Internet / intranet / automation / applications / eMarketing
A few years ago the Internet was heralded as a major break-though in marketing and communications that would change society forever. The cold light of dawn when the dot com bubble burst resulted in a subtle downshift of expectations. Now with a billion or so pages comprising the Internet your site is a very small fish in a very, very big pond...
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Many organisations find that developing an Intranet for internal use can be a useful exercise prior to building an external site. A number of options are possible:
- Wordpress or similar (suitable for most sites) £
- Dynamic content (ASP etc) for flexibility £££
- Static html pages for simple 1 page landign page sites ££
Intranet development can be fun for those involved but from a management perspective care should be taken to ensure that there is minimal impact on core activities. Intranet sites are particularly useful as a media to communicate procedures and to provide access to process automation utilities / applications.
When developing an Intranet strategy consider the following:
- What are the benefits of the site to the business?
- Centralised or devolved development?
- If devolved is the time / capability available?
- How much are you prepared to spend (time & money)?
- Is there a real demand / business need?
- Application V newsletter?
New Internet Sites
Before undertaking an Internet development stop and think! Ideally you should have a strategy / cost justification and project plan in place prior to proceeding. Aesthetic / technical as well as business issues should be taken into consideration from the outset.
Common early errors include:
- Lack of project management
- Lack of development controls / change control
- Excessive application of controls
- Too many images / visual effects (eg popups)
- Unstable interactive content made live
- No management of broken links
- Platform / browser dependent code
- No real content / not what users want
- Too many layers / links
- Poor choice of ISP / server
- Lack of buy in
Existing Internet Sites
Having build your Internet site a number of challenges present themselves over time:
- Visibility when a potential user undertakes a search
- Attracting the right kind of hits
- Measurement of use
- Keeping the interest of the user
- Measurement of ROI
- Change frequency (particularly for static page sites)
- Flexibility over time
Visibility is influenced by a number of factors including: tags within the page itself, the content of the page, paid V free promotion, hits from other sites, etc. However, visibility itself is often greatly over-valued. A site could feasibly attract vast numbers of hits and yet deliver little revenue increase. From the outset it is wise to remember that the site is part of an overall marketing mix. Traditional marketing methods should be used to direct the right type of vistor to the site. Having attracted the right type of visitor the focus should be to convert to a lead rapidly.
As the site matures different challenges present themselves: Where are visitors going / how do they behave / how are they finding the site? How available is the site 24/7? Can your servers / ISP support database population / interactive content?
It is tempting to believe that an Internet site with eNews letters, interactive content and eMail alerts will dramatically reduce marketing overheads. The reality paper and traditional marketing methods remain as important as ever. However, eMarketing does have a role to play within the mix. When considering eMail as a medium a few basic guidelines should be adhered to:
- Ensure that your database is clean
- Ensure that you can segment your database effectively
- Never assume that eMails have been delivered (A 25% open rate is good)
- Keep it simple / keep it small / avoid attachments
- Honour opt outs / interest areas
- Action server rejects if possible
- Use eMail to direct the user back to your web site / a landing page
- Offer something for free (discounts / downloads / ...)
- Consider sending eMail following a mailing campaign
- Action leads quickly
- Test and review repeatedly before sending anything at all
- Beware of overlaps / over communication
- Abide by the technical rules to avoid being treated as junk mail
- Setup your eMail server correctly to avoid being treated as junk eMail
- Don't send "spam" - on request only