Internet Marketing: 20 Tips and Traps

(Reprinted with permission from Your Virtual Insurance News – June 4, 2002, publisher

Today we hear many approaches and ideas from Web Weavers, Gurus and Architects on how to make
the web build market share for a business. As a Marketer and Non Techie, I’d like to share with you the
non-technical perspective on Web Marketing learned through direct experience overseeing many web-oriented
projects. One of the challenges with the Internet of course is rapid obsolescence so here is our first tip.

  1. Don’t believe any of these tips
    Or at least take them
    with a grain of salt. The web is accelerating at such a rapid pace, cutting edge stuff
    from a year ago is fast becoming redundant. It is very difficult to create a proper
    strategy around web activity when processes become obsolete so quickly. Remember the old saying
    ‘Pioneers take the arrows’ and in the world wide web, the goal posts seem to change every few weeks.

  2. Capture E-mails
    A significant percentage of Web sites do
    not have a mechanism for return contact or invitations to join e-mail subscriptions. Think
    of a website as an invitation to start a relationship. E-mail addresses give one the
    opportunity to build relationships.

  3. a. Optimize Search Engines
    Studies have shown up to 84%
    of respondents found out about specific Websites through Search Engines.
    b. Turbo Charge Search Engines
    The proliferation of
    websites has made for volunteer optimization of search engines to be more difficult.
    Consider pay for placement sites such as Overture, they work!

  4. Cut to the Chase
    Within many websites one must wade
    through rhetoric and poorly written copy to get to the useful information. Loads of data
    must be sifted though to get to the useful information. Do your viewers a favor and
    eliminate the crap out of your website. A website is not meant to be an ego trip.

  5. Lose the gimmicks
    I remember a well-intentioned web
    weaver who wanted to insist on using morphing images and animation to ‘wow’ new users to
    this particular site. I asked for stats on those who had the software to support the
    viewing. Upon considerable reflection the designer went back to second-generation
    technology. This leads us to our next tip. . .

  6. Think Money not Pretty
    Tom Antion runs an e-commerce
    workshop in the U.S. called ‘Butt Camp’. His mantra, think money not pretty. Don’t
    overwhelm users with design tricks and wild color schemes. Consumers are too sophisticated
    and are inundated with beautifully crafted, well designed junk. For most consumers at some
    level this is offensive.

  7. Design for the Low Common Denominator
    Survey your
    target; find the foundation technology they support then design for their hardware capacities.

  8. Create frames at the Top of Splash Pages
    A significant
    percentage of users will view your splash page like a print Ad. I’ve been told that up to
    80% of new users do not scroll down off the Splash Page. Load all of your key information
    into what would fit into a 15-inch monitor. This would include your links and e-mail connections.

  9. Site Maps Rule
    Make sure a site map is prevalent. They
    help in search engine optimization and they allow busy people to get to where they want to
    go in a click or two.

  10. Push verses Pull Content
    The odds of building a
    relationship through the web increase if one can educate by e-mail. This puts some control
    into your marketing. A Website without linkage is largely passive as in ‘here’s
    hopin’. . . When you push content through opt in and viral programs, you are not so
    reliant on making rapid copy changes to your site and can build stronger relationships
    with your market.

  11. Split Run Test Banners
    When using banners methodically
    test concepts to see which pulls best. Trial and error works wonders. Remember banners are
    proliferating like bunnies so keep expectations low in terms of this kind of promotion.

  12. Beware of Reciprocal Links
    A website needs perhaps up
    to 100 reciprocal links to make an impact on traffic. When considering a link complete the
    following steps; . . . research the website . . . click on a link the candidate site has
    then proceed to click on all the links of each of those sites . . . repeat the process
    until you have reviewed all links three degrees of separation. If the prospective link is
    clean ie: no porn or Neo Nazi Groups, then run a reciprocal link. Beware of collaborations
    which take you out of markets due to competitive environs.

  13. Beware of Link Rot
    Don’t let users click to dead ends.

  14. Orphans Need Parents
    Make sure each page has your company’s ID and an e-mail link.

  15. Think Fast not Pretty
    Slow and cumbersome websites are
    . . . .well, slow and cumbersome. Consider using more expandable thumbnails verses full
    blown graphics as a way to move things along for your users.

  16. Ask for Optimization Strategies
    If your web weaver
    doesn’t have an integrated strategy to drive sales leads to you from your web program, run.

  17. Expectations need to be in Check
    A general rule of
    thumb, if it costs $10,000 to build a website then budget $10000 a year to maintain and
    market the program. In other words, a Porsche in your driveway is pretty useless if you
    can’t afford to insure, maintain and fuel it up on occasion.

  18. Return your Phone Calls
    The old rule in Marketing, only
    Market as much as you can Sell, Sell only as much as you can Produce. If you get swamped
    with marginal prospects, tighten the nature of the content and develop a tighter niche.

  19. Consider Viral Strategies
    In the book the Tipping
    Point, the Author speaks to the resurgence of Vans, those funky shoes, which almost went
    extinct. Some influential types (cool people) in the Soho District of New York picked some
    up in used clothing stores and then their friends started noticing how these Vans were
    really cool. Over time the NY hipsters took some plane trips in their Vans and
    inadvertently started Van Mania in other cities and away went the marketing virus. The
    producers of the shoes must have shook their heads in disbelief . My point, the web is
    perfect for high quality products with cache, see case studies on Palm Pilot and Hotmail.

  20. Study E-Commerce Opportunities ‘Very’ Carefully
    As a
    CEO you may be aware that shopping carts are very cheap, merchant accounts are accessible
    now and traffic building strategies are attainable. If you are considering E-Commerce
    Solutions look at the opportunity from a 360 degree analysis. In other words have
    different advisors with different mindsets look at e- commerce with a critical objective
    eye. You will get all kinds of seemingly dumb questions from perhaps your Accountant or
    Operations Manager which will generate extremely valuable conversations. If the E-Commerce
    process is not completely buttoned down it can become a black hole. Doubling the projected
    budget and time lines is not enough. E-commerce while in some cases a superb way to do
    business, can in other cases be a disaster. Consider partial e-commerce strategies and
    back up systems if your technology or technologist goes a bit goofy.