Here are at least nine ways the Internet can be used to improve your marketing. These include:
1. Finding new customers. With millions of people on the Internet, it is an excellent place to market your products and services. The Internet’s global reach means that your can market your products and services worldwide from a single location on a network.
2. Educating consumers. Another application is to use the Internet to help your customers understand the goods and services you offer. This means providing helpful advice and information to current and potential customers. For example, the TD Bank has a site full of useful financial information including a help guide for new home owners.
3. Building credibility with potential customers. The Internet can help businesses build credibility among consumers. This can be done by publishing a mission statement or statement of operating philosophy to explain what your organization represents. Other ways to build credibility is to give the history of your firm, some of your big name customers, and memberships in business or professional organizations such as the Better Business Bureau and the Chambers of Commerce.
4. Building goodwill. You can use your Internet site to be a good corporate citizen. Use your Web site to promote community events, support non-profit and service organizations, and assist with fund raising for charitable associations.
5. Improving brand loyalty. This is usually done by establishing a site with information of general interest that relates to the core product being sold and by providing information that will encourage purchase of the product. If the items happen to be food, you can provide dozens of recipes, nutritional information and other information.
6. Encouraging brand trial. Some companies are using their Internet site to provide coupons and free samples of their products and services.
7. Membership programs. Membership programs such as “frequent-buyer” or “point” programs are used by airlines, department stores, bookstores, and credit card companies. These programs are seen as a competitive edge in attracting and retaining customers. These promotions could be put on the Internet. Members could check the number of points they have, request an award, view pictures of prizes, and read about the program rules and conditions.
8. Customers communications. Your can use Internet-based mailing lists to keep existing and prospective customers up-to-date on new products, sales and special events. This can be done very easily using electronic mail. Junk mail is not acceptable on the Internet. So use a voluntary electronic mailing list. Send information to only those customers who want to receive your information.
9. Creating customer mailing lists. The best way to do this is to have visitors to your World Wide Web site fill out a form if they are interested in being put on your mailing list. In this way you can easily build up a potential customer list. Also, consider sending a card to your existing and past customers asking them if they would be interested in being added to your electronic mailing list. They could respond by returning a post card with their e-mail or by registering on-line.
As direct marketers have learned, always give people on your mailing list the option, and clear instructions, on how to get off your mailing list. This courtesy will do much to improve customer relations, and avoid negative impressions of your company.