Achieving Online - Internet Strategy
by Richard D. Bailey
Why have an Internet Strategy?
An Internet strategy is a plan to succeed online. It considers what your business can achieve given the market you are in, and how you can best achieve it.
Having a clear and coherent strategy has a number of benefits.
The most beneficial is that you have a premeditated approach, with clear aims and objectives that you can measure your results against. These aims will be realistic, based on an understanding of the potential your business has in the online environment.
Some businesses adopt a "lets have a bash" strategy. This means they put together a web site and stick it online to see what happens. This is not a good approach, as it almost always never works. Many other web sites fail because the strategy around them is inadequate.
With out an end to end solution, including all these parts of the strategy, you will largely be wasting your time online, or you will be missing out on online opportunities.
What does a strategy cost?
This is the part that most people are uneasy with. They do not get a web site or an email promotions program and they have spent money. Consider the cost of not getting it right first time through not having a clear strategy. This is the cost of getting any Internet work done properly a second time around, and the sales that you have lost in the interim. If you could be making $100,000 a year in sales online, but your strategy is wrong, the cost of the strategy is very high.
Similarly if you spend a lot of money on a web site that is pointless or does not work, then you need to re do the strategy, resulting in doubling your web site expenditure.
As discussed an Internet Strategy is a plan for maximizing an organization's success online. It deals with how to best achieve results online, with a focus on the target market & online customers. In preparing your strategy consider the following:
Determining a realistic aim is the first part of any strategy. While the aim may evolve as the project progresses, a clear aim at the start is fundamental to the success of any online project.
The biggest determinant of the success of the online project is whether the target market is online and what they will respond to. This often means identifying that a web site is superfluous to the organizations needs, as customers will not look at it, or it will not add any value to the business.
If you have a global target market then succeeding online is easy. If your target market does not extend beyond your local area a web site is going to be of limited use.
The strategy will usually deal with development of a web site, although if the organisation has a limited marketing budget and money is spent better in other media, or has a local target market, a web site may not be advocated.
The important part of any web site is that the web site's content is written to achieve goals. Goals usually include providing customers with information that allows them to purchase, or encourages them to communicate by email with the person behind the site. It is difficult to make a sale without dialogue, so the site must get visitors to email.
Email use is perhaps the most important part of any Internet strategy.
Email is where customer relationships and sales are made - both from people emailing in and organizations emailing out. Frequency of client contact builds sales, which is why an email newsletter is almost certainly going to be advocated in any strategy.
A web site is not enough. Any good strategy will go into some depth about promotions of the site and of email addresses. This will cover the following areas:
- surface area (print material)
- non net promotions
- building customer loyalty
- customer service
- internet advertising
- search engines
Attention to detail is the key here. Search engines are not enough, as they are difficult to optimize. If your promotions do not encompass each of these areas then you will not be achieving as much as you possible could in the online environment.
It is important to measure your progress and success against your strategy on an ongoing basis.
Steve Webb is an Internet Marketing consultant with seven years experience. He works with a portfolio of clients while running several online companies. He articles are featured regularly and he frequently speaks at seminars and public events.
His website is located at http://www.aktivemaketing.com.
Steve can be contacted at: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
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