Since the World Wide Web ecosystem began to develop and expand in the mid-1990s, we have witnessed a process of gradual adoption of the Internet’s new possibilities, both by companies and the general public. As with any emerging technology, this process has not been linear, but rather has registered different speeds of development, with pioneering companies immediately embarking on the creation of new business models and others, more traditional, that resisted opening up to the Internet, seeing the new medium as a threat to their dominant status in the market. Users also integrated the new medium into their lives and consumption habits in an irregular way: the cost of access to the Net in the first place, the progressive but uneven geographical expansion of access through broadband networks and the learning curve of the different functionalities of the Web for different age and educational segments of the population all contributed to creating a very heterogeneous and changing profile of the Internet user.

In many cases, both the pioneering companies that got too far ahead of the general public’s habits and those that resisted change paid dearly for their mistake. The great dotcom crisis of 2000 showed that this market was not yet mature and that not all virtual businesses were guaranteed success. Especially if, as was often the case, the quick profit of the shareholder took precedence over the creation of value for the customer. However, the fall in the stock market value of stocks associated with online businesses acted as a catalyst: large investment funds, business angels and venture capitalists began to study more closely the virtual business proposals presented to them, using the same viability analysis criteria they had been applying to offline business proposals: market size, analysis of the competition, profitability threshold, profit margin, etc. Despite being a new medium, the Internet economy was, after all, subject to the same laws and principles as in the real world.

Ten years have passed since then, but only a few companies have learned the lesson well. Today we know that a company’s presence on the Internet is much more than an online shop window open 24 hours a day and accessible to everyone: it is a business unit in which many resources must be invested, to which certain objectives must be assigned and from which a certain degree of return on investment (ROI) can be expected.

And yet, there are still so many companies that believe that “being on the Internet” is limited to having a website hosted on their own domain and exchanging e-mail messages with customers and suppliers. They invest in a new design for their site every two or three years, neglecting aspects such as search engine positioning, usability, persuasiveness, traffic analysis or customer loyalty (not to mention any approximation of an ROI calculation). They do not realize that, in reality, when the consultant in charge of the development of a website concludes his work and communicates that the new design is already published, it is equivalent, in the off-line world, to the moment when the bricklayers have finished the renovation of the premises where we are going to install our store and hand over the keys. From that moment, obviously, is when the real work begins: we will have to fill the store with goods, decide what to put in the window, what products are specially offered, promote the store in the neighborhood where it is located through mailings and radio spots, deal with complaints and product changes, change the window for the sales, waste kindness and personal attention to retain our customers, change the window for the new season …

All this, which seems so clear and assumed for any non-virtual business, and which any experienced trader does almost intuitively without the need to draw up a formal marketing plan for his business, we find that in many cases it is not transferred to the online world. There is a gap that makes it difficult for companies that are experts in a given sector to take advantage of that experience and transfer it properly to their online presence.

The main objective of this book is to eliminate, or at least reduce, this gap and help companies, professionals and entrepreneurs to understand the peculiarities of the Web as a medium, so that they can draw up their own online marketing plan and thus find, identify and take advantage of all the possibilities of the Internet for their business as soon as possible. Opportunities such as opening new sales channels, probing alternative markets and exploring different business avenues in an environment where the recession has not yet had such a devastating effect as in the traditional economy. In fact, the entire ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) sector is emerging as the alternative that should take over from an economy that is heavily dependent on construction, manufacturing and low value-added services, and act as an engine to drive a new cycle of expansion.

There is no doubt that the Internet today represents an enormous opportunity. Companies that have learned to take advantage of the many possibilities it opens up have already seen the impact on improving competitiveness, the possibility of reaching new markets, establishing partnerships and joint ventures and taking advantage of a host of synergies that affect all elements of the value chain. We want your company to be one of them. And this is something that starts even before having a website, at the very beginning of its development, and includes all aspects of its design, publication, promotion, exploitation and continuous improvement.

What will you find in this book?

First of all, it addresses those aspects that must be taken into account in the process of creating a high-performance Website: identification of potential customer profiles, selection of functionalities and contents, information architecture and usability, accessibility and compatibility, persuasiveness…

It then presents the different tactics for promoting one’s own Website once it has been published: how to attract quality traffic through natural positioning or sponsored links; how to measure and improve conversion into profitable customers; loyalty strategies those customers through e-mail marketing or content syndication; and how to take advantage of social networks to develop a lasting and profitable relationship.

It also addresses Web analytics and market analysis, and how to leverage these indicators to make decisions that will continually improve the return on your online investment.

Who is this book aimed at?

From a methodology that most businessmen and professionals master – the marketing plan – the book takes a look at the different strategies that make up online marketing to clarify how to set objectives, how problems are diagnosed and what is the appropriate strategy in each case depending on the objectives pursued. You will find it of interest:

  • Marketing managers
  • Advertising Manager
  • Website owners and managers
  • Advertising and marketing agencies
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Programmers and Website developers
  • Online product managers

We hope that this book will be a starting point for any reader, and that it can serve as a first contact with subjects such as natural search engine positioning, usability or Web analytics. And that, within this wide range of strategies and tools, it plays a structuring role that facilitates the translation of traditional marketing concepts to the Internet environment in a natural, didactic and intuitive way.