So how do smaller businesses use the internet to drive traffic and improve their cashflow?
The upfront answer is building a permission based contact database tied into your website.
Build a targeted list and you will have cashflow on demand.
Of course you will still optimise your site for the search engines as an integral part of your marketing strategy, but putting your main effort into building your list will grow your business quicker and speed up listings in the search engines.
Remember once you have a database list ? it's YOURS to use over and over again to bring in profitable sales to your business!
And the more you use it the more it will grow, provided you MANAGE it correctly.
Use your list to keep in regular contact with subscribers, much like you would manage relationships in a bricks and mortar business.
Everyone likes to do business with people they know and trust. Treat them right and they will not only come back again and again, but will refer their friends and others to you.
Put an opt-in form on your website, collect email from walk in customers, run contests to collect email addresses, and ask existing customers and friends for referrals.
You should include your URL and email address on EVERY piece of printed material you produce for your business, including invoices, email signatures, Yellow Page ads, business cards, labels, EVERYTHING!
You should be collecting email addresses from EVERY visitor that walks through your door!
You will be surprised how quickly your database will grow.
And the good thing is, once it grows to a certain point it self generates and grows even faster.
Doing it right means developing TRUST with your subscribers.
Like friendship, trust grows with the number of successful contacts.
The more a person gets to know you, the more they will trust you.
Of course if you let them down they're probably gone for good - so you better have a good product and back it up with good service.
A regular newsletter is one of the easiest ways to keep in contact.
Your newsletter doesn't have to be a lengthy document; it can be as simple as a one page article published under your banner and sent out on a regular basis to your list.
It must contain useful information of interest to your subscribers and it should be devoid of blatant advertising.
If a person has opted into your list, they'll know what your business is about, so you don't need to be in their face constantly selling.
Keep your newsletter lean on advertising, but full of useful, interesting information, then when the customer is ready to purchase they'll come to you.
Its human nature, we all want to deal with a person we know and trust.
And the beauty is they come back again and again ?but you must keep in regular contact with them or they simply slip away and forget about you.
Another payoff is, as your list grows, traffic to your website grows, and all of a sudden search engine spiders start listing your site ? it's like magic, traffic drives traffic!
Also, once you have developed trust through communicating valuable information regularly to your subscribers they will look forward to hearing from you.
AND they will forgive you for sending them blatant advertising now and then, in fact they will expect it.
You will be able to promote specials through promotional emails and postcard announcements, advise them of new vintages, and offer them pre-release deals, making them feel special and that you value their custom.
Each time you do a mail out you will get a return in the form of increased sales, but please don't over do it.
Depending on the business you are in, and how effective you are at targeting, a subscriber could be worth anywhere from a few cents to several dollars every time you do a mail out.
Here is how to calculate the value of subscribers in your list, but first you will need to establish your list and have completed at least two or three successful campaigns.
Divide the number of subscribers in your list by the average sales in dollars received in response to your mailout.
Let's say you have built your list to 2500 opt-ins and have calculated the subscriber value as $0.75 (subscribers/divided by the average amount of business in dollars received from previous mail outs).
So, it's getting towards the end of the month and your sales aren't up to scratch ? ok send a mail out with a special offer. Presto you have just generated an extra $1875.00 in sales! (That's 2500 subscribers x $0.75)
Every marketing person will tell you sales is a numbers game.
If you get your offer right and target correctly you will get consistent results every time.
Here is another example: If your average conversion is just 1% of your subscribers, and your average sale is $220.00, then you will convert 1% of your list and receive 25 orders x $220.00 = $5500.00, for an average return per subscriber of $2.20.
It's 10 days before Christmas and you need to clear some stock:
Send out an extra special offer and tell your customers you need to quit the stock within nine days or you will be in serious trouble (or whatever).
You have been honest and given them a reason for your special offer.
They know you mean what you say and they can trust you to give them an honest deal!
Bingo, orders start coming in and you clear the stock!
The above examples show what you can do when you have an opt-in database of customers and prospects that you have build up on the basis of TRUST, that know your business, and who willingly open your emails.
AND, how much did it cost you? Did you have to run expensive advertisements in the paper (that, by the way, now show diminishing returns on your investment because of the high cost), or print thousands of flyers, or employ staff to get out and spruik for business?
No, none of the above. To send the promotion out to your list cost virtually nothing, zilch, beano, absolutely nothing, just half an hour to an hour of your time.
Imagine the cashflow you could generate if your database grew to 10,000 or 50,000 subscribers.
It doesn't matter what you are selling, it could be hotel rooms, cases of wine, restaurant meals, toys, services, or seminars - it doesn't matter, if you target carefully and have built a trusting relationship with your list, you will get consistent results.
If you want more information on how you can build profitable online business through automated online catalogues, newsletters and promotional email, contact Mike Greenfield NOW.
Mike has over 35 years experience in marketing, sales, and entrepreneurship, with a history of taking businesses from small beginnings to sales in the tens of millions of dollars.
SiteDesignNOW specialises in low cost small business online marketing systems, including interactive catalogues, ezine systems, e-classifed ad systems, and shopping carts.