Marketing on the worldwide Web

By Wayne Barrow
Guyana Chronicle
January 20, 2000

INTERNET postcards are full colour, printed postcards of your web site, a photograph of your home page on one side and a customised message on the back.

These cards can be used to announce the opening of your site or can be used as business cards to attract prospective clients and customers alike. There are so many different ways in which they can be used to attract customers.

At the GA2000 art exhibition, some of the artists whose paintings and sculpture are already being sold via the Internet, handed out Internet postcards to potential customers.

Free For All Links Pages are very low-cost marketing approaches to lure traffic to your site. The drawback with these low-cost alternatives to marketing is that your E-mail inbox will be filled with hundreds of unwanted mail daily for a couple of weeks.

Thereafter, you must consider devoting five minutes, on the average, to submit your site data to each response.

That adds up to many hours of your busy schedule, which is devoted to a single effort. There are some hidden dos and don'ts as it relates to FFA link pages.

Thread carefully. MegaMail List Builder and Links2U are among the most popular of these programmes.

Reciprocal or swap links build a clique of contacts based on similar interests. This is particularly useful as it does not allow for the passage of monies.

It entails cautiously and politely requesting a reciprocal link from organisations which will scrutinise your site and if they find the contents inappropriate, then that's link.

A high percentage of the time, site with similar products and services will respond with a banner and their HTML code for inclusion to your site.

Beware of those who demand that their code be placed on your home page. There are some very sensitive and grouchy webmasters out there in cyberspace.

The Caribbean sites are the most difficult ones with which to deal, given my experience.

More than 70 per cent of U.S. business news is generated by way of press releases.

Press releases which are well written and timely will get you into the news, locally, regionally and internationally. Results are guaranteed when releases are carried in such newsprint as CNN Interactive, USA Today and The Web Magazine.

Traffic can increase substantially. Of course, in order to reach international markets, you must consider the translation of your press releases into the native languages of the targeted countries to which you wish to sell products and services.

Then there is the question of distributing them to the media contacts via e-mail, fax and postal mail.

Based on a 400-word press release, translation and distribution to 350 of Japan's media outlets, press releases would cost about $180,000 or $100,000 to cover all the states in the U.S.

Similarly, investment in an automated Fax broadcasting, database system would set you back about half-million Guyanese dollars for a database of two million potential clients.

Considering a response rate of even 10 per cent, that's quite a client base for consideration. Your fax database would need to cater for targeted business, also.

E-mail newsletters are a means of communicating with your existing customers and ensuring that your visitors/customers remain tuned in to your site and its happenings.

According to the statistics, less than 25 per cent of the web's visitors are repeat visitors. Hence, it's necessary to keep those few happy with new content on your site.

The E-newsletters should contain these changes and should not be long-winded. ISyndicate Express and CD Universe's E-newsletters are examples of concise, informative newsletters.

Many small web sites and even the large ones participate in what is referred to an Affiliate programmes. These can draw a large number of visitors to your site and it can result in the generation of additional income for your site.

The idea behind this is that you would place a link on your site to their web site thereby promoting their products and receiving a commission every time someone buys via your site.

Taking this notion a bit further, you can become a merchant site within an affiliate programme.

Consequently, your site would be promoted and have many affiliates buying from you. Commission Junction is the fastest growing affiliate network on the Internet having more than 300 merchant programmes to choose from and 68,000 affiliates. Registration fees are a couple hundred US dollars.

Microsoft's Clicktrade Affiliate programme has just been discontinued for several reasons. One of their problems was accounting for the fees payable to their affiliates.

You must account for your commission too, for the sake of accuracy.

After all your efforts to promote your site how will you determine whether your site is popular or who your visitors are? Do you know which advertising campaign is contributing to the increase in visitors?

Well, whoever said that the creation of an on-line shop was easy? (Mr Barrow is a Management Information Systems consultant)

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