How to develop a marketing
strategy for a website?
Website marketing needs as much resources
as offline marketing
|"We are a supplier of high-value electronic parts. After pressure from our existing customers and due to a strong desire for growth outside the United
States, we have now decided to provide ecommerce capability on our website. Can we use our website for marketing our products? How can we attract new
customers, particularly from overseas, where we are not known at all?"
Online commerce is rapidly growing not only for consumer products but also for products and services purchased by businesses. In fact, businesses are
realizing that they can find new customers at a much lower cost if
they use the web for strategic marketing. Thus, you have taken the right steps needed to grow your business outside the United
States. Websites are a great vehicle for marketing today and many companies have been able to develop sizeable online businesses.
(Related link: Ecommerce for small and medium sized businesses)
Customers typically find online stores in one
or more of the following ways:
- Through a search on a search engine like
- By following a listing in a directory (that could be run by a search engine or a portal or an industry/trade
journal, or more recently, by a directory that only has
- By following a link provided by other websites
(these could be websites run by individuals, consulting
companies, research organizations, think tanks, trade
journals, newspapers, blogs, etc.)
- By directly typing your URL if they are already familiar with your company and its URL
(this can happen if you are already a well-known company
or you advertise your website address often in all your
print advertising plus if you list it on your product,
technical literature that accompanies the product, and
on business cards that your employees carry)
The number one challenge for any business trying to market on the web is attracting visitors to its website. Here is the strategy that I
recommend for marketing your website:
- If you want to rely on search engines, and you should because vast majority of people still find a website by conducting a search, you have to make sure that your website is listed in the index of the search engine. Some websites like
Google make it easy
(and free) to submit your website for crawling, while others charge a small fee for listing. It is worthwhile to pay the fees for listing. Search engines literally provide free advertising for you but it can take months before you are found in a search and you may never pop up in the first two or three pages. This is important since you have no control whatsoever on your page
rank other than following certain techniques for web design. While
search engine optimization
(SEO) is fairly easy and you need not pay a specialist to do
it (in most cases your webmaster should be able to do it on
her/his own), there is no guarantee that you will be featured in the first two-three pages and maintain that
rank over time. Thus, it is better to use some form of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising so that when potential customers search for a term that they would use to find your products, you will be
definitely listed in the sponsored search results. Since
you pay only when someone clicks, these are very
cost-effective compared to advertising in trade journals which
are more often ignored, and if at all they are effective, they
only create brand awareness. On the other hand, when
people find you through a search engine, they are much closer
to completing a business transaction. (Related
Jeeves' entry into contextual advertising makes search engine
- Reach out to other websites that attract the type of customers that you want. For example, professional associations, trade journals, etc. You will need to work with them one-by-one to get your website listed and featured so that visitors can find your
website while they are surfing these popular websites.
- Many website owners often write articles, review products, publish results of their findings, or just discuss whatever they
wish related to your product. Often they also put links to the products/companies that they discuss. Find out these websites and approach them to put a link to your website. You can do this in many ways: you can invite them to visit your website, you can extend personal invitations to them to visit your offices so that you can introduce your products to them, you can send them samples of your products so that they are motivated to review them, or you can ask if you need to pay to get a listing on their websites.
- Develop high quality content even if you have only an
e-commerce website (and not a content-rich website often
operated by magazines and trade journals). Content results in higher hits from search
engines. So if you sell electronic parts, write a series of articles about the
products, where/how they are used, what is the underlying technology, how to
incorporate them into different applications, how can they be used in other interesting applications, etc. Such keyword-rich pages generate a lot of hits in a search and eventually you can redirect your visitors to your shopping pages.
- Finally, start a newsletter or electronic magazine (or ezine) that focuses on electronic parts. Develop a mailing list by asking visitors to your website to sign up. Write short,
useful, and interesting articles and send it to the mailing list subscribers regularly. Ask existing subscribers to forward your
e-zine to others who might find it useful. Many of them will then signup. You can also contribute articles to other websites popular among business leaders in your industry in exchange for a link to your website.
In my opinion, if you want to
develop an online business, you have to dedicate resources as you would for a new
sales territory. So make sure that you have sales, marketing, and technical people working on your website. You must also make sure that you are able to replicate your offline business online too in terms of customer service and technical support.
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