Today, many businesses are often totally Web-based or are receiving a majority of their revenue through Web marketing. Every hour, day, week, month and year more and more of consumer purchases and decisions to purchase are the result of Web-based marketing.
Internet-based marketing can include blogs, Twitter, Facebook, numerous other social networking sites, dedicated websites, email, etc. But what makes Internet based marketing effective? How do you capture attention in a cluttered media? What should your communications site look like?
Here are some keys to a winning Web-based marketing strategy.
• Always keep the users’ mind (mindset) in perspective. This means know who your target customers are and how they think and act.
Analyze your top three competitors’ web-based marketing efforts to determine what they do well and not so well. Then do a self assessment/comparison of your own web-based effort and redesign to be better in all areas than your competition.
• Remember the three “big easys” – easy to read, easy to navigate, and easy to purchase-checkout.
• Visuals are extremely important. Remember 94 percent of what we respond to is “visual.” Ask yourself if your visuals are attractive, motivating toward purchase, up-to-date and relevant. Postage stamp visuals should be eliminated and replaced with contemporary large visuals.
• Colors are highly significant, for each sends a message to the viewer’s brain. We have become preconditioned with specific associations with colors. “Upscale” and quality are associated with gold, black, silver and navy. “Value” and “sale” most often are associated with colors red, orange and yellow. What are the appropriate colors for your brand, products or services? What are you trying to convey, image and awareness or instant promotional response? Know your objectives and your colors.
• Contrast between type and background is paramount to support “easy to read.” One only needs to think of our own experience in restaurants where the attempt to be “elegant” results in a shaded light gray typeface and darker grey background menu that is difficult to read in the best of lighting. Use real contrast — red type on white background, white or yellow on dark backgrounds, etc.
• Feature signals are important. The reader scans, so you need to “feature” what you want them to scan. Some tips to achieve meeting this need include: using larger type, using “framing” techniques such as borders and boxes, and using highlighting with multiple colors. Use flags, banners, and other appropriate techniques to call and own attention.
• Links, links, links. Constantly seek to extend your reach with as many “links” as possible. Search for categories that are logically associated with your product or service and provide a link to your website. Look for those links, which have far larger reach and readership then your own and make sure they are compatible with your overall product/service positioning.
• Remember the overall “look” of your site equals your “image” conveyed and your image conveyed is the “price support” level. Simply put “look” = “image” = “price support.” Be sure your website conveys the same logo, and look of all your other marketing and advertising. Reinforcement works to build awareness, which translates to sales.
• Use “words” that attract the mind. Words such as “free,” “new,” “special,” “limited,” etc. Review all copy and all word selection to be sure the path is leading to purchase.
• Have multiple ways for the consumer to reach you. There is nothing worse than a marketing website without a phone number, fax number, or email link to customer service. There is nothing better than “click here to speak to a service agent.”
• Constantly update. Set up a regular schedule to update photos, prices, flags, and banners to add linkages, and freshen the site.
Finally, always remember the “look” of your website conveys your “image” and your “image” supports the “price” you can command for your product or service. Simply put “look” = “image” = “price support.”
Ronald A. Nykiel, dean of the College of Business at Husson University, has a number of books on travel and tourism marketing and served on a presidential commission on travel and tourism, the Board of the United States Travel Association, and on a governor’s revenues forecasting commission.