Com and Get It

Answering the new "age-old" question, How do you get surfers to visit your Web site?

Here's the bad news: Search engine Inktomi recently surveyed the Web and counted a mind-numbing 1 billion Web pages. Wow. Just a decade ago, the Web didn't exist. And even five years ago, it was just a playpen for supernerds. No more. Now every business needs a Web site-but just because you build it doesn't mean a soul will ever visit. "Putting up a Web site can be like opening a store in a back alley," says Jim Datovech, president of Gaithersburg, Maryland-based IT consulting firm Operon Partners. "You've got to work to win visitors."

What's more, traditional marketing campaigns don't necessarily produce results for Web sites, warns Mark DiMassimo, president and creative director of DiMassimo Brand Advertising, a New York City-based agency that handles many dotcom clients. A case in point: "Generally, television advertising for dotcoms has been very ineffective," says DiMassimo, whose agency surveyed consumers and discovered that only 6 percent of heavy Web users said they had ever visited a site due to a TV ad.

"Put your dollars where your customers will be," urges DiMassimo. Seem basic? Not to the dotcom companies that plunked down tens of millions of dollars to buy Super Bowl ads. "Having money is no excuse for spending like a drunken sailor," says DiMassimo, who adds that the critical test always has to be, Will my potential customers see the material?

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This article was originally published in the December 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Com and Get It.

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