If you build it, will they come? The grim reality bite is this: There are millions of lonely Web sites out there recording single-figure visitor counts daily-with plenty of days showing no visitors at all. How can you make your site one that surfers will rush to? "Putting up a Web site can be like opening a store in a back alley," says Jim Datovech, president of ComVersant LLC, an e-commerce consulting firm in Gaithersburg, Maryland. "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, an agency in New York City that handles many dotcom clients. A case in point: "Generally, television advertising for dotcoms, though expensive, has been very ineffective," says DiMassimo, whose agency surveyed consumers and discovered that only 6 percent of heavy Web users said they'd visited a site due to a TV ad. "Offline advertising hasn't worked like the dotcoms had hoped."That's because these companies are ignoring the cardinal rule of marketing: "Put your dollars where your customers will be," insists DiMassimo. Does that seem too basic? Not to the numerous 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 should always be this: Will my potential customers (not just Web surfers in general) see the material? "Many dotcoms forget this, but it's basic."
Robert McGarvey has covered the Web since 1995 from his home office in Santa Rosa, California. Visit his Web page at www.mcgarvey.net .