How much of an e-presence does your company have?
A number of factors affect the propensity of companies to incorporate e-marketing tools into their marketing mix.
o The time needed to devote a consistent effort and approach to e-marketing.
o How familiar on a personal level individuals are with the various e-tools.
o Unsure of how to define the strategy for using e-marketing; objectives, design and implementation, delivery and measurement.
o Understanding of how e-marketing and traditional marketing integrate and work together.
PUTTING THE ‘E’ INTO YOUR MARKETING
Whatever the reason, today e-marketing plays a major role in the visibility of a business and how effective they are at reaching their potential target market segments and delivering their company’s solutions.
Looking to the future, the role and importance of e-marketing will continue to increase with new e-tools emerging to add to the existing e-toolbox to reach and interact with the marketplace.
There are around 1,215,000,000 users of the Internet around the world, and this figure is set to grow even more. What is more, by 2010, respondents of market research generally thought the Web would be part of the first two stages of the buyer decision-making process- product awareness and information gathering – for a majority of all consumers.
This paper reviews four of the E-tools used by businesses and explains why they are important; the corporate website, search engine optimization, pay-per-click and newsletters.
THE COMPANY WEBSITE
The company website is familiar to everyone and is one of the most popular e-tools used by companies; it is also the e-tool that consistently underachieves, failing to act as an effective communication tool and failing to deliver a reasonable return on investment (ROI).
Consider these points.
o The majority of people, who pick up your business card/read about you /hear of you, will go to your website for more information. 95% of these potential customers will navigate away from your website if they do not like the look of it or it does not give them what they are looking for.
o If people carry out Internet searches for your products and services and they cannot find your site, this equates to a lost business opportunity. The majority of B2B websites are invisible to their potential market.
(Have you searched for your own products or services on Google or Yahoo recently?).
o Your smallest competitor can do it better than you.
o Your website is an open door to your company; visitors can roam your site, leave and re-visit when they want to. You are in effect engaging prospects and potential qualified leads and yet the majority of B2B sites never give these visitors a reason to stay or interact in some way.
The company website should:
o Deliver customer leads.
o Provide a positive customer experience in terms of conveying required information, customer satisfaction and interaction.
o Reduce costs of acquiring customers and provide a good ROI.
o Act as a key point of contact with your market place.
Ingredients of a good website
1. Design – first impressions count. A recent study, (Lindgaard G., Fernandes G. J., Dudek C. & Brown J. Behav. Inf. Technol., 25. 115 – 126 2006), found that impressions were made in the fi rst 50 milliseconds of viewing, and that these first impressions must engage the visitor otherwise they click away from your site even though you may be offering them the solution they are looking for. A positive impression has a ‘halo’ effect; psychologically it tells the visitor they have made the right decision to visit your site and it also casts a positive light on the content of your site in the minds of your visitors.
2. Clear objectives for the website. Why does your website exist? Is it to convey depth and credibility about your company? Impart valuable and timely information to visitors? Generate positive leads to follow up on? Sell products and services on line? Many sites do not have a clear set of objectives for the existence of their site and therefore fail to build in the right content, functionality or call to action for visitors to follow.
3. Optimization. 70% of visitors to a corporate website are directed there as a result
of an Internet search.
The majority of B2B websites are invisible to search engines because they are not optimized properly – just 36% of UK companies use optimization as a marketing tool with 20% of companies never using optimization at all (Loudhouse research January 2007). Optimization is covered in the next section of this paper.
4. Metrics. Who are your visitors? How many are there? Where do they come from?
What pages of your site do they visit most/least? What trends are evident?
For most B2B company websites, their visitors are like ghosts of the ether; visiting and leaving their website without leaving any trace.
One of the most important differences between e-marketing and traditional marketing is the ability to measure very precisely what is happening and make adjustments to the e-marketing tool quickly and easily to respond to trends that are found.
Metrics are powerful and incredibly important, whether you are monitoring your website, a newsletter or email campaign or Pay per Click success.
5. Functionality and Userbility. Can visitors move around your site intuitively and easily? Is there sufficient functionality in place to interact with your visitors and is it seamless across all browsers? Are you capturing information that will allow you to contact your visitors again?
6. Content. Do your visitors have a rich customer experience when they visit your site? Do they find what they are looking for; have you given them suffi cient reason to visit again? Changing, up-to-date content to appeal to visitors is important (it is also important for search engine optimization).
Have you visited your company website recently?
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
Optimization of your website, Pay-per-click campaign, blog, online PR, newsletter, etc
is the process of making your company ‘visible’ to your potential market.
Search for the term ‘marketing’ on Google (UK) and the search returns with 21,500,000 pages to view. If you are a marketing company how do you improve your odds of being found in all of this?
SEO involves a number of different approaches all designed to make you visible above your competition. A good place to start is with keywords.
Keywords are the words potential customers use to fi nd you on the Internet. Using our marketing example, it was not so long ago that using the words ‘marketing mix’ would have been a reasonable search term that people wanting help in their business would have used.
The term ‘marketing’ was searched on 224,156 times in the last month and that came a poor second to the term ‘search engine marketing’. Way down the bottom of a very long list came our ‘marketing mix’ search term with 3,607 searches.
Keywords can be used in a number of different ways. For example, on a marketing website’s metatags you would incorporate the popular search terms people use; yet on a focused Pay Per Click campaign the term ‘marketing mix’ is likely to yield some very good leads with less competition from other companies carrying out similar campaigns. If you were looking to put together a marketing promotion that people were likely to be interested in, then a specific campaign aimed at email marketing is likely to be popular, and so on.
Optimizing the website
Below are some of the different tactics that can be used to successfully optimise a website.
1. Metatags. Keywords, descriptions and page titles are matatags that should be carried out for each page of the website. They are key methods by which search engine spiders locate your site in a search and index it. The metatag code is found by individual search engine crawler software, and your site is then ranked on results based on its relevancy to whatever the user has searched for.
2. Site build. How the website is constructed plays a part in SEO. Frame based websites, fl ash sites (engines cannot read them), and websites built using a table based layout (a lot of code to read before the engine can read the content) are not as ‘friendly’ as websites built using a cascading style sheet format.
3. Content. Search engines look for ‘relevance’ in a site; in other words do the keywords and description in the metatags match with the terminology and content of the site? Does the content change periodically, giving the search engines a reason to revisit the site again?
4. Links to the website. An important activity to undertake for any website; how many other sites or references on the Internet link back to the website? The more links – and importantly, the more quality links – to your site indicates to the search engines that it is a popular site and likely to be visited more often; they therefore rank it higher.
Various tactics can be employed in link building including
o Directory submission
o Search engine submission
o Article syndication
o Testimonial linking
o Reciprocal linking
o Affiliate programs
o Host a community/blog
o Contest/ freebies/ other points of interest
o Online press releases
5. Sitemap. Having a sitemap, keeping it up to-date and submitting it to the search engines is another tactic to improve SEO.
PAY PER CLICK (PPC)
PPC is the process of using ‘Sponsored Links’ on search engines results which appear above or to the right of the main search results. As the name suggests, each time a potential customer clicks on an advertisement, the advertiser pays a small fee to the search company.
SEO and PPC are the two main methods for driving targeted traffic to the corporate website and all businesses should use both methods together for maximum results.
In the UK there are over 30 million searches conducted on Google alone and spend on
PPC advertising is growing at 60% per year. In the USA, specialists PwC/IAB, predicts paid search advertising to increase from $6.8 billion in 2006 to $17.4 billion by 2011.
PPC is not just about choosing the right keywords to build your advertising around; it also entails making sure you send the visitor to a relevant page when they do click on your advertisement. Many PPC campaigns benefit from having dedicated landing pages as these will significantly improve conversion rates, (that is, clicking and then completing the desired action wanted by the company). PPC cost can also be a function of the quality and relevance of your website and the click though rate of your adverts.