Online Marketing strategyInternet or Online Marketing is fundemental part of your business plan and marketing strategies. This page will give you an idea about how to integrate internet marketing into your business plan, as there are literally thousands and thousands of websites that have more detail about the ins and outs of internet marketing and promotions.

With so many successful online business in existence, why waste time and energy reinventing the wheel, so to speak. One of the most successful and simplest ways to get started online is to model someone that has shown themselves to be an expert – someone who is already making a living with their business on the internet.

Internet Marketing Center ©

After beginning in 1994 with Cory Rudl, this business has grown to generate over $20 million per year in sales. They have a number of great products to help you get started on the Internet. Their most successful and detailed product is their Insider Secrets to Marketing Your Business on the Internet course. If you want a complete blueprint about starting and running your business online, then this resource is a must.

SiteSell

Another very successful business on the Internet is Ken Evoy’s SiteSell. Ken has been successfully marketing and growing his online business since 1997, and has enabled hundreds of thousands (yes, that many) small and medium-sized businesses out-compete their larger competitors as a result of his easy and very powerful methods of online marketing. His SiteSell system provides new internet businesses with a complete package that gets the site built, hosted, and optimized for traffic online.

I suggest that if you are serious about growing and developing a business on the Internet, be sure to use the wisdom of those that have gone before you and can show you how you can achieve similar results as they.

Using The Web For Your ‘Bricks-N-Mortar’ Business

With a vast majority of business and personal users of the internet going online to search for information, you need to make sure you are set to be found in their information searches.

Firstly, having a website does not mean that you need to be selling products online. Given that people are looking for information, then providing good information should be a must when considering the content for your site (this webiste is one such example).

This information can be used in a number of ways:

  1. Gathering email address for further marketing via direct mail and email
  2. Increasing the credibility of your company
  3. Encouraging your customer to visit you for more information.
  4. Generate sales leads and enquiries for your product or service
  5. Letting potential customers know about you and what services or products you sell.

These uses are not exhaustive, but the power of the internet and a well-designed and thought-out website will result in sales, regardless of what business you are in.

For example, let’s say that you run a plumbing business. Most days you organize your jobs and those of your staff, ensure that you can respond to the emergency calls, and generally are so busy that you have no time to consider having a website.

However, as the year unfolds, the flow of work slows, and you find yourself looking for clients and hunting for work. You begin to wonder how you might be able to speed up the process of sourcing new customers.

After some planning and consulting with a business consultant (or using a site like this one), you decide to set up a website and provide site visitors with basic but invaluable tips about home plumbing maintenance. You reason that the tips you are giving them will make your life easier when it comes to servicing their heater or cooler, and it will save them some money in the long run. In order for site visitors to get hold of this information, they must give you their name, email address and location. You can then use these details in your marketing efforts, and can follow up with them about their current plumbing needs and how you might be able to help them.

From this example, you can see that having a website and an online presence does not equal
“I must have a product to sell online”.

Getting Online

What are some basic ways that you can use the internet to promote your business?

  • Search engines – most users will go to a search engine to help them find what they are looking
  • Online directories – in much the same way as Yellow Pages and phone books, but over the Internet
  • Web site – as mentioned already, it can act as an online brochure, with all of your offline promotional material including your physical business address

If you don’t have a website yet, do not panic. It can cost next to nothing to set up, especially with the use of templates to help with the design of it.

Templates and other design functions have been streamlined over the years to help you build your web presence in a fraction of the time it used to take. Alternatively, you can use a web design company, who can help facilitate the web hosting and domain registration process. Ken Evoy’s SiteSell can also help you get started.

Be sure to keep the issue of user-friendliness in the front of your mind when you put your site together, of have a designer do it for you. You must make it easy to use and find information for your site visitor, otherwise they will simply click away.

Talk with your Customer

Once you have a website up and running (it does NOT have to be complicated – think of it as an online brochure, saving you printing costs), it will need to be promoted, so your customer can find out about you. There are a number of strategies that you can use, but one of the most important strategies you should implement on your website is that of Permission, or Email Marketing.

Permission Marketing, sometimes called “Opt-in Marketing” is the proper and effective use of email for marketing on the Internet. Permission marketing works by inviting visitors to your website to “subscribe” to your email-based mailing list (newsletter, special offers, private sales, etc…) by entering their email address and hitting a “submit” button on your site. Subscribers “opt-in” or give you their “permission” to receive your periodic email when they subscribe, hence the term permission marketing.

Why should you have a newsletter?

A major goal of a website is to capture your visitor’s name. To do this, you must give them a reason why they should give you their email address. Most often, people are searching for information on the internet. As such, they are usually enticed by something for free. If your website provides great articles, tips and ideas to your target audience – for FREE – and all that is required is their email address, then more people will subscribe.

Once your list begins to grow, you can target them specifically about your product or service. That may be through special announcements, emails and sales letters, promoting other products and receiving a portion of the sales, and so on. Building your list is the most direct and successful way to develop a reliable and profitable business using the Web.

Get your site visitor’s name

Create a sign-up/pop-up window. Most web browsers are accustomed to dealing with pop up windows. They serve as a reminder, and highlights your offer to visitors for subscribing. With modern web browsers able to block the traditional pop-ups, technology has evolved to allow web sites to still have a message ‘pop’ in front of the site visitor, without it being blocked by the web browsers.

Referred to as Fly-in Ads they are a piece of programming that you can add to your site that produces a pop up window and can allow for people to fill in a form. It is not a traditional pop up, as it is imbedded in your main webpage code, rather than a new window altogether.

Once you have the software to help you complete this part of the strategy, set up a pop-up subscription window for the main page. Be sure to include details about what your subscriber will receive, and how often you will email them. A link to your privacy policy should also be visible from the home page.

Give something away. Visitors to your site will be much more likely to give you their email address if they are receiving a reward for doing so. It is a basic human principle – reciprocation. By offering something for free, more people will feel obliged at a subconscious level to give you their email address – especially if it is the only way that they can get the free item. This free gift can be an article, an e-book, or information that they are looking for (travel tips, summary of work visa details, etc).

Communicate with your customer. Your website visitors will need to be reminded about your product or service – often. By leaving it longer between communicating with them, you increase the chances of losing their custom and unsubscribing from your list, as they can see no value in the relationship. You must develop an approach where regular emails and newsletters are provided to your customers and subscribers. This can be done by:

  • Providing product or service reviews from within your industry
  • Latest updates from you about your business or service.
  • Specials that you have coming up that your subscribers might be interested in

By building a relationship with your subscribers through constant contact and delivering great information, they will grow to trust you and anticipate your emails. These subscribers will become customers over time, and hopefully advocates of your products.

Your subscribers must feel that they are receiving something from you that has a perceived value, and is unlikely to be provided by another site. The reality is that there are many sites providing similar content and value, but none with your unique flair and personality. So, make sure your emails convey this feeling to the reader.

Important Points with Email Marketing

Don’t promise to offer anything more frequent than you feel comfortable with. If once a month is enough, then that’s fine. However, don’t leave it longer than a month, as your subscribers will forget why they subscribed in the first place. Make sure you check out the Direct Marketing section of the site to find out how you can ensure that your business is completely SPAM compliant.

If you want to grow your business, you must be on the Internet in some way. Even if you have a traditional ‘bricks-n-mortar’ business, you still need to have a virtual business presence too.

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!