by Ed Yourdon
6 Tips to Marketing an Online Business
Marketing an online business is quite different to offline marketing. Once you know what some of the differences are you can figure out more effective ways and means of marketing your business online.
Here is a shortlist of some of the differences between online marketing and offline marketing.
In some offline businesses, you get people walking past your shop. Oftentimes these people will come in out of curiosity or a particular need that they feel at that time.
Web sites have no such luxury. You have to work at giving people to come into your “store”. People aren’t going to visit your web site just because it’s there. You need to find ways of convincing people to come and see what it’s all about.
People Search for Solutions, Not Companies
Potential clients will often open up the Yellow Pages and search for a company in a specific industry, for example: plumbers, hairdressers and so on.
On the Internet people search for solutions to their problems. So, instead of searching for a cleaning agent of some sort, they might search for “getting red wine off carpets”.
Instead of searching for a real estate agent, they might rather search for properties in a particular area. For example they might search for, “properties for sale Johannesburg”, or something like that.
Once you understand and embrace this difference you can structure your web site in such a way that it offers the information that people are looking for. That might sound obvious enough but you’d be surprised how many people get it wrong.
One example of getting it wrong would be to spend all of your time, energy and Web space on describing your company, the people that work for you and your previous clients. What you should be doing is explaining how you solve the particular problem that you solve.
People Can Compare Products at the Click of a Button
The Internet has made it possible for people to quickly and easily research a purchase before making a decision.
This has changed the way people shop because, now, you no longer have to deal with a salesperson ramming their products down your throat while you’re in front of them. These days, if you don’t like what you’re seeing, you can simply search again or “walk away” with out feeling any guilt.
The point I’m trying to make is that you’d better be nice to the people that visit your web site because, otherwise, they’ll simply move on and forget all about you!
You’ve got to make sure that you provide good information on the products you sell because, if someone is shopping around on the Internet, they probably have three to five other web sites opened to compare to yours.
You Can Easily Grab Their Contact Details
People aren’t likely to just give you their contact details. You usually have to give them something in return like a chance to win something in a competition.
In the online world you can quite easily get somebody’s e-mail address in return for some information pertaining to the use of your product.
For example you can request People’s e-mail addresses and send them a report on the benefits of drinking mineral water if that’s what you sell.
No matter what industry you’re in, there’s always something that your target market would like to know that could make their lives easier.
For example, if you sell to big corporates, you can provide a report on how to select the right supplier for the specific product or service you have on offer.
In other words, if you sell large computer systems to banks you could offer a report targeted at the purchasers telling them how buying from a supplier with specific credentials can result in lower costs and happier bosses.
Once you have their details you can keep in contact with them whenever you have a new product line that might be of interest to that particular client or type of client.
It’s Easier to Track Results
How do you know that your latest printed pamphlets are working better than previous versions? There are ways to track this type of information that they are not very reliable.
On the Web, you can use free (or paid for) tracking systems to see where potential clients are clicking and what particular campaigns are bringing you the best results.
This type of information is absolutely imperative to a successful marketing campaign. You can’t improve if you don’t know what’s working and what isn’t.
You Need to Offer Credit Card Payments
Credit cards are quickly becoming the method of choice when paying for items. I personally use my credit card to pay for everything except the maid!
On the Internet it’s either difficult or impossible to sell anything unless you offer the option for people to pay using their credit cards.
The benefit to you is that you can automate your entire sales process and you can even offer high ticket items which people would then “Finance” using their credit cards.
I’m not sure how it works in other countries but in South Africa you can offer budget payments. This allows you to sell something that costs R 15,000 through your web site and, provided that you have the facility available, people can select to pay their credit card companies back over a period of up to 48 months. (It might be longer than that.)
So not only is it important for you to offer credit card payments but it also works to your benefit.
Now that you know some of the major differences between offline marketing and online marketing, you can begin working on your online marketing methods which can only have a positive impact on your bottom line!