By Bobette Kyle
Do you know your Web site's objective? With an objective to
help overcome your main challenges, you can work smarter,
not harder. Through this second article in the four part Web
Site Marketing Plan series, learn how you can consider
business building models and customer stages when setting
Think of a Web site objective as the "big picture". In
general terms, the objective answers the question "How can I
use the site to overcome my business's main Internet related
challenge?" or "What is the purpose of my site?".
Customer Stages: Awareness, Interest, Trial, Repeat
When setting your objective, it may help to think in terms
of awareness, interest, trial, and repeat. These concepts
are often used in marketing to explain the stages a new
customer (or site visitor, in this case) goes through on the
path to becoming loyal to your business. The potential
visitor must first become *aware* of your site. Once aware,
you must spark an *interest* with the potential visitor,
motivating her/him to *trial* - responding to a call to
action on your site. After (s)he visits your site, that
person becomes *loyal* by revisiting in the future.
You may be able to most effectively build your business by
focusing on one or two of awareness, interest, trial, or
repeat visits, then changing your focus over time. If your
site is brand new or known to very few people, for example,
your plan is likely to concentrate on ways to increase
awareness and interest. A focus on interest and trial may be
in order, however, if you get an above-average number of
"window shoppers" - visitors who never purchase (or do not
respond to some other call to action). Alternately, for
example, if you sell multiple products or a product that
needs replenishing, focus on repeat purchases
may be more effective.
Business Building Models
Some of the most known Web site objectives relate to e-
commerce or other types of direct revenue from the site.
That is, the objective is to establish a direct source of
revenue from either orders or advertising space. There are
different e-commerce options, or models, to consider if your
site objective is direct revenue. To learn about your
options, go to http://www.bpubs.com/Internet_and_E-Commerce/
and explore articles in the "Strategies and Models" section.
There are other valuable ways, beyond direct revenue, a Web
site can enhance your business:
Build Brand Image
A long-term objective for your site could be to improve
sales by building an image for your product, brand, and/or
company. Increasingly, this is an explicit goal for large
companies with ample budgets. Small-budget companies can
follow suit on a more affordable scale by building an image
during the natural course of marketing. You can do this by
consistently presenting similar design elements and
"personality" at each point of contact with the world -
whether that contact be virtual or physical.
Enhance Customer Service
Your site can increase revenue indirectly by improving
customer service. When customers are more satisfied, they
tend to spread the word about your products as well as buy
more often themselves. Another way your site can indirectly
increase sales through enhanced customer service is by
supporting sales through other channels. Customers often do
product research on a Web site then later place orders via
catalogue, telephone, sales representatives, a physical
retail store, mail, and/or fax. In all of these cases, a Web
site indirectly contributes to building the business.
Lower Operating Costs
A Web site can help your business by lowering costs.
Automated customer service functions - Web-based FAQ, order
status reports, product specifications, etc. - can lower the
number of customer service calls, reducing customer service
A Web presence can also lower operating costs by
streamlining communication with your business partners.
Business-to-business companies can create secure Web space
to communicate and collaborate with customers. It is even
possible to have individual, private sites for major
clients. A central "meeting place" that archives
communications and other customer-specific information can
cut down on administrative costs related to "phone tag",
inquiries, and/or the need to consciously keep all players
"in the loop". On the supply side, you could reduce costly
business disruptions by giving key vendors Web-based access
to your inventory or other real-time information.
Setting Your Objective
While there are different approaches to setting objectives,
my preference is to develop a single objective for a site,
which may encompass more than one approach to business
building. In the plan, I include separate strategies and
tactics to address each approach. I also like to include, in
the objective, both the customer stage(s) and business
building model(s) I will focus on in the plan. This way, it
is more apparent which strategies are appropriate.
Another approach is to address the customer stages
separately from your objective in a summary or write-up.
With either approach, you should view your plan as evolving
over time. As the business environment and situation change,
your focus should change as well. Once you get past the
launch stage of a new site, for example, you are in a better
position to evaluate site traffic, so your plan may shift
from focusing on awareness and interest to building trial
and loyalty. Similarly, a better understanding of site
visitors may lead you to adjust your business model to more
closely address your company's and Web customers' needs.
Developing a Web Site Marketing Plan
Your marketing plan is the compass by which
you navigate. As opportunities arise or your business
environment changes, the objective and strategies in your
marketing plan will point you toward the best action.
Without a marketing plan, you risk becoming unfocused in
your marketing and are only guessing what might be best for
Strategies for Your Web Site Marketing Plan
How strong are your Web site strategies? Do they move your
business toward achieving your objectives or overall goals?
Think of your strategies as a framework that clarifies the
approaches you will take in meeting your Web site's
objectives. They are more specific than the objective, but
do not include exact details. After developing the strategic
framework, you will fill in the details with tactics.
Choosing Tactics for Your Web Site Marketing Plan
Objectives, strategies, and tactics - these are the parts of
a solid strategic marketing plan. Your site objective
defines the big picture, strategies provide the framework,
and tactics fill in the details. Tactics are where the
action takes place - these are the things you will do to
bring your plans to life.
Copyright 2002 Bobette Kyle. All rights reserved.
This article is based on Bobette's book "How Much For Just the Spider? Strategic Web
Site Marketing for Small-Budget Businesses", http://www.booklocker.com/books/711.html
Bobette Kyle has over 10 years experience in Corporate
Marketing; Brand and Product Marketing; Field Marketing and
Sales; and Management. Through her newsletter, site, and
marketing services she helps businesses integrate
traditional and Internet marketing strategies, http://www.WebSiteMarketingPlan.com