Web 2.0 is a topic that has been discussed by many. Others say the principles are nothing but hype. You can’t ignore that the world of business, especially online, is changing.
Since 1994, as the owner of a marketing and design firm and former director of marketing at AOL, I have watched the Web change and grow. So that my clients are ready, I had to understand how Web 2.0 principles impact online businesses today.
To help managers keep up with Web 2.0, I have identified five categories they should be considering.
Review your online strategy
The 20th-century Web site was void of strategy. Businesses built their web site using what they knew at the time about online sales. Many Web sites, large and small, are built on this foundation. Companies often dismiss top-down reviews as being difficult, expensive, and time-consuming. This is no less expensive than a website with stagnant or declining revenue. I don’t recommend throwing everything away and starting from scratch. I recommend that you review your website and determine if the strategy is in line with what you want to achieve.
In his book Act Small; Think Big, Jason Jennings encourages businesses to embrace the benefits of smallness–quick fixes, employees who are close to the problems, and the ability to connect with their customers. Identify issues and plan to make gradual improvements.
I use Mind Maps as a tool to analyze the strategy of a Web site. It is easy to use and removes the political barriers that prevent change.
Narrow your target markets and multiply them even more
Chris Anderson introduced us to the “Long Tail,” a theory that applies to the entertainment market. It basically says that the future of the entertainment industry lies in its ability to target millions of niche markets. This theory is applicable to all Web-based businesses. It is important to have clearly defined psychographics and demographics.
Only by narrowing the target market and customizing packages can you ensure continued growth. Web 2.0 users will demand more targeted sales packages and specialized content. Spend time creating personas that reflect your customers.
Analyze your online content like a direct marketer
Hire a copywriter or start thinking like one. Websites are filled with boring, impersonal material that no one cares to read. In general, boring Web content is surrounded by attractive graphics that are meant to “add interest” but have no real value. Text quantity continues to increase, but revenues continue decreasing.
Hire a copywriter who can rework your content to make it more impactful and relevant. Managers will not usually spend money on this area. It is not uncommon for in-house employees with little or no copywriting expertise to be given the job. It is important to invest in content marketing.
Build your relationship with customers by using a sales process
This does not mean that the sales process should be overly complex. This means creating a unique sales process for your business that other companies can’t easily copy.
The marketing and sales team should sit down and work together to create a system that will gradually bring the customer in and build a relationship that you and your competitors don’t have. You will benefit because your competitors are likely to dismiss this effort as being not worth it.
A phone call after an online lead is no longer enough. Sending a whitepaper won’t work, or it won’t be enough. Begin with a free ebook to collect an opt-in email. Send out a newsletter every month. Invite your customer to a Teleseminar. Ask the customer for their opinions. Create a relationship by using a process that is unique to your business. Otherwise, you will become a commodity.
How can you make your products and services more “earth-friendly”
You cannot ignore this trend. Your customers will expect you to do the same as Starbucks Coffee, which developed “Grounds for Your Garden,” a program to reuse coffee grounds for compost. Americans are demanding corporate responsibility after recent scandals and the rising cost of gas.
Consider how you can improve your service or modify your product to be more environmentally conscious. In a few short years, it will be mandatory for any company that wants to succeed.