Web-based and Electronic Marketing

Web-based and electronic media are gaining prominence among companies’ standard portfolio of marketing tools.

The benefits are very alluring: less expensive in terms of printing and postage costs, immediate delivery and response times and the information is available and accessible 24-hours a day.

Here are a few guidelines and caveats to help you determine how to best put these high-tech tools to work for you.

Do take the time to identify what portion of your current customer base is technologically savvy enough to be receptive to interactive media. Do they spend more time at their desks than in the field? Is their preferred means of communication by e-mail? If the answers to these questions are affirmative, then you should strongly consider developing these tools.

Do consider the amount of time you are asking your customers to invest viewing your Web-based or electronic marketing piece. If you plan on using graphic-rich e-mails, for example, to promote specific projects and services, be sure that the brief copy you do include educates the customer on how to approach a specific issue, or gives an example of how they can better work with your company.

Do respect your customers’ right to privacy. Make sure to send information electronically only to those who have given permission. Always include both a reminder to forward the information to others and an opt-out e-mail address. And, if you are sending information electronically to a large group, do not reveal the e-mail addresses of others on your list.

Do use Web-based and electronic tools to showcase your talent. By featuring special projects, these marketing pieces can inspire your current customers to use your services in a way that they might not have considered before. In some cases, they might not have even known that you provide that specific service.

Don’t, as a general rule, rely on Web-based marketing pieces to initiate a relationship with a prospective customer. The first point of contact for most B2Bs should be through more professional or traditional introductions, such as direct mail, advertising, trade shows or networking. However, Web-based pieces can be effective selling tools if the prospective customer expresses an interest in learning more about your company’s products and services.

Don’t inundate customers with Web-based or electronic pieces. Determine the frequency of messages you would like to send, how it fits within your sales process and how you can measure the effectiveness of the pieces. Depending on your products and services, your target audience will have a threshold as to the amount of information they can or want to consume through the Web.

Don’t replace interactive media with standard marketing essentials such as newsletters, capabilities kits, business cards and postcards. It is still important for people to have something tangible that they can reference easily. The variety of communication with your customers and prospects is also something important to consider. Just as not everyone will have time to read a newsletter, not everyone is going to read every electronic message you send. But by doing both, your chances of getting your message across increase greatly.