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Net Profits

Today's buzz is online marketing, and, certainly, somecompanies are scoring big sales on the World Wide Web. But manymore are failing. What are the secrets to online success? Foranswers, we turned to Bruce Judson, author of Net Marketing(Wolf New Media) and a creator of Time Warner's much-praisedPathfinder Web site (, which provideslinks to Time Warner's publications.

1. Have a clear objective. Don't create a Website just because it's the thing to do. Decide why you'rebuilding your site, and design it with this in mind. But don'tlimit yourself--Web sites can serve a number of goals: You canadvertise, sell, build prospect lists, or any one of 100 otherideas.

2. Start by experimenting. This is a new medium;learn through experience. It's far more important to get a sitegoing than to spend months planning it.

3. Look for large cost savings. A toll-free numberfor order-taking or customer service costs about $1 per minute. Ifcustomers communicate with you through the Web, these costs areeliminated entirely, and the savings go directly to the bottomline.

4. Budget money upfront to build on what youlearn. Interactive marketing is still so young, no oneknows what will and will not work. As a result, you'll want tochange your site (no matter how well-planned) based on what youlearn from operating it.

5. Execute a promotion plan. More than 5,000 newcommercial Web sites pop up every month. You are competing for anaudience, so you need to develop a promotional plan. A "Fieldof Dreams" strategy (just build it, and they will come)doesn't work.

6. Promote your Web site everywhere. Include Webaddresses on all packaging and in all print and broadcastadvertising. Consider buying Web-based advertising that leadsprospects directly to your site. Use "action" ads whereone click on the ad transports the user to your Web site.

7. Register with Internet search engines. TheInternet has many indexes that send people to sites related toparticular topics. For instance, there's Yahoo!(, Lycos (, and Excite( Register your site with as many engines asyou can find.

8. If you have a broad product line, offer a referralservice. Ask visitors to your site to provide informationabout their needs so you can program your Web site to recommendappropriate products. By sorting through options and finding theright choice for each visitor, you provide value to these potentialcustomers.

9. Ask if visitors want to be notified about new productsand services or special sales. It's easy--and cheap--togather the names and addresses of visitors who want to be notifiedby e-mail of specific new products or services.

10. Listen to your best salesperson pitch your product orservice. The essence of what he or she says is the basisfor a great Web site. The site should include lots of informationabout the benefits of your products or services.

11. Monitor competitors' Web sites. You mayget ideas that will work for you as well.

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