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Chances are when you first developed your business website you took your company brochure and transferred it up online. And that was great for initially getting you up on the Internet and being able to say, “Yeah, we have a website, we are internet savvy and professional”. But, if you haven’t done anything past the point of just getting your brochure up online, you are missing out on the best marketing tool you may ever have.

When developed properly your website can serve as an online sales mechanism collecting data from your web visitors for subsequent campaigns that build stronger relationships with your prospects and customers. Just as a salesperson keeps in touch with their prospects periodically by calling them, stopping in, or sending them a newsletter, your website can streamline that process, by generating automatic e-mails to your online database.

Is that SPAM?

Spam is when you send out e-mail campaigns to people who have never requested it. Like junk mail and telemarketing, those tactics are under close government scrutiny and will soon become a thing of the past. However, your company may want to consider “opt-in” lists or, (even better), “double opt-in” lists from people requesting information either specifically about your company or about the service your company may offer. These opt-in lists are a great way to jump-start your internet database.

Integrating all marketing efforts.

Want to drive traffic to your website? Include your domain name in every collateral piece you have, and in all radio and television campaigns. Set up a mechanism to collect customer information once they get on your site. Produce simple forms that generate an e-mail to your company or even better store the information in your server database.

What’s the trick in getting them to give you information? Offer real VALUE, like a money-saving discount. Ask them if they want to be notified of new products or promotions, or would like to receive a newsletter with relevant information that educates them about the benefits of your product. Or, simply have them sign up to receive a free sample or win something of value. Keep the form simple with just a few key questions and required fields. Follow-up by phone or use future e-mail campaigns to further qualify them.

The importance of a privacy statement.

Don’t forget to tell them you’ll keep their information private. They have requested information from only you. Earn their trust by telling them you will not share their information with other companies. Inform them that you support an ANTI-SPAM policy and include in all e-mail campaigns the opportunity to unsubscribe and then make sure you take them off your database.

Respond to inquiries immediately.

When you do receive information from a prospect, respond to them immediately. If they have given you their e-mail address, automatically confirm that you received that information and let them know what will be happening next. (Autoresponders work great for this.) If they requested that someone call, tell them that a representative will be calling within a certain time period. If they requested a newsletter, tell them when the next newsletter will be published. If they requested a free sample, let them know how and when they will be receiving it.

Analyze web activity and track its source.

Your hosting company should provide you with a way to track activity on your website from the source of unique visitors to their activity on the site. This reporting is often an additional fee to hosting but is well worth the money to track all marketing efforts from online to traditional.

Track your e-mail campaigns.

Track your e-mail campaigns as well. The company managing your campaigns should provide reporting on e-mails that bounced back, those deleting your e-mail, those opening your e-mail, and those who clicked through to your website.

Test different subject lines to test your prospect’s hot buttons. What subject line in an e-mail campaign was opened more? What is it that people are responding to the most?

Research like this is readily available through integrating all marketing strategies with your website. Now is the time to consider upgrading your site from the online brochure to the real marketing tool it can be.

Janet Bronte is part-owner of On Track Marketing Strategies, a marketing consultation firm offering integrated marketing strategies designed to work in today’s economy. She can be contacted at (407) 375-5598.