- Customer surveys
- Customer lists
- Collateral sales material
- Financial and stockholder information
While this list of potential applications is extensive, you can probably add items to it that are particular to your firm’s business and sales activities. Each day, business and professional people are finding new applications, new sources of information, new customers, and a new edge to help them in their specific marketplace.
How to Promote Your Site
It’s not enough to just establish a Web site; you must actively promote the site so that prospective visitors can find it. Below is a checklist of the steps to successfully market your Web presence:
Develop Your “Internet Image”
Your identity on the World Wide Web should be unique. Establish brand awareness by obtaining a domain name (www.yourcompany.com). Make sure that your online image reflects the image you present in your marketing materials.
Integrate Your Web Site into All Marketing Efforts
Mention your domain name in all advertisements, brochures, and mailers. Your letterhead and business cards should contain your Web and e-mail addresses.
Implement Descriptions and Key Words (META Tags)
The Internet search engines use text hidden within your Web site to properly catalog your site for customers who are looking for your services. Describe your company in 25 words. Make a list of up to 150 key words that describe your company and products. Put the most important words at the front of the list. Work closely with your Web developer to make sure this information places you in a favorable position.
Submit Your Site to Search Engines
In order for the search engines to list your site, you must tell them your address. In many cases, you will also need to tell them where to list your site. Simply access each search engine via the Web, click on “Add URL,” and follow the directions. URL stands for “Universal Resource Locator” which is the address of your Web site.
Link in Many Ways
Use the search engines to find Web sites that have complementary content to yours. Use the key words you have developed to search for sites that might be interested in providing links to your site. Visit each prospective site. If it meets your criteria, write e-mail to the webmaster to suggest a mutual link. This search will also turn up your competitors.
There are probably several Internet newsgroups that focus on your industry. Monitor these newsgroups to determine what they are saying about your company and industry. Correct any inaccuracies. You may offer expert advice and opinions in these groups, but refrain from any commercial messages.
Use Public Relations in Your Community
(no matter how large the region is)
Make contact with the media within your community to keep them aware of the success of your Web site. Keep in mind that your “community” on the Internet may be global.
Gather Visitor Data for One-to-One Communication
Conduct surveys, contests, and opinion polls on your site. Gather e-mail addresses of visitors. These addresses may be used to send e-mail messages about new information in your industry, your company, and on your site. Keep e-mail messages short and include a way for people to delete their name from the mailing list. Use the personal, interactive nature of the Internet to maintain a dialog with those who are interested in your company and products.
Advertise — Target Carefully
In many cases, the best way to increase visitors to your site is to advertise on other Web sites. Be sure to choose sites with content relevant to your target market and request advertising be placed within that content. Some sites can target your advertising by key words. When someone searches for information using key words that match your product, your advertising can be displayed.
Consider a Web Site Redesign
If your current Web site was designed by technologists rather than communications professionals, consider a redesign to make sure that your message is being adequately presented on the Internet.
Measure the Results
Measure traffic to your site in numbers of unique visitors and page impressions. This gives you a good idea of how many different people saw your message, and how many people visited each page on your site. Don’t be satisfied with a simple “hit count” which measures the number of files opened (there are many files for each page). Measure the number of times your message was seen. Of course, the ultimate measure is return on investment.
Don’t put up a Web page simply because everyone has one. Make the site useful and informative for your target audience. Make certain the information flows. Make certain it pays off for the person who has gone to the trouble to come to your site. Make certain it pays off for you.
Regardless of your objectives, the Internet and Web will put your organization (large or small) on an equal, competitive footing with firms locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.Reprinted with permission from “The Manager’s Road Map to the Internet,” copyright 1998 TCG CERFnet, http://www.cerf.net, 1-888/CERFNET. Produced by The Marino Group, firstname.lastname@example.org, 619/299-6827. The author is Fred Parker, email@example.com, 619/521-6879.
This article is from thePMA Newsletterfor March, 1999, and is reprinted with permission of Publishers Marketing Association.