Market on the Internet
Posted by biznizonline on February 9, 2008
The Internet has become part of our lives, both personal and
business.Yet, many businesses are unsure how to use the Internet to
effectively market and grow their businesses. Costs, resource allocation,
and return on investment can seem daunting when dealing with
a business Web site, e-mail, and e-commerce in addition to the daily
pressures of managing a business.
This brochure, published in conjunction with our partner SCORE,
provides answers and resources to help you harness the most
powerful sales and marketing tools available—the Internet and the
World Wide Web.
As the world’s leading print and online directory publisher, we serve
small and medium-size businesses through Verizon SuperPages and
Verizon SuperPages.com. For years, small businesses have relied on
the Yellow Pages to reach customers. Today, however, the reach of
the Yellow Pages also includes the Internet—your connection to
customers next door and around the world.
Through Verizon’s national field force, we work hand-in-hand with
you to help your business grow. Our most recent Annual Small
Business Internet Survey shows that small-business Web sites are
increasing and e-mail communication with customers is now an
integral part of growing businesses.We will continue to provide you
the resources necessary to most effectively manage and use these
new tactics and tools.
Tools for today include the Internet Learning Tutor
(www.superpages.com/ilt), a series of online Internet courses for
everyone from beginners to advanced users. SCORE, a contributing
partner of this program, is also providing how-to columns to the
Business Center (www.business.superpages.com), a resource
section of SuperPages.com designed specifically for small and
We wish you success in your Internet endeavors and appreciate
your business’ important role in making progress everyday.
Katherine J. Harless
Verizon Information Services
5. It provides user interaction. One of the big advantages of this
medium is that it allows for immediate interaction. Users can always
send e-mail, fill out a form, enter a contest, or request information. This
immediate response is part of the excitement of browsing the Web.
A site with no “user feedback” e-mail forms, no games to play, or no
forms to fill out is a site that will soon sit “un-clicked.”
A clever site entices visitors to return often to see what’s new. One tip
to encourage repeat Web visits to your site is to program a short notice
to flash on the monitor when users click on an external link. The
message might say, “You’re leaving our site now. Bookmark this site,
so you can return easily.” Users can then choose to save the Web
address by just pulling down the “save” option on the menu bar. This is
called “bookmarking,” and it saves users from having to remember
long, awkward URLs of the sites they visit often.
How much should you pay for a site?
For an overwhelming majority (96%) of small businesses that responded
to a recent Inc survey, Web-site development costs were less than
$3,000, and the monthly fees for site maintenance averaged about $71,
with few companies (only 11%) spending more than $100 a month.
1. Do it yourself. You don’t have to be a computer whiz to build and
manage a successful Web site, nor do you have to make a huge
investment. Not counting the cost of “back-office” operations (e.g.,
order processing, billing, fulfillment, and post-sale service), which vary
widely by industry, small business owners have successfully launched
their own sites. Some smaller companies have launched for less than
$400, including domain name registration ($35), Internet access ($30),
software ($200), and set-up ($50).
2. Use a search engine or an online directory. For a monthly fee,
many search engines and online directories offer to design, market
(e.g., headings, banner ads), and host your Web site. Based on your
Put the Web to Work
The number of Web sites doubles every four to five months. By
2003, the Web will have up to 80 million users logging on either
through standard Internet access accounts or online services.
Utilizing the Web becomes a business decision critical to all businesses.
Small businesses are moving online with Web sites, e-mail
marketing, and in some cases, e-commerce transaction sites.
According to eMarketer, a leading Internet research firm, 78%—or 5.9
million—of all small businesses are connected to the Internet and
nearly half have active Web sites.
Five essentials for any site. Once users find a site—through a search
engine, through the business’ marketing materials, or from a link on
another site—Web visitors expect some basic elements to a Web site.
Begin your Web venture with the five “must-have” characteristics of a
Web site, which include:
1. It delivers what it promises. Say a Web user types “car repair” into
a search engine, and AutoMile Car Mart turns up among the sites that
list “car repair” in their keyword sections. The AutoMile Car Mart site
must have more than a line reading, “Our repair shop is open 12 hours
a day” to justify listing “repair” in the keyword section. Otherwise, the
user will be angry about visiting a site that offers nothing on car repair.
Keyword justification must be backed by abundant information on your
site about that topic.
2. It loads quickly. The classic mistake that many companies make is
to include a large photo or sound or video clip on their site (e.g., the
CEO, who is saying something such as, “Welcome to our Web site; we
hope you like it”). Compared to text, graphics and sound take a long
time to load. Web users who must wait several minutes for an image
and message are bound to move on to other sites. There are many
interesting visual effects that take little time to load. For example,
skinny horizontal graphics that stretch across the screen take less time
to load than large ones that use a lot of vertical space.
3. Contact information is easy to find. In the “virtual” marketplace, it
doesn’t matter if a company is in Wilmington or Walla Walla. With the
click of the mouse, it’s just as easy for Web users to reach one as it is
the other. Because users want to know where companies are in the
real world, always list your physical location, including address, phone
and fax numbers. The information reassures the visitor that the site
belongs to an actual company. It also meets the needs of those who
still prefer to call a company or mail an order rather than e-mail it.
4. The site is frequently updated. Keeping the site refreshed is key
for companies that expect visitors to return. The Web is such a fluid
environment that visitors will quickly jump somewhere more exciting if
your site rarely changes.
company’s needs, you may choose a customized package that includes
one or more of these services.
3. Hire a Web Designer/Developer. Web designers agree that site
investment falls into three broad categories: basic, intermediate and
complex. Basic sites usually involve up to 15 Web pages and little
high-tech work. Intermediate and complex sites cost more because,
among other reasons, they require software engineers and computer
programmers. Besides having sophisticated e-commerce features,
the pricier sites often have detailed databases that mesh with
Most Web developers charge a flat fee for design and development.
However, to calculate the flat fee, the developers first determine how
much in hourly labor a site will cost to produce. Then they charge their
customers a multiple of that amount. Most web developers charge
roughly double their labor costs. One way to avoid overpaying is to
learn precisely which labor costs are involved in the construction of
your site. Has the developer used database programmers? Java
programmers? HTML writers? The labor costs associated with each of
these functions depend on the skill of the technical specialist and the
pay scale for the work. Most developers will share their fees for service
in hourly rates charged for particular tasks (e.g., copywriting from $85
to $235 an hour; database programming, $115 to $250). ■
What’s in a Name?
Choose your domain name extension based on your type of business.
.biz – businesses* .com – commercial
.info – all uses* .name – personal names
.net – organizations involved in Internet infrastructure
.org – nonprofits .pro – professions*
*new top-level domains
To register the new top-level domains, visit the following Web sites:
.biz – http://www.neulevel.biz .info – http://www.nic.info
.name – http://www.nic.name .pro – http://www.registrypro.com
Is your Web address easy to find?
If you check no to any of the items listed below, you have a checklist
for adding your Web address to your marketing materials. The more
yes answers, the better. Your basic marketing materials should feature
both your Web address and e-mail address.
Web Address Email Address
Yes No Yes No Stationery
Yes No Yes No Business cards
Yes No Yes No Marketing brochures
Yes No Yes No Window signs & vehicles
Yes No Yes No Media kits
Yes No Yes No Direct mail flyers
Yes No Yes No Yellow Pages ad
Yes No Yes No Premiums and giveaways
Yes No Yes No Follow-up surveys
Yes No Yes No Rubber address stamps
Yes No Yes No Boxes, bags, etc.
Win the Name Game
Branding your business online begins with your domain name.
Even if you don’t plan to use the domain right away, it’s
important to reserve it. By doing this, you are reserving your
name into a registry of all the domain names on the Internet.
Secure a domain name
Names ending with .biz, .com, .info, .name, .net, or .org can be
registered through many different competing registrars. In addition,
many portals, search engines, and online directories offer services for
domain name registration. The registrars submit the contact
information to a central directory, or registry, which provides other
computers on the Internet with the information necessary to send you
e-mail or to find your Web site.
You may check for domain name registration at a number of sites,
such as http://www.networksolutions.com, http://www.register.com and
http://www.verisign.com. If your company’s name isn’t available as a domain,
choose something close to it; abbreviate it or try adding an initial or
hyphen. When choosing a domain name, remember that people will get
to your Web site from numerous sources, some by search engines,
others by bookmarks in their browsers. Many will try to reach your site
by typing what they think your Web address may be—a good reason to
consider every conceivable way that people might enter your site’s
address into their browsers, and reserve additional domains.
Choose a consistent Web domain
and e-mail address
What about customers who confuse e-mail and Web addresses?
Most customers are familiar enough with online addresses to recognize
that any address with an “@” is e-mail. However, you can prevent
confusion by merging the two addresses. For example, you could be
both http://www.petespool.com and email@example.com.
Protect your domain. You will have a registration contract with the
registrar that spells out the terms under which your registration is
maintained. Each registrar has the flexibility to offer registrations in
one-year increments, along with 1-, 2-, 5-, and 10-year renewal
periods. Each can set the price it charges for registering names. The
prices vary significantly, although the cost is generally less than $35 a
year (some registrars offer discounts or free registration in connection
with other services, such as Web hosting). To identify which service
best fits your needs, visit the Web sites of several registrars (check
http://www.icann.org for a directory). Only those accredited by ICANN
(Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) are authorized
to register .biz, .com, .info, .name, .net, and .org names. ICANN is the
nonprofit corporation that assumed responsibility from the U.S.
government for management of the domain name system. ■
Set Goals for Your Site
Your Web site should be an integral part of your marketing
strategy, with specific goals for measuring its success. Once
you know the costs of setting up your site, establish a goal
for your return on the investment (ROI). This should include three
considerations: What kind of return is desired? How will it be
measured? And over what period?
The type of return doesn’t have to be solely financial. It could be to
gather a certain number of names for a mailing list, or to cut mailing or
telephone expenses by a certain amount after handing over some
customer service functions to the Web site. Perhaps you hope to cut
marketing expenses, while still posting the same sales growth.
Regardless of criteria, the return should measure the main focus of the
site. In the beginning, choose one main aspect to measure.
Once the criterion is identified, make sure that systems are in place to
measure the effectiveness. Web sales can easily be measured at a site
that handles online transactions. But how would you measure the
portion of decreased mailing expenses attributable to the site? How
would you decide if customer service functions are successful? It’s
important to take the time up front to establish clear guidelines for
measuring your site’s success or failure.
Site design : Outsource?
Should you design your site or hand it off to a professional Web
designer or team? The advantage of tackling the job yourself is that
you maintain control and can make instant changes without worrying
about cost. Software programs have point-and-click interfaces that are
designed for non-programmers. Using one of these, you should be able
to have a Web page up and running in a short time. The disadvantage
of self-designing the site is that it may end up lacking in
professionalism or functionality.
For many small businesses, outsourcing site design is the preferred
option. Good designers have the tools and know-how to do a great job,
but Web design services can be costly, and the skills of designers vary
greatly. Be sure to screen the designer’s work and check references.
Another approach is to have a search engine or online directory design,
market and host your Web site.
Find an ISP to host your Web site
If you opt for an outside service, keep these six points in mind as you
shop for an Internet Service Provider (ISP):
1. Does the ISP provide the basic services you may need, such as
e-mail and file transfer protocol (FTP)? If you’re going online solely
to get customer feedback, e-mail alone may be enough. But if you
want to ship reports to satellite offices, your provider will have to offer
2. Can it help you set up and maintain a Web page? Some ISP’s
only host, or store, sites. If the provider doesn’t offer design expertise,
it should be able to recommend someone who does.
3. Does it offer the bandwidth, or speed of Internet access, that’s
most appropriate for your business? If you have large groups of
employees who will be using the connection simultaneously, you need
more bandwidth. And, you will need an ISP that has a high-speed
connection to the Internet.
4. How many POP, or remote connection, sites does the ISP have?
If you or your employees travel frequently for business, a nearby POP
provides Internet access at the price of a local phone call.
5. How good is the ISP’s technical support? Your business must
have someone who understands your special needs. If the ISP’s
representatives can’t help you, then it doesn’t matter if it offers
6. Is the price right? Most hosting services fall within the $20
to $40 per month range. Expect to pay more if you need high
bandwidth and more than basic hosting service (i.e. site design,
updates, URL distribution).
Web site mistakes to avoid
Most small businesses outsource the development and maintenance of
their Web sites, at least at first. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t
have clear ideas about how the site should look, feel, and operate. Here
are five pitfalls to avoid as you seek to drive traffic to your site.
❏ Going live too early. It pays big dividends to beta-test your site
before publicizing it.
❏ Lack of clarity. As with any type of marketing, it’s important that
your home page lets the Web surfer know exactly what you do and that
every other element of the site promotes its basic purpose.
❏ Bad navigation. Make sure each page has a navigation bar
allowing browsers to move around without going back to the home
page. (But they should always be able to go to the home page, if they
wish.) Also, prominently list an 800 number, because that’s a familiar
touchstone for many people.
❏ Failure to respond to e-mail. Check e-mail from customers with
the same regularity that you check voice mail—certainly at least twice
a day. And, you must respond or people won’t come back.
❏ Poor marketing. With so many sites out there, it’s increasingly
difficult to get noticed. To make it worse, search engines change
their algorithms almost weekly, so you have to keep finding new ways
to make your listing rise to the top by experimenting with links,
banners, and meta tags (keywords or descriptions used by search
engines to categorize your site; see “Use Search Engines to Build
Traffic,” on page 12). ■
Checklist—Where’s Your Online Business Headed?
Setting realistic short-term marketing goals will help you clarify your long-range objectives. This list of questions will help you define the future of
your online business.
I. What are your Internet marketing goals for the next year and the next three to five years in these areas?
❏ Dollar sales ❏ Unit sales ❏ Profits ❏ Market share ❏ Markets to enter ❏ Customer-base expansion
II. What are your six biggest marketing challenges, in order of urgency?
(e.g., consumer trends, technological challenges, customer mix, competition, staffing, margins, media, etc.)
III. What major threats and opportunities will your company face in the next three to five years, in these areas?
❏ Products and services ❏ Customer attitudes and trends ❏ Competition ❏ Changes in technology
❏ Staffing ❏ General business conditions
IV. What new competition do you expect within the next three to five years?
(Consider technological developments and product/service innovations, as well as alliances, mergers and acquisitions.)
V. Which competitors do you expect will decline or disappear within the next year? Three to five years? Why?
VI. What proportion of your online sales a year from now will come from new products or services? %
From new markets? % What about three years from now? %
Sales from new products? % From new markets? %
Make the Most of E-mail
E-mail is the single most effective electronic tool for strengthening
customer relationships, reports Forrester Research, a leading
technology research firm.
Forrester estimates that by 2004, more than two-thirds of the
e-mails sent to customers will be geared towards keeping present
customers, rather than acquiring new customers.
As a unique communications and marketing tool, e-mail can be used
to address customer relationship management needs, such as
responding to a request for warranty information or confirming when a
shipment will arrive. Some e-mail responses may be as simple as
directing a customer to a particular page on your Web site, while other
e-mails will lead to a phone conversation between customer and
service rep to answer complicated questions.
1. E-mail provides immediate access, anywhere. E-mail is so
popular because it can be used by anyone, anywhere. Business
travelers can log on at hotels and airport business centers; people
without computers can use free e-mail services like Hotmail
and Yahoo and log on at public libraries, community centers,
Universal access to e-mail is a double-edged sword. When customers
see that you are available via e-mail, they assume that you are
checking your e-mail frequently. They’ll expect you to respond
promptly. Companies that deliver on their promise to respond to
e-mail queries within an appropriate timeframe are at a distinct
advantage over those that do not. Prompt responses capture a
customer’s attention, loyalty, and orders.
2. Utilize key e-mail functions. Some of the most common Internet
browsers used for e-mail are Netscape, Microsoft’s Outlook and AOL.
E-mail functions are also being added to sales support software
programs that let you screen, file, and organize e-mail. If your
company is small, or if you have relatively few clients, you may not
need much more than the simple database functions embedded in
these e-mail programs to manage your customer contacts. The most
common functions include:
❏ Multiple personalities. Set up different e-mail accounts for specific
brands, locations, or projects; e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org or
email@example.com. This enables you to automatically
forward e-mails to a specific person in your company assigned to
answer them. The specific e-mail addresses can be posted at the
appropriate places on your Web site.
❏ Filters. Create sub-categories in your mailbox so that mail is
automatically deposited in, say, each client’s or project’s slot. You can
also tell clients to flag urgent messages with a certain tagline—such
as “urgent”—and set up a box to receive only those. This enables you
to prioritize your e-mail flow.
❏ In-boxes. Even if you don’t use filters, you can still build archives of
e-mails on particular topics, or projects, or from certain people, by
creating internal in-boxes. These are useful for keeping track of
“conversations” you have with clients, and ensures that you can refer
back to requests—and your responses. If you want to broadcast an
e-mail to everyone who has corresponded with you on a particular
topic, you can use the topic-specific in-box as a de facto e-mail list.
❏ Templates. Called “stationery” by some, this function lets you create
boilerplate messages and simply plug in the recipient’s e-mail address.
This is excellent for answering standard questions, such as driving
directions to your office. However, if you find that certain questions
are asked often, you may want to post the answers on a
frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) list on your Web site.
❏ Auto-respond. This function bounces back a canned answer to a
general e-mail. Most basic browser e-mail functions will only let you
send out an “I’m not here” message that explains why you’re not
going to respond to the e-mail. More sophisticated programs let you
craft different auto-responds that are tailored to the customer’s request
or order history.
❏ Embedded links. Use the “link” function to connect customers with
a Web page within your site or at another site. The e-mail will be sent
in HTML format and the customer can click on the highlighted link to
be transported immediately to that page. This is an easy way to direct
customers to a particular page on your site that they may not have
been able to find.
No matter how you organize the e-mail that flows into your business,
consider what type of response customers are likely to expect. If
they’re making a routine inquiry, such as asking if you carry a certain
brand or item, short and snappy is fine. But if you’re staking your
reputation on customized, high-ticket products or services, be sure to
give a “you’re special” tone to your responses.
3. Make “rich text” e-mail an option. Most Internet users are
accustomed to receiving e-mail in plain text format. But as Web sites
have become more sophisticated, so has e-mail. Options such as
graphics, embedded video and audio that are enacted with a click, and
the ability to respond without going back to the original Web site have
become the cutting-edge in Internet marketing.
Enhanced, or “rich,” e-mail is most useful to customers with fast
Internet connections. “Rich” e-mail may be rich text or HTML e-mail. If
many of your customers don’t have fast connections, offer the option of
receiving either a text or rich format e-mail when they initially sign up.
Trip.com, a travel Web site, has a simple, easy-to-understand format
for helping visitors choose which format they prefer—text or rich
e-mail—for its newsletters. Most people are more impressed by an
e-mail message that specifically addresses their needs than with fancy
technology, unless that technology makes their communication with
you significantly easier.
4. Give customers opt in/opt out options. The average U.S. Internet
user received 40 commercial e-mails in 1999, but will be deluged with
1,600 by 2005, according to Jupiter Communications, an e-commerce
analysis firm. People will become increasingly selective about which
e-mails they will read. Response rates will drop dramatically for
e-mails that are considered irrelevant, too pushy, or too intrusive.
When customers find your messages genuinely useful, they eagerly
anticipate, open, and act on your e-mails. But don’t take advantage of
customer goodwill. Even if you already have a database of e-mail
addresses, you want to elicit the permission of those customers
before automatically putting them on your e-mail list. It’s fine to
send out an introductory e-mail, but go no further unless you have a
Marketing consultant Seth Godin champions the concept of eliciting a
“yes!” from consumers before signing them up for any follow-up.
“Opt-in” is the term for requesting customers to specifically ask to be
put on your list. “Opt-out” is the term for requiring that customers
specifically instruct you not to use their information for marketing
purposes. Some e-mail marketers adopt the opt-out tactic—that
customers are assumed to be signing up for future e-mails unless they
specifically “opt out.”
The trouble is that many customers won’t scroll far enough down
the e-mail to see how to get off the regular mailing list. If they can’t
figure out how to get off the list, they will automatically delete any
e-mail you send.
A more painstaking, but more productive, tactic is opt-in. Briefly outline
the benefits that customers will get by actively choosing to be on your
e-mail list (e.g., advance notice of sales, first to receive breaking news,
etc.) and then provide a response mechanism for them to put themselves
on your list. Usually that mechanism is to simply hit “reply” and
put in the message line “subscribe.”
Customers are much more likely to say “yes!” if they know exactly
what they are signing up for. ■
The key to any site’s success is traffic. No company can advertise,
generate sales, or offer customer service online unless people
visit its Web site. Your site must be promoted so Web users can
find it among the vast number of sites. But this doesn’t mean launching
an expensive ad campaign. One of the great advantages of the Web for
small businesses is that it’s inexpensive to let people know about a
site. E-mail is one of the best ways to get the word out.
E-mail ads invite visitors. Most e-mail programs allow users to create
small files of text that automatically append to the bottom of every
e-mail message they send. For example, at the end of each e-mail
message, you can say something like, “Pike’s Peat, meeting your
landscaping needs since 1962.” The file is called a “signature file,”
and any company with a Web site should include the URL and a brief
description of the site in employees’ signature files. Thus, every e-mail
sent could also include a brief ad like, “Visit our Web site at
http://www.pikespeat.com to play Land in Clover!”
The key to an effective signature file is to keep it short, ideally four
lines or fewer. Elaborate signature files just take up space and are not
read more than once. A short file usually gets at least a glance every
time, prompting visitors to remember the message.
Adopt direct e-mail, too. Begin by setting up your site to collect e-mail
addresses of visitors. Add a question next to that section asking if they
would like to receive e-mail notifying them of changes to your site and
updates on key information.
Once armed with a list of users willing to receive e-mail, start sending
it to them. Don’t abuse their trust by overwhelming them with press
releases every time a minor change is made to the site, but do create
a regular mailer, perhaps once a month, pointing out a few new
products available on the site or key issues discussed there. The
mailer shouldn’t steal the site’s thunder. It should be more of a teaser
designed to make readers want to visit the site. Keep it very
short and current.
Think rich and informative
Enhanced passive content is information that provides general
customer support for access any time of day or night. Such
content might include:
❏ Company backgrounders
❏ How to contact service reps
❏ Directions to your facility, and business hours
❏ Instructions for using your products
❏ Technical specifications
❏ Schedules for maintenance and upgrades
❏ Product catalogs
Much of this information can be reorganized and placed on your site—
a task that can be accomplished relatively quickly, if you already have
digital files of text, graphics, and other elements. Standard HTML can
be used to make your existing information Web-ready simply and
quickly. Beware, however, that the organization and layout of most
printed pieces are not Web-friendly. If you simply download a brochure,
for example, online visitors may have difficulty navigating through it—
especially if it includes four-color pictures. Break it into simpler graphic
and textual elements and place them separately on your site where
people will look for them.
The “About Us” category is nearly universal on all business sites, so
most people visiting your site will expect to see this internal link. It’s
the place to put basic information about your company—its history,
mission, and short profiles of key managers. Because it’s important to
have a consistent graphic style on your site and in your printed materials,
have a designer simplify the graphics from existing materials so
that they’ll fit the Web format and, more importantly, download quickly.
Define key pages of your Web site
Beyond basic “who’s who” information, what other content should you
post? Start by posting information about items that drive the top 20%
of your sales. This enables customers to find information on the
products they frequently want. Then you can measure requests for
additional information and add Web pages as demand dictates.
Because it costs so little to post each additional page of information,
you should post the routine material that you provide customers.
Here are some examples of content that will enrich your site:
❏ Directions to your physical location. There are three ways to
make it easy for people to find you. First, MapQuest
(www.mapquest.com) offers a free link to an interactive map of your
location on its site. Second, license the map software from
Drive Traffic to Your Site
companies such as MapQuest (www.mapquest.com), Rand McNally
(www.randmcnally.com) and MapPoint (www.mappoint.net). A third
option is to compose and post driving directions to your business from
two or three local landmarks (i.e. airport, downtown), and include a
❏ Company directory. Customers can feel disconnected if their only
option for sending e-mail is to an impersonal address such as
“Webmaster,” or, even worse, “customer support.”
Include a “real person” address for generic customer support, so that
customers don’t feel that they are sending their e-mail into a void.
Better yet, include pop-up e-mail forms with manager profiles so
customers can connect to them directly.
❏ Product and service background information. It may seem logical
to group product descriptions together in one spot, but it’s actually
more helpful to customers to position it throughout your site with
❏ Assembly directions and replacement parts. Online replicas of
the type of printed material usually packed with a product—e.g.,
warranties, product registration, a form for ordering replacement
parts—are a time and labor saver for your customer service reps
and consumers who have lost or tossed the originals.
Include FAQs within your site
The popular question-and-answer format was one of the first customer
service tools adapted to Web sites. This format is easily understood
and reflects the actual questions that customers ask. This gives
customers a sense that you’re listening to them and responding.
It is easily updated and expanded as your service reps track the
questions that are asked often and then work with your Webmaster
to post the answers. You can leverage the friendly FAQ format even
more by adding links to other parts of your Web site and useful links
to other sites.
When marketing products that elicit many questions, it’s important to
include in-depth product descriptions, e-mail contacts, and your
toll-free number to supplement the generic site-wide “Help” button.
This is an inexpensive way to aid customers and maximize the impact
of your content.
For example, Vitamins.com covers an extensive list of subjects under
its “Help” button that appears at the top of every page. Every product
description is also accompanied by buttons that introduce the site’s
nutritional experts, including pop-up e-mail forms that can be used to
ask them questions. ■
Think of the Internet as the world’s largest library, and search engines
as its card catalog system for the 1 billion documents that are on the
Web. Search engines create their listings by crawling across the Web
to gather information from existing pages.
Research by eMarketer shows that 78% of Web users initially find
sites through search engines. A listing near the top of search engines
such as AltaVista, HotBot, or Infoseek will initially bring more visitors
to your site. Return visits can be reinforced by e-mail, banner ads,
print media and advertising.
Maintaining a top search listing can be challenging. Some pointers:
❏ List with search engines upon launching. As soon as your Web site
is up and running, list its contents with several major search engines
and online directories. For help in registering your site, start with the
DirectoryGuide (www.directoryguide.com), which features more than
400 search engines and directories.
❏ Use meta tags. Search engines look for your site’s meta tags—
special lines of code or keywords that identify what your site is about.
When creating these tags, put the most important information first.
For example, if you sell apparel and footwear to racewalkers, the first
word in your tag should be racewalking, followed by clothing, apparel,
sportswear, and shoes. (For more information on meta tags, visit
❏ Put keywords in titles and tags. Pages with keywords in their title
and meta tags receive higher rankings from search engines.
❏ Resubmit regularly. While submitting too often can result in your
site being classified as a spammer, failure to submit at least every
two or three months can keep your site from staying in the search
❏ Get as many other sites as possible to link to your site. Search
engines use link popularity as part of their ranking criteria.
Use Search Engines to Build Traffic
incremental increase in the number of sales by the cost of the new
technology to determine if the technology is beginning to pay off
(taking into account, of course, other factors that may affect sales,
such as discounted prices, addition of new products, and special
Try a trial run
Consider setting up a customer advisory board to test new site
features, offers, customer service technologies, and changes in your
Customers genuinely appreciate the chance to offer feedback about
what does and does not work with your online efforts. eLoan, a
company that provides online applications for consumer and business
loans, has set a company policy that a human must answer the
customer service phone within six seconds. Its goal is for 90% of its
e-mails to be answered within two hours, and 100% within 24 hours.
Follow-up surveys with eLoan customers about the quality of service
indicate that 95% of customers report that they’d use eLoan again—an
extremely high repeat rate by any standard.
The quality of customer service directly impacts your company’s
reputation. You may want to assign an employee to regularly check
chat sessions, message boards, and listservs outside your Web site
that are frequented by your regular customers to see what kinds of
comments are made about your products and level of service. Also
check out BizRate (www.bizrate.com), Epinions (www.epinions.com),
Better Business Bureau Online (www.bbb.org), any online service
ranking offered by your local chamber of commerce, and even your
state attorney general’s office to be sure that an unhappy customer
hasn’t lodged a complaint. ■
While browsing your site, users may buy something. If there is no
sale, how do you know that anyone has stopped by? Web site
operators can collect more information on customers than brick
and mortar store owners can.
Methods of measurement
There are several ways to track visitors. One method is based on number
of “visitors,” which refers to the number of users who visit the site.
Another method is based on the number of “page views.” A person
visiting a site clicks on a page, enlarges a graphic, listens to an audio
recording, or moves within the site.
Each activity makes a request of the site’s host computer to send the
visitor’s computer some electronic information. Those requests are
tracked as “page views.” A page view registers each time a visitor
clicks on part of the site. Companies monitoring visitors and page
views can get a general idea of a site’s traffic and trends by relying on
their own server software or by paying an ISP to track the information.
Some companies have adapted visitor tracking software that offers
even more information. In addition to the number of visitors and page
views, they can determine what browser software visitors are using,
what site the user just came from (so a company can judge how many
visitors come from a link from another site), what modem speed the
visitors are using (so the company can put fewer graphics on the site,
if most visitors are using slow modems, for example), and what type of
Internet access accounts visitors have.
With either type of traffic tracking, the names and e-mail addresses of
visitors usually remain anonymous unless they voluntarily provide it. If
visitors provide that, they might also be willing to provide demographic
information, such as where they live, their income level, and a few
details about their purchasing decisions. Gathering this data online has
become more common. With such information, companies can tailor
their sites to visitors’ demographic profiles. The tracking data can also
become a valuable tool for driving your product research and
It’s important to precisely track the results you get from Internet-based
marketing so that you can quickly modify the online tools that aren’t
capturing leads or creating customer loyalty. The simplest formula for
measuring the ROI is to first create a baseline for comparison—the
percent of customers who respond to e-mailed special offers, for
example. Then, track the expenses associated with adding in a
particular customer support technology, such as instant chat. After the
customers have used the new technology for a month, review the
number of sales per site visitor, compared to the number of sales per
site visitor prior to the addition of the technology. Divide the
Track Visitors—and Your ROI
Menu of ROI Metrics
The payback from a Web site needn’t be solely financial.
Here are nine ways to measure your return on investment:
❏ Number of new accounts
❏Number of repeat purchases
❏ Percentage of customers accessing the site
❏Cost per qualified lead
❏Gains in sales and profits
❏Impact on productivity, loyalty, and turnover
❏Reduced costs (phone, postage, literature,market research, support)
For newcomers to the Web as well as veterans of cyberspace,
here are contacts and references that can help you create and
fine-tune your online marketing programs.
Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership; information on
starting and growing a business
Information, products, services, and online tools for starting and
growing your business (marketing is one of five major focuses)
National Federation of Independent Business—www.nfib.org
Contains a broad array of educational information for small business owners
Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)—www.score.org
Expert problem-solving assistance, ranging from information on
business planning and marketing to its e-mail counseling service
(resources include 1,000 active e-mail counselors, plus 389 counseling
offices across the country)
U.S. Chamber of Commerce/Chamber Biz—
Network of more than 300 state and local chambers of commerce and
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)— http://www.sba.gov
Guidelines for starting a business; links to research and marketing
information. Provides information on small business loan guarantees.
General/Internet and Marketing
Direct Marketing Association—www.the-dma.org
Oldest and largest trade association for direct, database, and
Publishes a broad range of e-business and e-commerce statistics
Independent research firm specializing in the Internet and future of
Internet Learning Tutor—www.superpages.com/ilt
Offers a series of online courses for beginners to advanced users
(sponsored by ASBDC, Internet Education Foundation, SCORE, Verizon,
and the Welfare to Work Partnership)
Leading online directory and shopping reference includes Business
Provides analysis services of Web logs and Net usage statistics
Comprehensive resource for small businesses that want to create and
maintain a Web site
Community-oriented resource for information on evaluating, purchasing,
and implementing customer relationship management technology
Resource for companies that have identified CRM as a key strategy for
creating enhanced customer value across many industries. The site is
associated with CRM Magazine.
E-mail List Management Publications
Sells names and e-mail addresses for relevant lists
Online directory of 8,000 e-mail publications
E-mail List Management Software/Services
Resources, directories, tips, and tools for owners of e-mail lists
Provides reliable, easy-to-use e-mail hosting solutions for e-mail lists
Feedback and Tracking Software/Services
Developer of reporting and analytics software for online retailers and
Resources for Marketing on the Internet
Sells tools that allow e-businesses to interpret and apply customer
Provides products that enhance Internet performance for e-businesses
Security and Fraud Prevention
Bureau of Consumer Protection (Federal Trade Commission)—
Internet Fraud Complaint Center (FBI)—www.ifccfbi.gov
Non-profit, self-governing board of online retailers
Building Brandwidth: Closing the Sale Online, by Sergio Zyman and
Scott Miller (HarperCollins, 2000, $27)
Complete Guide to Internet Publicity: Creating and Launching
Successful Online Campaigns, by Steve O’Keefe
(John Wiley & Sons, 2002, $34.99)
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Online Marketing, by Bill Eager and
Cathy McCall (Que, 1999, $16.99)
Connecting to Customers: Strategies and Solutions for Growing
Your Business Online, by Harry Brelsford, Michael Toot, and Karishma
Kiri (Microsoft Press, 2002, $39.99)
CRM at the Speed of Light: Capturing and Keeping Customers in
Internet Real Time, by Paul Greenberg (McGraw-Hill, 2001, $29.99)
CRM Automation, by Barton Goldenberg (Prentice Hall, 2002 & 2003
New Edition, $39.95)
e-Loyalty: How to Keep Your Customers Coming Back to Your Web
Site, by Ellen Reid Smith (Harperbusiness, 2000, $16.99)
Internet Marketing for Dummies, by Frank Catalano and Bud Smith
(Hungry Minds/John Wiley & Sons, 2000, $19.99)
Poor Richard’s E-Mail Publishing, by Chris Pirillo & Peter Kent (Top
Floor Publishing, 1999, $29.95) ■
Verizon Information Services
Verizon Information Services—the world’s leading print
and online directory publisher—distributes nearly 1,200 U.S.
Verizon SuperPages (Yellow Pages) directories and produces
Small and medium-size businesses are served by an “on-the-street”
national sales force of nearly 2,600 professionals providing
customized, targeted advertising. Verizon offers advertising bundles
that include placement in both the print and online directories.
• SuperPages print advertising
• Up to 15-page Web site built by SuperPages.com, including a URL
• Extra text in print SuperPages to promote your Web or e-mail address
• Option of cities/county where the Web site will appear on
Plus: print and online coupons, e-store solutions, banner ads,and more.
SuperPages.com, with more than 9 million visitors monthly, offers your
customers these unique features that promote your business:
• SuperTopics provide consumer-oriented tips and links to merchants
offering related goods and services.
• City Pages features local shopping guides for numerous U.S. cities.
• MerchantMatch links interested buyers to qualified merchants,
creating a buyer/seller-matching network.
• Business Center highlights business topics and provides
management tools and content.
For more information, visit http://www.verizon.superpages.com.
SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business”
SCORE is a nonprofit, public service organization dedicated to helping
entrepreneurs succeed as small business owners. For free advice from
SCORE, get e-mail counseling at http://www.score.org, or call 800-634-0245
to find a SCORE office near you.
More than 10,500 SCORE business counselors volunteer their time
and expertise to provide free and confidential small-business advice
and mentoring. SCORE is a resource partner with the
U.S. Small Business Administration.
SCORE provides advice and counseling on topics such as starting a
business, business planning, management, and marketing. SCORE
counselors are active and retired business owners and executives,
with experience in a wide variety of business disciplines.
Resources for Marketing on the Internet
Editor: Brad Ketchum, Jr.
Designer: Conceptual, Inc.
Published by Business Innovator Group Resources
(BIGR), a division of Gruner + Jahr USA, publisher of Inc
magazine. Copyright © 2002 by Gruner + Jahr USA,
Boston, MA. All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any
manner whatsoever without written permission from
the publisher (contact: BIGR/Inc magazine,
38 Commercial Wharf, Boston, MA 02110).
This publication is designed to provide accurate and
authoritative information in regard to the subject matter
covered. However, the publisher is not engaged in rendering
legal, accounting, or other professional advice. If
legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the
services of a competent professional should be sought.
Sponsored by Verizon Information Services
in cooperation with SCORE (www.score.org).
The material in this workbook is based on work
supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration
(SBA) under cooperative agreement number
SBAHQ-02-S-0001. Any opinions, findings, and
conclusions or recommendations expressed in this
publication are those of the author(s) and do not
necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.