Web 2.0

Most of you have probably heard about the term Web 2.0 buzzing around online lately. So what is it? Basically, Web 2.0 is a word that summarizes all the groundbreaking developments that have been shaping the Internet in recent years, with an eye on what it’s all evolving into.  Like them or not, these trends are amounting to a huge shift in the way people do business, take in information, and interact with other people. Web 2.0 is perhaps best exemplified by YouTube, which sprung from humble origins just a few years ago to become a Google-owned media powerhouse that now almost rivals television in media stature. The term also refers to the explosion in popularity of social networking sites, which are now not only socializing venues (like MySpace) but also top-notch business networking destinations in their own right (like LinkedIn and, to a growing extent, FaceBook).  The business prospects that arise from these very highly trafficked sites are just beginning to be understood and capitalized on — which means that the door is still open to innovators who understand what’s going on, and plenty of opportunities for little guys with big ideas.

This list of trends wouldn’t be complete without Software-as-a-Service, or Saas. As exemplified by the wild success of Salesforce.com, Saas describes a new marketplace in which software isn’t sold, but rather “leased” — meaning that the seller takes full responsibility for the installation, service, and maintenance of the software, freeing the buyer from having to worry about these expensive and time-consuming considerations.

All these breakthroughs are possible only because of the Internet; none of them would have been imaginable ten years ago. They all point to an exciting shift in the way we all communicate and do business, and the smart online entrepreneur most certainly has an eye on these signs and is determining

E-Mail Marketing

Regular communication is fundamental to building and maintaining a strong customer base. Regular outreach not only keeps your customers informed, but also drives customers back to your site (essential for online retailers) and keeps you company and products or services top of mind. There’s a long list of ways you can communicate with your customers but email marketing is proven to be the most economical method and is also the preferred communication channel by consumers.

Most simply defined, email marketing is the process of sending marketing messages, such as newsletters, product announcements, business tips, savings coupons, etc., through email. Your email list may include existing customers, as well as, potential customers who opt-in to receive information about your company or services.  Email marketing is a proven marketing channel that shows no signs of slowing down. According to a report by MarketingSherpa, many organizations increased their email marketing budgets in 2009, reallocating funds from traditional marketing channels. A report from Veronis Suhler Stevenson suggests that spending on email marketing will expand at 18.5 percent each year for the next five years making it one of the fastest growing direct marketing mediums.

Benefits of email marketing to businesses/marketers:

Benefits of email marketing to consumers:

While you are putting together your email marketing plan for 2010 keep these tips in mind to increase your success:


And above all, remember this little tidbit from Microsoft, “Customers don't give you their e-mail address and other personal information out of altruism. They do it in exchange for something of value. It could be information (on your website, via email or through some other media), a free gift, a coupon or a chance to win a sweepstakes. Be creative, but also follow through by delivering real value to the recipient with every message.”

What does your website say about you?

When you’re testing the water with a new web site, it can be difficult to make your business stand out and generate interest. Is your site resonating with your target audience?

  1. Patterns: Backgrounds that twinkle or move are distracting and can cause eye strain if they overwhelm your design. If parts of your web site move, like animation or pointer trails, be sure that they compliment the theme of your site and act as a point of interest rather than the focus.
  2. Photographs: If your website is a marketing tool for your business, it’s best to move family photos to a separate, private online photo album. However, if you have photos that identify with your business, like a hobby or collection, you can certainly include them to show your passion. A good example might be a body shop owner/operator who rebuilds or restores his own automobiles during his free time displaying pictures of his work on his website.
  3. Participation: It’s ok to encourage your audience to contribute to your website through sections like forums, a company blog or a guest book. The most important part of any interactivity is that you screen entries and responses before they are posted, and that you keep the information up to date.
  4. Partnerships: Another great way to share your website is to establish online partnerships and business relationships. For example, your body shop can refer customers to your favorite parts store or to the graphics printer where you buy all of your decals. If you can put their logos on your partners’ page, they might do the same for you. One of the best things about this approach is that it’s free for everyone--and a great way to increase your search results.

These four small elements of design can make a big impact on your site. If you can’t decide whether or not an element is working for you, ask for an opinion from a favorite customer or call a professional to get some detailed advice. Remember, your web site might be the first thing a new customer sees and you want to leave a great first impression.

Monday, February 1, 2010

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