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Industry Trends -- The In's and Out's of Internet Marketing

LongIsland.com

The Foundation: In today's marketplace, if you don't have a web site, you don't have credibility. But having a web site that just hangs there in cyber-space is not even close to enough. You must ...

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The Foundation:

In today's marketplace, if you don't have a web site, you don't have credibility. But having a web site that just hangs there in cyber-space is not even close to enough. You must consider design and branding, content and upkeep.

Think of the web site as your storefront. Potential customers will do extensive online research before opening a catalog or picking up the phone.

This means web design is just as important, if not more so, than your printed marketing materials.

The meat and potatoes of the web site is the content, so when it comes to content, more is more. But don't get gluttonous; make sure that the content is manageable.

Your site must be well planned out with a thought-out navigation structure.

Consider including a searchable database or cross-referencing information.

Finally, remember this simple adage: Update or Die! New information should be right up front on the top of the opening page. It is much easier to update a web site than to reprint marketing materials, and ultimately, it is also more important.

Your site can be beautifully designed and user-friendly, but if your information isn't updated as quickly as changes take place in your company, it reflects very poorly on you, and makes your competitors look that much better.

EMAIL MARKETING - walking the line:

If the web site is the meat and potatoes of your online marketing campaign, then spam is... well... Spam.

While email marketing can be an extremely valuable tool, you MUST tread lightly.

First of all, educate your self on spam legislation. This way you can avoid accidentally stepping over the line. Remember that even if you are not technically a spammer, you might be viewed as such if you're not careful.

If you subscribe to a distribution service, try to determine how many of your emails are going to wind up in the spam filters. Use a service that provides reports on how many emails were opened and how many got bounced back.

When it comes to distribution, in-house lists are the way to go. If you need to rent a list, it is best to go with the double opt-in type. This means that a recipient subscribes, gets a notification and then has to reply to the notification in order to receive your email. DO NOT use an opt-out list.

It is important to think about design and branding elements. Use a subject line that will tempt readers to open the email, and include a call to action.

It is also beneficial to include a forwarding option. Don't take it for granted that some people's email programs will not read an HTML format, therefore, it is essential to give subscribers a text option as well.

Don't forget that email marketers are required to include an unsubscribe option

Most importantly, don't forget that link to your web-site. The email should act as an invitation to your web site, that's where the deal will be made.

YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE SEARCHING FOR YOU!

How often do you click on a random banner ad?

How do you feel about pop-ups and pop-unders and the words "You R the Winner" flashing in the style of a rainbow-colored strobe light?

Do we even need to ask?

People are sick of unsolicited banners and emails. That's why Search marketing is such a great option. It targets your ads at people who are actively hunting for your product or service.

Search marketing works on a pay-per-click basis. You register for certain keywords, and when a web user types that keyword into a search engine your ad will appear next to results.

Different keywords will carry different price tags, generally depending on the return of the investment. Keywords will cost anywhere from $.29 to $75, depending on the popularity and relevance of a keyword.

For example, if a person searches for data recovery, it is likely that their situation is pretty dire. Therefore, if you provide data recovery services, you are going to pay more for those keywords, since you are very likely to make a sale for each click.

It is beneficial to mix up your keywords. Include your company name, your particular services and your competitors' particular services. In addition, make sure that your provider will keep up to date on all of the biggest search engines, like Google and Yahoo, since these search engines are constantly changing their algorithms.

Another important element in search marketing is your web site. When a potential customer clicks on your ad, you want to close the deal on the same visit to your web site. This way, the investment in search marketing pays for itself.