e-Marketing brings right people to your website, stays in touch | Daily News
So, you want to start-up and develop a small business – Part 26

e-Marketing brings right people to your website, stays in touch

To really tap the power of the e-marketing, it helps to first understand what makes it unique and how to use that uniqueness for maximum advantage.

Since you have a website its time you ask yourself: Does the website harness the unique characteristics of the Internet to create a strong value proposition for customers, one that could not be easily duplicated in the physical world?

Amazon.com took off because they did something online that could not be duplicated offline - namely, it offered every book in print for sale. Because it was impossible to duplicate in the physical world what he created in the virtual one, his business became a hit.

So, the question then becomes, what other unique characteristics of the Internet can you use to your advantage? Essentially, there are three:

1. Low overhead. Web-based businesses have a distinct advantage over their brick-and-mortar cousins. There is no rent required for a store, labour costs are far less, and there is no sales tax. Getting a bargain is the culture of the web.

2. A chance to excel.You can fight with your competitors on a far more level playing field. First, the cost of entry into the market is low; for example, you need not even stock actual products. Next, because you are small, your customer service should be better. Thus, you have a betterchance of competing against big retailers online.

3. New markets. Because you are not stuck selling to people only in your area, as small businesses have been doing for eons, you have a unique opportunity when you take your business global.

Keep these three things in mind as you grow your site and online business.

Growth strategies

There are many ways to get more people to come to your site. Here are some of your best bets.

E-Mail marketing

One of the easiest ways to grow your business using the Internet is through e-mail which are sent to qualified customers and prospects.The idea is to offer goods or services to specific customers by e-mail. It is not traditional direct marketing - the difference is that you find your list of potential recipients through a web search, and your communication is electronic.

For instance, say that you are an architectural drafter. You could e-mail architects across the country, explain who you are, tell them how good yet inexpensive your services are, and offer to create a virtual partnership. If the architect is interested, he or she will e-mail you back, and you just may have a new client.

In the nonvirtual world, you create trust and rapport the old-fashioned way: you meet people, look them in the eye, find something in common, and so on. But online, you cannot do that. So, what do you do, especially when you are essentially cold-calling someone with your unsolicited marketing e-mail?

Here is what works:

• Use names. Ifyou begin your e-mail with “Dear Sir/Madam,” your e-mail is going to be deleted immediately. You have to find the name ofthe appropriate person to whom you should address your inquiry and e-mail that person by name.

• Write a super subject line. Think of the subject line as the headline of an ad. It must be catchy and intriguing enough to get people to want to know more and open the e-mail.

• Keep it short.People are all too busy these days, so your e-mail must get to the point quickly.

• Be impressive. You are trying to create a business relationship. One way is to impress the person to whom you are writing. Use your website to impress the prospective customer. The use of testimonials, either in your e-mail or on your site, also helps a lot.

• Give a reason to respond. Discounts always work, as do giveaways. And of course, be sure to make your initial query compelling.

• Offer a guarantee. Especially online, a guarantee helps reduce the risk factor in your prospect’s mind.

Your e-mails don’t have to be too short, but they do need to be catchyand to the point. Have an attention-grabbing intro, use examples and links, and make it easy to respond via e-mail or phone.

E-Newsletters

There are many reasons that you may want to create and offer an e- newsletter for your site, but here is the main one: it captures data. By creating an e-newsletter and making it challenging enough that people sign up for it, you are getting them to opt-in and give you their e-mail address.

Consider how powerful and incredibly useful that small act really is: these are people who want to hear from you. You can use the list for follow-up marketing: tell your opt-in membership about upcoming sales and promotions, special events, and so on.

Later in the story, we will talk about additional ways to get people to opt in. For the moment, let’s concentrate on how to make your e-newsletter work.

To create a successful e-newsletter, it has to be well written, engaging, easy to read, and useful. If you are unable to write it yourself, have an employee or outsider do it. The content must be top-notch and not generally available elsewhere. Pick a topic related to your business that people want to know more about.

Once you have created the newsletter and started to get people to sign up for it, you will need to manage your list. Using a web service makes itmuch easier.

More ways to get people to opt-in

1. Offer a free e-book. An e-book need not be lengthy to be an effective e-mail capturing tool. It can be short- even four or five dozen pages will work. The important thing is that you have a great topic, one that would entice people to opt in.

2. Offer other freebies. By working with other sites that offer free software, you can offer people who visit your site free downloads if they register. Maybe you can swing a deal whereby you offer free screen savers or wallpaper. You can also offer for free something that your business creates.

3. Create a “members only” area. Offering premium content to peoplewho register is another way to create a valuable list.

4. Have fun. Have people opt in to: Participate in a contest to win a free prize, See the answers to yesterday’s quiz. You can put daily Sudoku, Kakuro and weekly crosswords.

Blogging for business

Blogging is a great way to build the visibility of your site. Because the very nature of a blog is that it is informal, having one on your site offers you a more personal way to interact with your crew. By their very nature, blogs incorporate links and keywords, and as people respond to your blog, more keywords show up. That really helps your search engine optimization.

• Blogs let you plug products, gently. A good post allows you to share business products in an informal way.

• Blogs give you valuable feedback. When customers respond to your posts, you are getting precious feedback, almost like a focus group.

• Blogs make your business more human.

Four ways to make a great e-impression

What is marketing if not a way to get on people’s radar and impress them? But what happens when you do get on their radar but don’t impress them? You have wasted your time, energy, and money, that’s what. If you go to all of the effort to get people to find you online, then you simply cannot miss the opportunity to wow them, and their first impression of you is critical.

People often view you and your business through that first lens they see you through. It is also equally true that in this 24/ 7 , interconnected, wired world, there are a lot of different ways to make (or break) that great first impression. Here are four:

1. Have a great and up-to-date website. If your site isn’t beautiful and professional, people likely are not going to take you too seriously.

2. Remember that content really is king. One ofthe first steps people take when going to a new site is to check “About” page. What is on yours? And what about the rest of your site, do you offer some free tips or valuable product information? Do you have testimonials on your site? Do you have some brands to show off? The friendlier, more helpful, and more impressive your site, the more people will trust you from the get go.

3. Have a decent social media presence. This issue is very important. You need some sort of social media presence if you want to make a good e-impression. Of course, you do not have to have 5,000 Twitter followers but you should have a respectable social media presence if you want to be taken seriously. If people try and find you through social media and cannot, they will wonder why.

4. Remember your e-mail etiquette. Use proper English and grammar.And be sure to respond to e-mails promptly, because if you don’t, they may conclude that you are either too busy or too disorganized to give them your time.

The key, then, is to stay engaged. Learn the tricks discussed in this instalment and keep your eyes open for new ones as they come along. You will be happy you did.

 

(Lionel Wijesiri is a retired company director with over 30 years’ experience in senior business management. Presently he is a business consultant, freelance newspaper columnist and a writer.)


 

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