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You’ve taken the leap and set up an online business. But as with your bricks and mortar business, customers won’t come if they don’t know it’s there. Helen Bradley checks out the constantly evolving methods of marketing your website and extracting valuable customer information in the process.

Taking your business online opens your door to a global market, but the website can’t bring customers through the door of its own volition. The reality is that a website needs care and attention to marketing like any other aspect of your business and buyers won’t find you unless you do something to ensure that you can be found.

While internet marketing technologies are different to the marketing technologies you use in a bricks and mortar store, you’re looking for similar results. You want to get people in the door and you need to get them to do what you want them to do once you get them there.

There are lots of ways to market your website and probably the one that gets the most press is to achieve a high ranking in search engine results. The tool for doing this is SEO, or search engine optimisation, and it involves tailoring your website to be attractive to search engines so that your site is ranked high on the list of sites when a web user searches keywords relevant to your business.

The problem is, the more businesses that use the same keywords as your site, the harder it is to be consistently ranked high in search engine results. While being able to be found by a web user seeking your product or services is important, it’s not the only tool you can use to market your site.

A genre of internet marketing which has grown in the last year is pay-per-click advertising on search properties like Google. Charles Ryder, manager of White Chalk Road Internet Marketing explains: “The reason for this is that, in Australia, the market share of players such as Google is very much higher than it is in the United States. While Google doesn’t have quite 50 percent of the share in the US, it has at least 75 percent market share in Australia. If you’re going to place an advertisement that you want people to click on, the most logical place therefore to put it is on Google or Yahoo.”


Google Adwords is Google’s brand of pay-per-click advertising. Users of this service design small clickable ads that appear on the Google site when certain selected search words are typed by a visitor. A business bids for the keywords to use and each keyword has a value associated with it, depending on its popularity. The business pays each time a visitor clicks on the ad to visit the site. One benefit to a business of Google Adwords is that the entire system, or indeed different ads, can be turned on and off within a few minutes and you can have different ads for different keyword combinations up to hundreds of ads if desired. You can also set a budget per day expenditure so you know in advance exactly how much you’ll be up for—your ads stop being displayed when the money runs out. It’s a flexible and powerful way of advertising a site.

Another option Ryder recommends for steering people to your website and for increasing its ranking in search engines is to publish articles on article portals. These not only bring visitors back to your site via links in the articles but also enhance link popularity which is important to search engine rankings for search engines such as Google. He also recommends that some articles are hosted on your site because of how Google values site content. If your site is static it won’t do as well in that search engine’s rankings as it would do if you add fresh content to the site on a regular basis.


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The owners of You’ve Been Gifted (youvebeengifted.com.au) focus not only on attracting new customers but also work to entice their existing customers back to buy. Heather Stone, one of the three founding owners, says the business uses the backoffice tool of their web management company, SiteSuite, to manage the site’s monthly newsletter. “We get a huge response to that; as soon as it goes out you can see the clicks we get,” she says. However, they also sought professional help to overhaul the site to maximise visitors looking for online gift companies to their site. As Stone explains, “We needed to make sure our website could be found by people looking for gift baskets or corporate gifts and that it would be ranked number one in all the areas that mattered to us. Even though 90 percent of our market is corporate, most PAs and company executives go to the web looking for their gifts.”


As part of that revamp, Jason West, managing director of Websalad.com.au reworked the text for the site and added a blog. “It’s an easy way for a company to interact with clients and to continually provide updated information to them,” he explains of the two-fold value of a blog. “From an optimisation point of view, having a blog ensures that the site regularly adds new content, and that encourages the spiders to trawl the site more frequently and speeds up indexing of the site which benefits the site’s ranking.”

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Owners of Australian Food Merchants, Brad Foote and partner Sandra Guzzi have taken a similar approach. They launched their Australian online food site just one year ago selling fine Australian foods, many unique to this country, ranging from exotic spices to wild hibiscus flowers in honey, from a base in Perth, Western Australia. Like the customers of You’ve Been Gifted, this business sells mainly to Australian buyers with a small number of overseas customers. When starting out, they employed a firm to help them with search engine optimisation for the new site, and Brad says this was an essential part of marketing their site and one which they continue to address. They combine this with online advertising through Google and with Yellow Pages Online. “E-newsletters are also important to our marketing approach as they bring in repeat business”, he says. “We collect a person’s email address when they purchase from us and we periodically send out an e-newsletter which acts as a reminder that we’re there and allows us to showcase our new products.”

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When considering using email as a venue for marketing a business take care to comply with the relevant anti-spam legislation. This requires that emails are only sent when there is express or implied consent to do so and where the message includes the sender’s details and a method for the recipient to opt-out of receiving future messages. To ensure the message is read and not consigned to the junk mailbox it is incumbent on the sender to ensure it is relevant to the recipient. In addition, when creating an email marketing campaign, be aware that bulk emails to a generic ‘customer’ are less likely to return a result than those that are personal and tailored towards the needs and tastes of the particular recipient. For a business to be able to do this properly, a rich array of purchase data should be retained for all customers—just having an email address won’t be enough.



For Bronwen Ryan, director of Marketing for Business Success, an important part of marketing any website is to focus on the user experience.†Beyond the basics of creating a website that is easy to use and has a logical flow to it, Ryan says there are other important things to consider, particularly when you’re selling on the internet. “It’s important to make people feel comfortable and secure,” she says. “Ensure you include your phone number and information about your refund and warranty policies as well as a method visitors can use to contact you if they experience problems. A privacy statement is also essential to en
sure customers will be confident in giving their personal information to you.”

She also recommends creating a rich site. “If you want people to come back regularly to your website you need to provide something of interest to bring them back. For example, if you sell surfboards your website may provide information on the best beaches to surf in Australia and a link to other websites that contain information on the weather and tides.”

There are many upcoming technologies showing potential for use in marketing an online site, though many are still in their infancy. As Tamara Mendelsohn, Forrester Research suggests, “When it comes to creating closer relationships with customers, retailers have other options today that have not yet been exploited by competitors. Technologies like blogs, podcasting and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) are emerging as new ways to attract and retain consumers, and often with a significantly lower cost of entry.”

In his research investigating the impact of peer-to-peer technologies like user review sites, discussion forums, and blogs on the finance industry, Benjamin Ensor of Forrester Research concludes that “smart firms will use the same emerging technologies to communicate with customers, gather customer insights, and develop stronger customer relationships”.

One of the exciting things about the web is its continual state of evolution and change. While there are some constants, there are new technologies appearing all the time that offer new opportunities to web businesses for attracting new customers and for better servicing relationships with their existing ones.


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