How to Make Internet Marketing Simple

Article excerpt

Your web site made it through Y2K. It was built on solid strategy and flawlessly designed with the latest technology. It is a source of invaluable information tailored to your target audiences, available globally 24/7. Its graphics are sharp, its links are current and its layout is easily navigated by a five-year-old. You've registered it with search engines and added it to your letterhead[ldots]

Let the World Wide Wait begin.

Less than a year ago, there were 6,598,697 sites on the World Wide Web, and that number is increasing constantly. The competition for attention to your site is fierce.

Internet marketing and e-commerce are the buzzwords of the wired world, and everyone is jumping on the online bandwagon. Like it or not, the Internet is swiftly becoming the global medium of choice for news, entertainment and business.

The number of Internet users worldwide is expected to grow to 300 million by 2005, from roughly 150 million currently. There are 259 million Internet users worldwide, with more than 43 percent in the United States. About 80 percent of the 110 million Americans who use the Internet go online for government, business, health or education information, as well as e-mail. Close behind are news, weather and sports, followed by checking schedules, buying tickets or making reservations.

Furthermore, when surfing for specific information, most people look at only the first 20 listings returned by a search engine. And even the most advanced search engine can profile only a fraction of the Internet.

A web site offers tremendous potential to an organization, but with so many sites, so many users and so many choices, how do you drive traffic to yours?

Our experiences launching www.vitarx.com, a national mail service pharmacy, and www.savelawetlands.org, the web site for the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, taught us that public relations for an online client is not unlike PR for bricks-and-mortar organizations. For both, we integrated community relations, strategic alliances and partnerships, media relations and special events into a single, powerful Internet marketing campaign.

Those projects gave us the insight we needed to create and implement a strategic Internet marketing campaign for the launch of www.mardigras.com, an online Mardi Gras guide featuring live streaming video of the parades and partying from hot spots around New Orleans. Our mission was to drive traffic to the site, securing its reputation as a high-volume site and paving the way for future revenue opportunities.

Through the campaign--a blend of traditional media relations, promotions and special events--the site garnered more than 28 million page views during the one-month campaign--surpassing the goal of 5 million by 560 percent. (Mardigras.com set this goal, but believed it to be outrageous because it was greater than the number of page views CNN received in a month at the height of the Gulf War, the standard they and many in the industry chose for highly accessed sites.)

Currently, we are implementing a campaign to increase awareness of, and drive traffic to, www.lsba.org, the web site for the Louisiana State Bar Association, Louisiana's organization of some 18,000 attorneys, judges and members of the legal profession.

All of these projects have confirmed again and again the elements of a successful Internet marketing plan. Case studies from these successful Internet marketing campaigns show how Internet marketing employs the same methods and theory as traditional public relations and integrated marketing--the basic tools for any campaign:

* Identification

* Strategy Development

* Strategy Presentation

* Implementation

* Evaluation

Identification

A strong Internet marketing campaign requires the same groundwork as any successful marketing plan. SWOT analyses, brand essence, market research and audience definition start the list of essential elements of the identification process. …