If you buy traditional media advertising such as radio, newspaper, TV, billboard, and direct mail, your advertising should be focused on driving people to your web site. Why? According to BIA/Kelsey and ConStat, 97% of all consumers now use online media to research products or services in their local area before buying.  If you don’t have a web site, get one.  I have seen statistics that as many as 46 percent of businesses do not have a web site. I couldn’t believe it until I started looking around.  If you do a Google search for oil companies near Sunbury, PA you will find many oil companies on Merchant Circle, City Search, Yellow Pages, Manta, and other sites with contact information, but to my amazement, none of them had web sites!  If you Google doctors near Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, less than half had their own web sites.  I also tried auto service near Milton, PA.  Of the first ten that showed up, only two had web sites.  The rest showed up just on Google maps with little more than a phone number and an address.

I can only assume a lot of these businesses have decided they do not need a web site because they think people do not shop their products or service online.  Yet many of these businesses advertise heavily in traditional media.  Without a web site, their radio, newspaper, billboards or TV advertising is equivalent to dumping money into a black hole.  Remember most people visit businesses on line before they visit in person or even make a phone call.

The other major reason a web site is so important is for tracking your advertising.  With a web site using Google Analytics you can get tremendous insight into what advertising is working and what is not working.  If the internet as we know it today were around in the 1920’s, the famous saying by John Wanamaker which goes “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted — the trouble is, I don’t know which half,” would never have been said.

The analytics data provided by Google is invaluable to assessing the effectiveness of your advertising.

The analytics data provided by Google is invaluable to assessing the effectiveness of your advertising.

In the above snapshot of a Google Analytics dashboard, you can see how many people are visiting plus many other key statistics that can tell you how well your site is received and how well other advertising media is working.  The above sample shows peaks in the number of visits where email promotions ran.  Information such as bounce rate tells how many visitors looked at one page and left the site.  Factors such as bounce rate, pages/visit, and average time on site are just some factors that help you improve the performance of your site.

This analytics data also provides demographic information about your potential customers.

This analytics data also provides demographic information about your potential customers.

The above screen shot shows how people came to the site as well as what town they came from.  The source media shows how people found your site.  If you have links on other sites or you are advertising on web banners, when people click on those banners or links, it will log where that visit originated from.  If it says the source/medium is direct/(none) that means the visitor went directly to your site by typing your exact domain name into their browser.  This information along with the towns they are in can help you understand how your other advertising is performing.  If you run billboards and suddenly start seeing more hits coming from the town where that billboard is located, it is possible the billboard is driving people to your site.

I’ve just scratched the surface of what you can learn from Google Analytics.  But you have to have a web site to get this information.  Then you have to have a Google Analytics Account which is free.  And finally you have to have your site set up to communicate with your Google Analytics account which is very easy for your web master to set up for you.

Next, we’ll talk about reaching your customers through email marketing.  Email marketing is taking over many of the traditional media advertising methods.

Email Marketing Could Replace Mass Media Advertising For Many Businesses

If you are finding it harder and harder to see return on your traditional media advertising, you should try email marketing.  The great advantages of email marketing are:

  • The ability to prevent waste of advertising on an audience that is not interested in your product
  • The ability to know just how many of your emails arrived in the mailboxes
  • The ability to see if the recipient opened the mail and who they are
  • The ability to see how much time they spent looking at your email
  • The ability to see the number of times they opened your mail or forwarded it to other people who opened it
  • The ability to see if they clicked on any links in your email which gives you an idea of what specific things they are interested in
  • The ability to drive recipients to your web site
  • It is incredibly cheap, typically as little as $35 a month to send 1000 emails as often as you like and $75 a month to send 10,000.

The only real challenge is developing a list.  You can buy email lists, but they are expensive and very broad based which defeats the purpose of targeting people interested in your specific product or service.  Also, purchased lists contain very small segments of the markets, as most people do not agree to allow their emails to be shared when they give it to a trusted vendor.  The best way is to develop your list from traffic within your business or call people who you believe may be good target customers and ask if you can send them an email.  Other good ways are to gather emails from people you meet at trade shows, or on social Internet sites or other organizations such as the chamber of commerce.

We recommend you use a prominent email marketing service such as Mail Chimp or Constant Contact.  The reason being is that people have spam filters that will not let unknown emails come into their inbox.  However, most spam filters trust emails coming from trusted sources and large companies such as Mail Chimp and Constant Contact. These companies have ways of making sure their customers are mailing to willing recipients.  They also offer very simple and attractive templates that help you set up professional and easy to read mailings.  Finally, these companies offer all the systems to make sure anyone who wants to unsubscribe can do so easily and they provide all those powerful statistics mentioned above.

A Good Web Site and Email Marketing Plan – A Total Advertising Program

Once you have a good web site and a good email marketing plan, all your need to do is optimize your web site so your site appears high on search engines.  Getting your site to be at or near the top on search engines is called search engine optimization (SEO).  This is something that you may need help with from a web professional with because the search engines have complex, multi-faceted systems to determine how to rank sites.  Many of the rules change from time to time as people try to figure out how to game the system.  But, a well-designed site will have the right words in the right places on the site.  It will use other factors such as font size and font weight.  Another factor that will help improve ranking on search engines is the amount of presence your site has on the world wide web, either through links on other sites or mentions in stories on other sites and in blogs, just to name a few.  Another big factor is how often your site changes.  When you update something on your site, the search engines see this and that helps your ranking.  Finally, the more traffic your site gets, the higher it ranks on the search engines.

Although it can be very time consuming, it is possible to run a total advertising campaign effectively using only your web site and email marketing and without using any traditional media.