The reason most businesses in Nigeria have not really established their online presence is because of their opinion and the way the internet is being seen. Like I have always said in my previous articles, every business should use the infrastructure of the internet in one way or the other if they want to survive this age. It gives your business a boost, integrity, wider reach, global recognition and patronage resulting in additional profit.
The internet will be maximized for business purposes here in Nigeria, when it is viewed as a marketing medium which has the advantage of instant interactivity and response. It should also be seen as a marketing communication tool which can reach a large number of targeted prospects faster than the traditional methods of marketing and it is cost effective too.
Bearing this in mind, the basic marketing principles for businesses should also be applied here but this time it is done differently.
Here are basic e-marketing strategies which when mastered will impact greatly on the way businesses are being done today. They also serve as guides to help (individuals, small businesses, entrepreneurs, organisations etc.) avoid the pitfalls while taking their businesses online. They are simply:
a. How to choose the right concept for your online business
b. How to build your customer base.
Choosing the Right Concept for your Business
When establishing your web presence, the concept of your business should be well planned. This is where it all starts; good planning will determine how successful your online business will be.
Choosing the right concept for your online business involves, finding a profitable niche and building your online shop or office (your website) to suit the niche you want to play in.
A niche market according to Wikipedia (an online dictionary)is a focused, targetable portion of a market. It is a narrowly defined group of potential customers. Your online business should be one that addresses a particular need.
A.P. Giannini, the founder of Bank of America (BoA), one of the most influential bankers of the twentieth century said “serving the needs of others is the only legitimate business today.
Your success online is guaranteed when you focus on a particular small group and satisfy them. You should specialize on a core service or product for you to become an expert.
A good and profitable niche can be one in which you are already an expert in, where there is good competition resulting in demand, one you have special interest in or passion for.
After choosing the right niche for your online business, another challenge you have, is to pick the right concept for your website. Your website is your online store or office. This is very important because If you pick the wrong concept for your website you will get the wrong result no matter the market you are playing in. It also becomes more interesting when you know that there are billions of websites on the internet so you can’t afford to miss it here. Don’t just have a website, get the concept right.
The concept of your website must either be a sales website or a portal website. A sales website is one which is totally designed to sell your products or services online like amazon.com. While a portal website is one which is basically built with the mind of first providing good content, service and specific information for your prospects for free, thereby attracting more people (traffic) to it like Yahoo.
The portal website makes the bulk of its revenue from advertising and back-end products. Which ever one your business falls into, you should understand the techniques involved. Your website must also be designed in a simple way so that your prospects find it easy to navigate through in a short while.
The next thing to consider is to choose the right domain name for your business. Your domain name is simply the name of your business on the internet that is the name of your website. It is your web address which your customers will use to locate your business on the internet. It also has to be registered online ones you have selected a name.
Simple tips to follow when choosing a name for your website.
1. The name of your website must reflect the type of business you do.
2. Short and sharp names are usually very easy to remember and they also allow your prospects to spell it easily and correctly.
3. It must be unique, to reduce competition in that niche.
4. If you want to use your name, make sure you are such a popular person and that it is a personal site.
Building your Customer Base
After finding a profitable niche and building a website around your product or service, your next task is to start building a list of prospects who will become potential customers. This process is known as List building. To be successful in online business, you just have to build a database of your customers, it is always said in internet marketing that the money is in the list.
In building your customer base, the unique and specific benefits which differentiate your business from others should be emphasized and boldly spelt out. It is what will attract prospects to your website.
Like every successful business has what they are known for as their unique selling proposition (USP), here you can also regard it as the Ultimate advantage of doing business with you, Sensational offers you give your prospects and Powerful promise which you always deliver. Your USP must solve the customers’ immediate problem while you build a lasting relationship with them.
All am trying to establish here is that your marketing campaign or the focal point of your business should be on making the customer feel right, you should be customer-centric not product-centric or profit-centric, this is where most businesses in Nigeria miss It.
So in building your list, your first goal with any visitor to your website is to make them see what is in it for them within few seconds and get them on your email list. They should be made to subscribe to your email list by willingly ‘opting in’ thereby allowing you to contact them subsequently through their emails. This is known as e-mail marketing.
Web based applications such as the autoresponders and the list serves now automate your email campaign and give you all the data about your prospect and the follow up details. This simple and automated act of making your prospects willingly subscribe to your email marketing messages is very important because statistics have shown that over 70% of internet users check their emails and don’t have time to browse sites.
Ones you have succeeded in getting them on your list the first time, you can have the time to build up their confidence with benefit-driven sales copy and your USP that compels them to buy your product or service always. You can also seek expert advice where necessary.
Do these simple things well you would have mastered the skills of effective e-marketing 101!