It’s safe to say that the Internet has become so prevalent in our lives that even people living under rocks have their own webpage.
In less than two decades the Internet has morphed from its roots as a way to link researchers into one of the machines that drives the economy. If you can do it in real life, you can also do it on the Internet.
The capacity for growth is limitless, and as the huge populations of the world join the online conversation, the potential continues to grow. Besides the sharing of information, the Internet has also facilitated the ability to sell goods and services to an unlimited audience.
No longer does a merchant have to be content with servicing a client list in his immediate geographical area – a webpage can be viewed as easily in Moscow as it can in Minneapolis, and provide the same results: the exchange of money for goods and services.
Entering this gigantic shopping mall can be incredibly daunting and confusing. The same strategies that work in the real world may not do so well in the virtual world. That vast growing audience has different tastes and can’t be easily pigeonholed. How do you deliver the service or product quickly and accurately, without damaging your profit margin?
These are only a few of the questions that pop up when businesses venture online. The goal is the same, but getting there has become a complete different journey.
Marketing online is different from the real world because you only have a customer’s attention for a short period of time. Your competition is one click away, so your first goal is to communicate what you’re selling.
This means your website must be professionally designed and easily accessible. This includes a website address (also known as a URL) that’s easy to remember and easy to spell. Consider this before anything else.
Next, you must remember that you won’t be there talking to a customer – your message must be clear, concise and informative. A potential customer doesn’t want to read fancy descriptions; he wants to know the immediate benefits.
Another thing to consider is that products must be easy to see on your site. Pictures should be clear and colorful – and appear as soon as the page loads on the screen. Consider doing quick videos of your products so that a customer can get a clear idea of what it does.
You’re also going to have to figure out how to get your webpage in front of your customer when they’re searching for you.
For example, you sell the world’s very best homemade fishing rods. The material is high quality, the craftsmanship is excellent and the shipping is free. So where will you show up when a potential fisherman types “fishing rods” into a search engine?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the answer – basically it’s a strategy that uses keywords, advertising placement and other methods to propel your business to the top of the search engine rankings.
The traditional marketing methods of advertising come into play, but on the internet things are different. You can send out an email blast to thousands of customers, and pay very little money to get it done.
Marketing and selling online requires creativity, knowledge and experience – just like in the real world. However, the ways to achieve success have changed, but there are no required set of rules – that’s the good news.
Create a marketing plan that makes sense to you, and leave some wiggle room for experimentation. Jump online and research your competition and markets that conduct business similar to your own. Experimentation can lead to success, and at the very least gives you new experience and knowledge.
Of course you’ll always have us as a resource and a place to visit for new ideas and feedback!