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How to Successfully Promote Your Business on the Internet

It is important that you understand the reality of how to promote your business via the Internet. There are many popular misconceptions, which I will attempt to uncover for you right now. You might be surprised by some of these revelations.

1. Most businesses on the Internet are not currently making a profit. This is partly because they do not understand how to use the Internet effectively, but more importantly because they are running the wrong type of business.

2. The most effective Internet businesses are targeting the business to business market or consumers with high disposable incomes. These are the people with the money to spend, and just as importantly, are the two main groups who are most likely to have Internet access.

3. Most businesses that have a web presence do not have eCommerce-enabled sites. They have no ordering facility on their site, no way for customers to contact them etc., and in most instances they either have poorly produced 1st generation sites, or just a single page 'advert' style presence.

Some of the most popular and effective sites have regularly changing/updated information on them. Static non-changing, BORING sites do not retain customer interest, so customers don't keep going back to them. This is one of the major advantages of using 'owner controlled' websites, such as offered through Zednet. Such sites allow the owners to constantly update them.

The principle is to keep your visitors interested. Most importantly of all, you need to understand that a website is viewed by your visitor as an INFORMATION SERVICE. They don't often go to a site specifically to buy something. They go to obtain useful INFORMATION.

If you provide useful, constantly changing information, you will retain the interest of your visitors. You can then build an ongoing relationship with them, which should ultimately, result in more sales.

4. Most businesses new to the Internet are under the mistaken belief that by simply registering their site with the search engines they will be inundated with visitors, which will result in lots of sales. This is simply not the case.

To be frank, search engine registration is a bit 'hit and miss'. All search engines work slightly differently; some may not rank your site very highly, or not at all. Some are not really search engines, but 'Directories' (such as Yahoo), where rather than your registration taking place automatically and electronically, a real live person will access your site and decide whether to include it on the directory or not. There are no guarantees.

Likewise, it can take weeks, sometimes months for your site to appear on a search engine. And even if it does, the chances of your site being listed near the top are not that high.

Remember, whatever the content of your site, there are probably hundreds, if not THOUSANDS of other sites worldwide which have the same subject matter. For example, a recent client of ours, used '4x4' as one of his Meta tag keywords (words which search engines use to spider your site) because he sold 4x4's. Search engine results came up with around fiffty thousand sites using that keyword!

The important point here is, do not rely on search engines to build your Internet business. There are far better marketing methods to use to drive traffic to your site.

5. The most important thing you should do to promote your website is to include your website address in ALL your advertising, both online and offline. This includes adverts, sales material, letterheads, business cards etc. This way you will gain increased business simply because people will visit your website, and start to build an online relationship with you (assuming you have a site with contact facilities inbuilt!)

For example, as a traditional business, if you advertise a product/service in your local paper, there may be 50 potential clients who see it. From these maybe 2 or 3 order immediately, 4 or 5 may ring you for more details, and perhaps one may visit your office. However, if you include your website address, maybe a dozen will look at your site (since it is more convenient), from this some of them may order (assuming you have an ordering facility on your site!), others will email you, and most will probably return to your site again. The result is higher exposure, increased customer confidence and ultimately more sales.

6. There are many ways to market your business on the Internet. The most commonly known are, banner ads, opt-in email mailing lists, discussion forums, ezines, members sites and Associate programmes. See Website Marketing for more information. There is one very important point to note here though:

Internet advertising must observe the rules of 'Netiquette'. This means you cannot blatantly advertise your business on a newsgroup forum or in a chat room, unless the specific newsgroup allows this (the vast majority don't). Likewise you cannot email anyone in an attempt to sell anything, unless their name and email address is included in an 'opt-in' list (which you can rent or purchase).

If you engage in either of these types of activities, such misuse is known as SPAM (i.e. unsolicited email). If you are caught doing this chances are your hosting company will refuse to host your site, and even your Internet Service Provider (ISP) may refuse you access to the Internet.

You have been warned.

The good news is, there are plenty of ways to legitimately use email marketing, and newsgroup marketing, if you know what to do.

Overall then, there are many things you need to learn and understand. But the good news is, despite appearances, it is all very simple once you've been shown how.

For more information please see the articles in the Website Marketing section.

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