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5 ways to improve your business with the web

There are 5 easy things you can do to make sure your business embraces the Internet as a sales and marketing tool in 2007:

  1. Purchase your own .com Domain Name for your company
  2. Use your .com Domain Name for all email communication
  3. Create a professional website and make it part of your sales team
  4. Internet marketing with Google, Yahoo and MSN
  5. Start an e-newsletter to communicate with customers

You may not realize it, but if you’re still using an email address from Yahoo, Hotmail, SBC, Comcast, or some other free email service to communicate with customers, you’re losing some “professionalism points.”  If your website is not portraying your company effectively and generating business for you, then it’s time to take action!  Following these five steps is a good start to making your website function as an extension of your sales team.

Purchase a ‘.com’ Domain Name for your company

You have to buy “yourcompanyname.com” as soon as possible, or someone else will.  Buying an internet Domain Name (.com, .net, .org) is extremely affordable and is the first step in getting your own email address and web site.  Your domain name is a virtual street address, it is neither a website nor an email address, but is needed to connect to your web site or email host.   You can purchase a Domain Name from a variety of web sources on the internet for around $10 a year.
If “your companyname.com” is not available it may take some creativity to find an appropriate alternative.  Web Ascender recommends .com addresses over .net, .org, .biz or other alternatives. If the .com is taken, try not to settle for a .net, see if you can think of a different name where the .com is available. Users habitually type .com after a domain name even if specifically told otherwise. If you don’t own the .com name, it is very likely that potential customers will accidently visit the .com and mistake another company for yours.

Communicate with customers using your .com address

Using a Yahoo, Hotmail or other generic email service is an easy way to lose credibility when cooresponding with clients or prospects.   Having your own branded email is definitely comforting to prospective customers; it means that you have your Information Technology needs in order (an important message to send in this day and age).
After you have purchased your Domain Name, you should invest in an email hosting service.  This service will allow you to connect to a remote email host to send and receive email. You should expect to pay $3-$5/month per employee for a quality email hosting platform.

Create a Professional Website

A website can hurt your company as easily as it can help.  An unattractive, poorly organized, and rarely updated website can be detrimental to your Internet brand.   You should think of your website as a salesperson that is operating 24 hours a day. Your website should present a professional, knowledgeable and reputable image of your company.  At a minimum you should have information about your products and services, portfolio/case studies, news/press releases, testimonials, company biography, and contact information. 

Sponsored Internet Marketing

Google, Yahoo, and MSN all have a form of paid advertisement on their search results.  For a reasonable amount (as low as $50/month) you can be sure that interested visitors will find your site from the major search engines.  Here’s how it works:  Your Company would bid on a particular keyword such as “driveway paving” and tell Google how much you are willing to pay for each time a person clicks on your ad.  The average pay-per-click amount for most keywords is around $0.50 per visitor/click. If your ad is seen on Google (on the right side of the search results where it says Sponsored Links) but not clicked, it costs you nothing.  Sponsored Internet Marketing is a great way to get qualified leads at a low cost.

Electronic Newsletters

For the majority of companies, their income is comprised of repeat business or business that has been referred by a customer or friend.  Often, no matter how hard we try, it is very difficult to stay in touch with all of our customers on a very personal level.  However, a great way to keep your customers thinking about you is to publish an electronic email newsletter.   Get in the habit of collecting email addresses from all of your new clients and contacts. Once you have a significant contact list, start sending out your email newsletter (monthly or quarterly) with your company name and logo, and announce a new product or service to your customers.  It’s normally a good idea to include some educational content (as opposed to purely sales) in your newsletters.  If your customers and clients can learn something from your newsletter then they will start to expect and anticipate its arrival. The goal is to keep your company name in front of them so that when someone asks “Do you know where I can go for…?,” your name will immediately come to mind.

More and more consumers are turning to the Internet instead of the phone book to get information about products and services they need.  The five steps outlined in this article provide an effective start to positioning your business for the growing number of online consumers.


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