The impact of the Internet on today’s culture has been impossible for businesses to ignore. Yet a lot of brick-and-mortar businesses have responded to the perceived need for an online presence simply by putting up a company Web site with informative content. For anyone familiar with the vast array of marketing options the Internet offers, this is clearly a waste. Here are some of the choices for building an online business presence:
Online Sales – Being able to sell your products and services in any part of the world is one of the most revolutionary business concepts the Internet has introduced. Yet a lot of businesses ignore the option of online sales simply because they only want to distribute their products and services locally. This outlook ignores a lot of advantages that online selling provides even for local businesses, such as reduced work per customer for the on-site sales force, the ability to sell gift coupons, and being able to allow the potential customer to immediately act on any promos or special offers posted online.
E-newsletter – This allows a business to keep in touch with its customers, increasing the likelihood of repeat sales not only with greater customer recall but also by being able to inform past clients of any new promos, products, or developments. Anyone opting for this route needs to pay close attention to subject lines and content, though, since missteps here can result in your newsletter ending up in the spam bin. It’s a good idea to test drafts by sending them to friends or other people in the organization, just to make sure they end up in the inbox.
Social Networking – Facebook and Twitter are the current frontier in the battle for the customer’s time and money. Facebook pages are becoming SOP for a new business trying to build awareness, and Twitter is one of the easier ways to get ads out – once you add an RSS or Twitter feed to an ad, the ad automatically goes on the social network sites. Using social media for advertising also needs care and discretion in order to avoid irritating the potential customer. The digital consumer’s expectations of control regarding how and when they interface with advertising should be respected, and this poses a greater challenge to the creative talents of the ad creator since ads need to be engaging enough for the viewer to voluntarily engage with them.
Just like the traditional forms of marketing, however, in Internet marketing you cannot simply keep throwing out money and time and expect results – the business owner needs to choose the specific marketing tool according to their needs, and any efforts should be tested and their results assessed continuously. Fortunately, numbers and statistics are easy to come by in the digital world. Traditionally important statistics such as turnover and conversion rates, as well as newer markers such as click-through rate and viewership, are easy to quantify, analyze, and mull over. The availability of data is in fact revolutionizing marketing: From a field once ruled by gut feel and decision-makers with a large amount of discretionary power, it’s now evolving into a discipline capable of pinpointing who you want to reach, where you need to go in order to reach them, and how effective your methods are, starting from getting the prospect’s interest to adding numbers to the bottom line.