Over the past nine years there have been success stories and stories of absolute failure. Like anything, marketing on the Internet has its pros and cons; knowing them can help your business succeed. Many people seem to think that if they build a web site people will come.
Unfortunately, the Internet is not a "Field of Dreams". For a business to be successful on the Internet, marketing aspects not typically used must be employed. Those marketing aspects are first developing a web site that will find it the products and services in the best light. The second issue is developing a search engine marketing campaign which includes search engine optimisation, paid inclusions, and Pay-per-Click. The third concept so often ignored is the need to advertise through other media such as radio, television, and print.
The primary advantage of marketing on the Internet extends into the aspect of scope or the sphere of influence. Considering the magnitude of the sphere, the cost of advertising is minimal when compared to marketing in a demographic marketing area. For example, an advertisement placed in the local telephone directory could cost 20,000 per year and reach a market of 300,000 people. That makes the cost of advertising seven cents per person in the demographic marketing area. Having a properly developed web site may cost 6,000 and have a potential reach of one billion Internet subscribers.
Having an annual advertising budget of 20,000 puts the first year's cost at 26,000. The cost of marketing on the Internet would then be 0.000026 per Internet subscriber.
The problems associated with marketing on the Internet can best be understood by reali-sing that the web site domain, web site design, and web site features all come together in a unified concept. Similarities exist between these issues and the issues of location, store layout, and store name. The realistic business owner realises that it costs to have the best of these elements. Unfortunately, not all business owners understand that the providers of these services cover a large spectrum. The number of years experience should never be considered when reviewing the qualifications of a web design firm.
The first thing that should be asked of any web development firm is "What is the most important element of a web site?" If graphics come up in any form, then you need to find another group to discuss your needs with. Your products or services are the most important aspect of your business.
Any web design firm that does not understand that, is simply looking for opportunities to show off their talents. It must be understood that advertising on the Internet encompasses banner advertising, pop-ups, Pay-per-Clicks, Cost-per-Clicks, and search engine optimisation. Each of these elements has its own issues which can be considered beyond the reasonable reach of every business owner. Banner ads and pop-ups are ignored to a large degree. Pay-per-Click and Cost-per-Click advertising are used by the business owners who, for one reason or another, are unsuccessful in reaching a reasonable level of positioning in the search engine results. I have seen many business owners spending 1,000's of Euros per month on Pay-per-Click advertising. This indicates that the small business owners with limited budgets are unable to compete with much success or authority. Additionally, people are realising that the Pay-per-Click advertisers are no better than those that purchase large ads in the local telephone book.
Advertising one's business without a web site is akin to going out in the rain with an umbrella full of holes. The thought is great, but the execution leaves a great deal for improvement. Radio, television and print mediums are great for creating awareness, but they are limiting in the amount of information that can be provided. A web site does not have this limitation. Any business without a web site needs to re-evaluate the position.
The internet can be a great advertising medium, just simply, do not pin your hopes on the search engines alone, or expect a massive influx of sales as soon as your website is activated. Remember, that your websites main purpose is to be
a source of information, not a computerised salesman. Your visitors will always come to you, and not the website to them.