Are SMEs finally catching on to eMarketing?

MWeb Business has postponed an eMarketing workshop due to be held in partnership with Cape-based eMarketing company, Quirk Business Solutions, and aimed at SME owners in Cape Town. This was due to a lack of attendance. This postponement raises the question: Have South Africa's businesses really woken up to the realization that eMarketing can be an extremely valuable, cost-effective tool?

For SMEs that are looking towards eMarketing, questions that could give sleepless nights include: How do I get my Web site noticed among the clutter of existing sites? What elements should be contained in a good Web site? How do I structure my Web site for maximum impact? How does search engine optimization work? And, most importantly, as an SME owner, how in the world do I make sense of eMarketing?

Says Gary Hart, marketing and products manager at MWeb Business: "More small-to-medium businesses are reaching new markets by using the Internet to drive sales. The opportunities for any business with a dynamic online presence are endless. Small businesses therefore need to be aware of how the different eMarketing tools and tactics available to them can be applied to achieve success."

Quirk says the workshop, being the second one held by the company, would have provided SME owners with valuable, real-life examples of how to maximize online marketing spend.

Adds Rob Stokes, founder and CEO of Quirk Business Solution: "Small-to-medium enterprises need to be aware of how to best apply eMarketing strategies to identify new markets, to redefine existing markets, and to apply the correct strategies to ensure that their market share is increased and sustained."

Stokes says that he has identified various methods of eMarketing, through which SMEs can run cost-effective, high-impact marketing campaigns. For those SMEs already utilizing eMarketing, there is frequent concern that the traffic going through the Web site does not convert into customers. Stokes confirms that, in most cases, the best conversion statistics that a business can hope for would be around 10 percent. "That means that, for every 100 visitors that your Web site receives, 90 leave," he says. Therefore, for effective eMarketing, a business needs to find ways to keep control of who visits the Web site.

Stokes also mentions campaigns which have the long-term goal of building a brand, rather than advertising offers and specials. Overseas this method has been used with good results. At present an impressive case would be that of Burger King, through its "subservient chicken" campaign, where a chicken on a Web site is there to obey your every command, no matter how ridiculous. This has reached over 20 million people, and the company only spent approximately US$50,000 on the campaign.

"With eMarketing, you can receive Web statistics that give client research in order for you to know what works and what does not, allowing you to fine-tune your marketing methods to their optimal level," concludes Stokes.

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