Web Site Planning and Marketing Strategies for Business
© Internetter, May 96. All Rights Reserved.
An effective Web Site on the Internet requires planning. If you haven't already, you'll need to obtain an Internet Account from a local Internet Service Provider (ISP) before you can begin your market survey. Today, an average Internet account costs between $15 - $25 per month. The majority of ISPs will provide you with free software, a personalized E-mail address, at least 2 hours of Internet access a day and a personal (for non-business use) Web Site. However, setting up your Internet account can be problematic. As a general rule, you'll find the best overall providers are those with the most accessible and personable technical support teams.
Once you've chosen a provider consider hiring a local consultant to assist you in installing your Internet account software. In general, consultants can provide you with loads of free advice, on call assistance, help you set up your Internet account quickly, and even teach you how to use all of your new software within a couple of hours.
Marketing Your Site
With your Internet account up and running, take some time to "Surf the Net" with your favorite Web browser (Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Explorer are usually provided free with your Internet account). Your ISP's Web Site is a good place to start exploring the "Net." If you would rather jump right into your market survey, simply go to a Search Engine with your Web Browser and begin your search from there. The following Search Engines are a good place to start: Yahoo (www.yahoo.com), Excite (www.excite.com) or Webcrawler (www.webcrawler.com). With a working knowledge of your Web browser, Search Engines and an Internet market survey under your belt you're ready to take the plunge in preparing your own Web Site.
Preparing your Web Site for the Internet is similar to setting up a newspaper or magazine advertisement. There are three primary steps: research, design and advertise.
Once you've completed your research and have a good idea what you like or don't like about Web Sites on the Internet, you're ready to take the second step-- designing your Web Site.
Designing your Web Site requires planning. Here's one approach that seems to work well:
- Sketch out a flowchart or outline of the content and pages of your Site. Example:
1. Enter the text (content) of your Web pages into your favorite Word Processor.
2. Select the pictures or type of pictures you will use in your Web Site.
With flowchart, word processor file, and some pictures (to spice up your pages), most professional Web Designers can turn out a quality Web Site on the Internet within a couple of weeks. On the other hand, if you have some computer graphics design experience you can probably design your own Web Site and get it on-line in as little as 12 weeks, if you are willing to take the time to learn on your own.
While designing a Web Site, consider the methods of marketing your Web Site on the Internet. Two means of effectively marketing your Web Site involve using Search Engines (similar to your local Yellow Pages) and actively Networking your Site (establishing links with other Web Sites).
Search Engines are the Internet's equivalent to your local Yellow Pages. Most Search Engines on the Internet do not charge a fee to use or list your Web Site. However, submitting your Web Site to multiple Search Engines can be a labor intensive process. Here are some tips to make this process go more smoothly:
- Create a concise 20 word description of your Web Site.
- Create a list of about 15 key words.
You'll need your Site description and your key word list handy when you begin the Search Engine submission process. Most Search Engines will have an "Add URL" button with submission instructions.
Submit the home page of your Web Site to as many Search Engines as possible. The best known Search Engines are: Yahoo, Infoseek, Excite, Alta Vista, Open Text Web Index, Starting Point, Lycos, WebCrawler, Infoseek Guide, What's New Too!, TradeWave Galaxy, Apollo, LinkStar, New Rider's WWW Yellow Pages, Nerd World Media and Metroscope.
Networking your Web Site requires searching the Internet for Web Sites similar to your own. Networking is probably the most effective way to advertise your Web Site to the World. Networking your Web Site is a personalized affair sometimes requiring hours of Internet "surfing." Once you've found a Site, ask the administrator (sometimes called the Webmaster) of the Site to add a link on their Site to yours. Most Webmasters will be willing to add a link on their Site if you promise to add a link on your Site to theirs. Include a clear description of your Site in the request and a promise to add a link from your Site to theirs. Perseverance is the key to ensuring a well networked Web Site on the Internet.
With a feel for the preparation and planning of a successful Web Site, are you ready to take the plunge?
Next, we will cover some the more advanced issues to consider before and after getting your Web Site on-line.
Web Site Marketing Strategies
Effective Web Site marketing takes more than just submitting your Web Site to a few Search Engines. Effectively marketing your product or information on-line is similar to conventional advertising. Marketing and advertising on the "Net" involves a careful consideration of the strategies available on the Internet today.
Strategies to consider:
Prioritize your web design efforts in the following manner:
- Ease of navigation (if yours is a large Site).
Studies made about the Internet have show that successful Web Sites are both easy to navigate and contain interesting or useful content. Consider reviewing Discovery On-line, at www.discovery.com. The content is excellent on this Site, but navigation is difficult and sometimes confusing. The Wall Street Journal is a good example of an effective Web Site, at www.wsj.com. Also try MACinTouch, at www.macintouch.com, for an excellent example of a frequently updated information oriented Web Site.
2. Advertise your Web Site to the core 15 Search Engines: Yahoo, Infoseek, Excite, Alta Vista, Open Text Web Index, Starting Point, Lycos, WebCrawler, Infoseek Guide, What's New Too!, Apollo, LinkStar, New Rider's WWW Yellow Pages, and Metroscope.
a. Advertise each individual page of your Site to the most popular 15 Search Engines. This will significantly increase the odds of your target audience connecting to your Site.
b. Take the time to submit your site to each Search Engine individually.
Word to the wise: Do not submit your Web Site using multiple Web Site submission services, like Submit-It, http://www.submit-it.com and others. Submit-It, for example, promotes a way to conveniently submit your Web Site to as many as 15 different Search Engines at one time. However, experience has shown that these services don't always work as advertised. Your description or your key words list may not submit properly or correctly the first time. It may take as long a month before your Site is listed on some of the larger Search Engines, so it's worth the time to submit your Site to each individually.
3. Network, Network, Network...
4. Consider a personalized domain name, e.g., www.mycompany.com, to increase the perceived professionalism of your Web Site:
a. The domain name is particularly effective when advertising your E-mail address on business cards or brochures (e.g., email@example.com) . For a small fee, between $100 - $150 for two years, an Internet Provider can set up a domain name for your E-mail account, e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org, instead of email@example.com.
b. To have a dedicated domain name associated with your Web Site, e.g., www.mycompany.com, your Internet Provider may have to set up a special account for you. The price for a business oriented Web Site with a dedicated domain name may add between $30 to $100 more per month than an Internet Providers "personal account." Without the dedicated Web Site domain name, your Web Site address will appear with the ISP's name, e.g., www.internetserviceprovider.com, followed by a slash (/); and sometimes followed by a tilde (~), and your E-mail address (e.g., /~jfwalker). For example, http://www.internetprovider.com/~youremailaddress. As you can see here, a dedicated domain name, like www.mycompany.com, has its advantages.
The planning and marketing strategies described above are only a sample of the many ways of doing business on the Internet. You will find all of the terms used here described on the Internet-- find your favorite search engine, take a deep breath and dive right in. The Internet waters are just heating up.
For questions or comments, feel free to call Jim Walker, (619) 277-6109, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Internetter Web Site, at http://internetter.com.
Jim Walker is the CEO for Internetter, a Computer and Internet Access Instruction, Installation and Web Site Hosting company based in San Diego, California. Internetter periodically hosts free Internet education classes throughout San Diego and Orange County, California.