DM News

Build With Direct Marketing Basics at Your Site

by Debra A. Jason, The How-To Writer (June 2, 1997)

“Are you on the Web?” “What’s your E-mail address?” “Who’s your Internet Service Provider?” With approximately 30 million adults accessing the Internet in the United States, each of these questions is commonplace in today’s info-tech world. Are you a part of it or are you still considering it?

So you want to be on the Web? That’s nice, but have you done your homework? As with any direct marketing endeavor, careful planning before you get started is of the utmost importance. To create a successful site takes more than just deciding to do it.

As a vehicle designed to elicit response, the Web is considered a direct marketing medium. As such, the techniques for writing a successful site are similar to those utilized by savvy direct marketers. These techniques are designed to encourage, motivate, and urge participants to take action.

According to online marketer Gene Devine, senior VP of direct marketing at Eastern Mortgage Services, Trevose, PA: “You’ve got to entice prospects, bring them in, make them an offer, drive them to respond.”

If you are getting ready to create a Web site (or improve upon an existing one), keep these points in mind before you move forward.

Don’t worry if you don’t know the first thing about HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). You don’t have to be a programming expert to determine the creative content of your own page. Don’t get me wrong, you will either need the proper software or someone who understands HTML to post content to your Web site. But to get started — to get your ideas on paper — you needn’t fret about how you’re going to program your page. Your designer will help you with that.

What I’m talking about here is deciding on what your page is going to say. What’s the message you’re going to convey? Do you want to:

* Provide detailed information about your product/service?

* Publicize your company – increase public awareness?

* Sell your products?

* Offer a service to your customers?

* Generate leads?

The list can go on and on so it’s vital for you to clarify your expectations.

Gather some of your key people together and review your marketing plan. Be specific in what you’re hoping to achieve. For example, if your goal is to increase sales, do you want to increase them by 10% or 25%? Do you want to boost them in a certain region, city or state? The more specific you are, the more focused your efforts will be.

Whether you want prospects to return to your site repeatedly (building awareness) or to purchase a product (increasing sales,) the beauty of the Web is that it invites ongoing interaction from prospects. With this in mind, reliable direct marketing formulas ensure that you’re heading in the right direction with your copy.

Before you get started with your site, “surf the `Net” for ideas. Take note of those sites that appeal to you — their formats and styles, and what you like and don’t like. Then you’ll have some valuable input to give your creative team so that they can create a successful, response-driven site for your company.

Debra A. Jason is principal of The Write Direction. Started in 1989, in Boulder, CO and now on Kauai, HI, The Write Direction specializes in Web & direct marketing communications. The company’s Web site address is https://www.writedirection.com.

©Copyright 1997 Debra Jason dba The Write Direction. All rights reserved. PO Box 608, Hanalei, HI 96714