Companies selling products and services on the Internet must employ web-based marketing strategies that increase website traffic, improve the ratio of visitors-to-buyers, and increase the amount each customer spends. Internet users are now much more goal-oriented in their web behavior and are less likely to surf or be enticed into entering a web path that deviates from their intended destination, making the use of the web as a marketing tool challenging.
An online marketing program is successful if it reaches its intended audience at a time when the marketing message is relevant to that audience. Initially, it was believed that the web’s data mining capabilities would provide marketers with vast new opportunities, but the initial optimism has proven to be exaggerated, primarily because marketers were unsure of what they meant by “relevant” and bombarded consumers with automated marketing messages that lacked genuine relevance to the site visitor.
People cannot be duped into believing that something is relevant simply because a banner advertisement or window pops up on their computer screen. Nor can we, as professional online marketers, assume that relevance is determined by the current web user activity. Not everyone who searches a website about telecommunications intends to purchase a book on the subject. True, they may have a greater interest than someone who never visits a website for telecommunications, but this does not equate to relevancy.
The only way to truly ensure relevance is to allow the user to determine what is pertinent to him or her at any given time. It is true that this is being done in part by maintaining a presence in areas where relevancy may occur. However, the challenge for online marketers is to create new strategies or new variations on existing strategies that serve their interests by meeting the needs of online buyers.
By selecting the topics to which they wish to be directed, users of search engines can declare relevance. Registering your website with search engines will increase site traffic. Effective registration involves a three-step procedure. You must (1) be recognized by search engines, (2) be positioned near the top of the search results, and (3) be chosen by the searcher. Among the tips for effective use of search engines are:
* Do not wait for search engine spiders to discover you. Submit the URLs you wish to have indexed to search engines. However, you will need to be patient. The rate of new website creation is such that it may take a few weeks for your website to be listed.
* Continue to submit your URL. Even the best search engines only index about 10 percent of all available web pages. With more than a billion pages on the Internet, the task is daunting and becoming more so. Despite this, the vast number of new web pages requires search engines to frequently remove old pages to make room for new ones. By resubmitting frequently, you will ensure that even if you were removed, you will be reinstated.
* Choose search engines carefully. If you do not wish to make website submission your full-time occupation, it is prudent to determine which search engines are most essential for your business. In most cases, you will choose to submit to the larger, more active engines; however, if you are in a specialized category, you may also wish to register with a sector-specific engine.
* Titles and meta tags should be utilized. This will help you appear more prominently in search engine results, as search engines give titles and meta descriptions a high ranking. Also, your title and description will likely be used by the search engine in the search results, so ensure that what you write corresponds to what you want to appear.
You can employ a variety of online marketing strategies on your website:
* Personalize It – through personalization, you can establish a personal and ongoing relationship with your customers. You will be able to identify users as they log in if you offer a registration option to your customers that includes a variety of convenience-oriented benefits. You can then use this information to greet them and provide them with personalized assistance. This will allow consumers to indicate their relevance as they enter your website, giving you the opportunity to incorporate suggested products and impulse purchases.
Traditional retailers utilize a variety of physical elements to promote the sale of merchandise in their stores. Among these are scent machines, music, lighting, and the placement of shelves. Your online entity must sell its products without the assistance of these subliminal influences. Therefore, you must present your products in an organized and logical manner. Ensure that you implement sophisticated search engines that allow consumers to search regardless of their perspective on the product. Additionally, when presenting merchandise, it is best to include a photo and detailed product specifications. Additionally, some websites feature consumer reviews and products of the day. These are both effective and useful merchandising techniques.
* Have Good Web Architecture – When designing the architecture of your website, keep the user experience in mind and aim to create a site that offers the highest levels of convenience, information, and comfort possible. The presentation of products is only one piece of the puzzle. Additionally, you must consider the user flow, the checkout and payment procedure, and the placement of special offers. You intend to provide consumers with a satisfying and enjoyable experience. Create a website that delivers.
* Utilize e-mail – e-mail can be a valuable marketing tool if messages are well-structured and spamming is avoided. Utilize your email marketing campaign to cultivate a relationship with your customers by providing them with access to promotional offers and updates on new product offerings.
* Loyalty marketing is valuable because it creates a bond between you and your customers and provides them with an incentive to return to your website and make additional purchases. Some customer loyalty programs enable consumers to earn points redeemable on a variety of network-affiliated websites. Other programs permit the redemption of points for cash. You also have the option of developing your own incentive loyalty program; however, Tudog does not recommend doing so unless you are willing to offer extremely attractive rewards. There is a perception of added value among consumers regarding programs that permit redemption through multiple sites or as cash. Important to remember is that loyalty programs demonstrate to customers that you value their business, and in return, they reward you with repeat purchases.
* Develop an Affiliate Network – affiliates serve your website by creating points-of-awareness on other websites with similar or related interests; they can also be used to establish credibility through association. Affiliate management services, such as Commission Junction (www.commissionjunction.com) and Be Free can increase the visibility of your affiliate initiative.
In the last 18 months or so, consumer e-commerce has taken a beating, but just as many analysts exaggerated its potential, they now exaggerate its demise. If you have an e-commerce site or believe that adding one to your brick-and-mortar business will increase sales, there are millions of web users who are still receptive to your marketing efforts – provided they are compelling, appealing, and relevant.