With most small businesses, money is tight, and spent with the utmost thought and care. As in other areas of our business, marketing can either swallow up hard earned resources with little effect or can propel a business farther than imagined, depending on the execution. Marketing your business on the internet is in many ways simpler and arguably much less expensive than more traditional marketing media, but has its own set of considerations. In a recent article we briefly discussed Search Engine Optimization and Linking. Some of the other more popular ways to market on the internet include: Paid Inclusion, Directory Listing, Affiliate Programs, and Email Campaigns all of which have particular strengths and limitations. The bottom line for marketing of any persuasion is cost effectiveness; and measuring, interpreting and acting on the results most often make the difference between a successful marketing effort and a wasted expenditure or cost overrun.
Fortunately, measuring marketing effectiveness is very easy to tackle in the internet space. Site statistics reports are readily available on-line and virtually real-time, providing information such as: actual number of mouse clicks, unique visitors, and/or repeat visitors, geographic location, time of day, visitor’s previous website (referral page), internet service provider, operating system…(you get the idea} all effortlessly collected, compiled and presented so that you can know exactly who/where/when/how often, and even how long your potential customers are visiting each portion of your site. Such site statistics packages are available through your developer or can be found by on-line search and usually a small subscription fee.
Simply increasing the number of visitors to your website is usually not the final objective however. If you have a walk-in store, you probably have a rough idea (at least seat of the pants) as to what percentage of your shoppers actually buys something. If you accept credit cards, you also know what your average ticket is in dollars, and how many transactions you ring up in any given period of time. This information, and more, can be easily gathered from your website and used to track not only how many more people your marketing effort has attracted to visit your website, but the actual increment in sales as well. Understanding both the site visitor demographics and the incremental transaction detail those visitors are bringing you is the holy grail of marketing and too often overlooked due to expense or difficulty of accomplishment with more traditional marketing methods. The ratio of transactions to visitors is commonly called the “conversion rate” and is critical to understanding the results of any marketing initiatives you undergo on the web.
Armed with this information you can make changes to your site, to your product or services offered, or to your marketing focus and immediately see where it is taking you. The entire process of transaction, data collection, and resulting action can take place virtually real-time. One of our clients began receiving orders within hours of launching their site with a Paid Inclusion campaign and could immediately see the who, where and when of the customer transactions as well as other data collected in the ordering process allowing them to adjust their strategies from day one as they saw fit. Internet marketing is relatively simple and can be a highly cost effective way to grow your business.