Promotion strategies for Internet success

Fernando Maciá

Written by Fernando Maciá

In conventional advertising, we have multiple strategies to achieve different sales or brand recognition objectives: television spots, radio spots, mailings, direct marketing, sponsorship of sporting events, etc.

On the Internet, we also have different types of strategies to attract visitors and convert them into loyal customers.

While some of these strategies have a more profound impact than others, none of them alone can make a portal successful.

Professionals in the fourth P of marketing, Promotion Policy, have traditionally had at their disposal a wide repertoire of means, media and strategies to boost sales of their products or services or increase brand awareness. From television advertising campaigns for a mass audience to direct marketing actions to offer customized products to a highly segmented group of potential customers, to sports sponsorship actions to increase brand recognition or the product placement to highlight the presence of your products at the point of sale. The choice of each of these strategies, or the combination of some of them, depends on the company’s objectives at any given time: do we want to improve sales during periods of high seasonal demand, or do we want to boost sales when demand falls? Are we looking for a quick impulse sale or to improve our brand awareness? Do we have our profit in the added value of a narrow margin for a mass-marketed product or in the high margin of an exclusive luxury item?

When we talk about Internet promotion, we must also consider a variety of strategies, all of them aimed at attracting quality traffic to a website, understanding quality traffic as that whose profile matches that of the target audience of the website, that which is likely to become a customer. Basically, we could distinguish four phases in the trajectory of a website:

  1. Traffic attraction: SEO, SEM and banner ads
  2. Conversion of traffic into customers. Online advertising
  3. Customer loyalty. E-mail or permission marketing.
  4. Conversion of loyal customers into prescribers. Promotion in social networks.

Let’s look in detail at each of these phases and the most appropriate promotion strategies.

1. Traffic attraction: SEO, SEM and banners.

SEO Strategy

This first phase would characterize a newly completed web portal hosted under a new domain created ad hoc. Obviously, the first concern of the responsible company will be to attract quality traffic to it. There are several ways to achieve this purpose:

Offline advertising

One of the first things a company with a website should do is to include the address of the new website in all its offline communication. This includes stationery, corporate identity material, vehicle lettering, advertising, direct marketing, etc. You can also carry out specific actions to communicate the opening of the new portal to your suppliers, distributors, customers, partners, stakeholders, etc.

Online advertising

The launch of a new portal may be reason enough for a banner campaign, interstitials or other rich media ad formats on portals whose user profile most closely matches those of the new website. Online advertising is usually charged in the form of a certain amount per thousand impressions of the advertising piece. This means that we will pay even though we may not get any clicks on the banner. However, an impactful banner in a media with a high level of traffic will have an impact on brand awareness, regardless of the number of direct visits generated. This notoriety can translate into a conversion up to days after the banner is viewed by the potential customer. However, depending on the level of traffic you are looking for, an online advertising campaign usually requires a high level of investment.

Natural Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Unless we are fortunate enough to operate in an environment of very low competition, it will be difficult to get a significant level of traffic from the natural search engine results pages at this early stage of our website. Natural positioning in search engines is a strategy that requires time: it has an inertia both for the achievement of first positions, as well as for the loss of them, once achieved. Other leading websites in the sector with more and better content than ours, a long history in the network and a good number of inbound links harvested over time will undoubtedly occupy, at this early stage, the top positions in the search engines, so all our efforts to unseat them should be focused on a medium-term time horizon.

It is the logical complement to an SEO strategy. In any search engine optimization campaign there will be search terms or keywords for which it will be impossible to achieve top rankings in a short period of time in a natural way. In order to be present in these highly competitive results pages, as well as to have traffic coming from the search engines from the first moment, we count on sponsored links, the Pay Per Click. A formula that allows us to size a campaign according to our investment capacity, as well as to segment it very specifically under certain geographic criteria, etc.

2. Converting traffic into customers: the moment of usability.

Assuming that any of the four strategies in the previous point, or more optimally a combination of several of the four, have achieved their traffic generation objectives, the next point is to evaluate how we monetize that traffic: how we convert visits into customers. In the case of an e-commerce, this conversion will be consumed directly on the website itself. In a real estate portal, on the other hand, the conversion will take place much later, and after multiple negotiations and negotiations. So now we have a portal open in the avenues of the Internet, that is, well positioned in search engines.

It is likely that we will occasionally support this traffic with temporary banner actions or other types of online advertising to increase the flow of customers to very specific promotions or offers. We may also supplement our good search engine rankings with Pay Per Click ad placements for those search terms that are useful but for which our site does not compete as well.

If we have already improved the way in which visitors arrive at our portal, it is time to see if it is in the best conditions to adequately meet the objectives we have set for it.

We can check, among others, the following points:

  • Your website is an e-commerce site: is it specified from the beginning from which countries it is possible to buy on it? what are the applicable shipping costs, customs, etc.? what are the means of payment that can be used?
  • Is your website a prescription site or an online catalog: is there a FAQ section? Do you provide accurate information about your distributors or the points of sale where users can purchase your products?
  • Your goal is to be contacted by phone: is the company’s phone number hidden in the contact page, in the corporate section three clicks away from the home page or is there a permanent phone information box in any section of your website?
  • If you provide after-sales service or customer service information on your website, have you foreseen ways for the customer to provide feedback on this service? How do you rate the degree of satisfaction obtained?
  • Consider the different levels of commitment that a visitor is willing to acquire: there will be those who call you, those who prefer that you call them, those who prefer to leave a simple contact e-mail or those who will be happy to fill in a whole form with personal data… does your website contain different contact alternatives?
  • In the event of a product search with a negative result, does your website offer other similar products or services that could be considered as an alternative by your users?

3. Customer loyalty or permission marketing

Once we start getting customers, our main concern will be to keep them coming back again and again, to keep them buying, to get them to participate in a loyalty program or to subscribe to the information they are interested in. Everything is based on the objectives that our website fulfills.

One of the most useful tools for building customer loyalty through the Internet is permission marketing, or permission e-mail. Unlike spam, permitted e-mail is distinguished precisely because it is the recipient who chooses to participate in an information distribution list of certain portals. It is one of the ways in which direct marketing from the real world jumps to the virtuality of the Web. In short, when a customer subscribes to our newsletter, we already know what he bought, what he was interested in, where he visited us from, how he found us, what language he speaks… We can personalize our message much more and individually tailor our offer to them.

It will be much easier to get a satisfied customer to buy from us again than to get a new customer.

At this time, search engine optimization, SEM or banners will be the ways to continue to increase the number of new visitors. Permission marketing or e-mail marketing will be the way to retain the customers we already have.

4. Conversion of loyal customers into prescribers.

Finally, once we have a large base of satisfied customers, why not use them as the best prescribers of our portal? After all, if they buy time and time again, wouldn’t it be easy for them to recommend us to their network? This is something that, if your service is sufficiently attractive, could occur naturally. But it is always better to enable means of “incentivizing” your loyal customers to recommend you to their friends and family. Many companies have already joined this trend by creating social networks, a fabric within which users acquire a sense of belonging to this or that trend, technology or brand. More experienced users can act as opinion leaders and even as first assistants for novice users. The cost of this type of prescription, at least for the time being, is really low.

You can also do this through viral marketing (offering a feature, a gadget, a utility, a tool or simply a witty or funny content) that will serve to spread your content among your customers’ networks of contacts, who, in turn, might be tempted to forward it to new recipients each time. This, which seems complicated at first, may not be so complicated. Let’s imagine an extreme case: that of a real estate portal. If you got a contact through your website, let’s say someone from the UK who finally came on an“inspection flight“and bought your home from your developer? Wouldn’t it be easier if, by providing you with the right tools, you could act as a prescriber of our real estate products among your family and friends? After all, when we buy a property in another country, we would all like our friends, neighbors or relatives to also buy in the same place or, at least, we would be happy to have material to “prove” that we made the best choice.

Conclusion: a strategy for each objective

We have thus seen what the ideal trajectory of a successful Internet portal could look like. A path that starts with a new domain to which it is necessary to attract traffic. Depending on branding objectives, budgets and time available, we can combine banners, search engine optimization, pay per click, etc. in different ways for this purpose.

We have seen how the conversion of traffic into customers is highly dependent on the usability of the portal more than other aesthetic considerations. And once you start having customers, it is more profitable to invest in their loyalty through e-mail marketing actions. Success will be marked by a large base of satisfied customers who will act as prescribers of the portal, something that we can always encourage with referral reward programs, social networking and viral marketing actions.

Accordingly, none of the various promotional tools alone can guarantee the success of a commercial initiative on the Web. It will be rather the wise combination of the different virtues of each one, as well as the recognition of their limitations, which will give us the necessary measure to achieve a stable, growing and profitable flow of Internet traffic for our portal.

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Fernando Maciá
Fernando Maciá
Founder and CEO of Human Level. Expert SEO consultant with more than 20 years of experience. He has been a professor at numerous universities and business schools, and director of the Master in Professional SEO and SEM and the Advanced SEO Course at KSchool. Author of a dozen books on SEO and digital marketing.

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