In a world that contains 2.3 billion internet users, your company’s visibility on the web is fundamental to the success of any marketing strategy. Without getting web users to view your site, large amounts of potential customers will never know that your company exists. In terms of the marketing mix, without proper/adequate product placement, sales (and therefore profits) will be slender no matter how good or well-priced your product or service is. Web marketing, or as it has become known, e-marketing, is designed to establish your company’s presence on the fastest growing mass medium in existence.
Admittedly, certain types of commercial enterprises will benefit more from digital marketing than others: if you’ve built an e-commerce site on a platform like www.uShop.co.za, for example, rely entirely on web-traffic for their business. Local gardening stores, on the other hand, might not benefit all that much from having a website that constantly attracts web-users. However, the gardening shop might well benefit from establishing an email newsletter that keeps its customers informed about promotions, new products and gardening tips (what to plant where, when etc.).
As the newsletter falls under the e-marketing gambit, the shop will probably benefit more from e-marketing than its owners might initially think. For businesses that find themselves between the two apparent extremes (that is, between being an internet based enterprise and those niche stores that rely on their location to generate sales) a comprehensive and co-ordinated digital marketing strategy could prove as important to continuing success as advertising on any other medium. In fact, an argument could be made that for a growing number of commercial enterprises, establishing a web presence is more important (and achievable) than the filling of more traditional advertising spaces. Indeed, an ever increasing share of marketing budgets is being allocated to agencies that specialise in digital marketing strategies. The above mentioned companies have a thorough knowledge about the workings of search engines (a primary interface between any user and the rest of the World Wide Web) and are therefore in a very good position to respond to your unique needs.
The number and size of these companies is growing in South Africa, as more and more CEOs and MDs see the potential for the internet to not only enhance their services, but garner a greater share of the market. Banks are notable for identifying this potential, making sure that they provide their clients with fast and secure internet banking, and thereby extending the limit of their services and the access to these services. There is no doubt that these large entities make use of emailed newsletters to connect with their clients, and there is even less doubt that search engine optimisation directs traffic to their websites. It would, however, be a mistake to think to that e-marketing is the domain of large corporate bodies. Whereas they might have larger sums of money to spend on their campaigns, SEO and digital marketing companies are affordable and provide services that are almost guaranteed to increase sales through increasing product/company visibility. If, for example, you are an estate agent selling Stellenbosch property, not only should you list the property on your website, you should ensure that your search terms will rank well in search engine results (thereby driving traffic, and business, to your site). The same logic applies to those smaller enterprises importing products like sports shoes, consumer electronics, items of apparel, perfumes, computers, etc.
The subsequent pages on this website will briefly overview some of the more distinguishable components of a coherent web-marketing strategy in order to give a reader/entrepreneur greater insight into this new, burgeoning industry. The insight gained here might provide enough of an impetus for the said reader/entrepreneur to begin exploring what more could be done by their own business to market themselves effectively via the internet.