Tuesday, June 3, 2008

“Can Web Developer Take Care of Everything” ?

It is amazing how people assume that just because a person or company develops a Web site, that company will take care of everything related to the site and its marketing online. Not only do they expect the Web developers to build the site without much direction, but they also expect the Web development company to:

Get it placed high in the search engines

Monitor the positioning and resubmit when needed

Let the world know the site exists

Attract a lot of traffic to the site

Update the site’s content and graphics when it is needed

And here is the real kicker—the average client expects ALL this for the price of the initial Web development.

Reality: “Many assume that their web developer is responsible for getting their site placed in the search engines and generating traffic to their site.”
When you hire a print advertising company to develop your corporate brochure, you don’t expect them to research your target market and then distribute the brochure and then follow up with the potential clients. For some reason, people expect Web development companies to “do it all.”

In some instances a full-service Internet marketing and Web development company may be able to provide additional services other than site development. Tasks such as search engine submission and generating links to your site can be provided, but generally it is your responsibility to handle these tasks. It is important that your company have an Internet marketing strategy in place to generate significant traffic to your site. You should also have a site maintenance strategy and implementation schedule. You may choose to outsource some of the elements in your Internet marketing strategy, but it is your responsibility to make sure that you have control over what is being done and who is doing it.

"Can Online Store Offer the Same Products and Services as Offline Store.”?

Business owners who have a bricks-and-mortar location sometimes assume that their online storefront is an extension of their offline storefront and that they will provide exactly the same products and services online as offline.

Reality: “Consumers have higher expectations online than offline, and the consumer rules!”
In some cases fewer products are offered online than in the physical store. This is often the case where you are test-marketing, but also where some of the products you sell in your physical location are not appropriate for online sales due to competitive pricing or shipping logistics.

In other cases your online store will offer more products or services than the bricks-and-mortar location. For example, your offline bookstore may not offer shipping or gift-wrapping. If your online bookstore does not offer these services, you will lose a lot of business to your online competition. When a site’s product offerings include items that are appropriate for gift giving, it is essential to also offer wrapping, customized cards, shipping to multiple addresses, and shipping options. The consumer is king and is very demanding. You have to meet and beat your consumers’ expectations online to garner market share. People shopping for gifts online are looking for convenience, and the site that provides the greatest convenience and the greatest products at the greatest price will be the winner.

“The world will automatically know it exists .”?

Since the Internet emerged as a part of our lives and conversations, the belief has been that once you create a Web site, the world will automatically know it exists and will beat a path to your door to do business with you. The idea is that once you have taken the time and effort to publish a Web site, the job is done and all you have to do is make sure the site is live and wait for the e-mails to come in.

Reality: “Building a web site is just the first step.”
Getting business from your Web site is a lot like getting business from a great brochure. You can have the best brochure in the world, but it isn’t going to bring you any business if it sits in the bottom drawer of your salesperson’s desk. The same is true with your Web site. You can have the greatest Web site in the world, but it will not bring you any business if you do nothing to let your target market know the site exists and encourage them to visit.

You need a strategy to reach your target market online and offline that encourages them to visit your site. Search engine registration is one element, and there are many more. Your strategy could include the following marketing techniques:

-Mail list marketing

-Newsgroup or forum participation

-Electronic press release distribution

-E-zine article submissions

-Cybermall participation

-Listings in meta indexes and industry-specific directories

-Banner advertising

-Links from sites frequented by your target market

It is critically important that you spend as much time planning and implementing the marketing of your site as you did in the planning and development of the site, if not more.

People believe that literally anyone can build a Web site?

Many people believe that literally anyone can build a Web site. There are many software programs, wizards, and templates to make it easy. There’s nothing to it. Web design is often viewed just like word processing or creating a flyer using a basic graphics and text software program. We get our brothers, uncles, and kids to design our professional Web sites. We hear it all the time: “His nephew is getting paid $50 per page and he does it in the evenings… there can’t be that much to it.”

Reality: “Not many do it right.”
It may be easy to build a Web site, but it’s a little more difficult to do it right. Our teenage kids may be quick with typing and be able to use graphics programs, but we wouldn’t consider having them develop our corporate brochure or marketing materials. Why, then, do so many people assume that these kids are capable of developing their corporate Web presence just because they can type and use a Web development software program?

When developing your Web site, you ideally start with the clear identification of your Web site objectives, your target market, and your products and services. Without identifying your primary and secondary objectives and articulating them to your Web developer, it is impossible for the developer to design and develop a site that is going to achieve your objectives. The site should be designed for your target market. If you don’t identify your target market to the Web developer, it will be tough for her to develop graphics that appeal to your target demographic.

In an ideal world, your site will be developed with input from several different disciplines. For instance, you will have input from a graphic designer. Your site needs dynamite graphics that “speak” to your target market. You will also have input from an individual with a public relations or advertising background. Your site needs succinct text that grabs the reader’s attention, gets the intended message across, and encourages the reader to take action, all in a screen or less. People in advertising are experts at this. You will have input from an individual who is great at programming. Your Web site should be robust and browser friendly. Most sites today include some Java, and possibly Macromedia Flash. If you have databases, it is very important that they be designed and built by someone who has expertise in this area. You will have input from an individual with expertise in Internet marketing. Your Web site must be search engine friendly. An Internet marketer knows what it takes to optimize each page of your site to achieve high ranking in search results. The Internet marketer also knows which repeat traffic generators, permission marketing techniques, and other elements are appropriate for your target market to help you achieve your online objectives.

So in light of all this, although our kids may be able to use a Web development program, I think we should leave this job to the experts. Your Internet presence provides you with an enormous opportunity. Do it right! You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

E-Business Industry

The size and demographics of the online population that makes up the Internet universe is an important component of the industry as every business must have an in-depth understanding of their target audience in order to be successful. In general, the number of Internet users is growing at a staggering rate.

The Computer Industry Almanac has reported that by the year 2002, 490 million people around the world will have Internet access; that is 79.4 per 1,000 people worldwide, and 118 people per 1,000 by year-end 2005. There are currently 374.9 million Internet users worldwide. From a demographics standpoint, Internet users are typically well educated, technically inclined, and financially well off. Popular uses of the Internet are for research purposes, entertainment, e-mail, chat, and for shopping. As the Internet expands so to does the number of opportunities for businesses.

The Internet has been known as a marketplace consisting of predominantly young, professional males. Over the span of 2000 we saw the demographics that make up the online universe expand and diversify. Shifts in Internet demographics are expected to continue in the foreseeable future as the use of the Internet continues to become an accepted part of every day life. The first quarter of 2000 marked the first time the number of women online in the United States surpassed that of men, according to a report by Media Metrix and Jupiter Communications. The number of seniors online is one of the most rapidly growing segments of the Internet. The number of seniors online at the beginning of was estimated at more than 23 million according to several sources. IDC, a leading industry analyst, expects the number of seniors online to grow to 34.1 million by 2004—an estimated 20% of all new Internet users. With the growth in the number of seniors taking to the online world, you will see an increase in the number of opportunities available to businesses who target this segment. Recent surveys by Harris Interactive found that “young people” in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 24 have a significant amount of buying power, and are spending an estimated of $164 billion per year. This represents an attractive segment for businesses, because a respectable portion of the $164 billion spent is spent online and e-Business spending among this age group is more than four times the rate of e-Business spending among all adults.

e-Business brings forth a number of beneficial opportunities for existing businesses and new start-ups alike. Not only does it open the doors to new markets, but also it can open the door to new market opportunities. Consider the travel industry. Traditionally consumers would consult with their personal travel agent for vacation packages and flight information. The advent of the Internet and e-Business changed the rules for the travel industry, and new companies such as Travelocity.com and Expedia.com were able to enter into the already highly competitive market by offering rock bottom pricing and empowering the consumer with the ability to quickly and easily plan their own trips without interacting with a travel agent. These new companies were able to provide their services to an enormous market and at a much lower cost than could traditional travel agents at the time As a result, they have been quite successful. This is only one example of how businesses can be successful through e-Business.

The Internet expansion into all business and personal communications is inevitable. What was considered a “trend” is becoming the “norm.” As people are becoming more familiar and trusting of online transactions, the consumer relationship is being improved each month due to new security-based technologies that are being developed. New media support groups are also speeding up the learning curve of the average Internet users.

The future is bright for e-Businesses. Not everything is available on the Internet… yet. Hot items for sale online have always been and continue to be apparel, computer hardware/software, music, books, electronics, toys, and travel, but more and more people are coming up with new business ideas every day to meet consumers needs and changes in the online demographics. A recent survey conducted by Roper Starch found that Internet users are becoming much more open to using the Internet to conduct personal business, such as banking, and to shopping online. According to the study, in 1998 31% of people surveyed shopped online, 16% conducted personal banking online, and 11% traded stocks. In 2000, each of these numbers increased to 56%, 25%, and 16% respectively. Several studies indicate these numbers are going to continue to increase over the next few years, presenting many opportunities to businesses looking to extend their operations online. With respect to the B2B (Business to Business) marketplace, the Yankee Group estimates that 90% of all small to medium sized businesses will make at least one purchase online this year.

Online revenue is expected to increase to $3.2 trillion by 2004, according to Forrester Research. These are encouraging numbers, but for dot com businesses the year 2000 was filled with many difficult challenges. No longer can an e-Business succeed based on a good idea alone—you need the right e-Business model, the right Web site, and the right volume of targeted traffic. This year you will see e-Business move from being an option to a common aspect of many businesses daily operations—it has already begun. Whether you are a dot com or a bricks and mortar, an established business or your business is just a dream, this book will assist you in taking your business online and serve as your guide on the path to e-Business Success.

The term of “E-Business"

The term “e-Business” is used commonly, but e-Business means different things to different people. To some people, e-Business is simply having a Web site with a toll-free number visitors can call to place an order.

Other people think e-Business is having a Web site that enables customers to submit their credit card information online, even though their orders may then be processed manually just like a fax or telephone order. Still others believe that e-Business means being able to place a secure online order, having immediate credit card verification, and having a fully integrated backend database that automatically updates and informs the customer of the latest prices and whether or not an item is in stock. The point is, how you define e-Business and how you implement e-Business on your site will depend upon your business and the type of products or services you are marketing on the Web.

For instance, a software development company that sells a downloadable software application (i.e., has no physical boxed version) has no inventory. Therefore, they would not require a backend inventory database to be integrated with their e-Business system. All they might need is an e-Business system that automatically verifies credit card information and takes payment. On the other hand, if you have an online business that intends to sell books, and you want to become the next Amazon.com, you will require a full-blown, fullfeatured, fully integrated e-Business system to compete with the Amazon.coms of the world. Otherwise, potential customers will shop at Amazon.com because their e-Business system is more convenient and easy to use.

The Right e-Business Model

“We are crossing a technology threshold that will forever change the way we learn, work, socialize and shop. It will affect all of us, and businesses of every type, in ways far more pervasive than most people realize.”

Bill Gates, Comdex 1994

Bill Gates was very prophetic when he made this statement in 1994, eons ago in terms of the Internet. Communicating with customers and other businesses has changed drastically over the past century. It started with print, then radio, television, phone, fax, and now the fastest medium yet—the Internet. The future is bright for businesses that utilize the Net as a primary medium of communication and sales.

The opportunity is there for anyone to create a dynamite business online if it is done right. Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of just developing a Web site, putting it online, and having the world beat a path to your door. To achieve success online, you have to choose the right business, choose the right e-Business model, develop the right Web site directed toward your target market, and then generate substantial traffic to your Web site. The online customer who visits your site is much more demanding than a typical offline buyer in many ways. The online buyer knows what he wants, how he wants it, when he wants it, and at what price. The product and service must be exactly what was ordered and must be delivered immediately to the correct place and for the lowest price he can find. Competition is fierce on the Internet, and you must do a number of things to succeed online. First, you have to create a professional and secure e-Business presence. Second, you have to target the demographic of Internet users who will use your product or service. Finally, you have to work diligently to attract traffic. Serious marketing research is required to successfully target and attract the appropriate customers.