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February 23, 2010

Three Essential Steps To Online Success

Majority of the business owners and investors have acknowledged the value of internet marketing in their growth and investment strategy. The unprecedented acceptance of internet marketing tools and technologies as a catalyst in the business values is a testament to the above fact. Business owners and entrepreneurs who have adopted a phased implementation of their internet marketing plans, while supplementing it with expert analysis and assistance have experienced exponential growth in their market value.

But, on the other hand, a lot of investors are frustrated with their prior online experience. This failure and frustration within the business community can be attributed to the following factors:

  • Insufficient level of understanding about the internet marketing tools and technologies
  • Misinterpretation and rush to implement the internet marketing process as a result of the industry hype
  • Ignoring the time-tested principle of phased implementation – particularly when you are embracing a new technology
  • Partnering with service providers with doubtful credentials

The good news is that internet marketing actually works to publicize your brand and helps in the growth of your business and investment goals. Let’s walk through the following steps to understand the fundamentals and phases of an internet marketing strategy…

STEP 1: Make your online presence felt!

To start with, your business needs an address on the web – so, that calls for a customer and search engine friendly website. The real game starts right after the launch of your dream website. Most of the web savvy business owners understand the peripheral web entities that combine to broadcast your business and brand in a better way – blogs, micro-blogs, landing pages, squeeze pages and your own online channels on YouTube. But, every business should evaluate the right channels of promotion based on the nature of its product or service. The key is to bring together your product, services, investments and the right audience in one place – that is your online shop.

Unfortunately, there are many business aspirants and first time entrepreneurs who have a very captivating (and flashy) web site and who fail to get any returns from their online presence!

In fact, the vast majority of web site owners have no clue as to how to monetize their online presence. Think of your flashy online site as a resort that you own. And imagine that your resort is the most beautiful resort in the world but is inaccessible to visitors from any side – there are no roads, ports or airports around it. Well, this heavenly resort is worth in pennies if your potential visitors have no way of finding you and reaching you. So, what you need, as a resort owner, is to resolve the accessibility issues immediately and broadcast the different features and transportation options to your potential customers. This will set the inquiry counter ticking.

STEP 2: Guide the right traffic!

Congratulations! Now you have a business worthy site of your own and you seem to be getting a lot of looks from your potential customers. So, is it time for the champagne? Not yet.

Every business worth their salt knows the value of quality volume. A ‘high traffic’ is never the ‘Good Traffic’. So, what is a good traffic?  In the internet marketing corridors, experts would vouch for one fact – Quantity sweeps and quality sticks. Getting quality traffic on a consistent basis is a nightmare for majority of the business owners – That’s where business owners find the biggest hurdles to their online marketing strategy.

Lets drive the above argument home by using a layman’s example…What if you wanted to start a business selling high-end, luxury business-class aircraft to corporation?.

As your marketing strategist and partner, I am offering you two prospect lists. Let’s evaluate the business value in the 2 prospect lists.

[A] Decision makers list: This list will give you the contact details of top 500 people in various corporations who are in charge of buying or leasing aircraft. Everyone in this list has purchased a business-class aircraft for their corporation at some point of time.

[B] General customer list: The second list has the names 1000000 people who have bought basic business supplies (e.g., printers) for their firms.

Decision time: Now to initiate your business marketing for selling or leasing business-class jet services, you need to choose between the two lists. Will you be going with ‘Decision makers list’ or the ‘General customer list’?

The right decision: You want the targeted list of 500 people who in fact have been in charge of their firm’s aircraft purchase or lease. The quality advantage of the ‘Decision makers list’ list far outweighs the quantity advantage of the ‘General customer list’.

And yet most business owners with web sites continue to focus on bringing massive “traffic” to their sites rather than emphasizing on garnering smaller but highly targeted traffic. So, the key to online marketing is to be able to focus on your targeted audience and then guiding them to your site.

STEP 3: Conversion is the Key!

Well, you have got the target customers and they are asking the right question. Is it time to send the ‘mission accomplished’ mail? Not yet. Here again, you will find a lot of websites that have a compelling online presence and an impressive flow of targeted traffic, but still the cash counter is not ringing. As a business owner, who has invested so much of time and resources behind the online marketing campaign, some serious questions need to be answered.

  • What is preventing your customers to clicks the ‘Buy Now’ button?
  • Is there something on the landing page that is putting them off?
  • Is the buying process too complex?
  • Is the product or service depicted properly?
  • Are the words and graphics compelling enough for the customer to explore further?

This brings us to a few action items which should be followed religiously by all business owners…

Action Items: In essence, your online shop should have bait for your potential customers that works in any situation.

  • You must have something special on your sites that could convert your site visitors to committed prospects – e.g., a valuable report to get their names and emails
  • Once your prospects are lined up, a successful business strategy demands that the prospects are converted to buyers – a “star” product with such a superior price, quality and customer services that can turn a committed prospect to a buyer
  • The next step in the cycle is focused on converting your buyers to repeat buyers – multiple layers of products and services that would allow you to turn buyers into repeat buyers through cross-sell and up-sell
  • And finally convert your repeat buyers to your fans so that they would tell everyone they know about your site, products and services – offer a compelling incentive to your repeat buyers to let everyone they know about your site, products, services and investment opportunities
  • The ultimate objective for you online marketing strategy is to create brand ambassadors for your business.

Finally, you must understand that the success of conversion has to do with not just internal factors as shown above, but external issues. These external factors include the state of economy, your existing brand awareness, the season of the year, and the exclusivity of your products and services.

Now, you can sit back and pat yourself for a job done with marketing sense and business logic.

As you can see, being successful online not only ends with owning a web site and waiting for traffic to show up miraculously! You need an effective form of online presence, an effective array of online methods to bring targeted traffic to your site. And finally you need to offer valuable offers and incentives to convert your site visitors to buyers, repeat buyers and your brand ambassadors.

Koz Khosravani is an Internet expert, an Information Technology lecturer, and a national speaker who has shared the stage with The President of the United States, Donald Trump, Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield and many other top speakers. Koz is the president of the firm, Web 2.0 Marketing Systems LLC with offices in Los Angeles and New York. Koz has been active in the field of Information Technology and education for approximately fifteen years as a software engineer, project manager, trainer, and consultant. He has trained technical employees at various Fortune 500 companies, including Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), Raytheon, Hughes, and Edison International. His area of specialization includes Internet promotion and marketing, Internet conversions, educational technology, e-business security & back-end integration, distributed relational database management systems, networking and web development. He is available to offer IT consulting and training.