E-Commerce: Five Tips for Managing Online Strategy
Whether you’re an established cataloger needing to tweak your online presence or a relative newcomer, today’s Web holds nearly limitless potential for marketing and selling. In many respects, smaller companies are no longer dwarfed by their bigger counterparts when they effectively use today’s powerful Web 2.0 applications. Such tools as videos, podcasts, rich graphical presentations and other content-rich media applications help level the playing field by infusing fresh content to your site and in turn, feed search engines.
Before jumping on the Web 2.0 bandwagon, though, it’s helpful to take a step back and plan an online strategy. Here are some guidelines we use in helping clients leverage today’s Web.
1. Budgeting. Even a fixed marketing budget can be reallocated. For instance, money can be moved away from offline advertising to online advertising. Or, within your online budget, you can shift from a pay-per-click program to videocast production, for example.
2. Stay fluid. Today’s Internet requires an agile response to market and competitive pressures. Search engine marketing (SEM) activities like creating and promoting new content as well as making optimization refinements need regular attention. Incorporate SEM into your ongoing business activities whether that’s weekly, monthly or quarterly, depending on your sales channels and industries.
3. Peak times. Be clear about your site’s peak selling times, days of week or season for selling. Then go out and assess tools and opportunities that fit buyer behavior. So if Monday at 10 a.m. is a very active “browsing” time, align your actions around that knowledge, whether blitzing the market with sales calls, running search campaigns during designated periods, or placing radio ads during the drive times that surround peak browsing times.
4. Metric responsibility. While there are plenty of decent metrics applications to deliver reports to you automatically, put someone in charge of analyzing data. This role requires a big-picture thinker to help identify and drive major functions of the Web site. Information needs to be fed back to marketing and any other key Web strategists on a regular basis.
5. Be consistent online and offline. You certainly hear this everywhere these days, but do be sure to review all your marketing materials, e-mail marketing and other Web initiatives to ensure your branding and messaging are consistent. This is a powerful way to keep your brand alive.
Suzanne McGann is president and majority owner of Voyageur I.T., a Web design, development and branding services firm that serves both consumer and B-to-B catalogers with e-commerce solutions. For more information, visit www.voyageurit.com .