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Stages of Promotion          Print the current page
by Brian D. Chmielewski

The distinction between marketing your Web site and promoting it is not always clear. In fact, the words are used almost interchangeably to describe the same procedure. Marketing refers to the ongoing positioning of your Web-based business, its service/product, the benefits - communicating directly with those who are interested in you. Although the action itself, promoting your web visibility, accurately identifies what you are doing, you should distinctly verbalize and conceptualize your efforts as marketing your Web site. Promotions are campaigns with specific duration and objectives and should tie into your overall marketing strategy. Typically, these singular efforts are initiated to get responsiveness from your target audience. There is no question that online promotions can assist your Web-based business in strengthening existing relationships and building new ones. So, we have outlined a promotional campaign designed to gather data for ongoing marketing, paying particular attention to some of the concerns that have arisen when executing projects for our clients.

Step one involves planning. You must determine the objective(s) and duration of your promotion. It is important to sculpt a fine-tuned marketing mechanism that will appeal to your audience and earn the results that you set out to achieve. Most promotions are short-lived, basing duration on the anticipated length of time necessary to get satisfactory results. For instance, if your goal is to build a database of consumers to maintain contact with, you must settle on the number of contacts that you desire and calculate a time-frame that will allow you to get that number. If you know that you can get 100 entries per day and your goal is 5000, you can deduce that a two-month duration should accomplish this. More difficult is the objective of linking actual sales of your product or service with a time frame. Know what you expect from a promotion and build the tools to realize it.

Where will you drive interested traffic? Whether you choose to co-brand your company with the promotion through the URL
< http://www.yourdomain.com/promo > or want an independent identity for it
< http://www.promo.com > is a personal preference that should be determined from the outset. Creating a new site for your visitors takes time regardless of your decision, so plan ahead. Creating a microsite within your main site is important to keep visitors focused on the objective that you want to achieve. If you allow visitors to wander or navigate away from the promotional objective, you can expect weakened results. Be sure to clearly outline any rules or regulations that pertain to this promotion. Give the visitor alternative ways to complete it, whether via fax or postal mail, and be certain they can contact you with questions or concerns. Be interested in them.

By offering incentives through your promotion, you can create a powerful tool to drive traffic and generate impressions or clickthroughs while building targeted relationships in a cost-efficient fashion. Gathering incentive-linked data from your site's visitors improves the credibility of that data, since it is provided with their consent, rather than being amassed covertly. Take care in selecting an incentive or giveaway that has perceived value by those you want to target. Anticipate the value of the information that you are gathering for the short and long-term. You should associate this value with rough financial estimates, justifying the expense for one or more incentive items. Test market your promotional item. If you are unsure what will motivate your audience, don't hesitate to ask them. Return to the boardroom with your feedback and evaluate what falls within your budget.

Advanced educational degrees are offered for statistical analysis and the psychological behavior of the consumer. Unless you already have a degree in one of these fields, or are have the wherewithal to spend four or more years earning one, think simple. The dynamics of information gathering is not an exact science, yet there are techniques that seem to work well.

  • Depending on the extent of information and depth of perceived invasiveness by the consumer, you will need to assign value to certain fields of data. That data with the greatest value should be asked first. Since you are linking an incentive to your data, you may choose to make all fields mandatory.

  • If you are asking questions and rely on an open-ended response from the consumer, you should write the question several times in several formats and circulate it for feedback. Semantics, education, geography, gender, race, etc., all play a part in how your question is perceived and answer provided. It is better to offer closed-ended answers to your questions, allowing visitors to quickly complete them with results that you can quantify. You must know your audience well, for closed-ended answers to fulfill targeting. Overly-generic terms and abundance can both stymie the results. For instance, if offered location choice by continent, you would not be able to target properly by geography. Likewise, if you offered location by every major city on the planet, the visitor would be forced to scroll through a long list and you would not have added substantial value to targeting. Aim for common ground.

  • Layout is pinnacle. Appeal and ease of use are very important to your visitor. As you would with any web presence, you have a short period of time to communicate your message, so get to the point. Results show that people are more likely to fill out a twenty-question form if it is spread over four pages, rather that if they have to scroll down a single page. Take this to heart if you want good results.

  • Thank the visitor for their time in helping you. Even though you are offering an incentive, you want to give a good impression to the visitor. Let them know that their opinion does matter and that you will be in touch with them in the future. Build relationships, not just a list.

Purchase or develop a database that can house all of the information that has been supplied. Tabulate or organize it for analysis. Being able to sort through the data by every field will make drill-down targeting of this audience effortless for future communication and promotion. Always back-up this data.

Finally, announce the winner(s) of your promotion to the world. Someone just won something, so this is a big deal for them. Help the winner to celebrate their triumph by publicizing it on your web site and via email. It is said that every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. Your promotion may now have experienced closure, but building relationships with the leads that you have generated now takes precedence and will require your ongoing attention.

uPromote specializes in driving traffic to your web site through creative promotional campaigns. Let us know how we can help you. Fill out a no-obligation enrollment form and one of our professionals will assist you. Visit http://www.uPromote.com/custom for details.

First published in WebPromote's June 1998, Vol. 3 newsletter.