Internet Marketers Missing The Boat
by Jeff Ready
Repeat customers are crucial to the success of any business. In online commerce however, this simple principle is often overlooked. The focus has been getting new customers to the web site, but little or no attention is given to getting customers to come back at a later time.
In an online environment, securing repeat customers is just as important as getting users to your site that first time. When creating web pages, marketers fail to keep this is mind. Often, there is plenty of information for the first time visitor, but little incentive to return to that site in the future.
If a client remembers a company’s web site, for reasons good or bad, they have the ability to share their experiences with thousands of other potential customers with the touch of a button. Positive word of mouth advertising can mean big growth in this medium.
In an environment where customers may only see your page for a few seconds, it is imperative that your site stands out among the others. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to provide content for both new and old customers alike.
Adding that Personal Touch
Enticing users to return to your web site is a matter of establishing a connection between the individual and your business. Customers can do this easily by walking into a store, but with web pages this “atmosphere” is difficult to create. To be successful, you need to create an environment in which the customer can feel welcome, and remember you by.
An easy way to do this is to provide them with information they want or need about your product, but also information that is useful beyond this scope. Customers show interest in information about your industry, but make them feel welcome by providing them with stories that are of interest to your clientele. Show them your company has more to offer them than a hard-nosed online store. This relaxes the customer, gives them a reason to remember the company, and differentiates your site from those of the competition.
Feature Stories and News
Take a look around on the Internet and you will see how the big online marketers are applying these principles. Visit Hewlett-Packard’s web site (www.hp.com) and you will find and article about saving the Bluefin Tuna. So why feature this story as a mainstay on HP’s site? It provides the visitor with the unexpected. Marketers realize that customers will see this interesting article, and will now view the site as more than just a source of corporate information about HP. It makes the page useful, and demonstrates that HP is more than just a cold, dry technical firm.
One of the easiest things you can do to make your page more interactive is run a simple newsletter on your web site. Newsletters provide a convenient means to distribute product information, company news, or alert past visitors of new changes to the web site. This is one of the easiest ideas to implement, as they can be simply added to nearly any web site at little or no cost to you. Some of the sites effectively using newsletters include Adtec Broadcast Products at www.adtecinc.com/indexnew.htm and INTERracial at http://www.twsonline.com/INTERracial/.
Update your Web Site
Regular site updates keep the content fresh and encourage people to come back and see the changes. HP’s bluefin story, although interesting, is not worth keeping for more than a few weeks. Instead, the story will be replaced each month to give the site a new look and stimulate return visits.
Weekly Internet ‘Specials’
Offer your Internet customers special incentives to use your site. Have sales, contests, or specials designed for your Internet clientele and change them weekly. This gives your clients a real cash value on returning to your site and provides one more reason for your customers to spread word of your site to their friends.
Where to go from Here
There are plenty of sites online that are using these principles, and those are some of the best places to get ideas on how to use them on your site. Amazon Books (www.amazon.com), 1-800-FLOWERS (www.800flowers.com), and Sears (www.sears.com) are just a few of the web sites successfully using the ideas suggested here.
The intense competition the Internet provides makes it much more difficult to stand out among the competition. The nature of this medium proves difficult in providing a personal touch, as well as the importance of customer service. Increasing traffic to your site is a necessity, but don’t lose site of the fact that repeat customers can bring in more new customers than any banner ad will.
About the Author
Jeff Ready is the Director of Internet Marketing for Aureate Development, Inc. (www.aureate.com) a developer of Internet and intranet based applications. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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