You could be losing out on potential revenue because of your unsophisticated web presence, says a new study by the Yankee Group. And that’s too bad, when that there are numerous channels available to help you reach your customers. Here are some basic ways to breathe life into your web marketing


No interest in your site

One of the chronic problems small businesses experience is a severe lack of time to devote to anything other than the daily business. Unfortunately, time is needed if you want to ensure current and prospective customers come back to your Web site. The solution is to gain knowledge of all the online marketing tools out there, make time to update your site regularly so it’s not just a static stack of pages, and learn how search engine optimization (see this issue’s feature article) can help you attract visitors. You can also hire a Web design company to do some or all of these tasks.

Sponsorship works

Buy sponsored search terms from the search engines. If someone clicks your term(s) on Google, MSN or Yahoo, you could appear in the top blue (or green) band above the regular search results or down the right hand side. These are sponsored searches, and while they can be costly, they can also bring major results, says Aggarwal. “”SMBs may not be able to afford something broad like the word “”server”” but I think that’s the trick of how to do a more focused sponsored search, so it gets them maybe not in the top band, but on the right side at least.””

Incorporate more marketing collateral

You can put anything on your web site, but you probably want to put things there that your customers actually want to see. Links to your brochures and online catalog(s) can be very useful. But you can also get links to these materials onto other relevant Web sites, some of which are handled by such companies as Google and Overture. Then, if another company directs a customer to your web site and a sale is made, they take a tiny percentage – or vice-versa.

Get on the online directories

Online directories are like online Yellow Pages, so being on them is clearly a good idea. Yahoo, Google and MSN also have local search engines, so if people want to find something in their local area – like a Chinese restaurant in Toronto – they can. Don’t ignore such resources. If your competitors are all there and you aren’t, they are taking your business.

Buy mailing lists

E-mail marketing can work, in the form of an e-newsletter or even an HTML, browser-based ad sent to a mailing list. Instead of buying space in a newspaper or a magazine, you can direct it to a more targeted set of people – if you have a good mailing list. This goes for snail mail lists as well. This is prudent because you still need reach the people that don’t have access to the web. Aggarwal says direct marketing pieces allow your clients to get a feel for the products or services you offer before they go onto your Web site for specific information. Going straight to your site and finding reams of product information can be overwhelming.

Go beyond clicks

Web analytics companies and software can help you delve into your data. You can use them to determine how people found out about your site and what they thought of certain features when they got there. Then you can change such features to get better results. Web analytics can also help you personalize the web experience for clients, optimize your online sales or develop new marketing strategies.

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