The stampede to get on the World Wide Web is still under way. But
computer publications increasingly report a smaller but significant
rush to get off the Web, as companies discover expected revenues
and promotional benefits aren't materializing.
The disappointed ones tend to be those who plunged in with inadequate
planning and excessive expectations.
It is possible to develop an effective presence on the Web
at a reasonable cost. But you have to follow some common-sense rules.
* What are your goals? Is your
primary objective to promote awareness of your company or organization?
Are you seeking to broaden support for your cause? Are you planning
to use your site to sell products or services?
* Have you clearly thought
through your aims and objectives? Have you established a budget?
* Whom do you want to reach?
Members? Potential members? Customers? Potential customers? Supporters
of your cause? People who share an interest in a particular subject?
* How do you want people to
use your site? To access information about the issues you're involved
in? To find out more about your products? To place orders? To interact
online with others who share their interests?
* Will your site offer features
to make users want to come back time after time?
Once you've answered these questions to your satisfaction, you
need to develop a marketing strategy.
All too often, one hears of organizations pouring time and money
into developing a World Wide Web site, then sitting back waiting
for the world to find them.
It won't happen.
Thousands of new Internet sites start up every day, joining the
millions already in existence. How will the people you want to reach
find out about your Web site?
Even if they happen to learn of its existence, what will motivate
them to check out your site rather than countless other equally
interesting sites they could choose from?
When it comes to World Wide Web sites, nothing could be further
from the truth than the Field of Dreams fantasy "Build it and
they will come". If you build it without a coherent and targeted
marketing strategy, no one will come.
In developing your strategy, keep the following points in mind:
* Your WWW site is one more
tool in your communications/public relations tool-chest. It can
supplement your existing ways of getting your message out, but it
can't replace them.
* The World Wide Web is not
a broadcast medium. Your content doesn't go out on the airwaves.
It sits on your site, unseen, until you find ways to attract and
lead users to it.
* Your WWW site produces costs
(time, money) as well as benefits. These have to be weighed against
the costs and benefits of other ways of communicating your message
to your customers, constituency, or the public. Don't starve your
tried and proven communications methods to build a gold-plated WWW
* Don't put all your eggs in
the Internet basket. Seventy-five percent of Canadians don't use
the Internet. Fewer than half of the 25% who do use it are frequent
* A WWW site works best when
it is integrated into a co-ordinated communications strategy. Your
other communications efforts should publicize and support your WWW
site, and your site should publicize and support your other efforts.
* Make sure your World Wide
Web URL (address) is mentioned prominently on your letterhead, in
your sales literature, in your Sources
listing, in all your communications.
* Make sure your WWW site home
page gives your mailing address, phone number, E-mail address, and
fax number. Mention it in your print and broadcast advertisements.
* Take advantage of the fact
that experienced WWW users rely on online directories, subject guides,
indexes, and specialized search tools to find what they're looking
for. Massive "search engines" typically return thousands
of "hits", most of them irrelevant, for each search. It's
more valuable to be listed with the specialized sites which place
their emphasis on selecting the best sources of information and
on providing annotation and sophisticated indexing.
* Make sure the key online
sites reaching your intended audience are aware of you and have
indexed you appropriately. If your site is about birds, ask the
Birding in Canada site to establish a link to you. If you want to
reach journalists, make sure you are listed with Sources,
Select Online is the primary site for Canadian
* Saying "We have a Web
site" is comparable to saying "We have a phone".
Your phone won't ring unless you have an effective strategy for
attracting calls. Your World Wide Web site won't work for you either
without an effective strategy to make it part of your overall communications
and public relations strategy.
Ulli Diemer co-ordinates the content of the Sources Select
Online Web site ( www.sources.com).
Contact information for Ulli Diemer:
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