If you have an existing business, you should strongly consider taking it online. Here are some reasons why.
1. Take advantage of web searches.
More people are online than ever before, and it’s getting easier to browse the web on handheld computers or cell phones. People are probably finding you or your competitors by searching on Google, Yahoo, MSN, or other search engines. A search engine optimized web site is your best bet to getting them to call you or walk through your doors.
2. Offer as much information as you want with no printing costs.
Depending on your type of business, you may want to offer white papers, technical guides, user’s manuals, and the like. A web site is ideally suited for this. You can easily create documents that have all of your contact information on every page.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with selling something on your website too.
3. Keep in contact with your prospects and customers.
Bulk email services make it simple and easy to keep in contact with your customer base. You can make it easy to sign up on your site. Bulk email services are ideal for delivering:
- A weekly or monthly newsletter (or any other interval you choose)
- A one-time email blast to announce a sale, open house, or comment on some news relevant to your industry
- A series of messages, such as a short training course. For example, if you sell pellet stoves, you can offer a five part series on how to select a pellet stove. Each day, a short new message is automatically delivered and offers a tip on a certain feature of pellet stoves. This type of message is called an “autoresponder”.
Consumers often require seven contacts with your company before making a purchase, especially when making a high dollar purchase. Many studies have been conducted on this subject and if you think about it, it’s just the way human psychology works. It’s been stated that people buy from those they know, like, and trust. A series of training or information messages helps to cover that ground much faster than with traditional print methods.
Let’s say that a prospect comes into your store to shop for a pellet stove. If they don’t make a decision before leaving, you can hand them a piece of paper with directions on how to sign up for your 5 day program on how to select a stove. You can “sell” the program by stating that it’s a big commitment to buy a stove, you know they are making an investment and this course gives them a little more to think about in every message. You could also offer some bonus, such as a coupon, if they sign up.
How many of your prospects walked out and eventually bought from a competitor, because they didn’t have compelling reason to come back to your store?
4. Retain more customers.
This builds on the previous benefit. If you can stay in contact with your customer, when it comes time to make the next purchase, they will be more likely to call you first.
5. Allows for quick communication.
You can decide to offer a special sale, send out an email, and have traffic to your store the next day or even the same day.
6. Nurture mutually beneficial relationships with other vendors.
To go back to our pellet stove example, let’s say that you sell pellet stoves but do not sell pellets. When fall approaches and the pellet dealers begin to receive their stock of pellets, you can pick one dealer that you recommend. You send out an email to your customer list recommending this particular dealer and give the reasons why. You can work out an agreement with the pellet dealer to pay you a percentage on the referrals, or you can ask them to give a coupon for $50 or $100 off a stove to all of their customers. It costs you next to nothing to make the recommendation, and you will get some future benefit in the form of sales that you would otherwise not had.
Compared to tradition offline methods, online marketing is much less expensive, and if done properly, your cost per sale is much less.
8. Complement Your Existing Marketing
You probably spend a considerable amount of money with traditional marketing, using one or more of the following:
- Newspaper advertising
- Direct mail
- Telephone marketing
Rather than doing away with these, an effective online marketing strategy can help you make the most of them. For example, a print ad can direct readers to a specific page on your website.
Online marketing is only going to get bigger, and the time to get on the bandwagon is now.