Are you behind the digital times?

    July 24, 2003

Dynamic database web sites are adding powerful marketing results to today’s communication. Updating your web tools can give your business easy and immediate control of editing and updating your site content making your interaction with your clients more immediate, cost effective and exciting than ever before. No more trying to get a hold of your programmer and waiting hours days to get their attention. “Self Managing” site design puts you in the driver’s seat. You have an idea, you make the change and presto it’s there for all to see!

Businesses that got in early are upgrading their sites to add these new marketing tools. And, those who waited and watched are now adding this dynamic medium to their marketing arsenal.

It’s time to check-in to see if you’re site is getting you results in four key areas:

1) Proactively build relationships with your clients and potential customers.

With today’s digital tools relationship building takes a fraction of the time it does in the “non-digital” world. Here’s what you should be able to do on your site:

Change and update information regularly so your visitors will keep coming back. You become “the source” for valuable and current information positioning you as an expert in your field.

Make it easy for your clients to tell you what they think so you can respond.

– Create links to brief forms so visitors can comment about information on your site. You’ll be surprised how that input can make you sound smart to your customers.

– Organize email links that come to you from your site by subject so you can separate them into manageable groups. Then delegate to staff members to respond. It’s a great way to let your clients know you’re listening.

– Set up surveys to collect specific information about your demographic audience. It’s useful marketing intelligence for you and a great way to package added value to give your other business relationships.

Publish an easy to edit on-line Newsletter and automate emails to advise clients that there’s a news update awaiting them on the site. It not only keeps them informed it keeps you on their mind.

2) Get personal and wise about selling your customers what they want.

If you have products or services to sell, instant intelligence is key. Today’s database driven sites facilitate quick analysis of sales information, making it easier to respond to clients’ needs. Your site should be able to:

generate reports to see your best selling products, weakest sellers, what products have sold in designated time frames. This enables you to instantaneously adapt your product presentation to encourage more sales.

showcase specific products that you want to increase sales on, like new products, slow sellers or close-outs.

send narrowly targeted emails to selected portions of your customer database;

automate notes to customers such as personalized reorder reminders;

Again, all with simple actions by you or your staff.

3) Use the dynamic capabilities of the web as a business management tool.

The benefit of web business management is that you can check in on how things are going from any where in the world.

Want to inform staff in multiple locations of updates about products and the company? Just post it on the web and send a group email advising them to check the latest info.

The sales activity and client feedback stored in your web database can be a real time saver. Instant reports based on this current knowledge can assist you with intelligent business planning decisions.

Up-to-the-minute demographic information collected on your customer base can be invaluable in making expedited marketing decisions.

Setting up calendaring and then automating notification creates efficiency in planning meetings.

4) Get your site in your target audiences’ face.

The nave days of “Build it and they will come” are long gone. So how do you make sure all this value is found by your target customer?

First of all let me state the obvious by reminding you of the importance of having your web address on all of your company collateral, including business cards.

And yes, you still want to make sure your business is placed in the search engines. But with millions of sites vying for visibility on these engines, you need to take additional steps to reach your target audience.

If there are one or more “portal” sites that service your industry you want to think of ways to be visible there.

Take a look at other businesses in your space that are non competitive. Exchange visibility with them. Place educational articles on each other’s sites. Trade banners, and business listings..

Tap the power of “viral” marketing. Make it easy for your clients to spread the word about you by placing “send this to a friend” email links on the site.

And never under estimate the power of the printed word. Get editorial and place small inexpensive ads in publications that your target audience reads. Then be sure to direct them to your specific URL for more information.

All of this is possible today with easy to use editors in an Administration area of your site. If you can operate your contact database, you can manage your own website.

Today’s web gives you more immediate interaction with your customer than any other kind of marketing. Isn’t it time you stepped into the driver’s seat?

Colby Smith is the CEO of WebEdge, Inc. ( She is a speaker, web developer and internet strategist. Since 1995 Colby has specialized in helping companies grow their businesses using cost effective internet communications.