What are the most effective eMarketing tools?
by Scott Frangos, Managing Partner – WebFadds.com, a modern web development company focused on eCommerce, Content Management Systems, and Blogs.
Even after a decade of eCommerce, people are still asking, “what’s the best way to advertise on the web?” First, eMarketing is not a
fad. Second, after a number of years, you can now rest confident that some online tools work well, while others do not. Hmmmm. Which ones do
work best? Well, because we are all using computers online, your answer
is — the ones you can easily track and see how what you spend leads
directly to sales.
The Most Effective eMarketing Tools
Here are some important bottom line facts and trends:
- Online advertising spending is in the billions, & growing
- Banners have faded as effective ads
- The rise of Content Management Systems provides “syndicating” opportunities
- Spamming is now illegal — with consequences
- It’s tougher and tougher to get to the top of search engines using SEO (search engine optimization)
Focus on successful eMarketing methods — Pay Per Click Search engine
listings, eNewsletters, and Affiliate programs. Add to this an emerging
method of advertising/journalism that we think is also not a Fad –
“RSS” feeds, which is a simple way to syndicate stories and ads online
(RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication).
One component of successful Content Management Systems (CMS — see our packages),
is… you guessed it, the ability to create your own RSS feeds. Now you
see why we’re strong advocates of CMS based websites. So we currently
offer services to review your current website strentghts and
weaknesses, and develop a strategic eMarketing plan based on the
methods we know (and use ourselves) to be most effective. You will see
that we recommend solutions for you that are based on successful
principles: pay for results — not just “placement”, extend your reach
“virally”, when possible, and use smart systems to get the economic
advantage in your marketing.
Now let’s concentrate on some proven online marketing tools…
[ ] Search Engine Marketing: If you only did used one advertising tool, my recommendation would be to bid on key search terms at Google, and also Overture.com (owned by Yahoo, and provides search ads on Yahoo, MSN, AOL, and others). It works like this: you get open an account and deposit a minimum budget of say, $50. Then you “bid” on keywords related to your website content (ie. “Gift Baskets”, if that’s what you’re selling, etc.). The bid is for how much you are willing to pay per click — when someone who is actively searching (meaning they want what you have!) for an item by entering those search words, then clicking on the listings
that come up. You might pay anywhere from .15 cents to .99 cents a click, depending on how many other advertisers are bidding on the same terms. But, you know that people clicking on your terms want what you have and are motivated enough to be searching for it. And, you can easily track the sales that result and do a simple calculation of advertising cost to resulting sales.
An emerging method of advertising/journalism that we think is also not a Fad — “RSS” feeds, which is a simple way to syndicate stories and ads online.
What about simply getting your site to rank high — on the first page — of search returns? This effort is called “SEO”, standing for Search Engine Optimization, and I have seen a number of smart business people pay companies thousands of dollars to SEO services who (take note) cannot guarantee when your site will increase ranking (within 6 months, they say in the fine print), and how high (within the top 20 they “project”, which puts you off the front page if you are not within the top 10), your site will attain. My opinion? It’s a waste of time and money to only focus on this. DO make sure that your keywords and copy on at least your front page is optimized for search engines. DON’T spend countless hours and expense banking on that effort bringing you to the front page of search engines.
Bottom Line: You will be money ahead and on the first page of search engines when you use a smart bid for keywords strategy.
[ ] eNewsletter: You will find that all eMarketing experts agree the eNewsletters are not only an excellent way to obtain new customers and boost sales, but also to maintain and grow the relationship with your existing customer base. You will also find that while most astute web business people nod their heads at this conventional wisdom on eNewsletter, they do not discipline themselves to use them. Why? Newsletters take time and deserve a quality editing process. The better written they are, the better are your results. And, I think that business people, put off by the time to write and produce a newsletter, forget to calculate the reward of increased sales from this form of customer relationship marketing. A newsletter, well written, develops a sort of bond with your customers. This valuable bond leads to increased sales when they are informed of a product they either missed at your website, or just didn’t have the time to go see — and they buy it.
“Smart” AutoResponders: You can use a smart autoresponder to automatically follow up with your leads and send them a series of emails with prewritten sales and promotional messages. Use this same tool to preload your eNewsletter and then relax as your responder sends them out at preset intervals — no more work to do. By the way, they are called “smart” because they allow customization including your clients name, birthday, the date, and more in the content of your message. You capture and store this information when your prospect signs up using a form at your website. All studies show that customer loyalty is developed with resulting sales from this type of personalization.
Bottom line: Budget the time and expense (this might initially involve purchasing eMail “opt-in” lists — so you don’t SPAM — at .15 cents a name) to use this valuable method of eMarketing.
Resources: For an excellent company that helps with creation and management of eNewsletters, try the free demo at Topica’s powerful Online Marketing and Sales Solution: try it for 15 days FREE! Next, compare two “smart” autoresponders — one you purchase outright and install at your site: ArPLUS. This is the one we use ourselves. (take a free Demo), and another that you can “rent” (monthly fee, and the software resides on their server) at aWebber Systems, and take their free test-drive. I recommend that you compare all three of these options since they offer different approaches, costs, and the ability to learn recommended techniques from three established companies.
[ ] Affiliate Programs: Amazon.com. Period. That’s right, one of the major emarketing strategies that led to the growth of Amazon.com was a smart and innovative method known as the Affiliate Program. Simply put, an Affiliate Program involves installing software that allows another web marketer to sign-up to receive commissions from you for sales they drive to your site by advertising your products and services elsewhere on the internet. It’s easy, because your computer program tracks traffic and resulting sales using a unique code you give to each of your “Affiliates.” It’s very cost effective marketing, because you don’t pay a single penny for it until you have a sale. And, good shopping cart programs today are building in this function. But, like eNewsletters, there is some time involved in letting people know you have an Affiliate Program. You need to have a plan to reach out to other webmasters, and businesses, who offer allied products and services and would make a good Affiliate for you. Of course, having an eNewsletter is one way to get the word out about your new Affliate Program.
Bottom Line: A well managed affiliate program (sometimes called “viral” marketing because it spreads so quickly), can pay off in a big way without any up front costs of advertising other than to install and announce it. Just ask Amazon.com — they have several thousand Affiliates now.
Resources: Take a look at these books on Affiliate Programs at Amazon.
[ ] Syndication (RSS): You might have seen the orange “RSS” buttons appearning on a lot of websites lately including major players like Yahoo and MSN. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”, and provides a way for other webmasters to insert updated news stories from your website… on theirs. Most CMS (Content Management Systems), provide this function built-in, or you can program it into websites that don’t use CMS. Of course, content is still “king” so you need to make sure your stories are well written and perceived as valuable to others. Stories like the ones you write for a good eNewsletter (see how this all ties together?). You may think at first that this method of eMarketing is not as “front line” as flat out advertisements. True. It is somewhat more subtle. But that does not mean it is less effective. To the contrary, a well written article describing services or product uses, can serve you as “word on the street” marketing does, driving huge traffic to your site resulting in strong sales. Ask any business person who shrewdly uses Public Relations techniques to build their business. It works. Did you know that most people in Public Relations careers were former Journalists? They’ve mastered the art of writing about business ideas, products, and services in such a positive way that it makes people what to at least go see, and for many, want to buy.
Bottom line: Make no mistake that Syndication is an emerging Web Fad that while new online, is a proven successful public relations marketing method to help your business grow.
Free trial: We like the “Feed For All” program from NotePage, which helps you create, edit, and publish RSS feeds from your PC. Take a FREE trial now (click here).
See our related article on Simple Syndication (RSS)
About WebFadds.com & Scott Frangos: Scott Frangos is a Managing Partner for WebFadds.com, a Portland, Oregon based company focused on modern web development and emarketing. He has also been a college level instructor for close to 20 years on the subjects of eCommerce, web graphics, and HTML. He began a career in advertising “before the web was born” and has also worked as a public relations professional. He likes to refer to his current postion as “Chief Juggling Officer – CJO” since managing the Fads of the Web involve wearing more than one hat. He wrote a textbook on the Macintosh computer, and is currently writing a book on Content Management Systems. Visit WebFadds.com for more information, and to reach Scott.