Business owners are facing a harsh reality: A website in itself offers no guarantee of business. “If you build it they will come” is a cliché that has misled many into believing all a company needed was an online presence to succeed. However, without a strategic marketing plan and a tactical approach, you’re more likely to fail than to reach your goals. Proper planning will not only improve your chances of success, but it will also keep you from throwing away money on e-commerce fiascos.
The first step of planning is to define your goals in light of target market you aim to reach. As you classify your target, you should determine core needs of that group and observe buying behavior that occurs among your potential purchasers. Characterizing their purchasing habits enables you to position your business to appeal to your target market with compelling information before they buy from another resource.
Several online resources can help you place your business in forefront of your target audience. The process, however, can be complex because a variety of online vehicles, if utilized properly, can help you yield results you desire. Also, key to successful online marketing is in developing a diverse marketing plan which takes advantage of several approaches to deliver your message. Components in your marketing plan should include such elements as search engine marketing, pay-per-performance, ad placement, joint ventures, targeted traffic, e-mail marketing, media marketing, optimization and copywriting.
Search engine marketing has been one of most highly visible forms of online marketing. With millions of businesses employing search engines to gather information daily, search engine placement for key terms has been a major business generator for companies who properly place themselves in search engines under right terms relevant to their market offering. An obstacle to being ranked at or near top, however, is that thousands can be competing for same position. And with search engines changing their algorithms often, achieving placement on first page for terms relevant is extremely difficult without a solid working knowledge of and experience in search engine marketing field. Consequently, one should not solely rely on ranking.
Another marketing technique on rise is pay-per-performance advertising. This is a method for which you pay per click, impression, or visit that a site refers to your site. The application works best if placements chosen are locations that directly connect with target market you desire to reach. Advertisement rates are based on an auction format in that highest bidder obtains top placement. If your bid is $1.00 for every time someone utilizes your link while your competitor bids $1.01, your competitor will gain a better placement than you. If 100 individuals click your link, you should understand that you will owe $100 whether they buy from you are not. Pay-per-performance advertising clearly requires a full understanding of your conversion ratio to determine budget necessary to commit to such a program.
Ad placement is similar to pay-per-performance in that you pay for advertisement on sites or newsletters. The difference is that you typically pay for impressions and market reach. Impressions encompass how many unique visitors view location in which your ad is placed. The market reach refers to number of individuals accessing that website or newsletter over a period of time. However, you have no guarantee of number of visitors who will follow your ad to your website. The concept is similar to traditional print ad placement in that advertisers have no guarantee that people exposed to their print ads will visit their places of business. Another method, joint ventures, can be highly effective in helping businesses obtain referral customers. Joint ventures can be as simple exchanging links with another website or as complex as assembling a tiered affiliates program.