Web presence key to good marketing

from business.financialpost.com

A detailed marketing plan is essential for any new product entering the market, particularly when online sales are part of the business strategy.

“The biggest thing about a digital sales model is that, if well planned and executed, it can create instant exposure for your business the second you implement it,” says Steven Karpenko, ICT Partner for the Business Development Bank of Canada.

The online world offers both opportunities and challenges, he notes. “Exposure on search engines and social networks is key to driving prospects to your website to maximize sales opportunities. The Internet can become a 24/7 online sales presence or virtual trade show for both small and established companies.”

But a lot of businesses put tactics before strategy. Although they see having a website as a mandatory part of doing business in the modern world, they limit their planning and execution to downloading a pre-fab template and more or less put up their brochure in an online format instead of thinking strategically.

“Currently about 75% of businesses still rely on an earlier version of their website but now need to closely align business and marketing strategy with their online presence.”

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If their web presence is to be effective, Mr. Karpenko says, companies must focus on consideration of their ideal customer, what makes their products different and how the customer interacts with their brand and makes purchase decisions. Implemented online this results in calls to action that convert interested prospects into legitimate customers.

This type of planning is essential before establishing an online presence, he says; shortcuts rarely work and negative experiences online are hard to overcome. Without a long-term strategy and a commitment to keeping current, Internet exposure could result in negative reaction and “the brand could be at risk.”

“Web and social network content have to engage the customer and be maintained regularly. Proper execution also includes efficient online order management. Customers expect to receive products in good order and timely fashion and to be able to contact the company and receive good customer service,” Mr. Karpenko adds.

Before making a major commitment, it is vital for the business owner to “understand the fit of the business in its digital ecosystem and to study the trends impacting the Internet right now.”

The company also needs to have a certain degree of flexibility to adjust to the constant changes in buyer behaviour. “A web presence is now as important an investment as human resources. Plan, track, measure, adjust and adapt as you go forward.”

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