Why Online Sales Matter
- Why are we here? Why do online sales matter?
- For both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) companies, the Internet is an increasingly important marketing and sales tool. Purchasers love it because it's an information-rich medium where they can conduct research and easily make comparisons. Marketers love it because online efforts are trackable and measurable, in real time.
First Things First
The Internet is transforming nearly every kind of business, from the obvious B2C e-commerce examples to a niche B2B business. Yet today, a lot of untapped opportunity remains.
This book helps you identify where you are in your Internet marketing process maturity and improve your marketing models both to increase your return on investment (ROI) and to boost sales.
Our goal is to give you tools that let you identify, track, and measure what works and what doesn't—effectively tying your Internet marketing efforts directly to your sales results. Measurable, repeatable sales is the ultimate goal we hope to help you reach.
Internet Research Equals Internet Sales
As consumers, we all intuitively know that more and more research and shopping is done online today than ever before. But it's not just the B2C space that benefits from Internet research and a quicker sale.
According to sources such as AMR International, Enquiro, and Marketing Sherpa, Internet research is now part of nearly every major B2B transaction, and investment in online marketing continues to grow.
In 2009, Google commissioned a study by Slack Barshinger on how small to medium-size businesses use the Internet, and found that 77% of the business owners used online search to find new business suppliers, and 99% of them reported that search engines are the most effective tool for finding business suppliers.
Moreover, the larger the size of the purchase, the more likely the buyer is to make extended research efforts online. Without an integrated online strategy, your prospective customers won't be able to find your website (but they'll likely find your competitor's).
More business decision makers use the Internet to conduct research for their B2B purchases because it's
- An incredibly robust research medium, allowing multiple browsers, tabs, and windows to be open simultaneously for quick comparisons.
- A rich source of information. For more-complex purchasing processes or higher-ticket items, people need more time and more information to come to a final decision. An information-rich website can set a good foundation for the sales team. In addition, people rely on the many potentially persuasive "unbiased" third-party reviews.
- Conveniently open 24 hours a day. This means the buying process can progress over a weekend, instead of having to wait until Monday to ask a question on a toll-free number.
- A fast and economic way for one-to-one communication. Email, online chat, and web-based video conferencing reduce communication costs substantially.
- Dynamic. With ever-changing search engine algorithms and emerging tools such as Google Instant, an Internet search conducted today can reveal better results than the same one run last month.
Advantages of Internet Marketing
Just as Internet research becomes an increasingly important tool during the purchasing process, more marketers are seeing the advantages, too. It's a win-win situation.
Marketing departments are investing more in online marketing today because it's
- Attractive to a significant segment of the demographics for most customer profiles. It can effectively reach your target customer.
- Faster and less expensive to conduct direct marketing campaigns (for example, an email campaign or online newsletter compared with traditional printing and direct-mail costs).
- More economic to communicate via email, online chat, and video conferencing than long distance phone calls or toll-free numbers offered by your company.
- Measurable, which means that successes are identifiable and repeatable.
- Set up for real-time results monitoring, and it can handle real-time tweaks and on-the-fly changes.
- Open 24-hours a day, which means that even potential customers with insomnia can be reached at some point during the buying process.
- Targeted, allowing you to pinpoint using geography, contextual relevance, and other useful parameters to reach a very specifically defined audience. (Online reviews are used more by expert Internet users or in niche product markets.)
- Continuously available, letting you give away whitepapers or free webinars to gather good sources of leads over time. Products with high price points and long sales cycles require many "touches" and follow-up with a potential customer.
- Cost-effective, in the long run. By adjusting your paid search campaigns to find which ads work best for different keywords, you reduce your ad spend and online efforts over time while maintaining or increasing the number of leads or purchases gained.
- Going social, as more people share information among peers on websites like Facebook and LinkedIn, for business purposes. A recommendation from a friend or peer can go a long way toward closing a sale.