Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio September
BY RODMAN MARYMOR, CMP, AND
JEFFREY RASCO, CMP
How To Get Visitors To Return To Your Web Site Again And
"Honey, have you seen the half-off coupon from
GargantuaMart for those yak-leather tool belts?"
It's amazing what we'll do for a bargain. Our friend in the
example above will drive across town and search through a huge
megastore for a belt he doesn't need -- all because he has a
coupon. GargantuaMart happily provides the incentive, knowing that
when they get the customer into the store, he'll probably buy a few
more things. This principle applies on the Web, but in much greater
Someone said the Internet is like the Library of Congress, with
all the books strewn about on the floor. Since surfers have so much
to pick through, how can you get people to come back to your site
after they've found you?
The Internet Coupon
Once the Web was recognized as a viable place to do business,
many of the marketing principles that work offline were put into
practice online. Meeting sites offered discounts for online
registrations, the equivalent of a cents-off coupon. Suppliers
created slick sites to entice visitors to buy, looking for the
success that four-color brochures typically bring in. What sellers
have discovered, however, is this is a whole new medium when it
comes to marketing.
We will discuss some of the better methods for enticing
visitors, but first things first. As we've said many times, Content
is King. People return if the information they want is there. So
keep your site fresh, interesting, easy to navigate and, above all,
pertinent. The best gimmick in the world won't bring your audience
back if that's all there is.
You also have to know yourself and your audience. Kevin Olsen of
the production company One Smooth Stone (www.osstone.com) says, "We've thought
of going the humor, travel tips, educational, glossary, trivia
route, but haven't pursued it. We see our site as another
brand-reinforcement piece." In his case, personal contact is what
sells, and his site is simply a virtual brochure.
Bringing 'Em Back Home
The online bookstore Amazon.com (www.amazon. com) offers a great
example of intrasite marketing. They sell us something every time
we go there. And there's always a fun activity to do: rate books,
take surveys, enter chats about music. Frequent buyers often get
free upgrades on shipping (a ploy known as a hook). Amazon.com
simply offers great, helpful customer service. (That works offline,
too, by the way.)
So what makes them so effective? Look back to last month's
article on the online customer database. Amazon.com has a profile
on each customer, builds on it with every visit and uses it to reel
you in time and again. They don't wait for you to wander back on
your own; they push new information via e-mail. Our industry can
learn a lot from them.
Continental Airlines (www.flycontinental.com) also
is on the right track. It was one of the first to send subscribers
special low fares via e-mail, and many carriers have followed suit.
Continental was also quick to offer bonus miles for booking online.
The History Channel, A&E and many others find success with
trivia -- no prizes, just a chance to test your knowledge. Virtual
Florist (www.virtualflorist.com) lets
you send free virtual flowers or balloons, but also offers the real
By the way, Web marketing is the most measurable mass marketing
there is. Suppliers with banner ads and planners with registration
coupons know every time someone requests more information. These
are real numbers, and a great way to measure return on
Portals and Communities
We've discussed "gateway" sites in the past, where viewers
access many related sites from one launching pad. Gateways now are
giving way to portals and communities, which go beyond single
subject matter to become the hub of a viewer's Internet experience.
Such sites as Excite (www.excite.com), Yahoo!
(www.yahoo.com) and Netscape's Netcenter (www.netcenter.com) are springboards
to the Internet and moneymakers for advertisers and investors. They
are designed to be the first page surfers see when they access the
Web. Similarly, industry sites, including M&C's (www.meetings-conventions.com), are
becoming information centers rather than online versions of their
offline selves. By partnering with other content providers, they
reap the benefits of increased traffic.
In short, the trick is to bring people back to your site again
and again, and if they forget, e-mail them a gentle reminder.Rodman Marymor, CMP, and
Jeffrey Rasco, CMP, are partners in San Francisco and Austin,
Texas-based hmr.associates, providing technology solutions for the
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