Web marketing is one of the most cost-effective tools in today’s communications suite. It can be used for “one-to-one” or “one-to-many” communication. In effect, it combines a number of communication mechanisms into one, and therefore differs significantly from other forms of “fixed” media. To top it off, it is global and instantaneous.
Web sites enable your customers, prospects and the media to easily find out more about your company. However, the web is a pull-to, not a push-through media. You must drive people to your site and make sure that the information they expected to see is easy to find and current.
The Up Side
The web is open for business 24×7 and is an extremely cost-effective way to offer round-the-clock service. This means you can efficiently serve any part of the global marketplace.
Websites have more room to tell your story than other communication medium, and are therefore able to assist in taking prospects from awareness, interest and desire to action (AIDA model) to purchase your product or service.
Web marketing can be used interactively to engage your customers, prospects and the media. You can build ongoing relationships using a combination of web tools such as chat rooms, e-mail and e-zines. Communication on a regular basis, and in a personal manner, is made easy.
The Down Side
On the flip side, the web attracts a limited market, and the demographics of web users are changing every day. Figures show that in November last year, more than half of Australian adults had regular access to the Internet. Some of that access was work-based and the number of households with an Internet connection was about 37 per cent.
Therefore your entire target market is unlikely to be on the web, so web marketing cannot be used in isolation and must be integrated with your other communications mediums.
Security, or the lack of security, is a major issue on the web for the online buying and selling of goods and services. Unfortunately, many people don’t yet trust the web, which means that you need to go that extra mile in providing security, guarantees and money-back offers to your customers to prove that you have a genuine offer.
And remember promotion of your site only makes up about 20% of your Internet Strategy, development costs are often 40-50% of the total costs and maintenance can be 40% of your web costs. So make sure you are spending your money in the right places.
Web Do’s and Don’ts
• Be realistic about your site needs. Don’t try and create the web site of all web sites.
• Ensure you have a domain name that is relevant to your business, memorable, and hard to misspell, eg www.yourcompany.com.au
• Don’t leave web site design to the technical department. Your web site is a marketing tool.
• Have someone responsible for managing your site, and ensure they are empowered to answer questions. Visitors expect quick responses to all communication on the web.
• Think about site structure from your visitor’s point of view. Remove funky page names that make it difficult to guess the content.
• Check your entire web site for spelling errors. Nothing turns prospective customers off faster than incorrect spelling and grammar.
• Refresh your pages on a regular basis. Don’t carry outdated information on your site.
• Use graphics selectively. Visitors are more concerned with content then needless flashing images or icons, unless they serve a true purpose.
• Check for broken links on your site. These can be very frustrating for users, especially if it is an e-mail link to you.
• Your web site is global. Ensure your full international contact details are shown, and steer clear of local jargon or slang.
• If you offer products for sale over the web, ensure that you offer secure ordering.
• Advertise your web site address, not only in search engines but offline as well: on your business cards and stationery at the very least.