A New Beginning
If you’ve been a reader of this newsletter for any length of time, then you know something about me. I’m an IT pro (computer science and ee degrees) who is fascinated by the Internet (teach Internet protocols in grad school). I’ve also been successful at selling and marketing technical products. About a year ago I retired from job 1 in IT, and now focus on my Web marketing business and teaching. And enjoying being considerably less busy.
I’ve been doing Web marketing for ten years. But as a part-time job, although I learned a lot about it, I wasn’t particularly systematic about it, and approached each engagement independently. Since the business is now a bigger focus for me, I’ve been working lately on professionalizing my offerings. There were two areas of particular interest: tools that could help me and help keep my clients informed of the status of their Web marketing, and the role of social networks in Web marketing.
I also found it difficult to give a quick answer to the question “Tell me just what you will do for me?’ that would be asked by a prospect. I needed a better way to tell the story other than saying “I’ll coach your staff and your Webmaster so that you’ll get the benefit you should from your Web site.”
That effort is now about complete, and I’m already beginning to apply some of the new techniques, tools and ideas from this period of research. You’ll be seeing some different ideas in this newsletter as I explain some of the new ideas that I’ve learned.
Today the Web is very important in marketing–you’ve seen the impressive and rapidly growing sales figures for direct sales over the Web. Not as precisely measured but even more important is the great importance of Web research in every purchase decision. Because of the wide recognition of the importance of Web marketing, there are many many tools on the market that purport to help the Web marketer, to allow anyone with a site to self-market. I finally decided that there were far too many tools for me to even evaluate! Of those that I did evaluate, I found most of them to be of marginal value. Sadly, I can’t share the names of the tools that I’ve chosen, since they will provide much of my competitive edge. But they do these jobs:
1. Provide my clients with a quantitative report on the status of their Web marketing efforts, on a monthly basis. This was the tool that was hardest to find, since I had to try a large number of tools and learn them well enough to know that I could or could not do what I needed with them. As I get clients et up, each of them will get an understandable, quantitative summary of the status of the Web marketing effort every month. The tool set I chose also does a nice job of identifying opportunities for gains in several areas.
2. Find useful keywords. Keyword research is a tricky area. It needs to cover frequency of use, relevance, and the amount of competition on that term. I have located several tools for this purpose, including one that looks in real time at site traffic and uses some very good methods to find new terms to exploit.
3. Run the mailing list and conduct surveys. I have identified the best tools to manage a mailing list and to conduct surveys to the mailing list. I’ll be talking more about the growing importance of the mailing list and list-building in future issues.
4. Provide each client with a tailored Web marketing plan. Every one of my clients will receive a client marketing plan that explains all the actions that I’ll take, why they will be undertaken, and the expected results and deliverables. This required me to develop a template plan that will be a starting point both for customization for each client, and also for evolution of the business as I evolve and introduce new approaches.
There are a few other tools as well, but these are used to help with very specific tasks. Some I’ve used for years, and there are a couple of new ones as well. But the ones listed above are the most important new tools that I’ve adopted.
I’ll be taking a new approach to Web marketing, that has list-building as a central feature. It’s still important to do all the things to the site that were done when we just established a Web site and waited for the money to roll in. However, now there’s a lot of competition that can also take those same steps, so it’s crucial that we take the advantage of the opportunity to do more.
Social networks provide that opportunity; however, they can’t be used in the same way for every business. Different social networks have different membership populations and different conventions for use. It’s important to adopt a social networking strategy that will provide maximum benefit to the business at a reasonable cost in effort. I’ll be talking about these issues in future issues of this newsletter.
Reviews are a part of the social networking scene, but for many businesses they are so important that they deserve special attention. Review sites can be sources of high-authority links, and they also are frequently checked as part of pre-purchase research. So they provide a double potential benefit. With some risk. Reviews will be talked about in future issues of the newsletter. I was not able to find a satisfactory tool to allow my clients to host credible reviews on their sites, so I’m considering launching a service that i would own that would provide reviews of guaranteed credibility.
The Bottom Line
I have some new understandings of the current best practices in Web marketing, and will be sharing the key ideas with you in this newsletter. And my clients will see the direct benefits of this intensive research that I’ve completed.
If you like this newsletter, please check out Web Marketing 101
, our guide to Web marketing.