THE gulf between sex paraphernalia and e-business solutions may appear wide, but according to one online guru, whatever the product or service, it’s vital the right online marketing strategy is utilised.Formerly the head of marketing at adultshop.com, Marc Loveridge made the move to Subiaco’s new media company, METHOD, two months ago. He is advising METHOD’s national clients on how to market the e-business components of their websites.Mr Loveridge said he remains on good terms with adultshop.com’s charismatic founder Malcolm Day. He “fell” into the job in December 1999, after meeting his current partner in Britain and moving to Perth, her home town.Mr Loveridge said he was fortunate to work with a dot.com that quickly became an international retailer, providing him with the opportunity to learn the sophisticated online marketing techniques used in the US.“When adultshop.com moved into the US, we had to use the same techniques that were being used there to be competitive,” he said.“To have that knowledge, I feel fortunate to have been with an organisation that was at the forefront of e-marketing, despite the risqué nature of it.”Prior to adultshop.com, Mr Loveridge worked for Generali, one of Britain’s largest life insurers. Originally involved in offline marketing, he later volunteered to head the online division at a time when corporate website content consisted of weekly updated pdf files.When advising Perth and national clients, Mr Loveridge said companies needed to acquire traffic cheaply, convert the traffic into value and then retain the visitors.“E-marketing stretches far beyond banner advertising,” he said. “There are lots of techniques you can use, particularly in the area of search engines.“Engines have changed their business plan and you can now pay to get the top result in a search.”Mr Loveridge said the market value for a keyword on a highly trafficked engine could be as low as five or 10 cents per click through, well below the cost of trying to attract visitors via advertising or promotions, which could cost up to $5 per visitor.It also bypassed the need to spend upwards of $500 to have an agency design and implement a banner ad.Mr Loveridge said that, in addition to acquiring traffic, companies must be able to convert the visitors into value, although that did not necessarily mean electronic purchases.Acquiring visitor email addresses or details could be of significant value to the company’s marketing department in the future.“There are so many examples of very expensive sites that don’t even ask for an email address on the home page,” he said.“As your prime piece of online real estate you need to try and capture some sort of value at that point.”The retention of traffic also is essential and is largely dependent on the quality of interaction between the visitor and website. Mr Loveridge said customer relations could be further aggravated by poor harmonisation betweenthe online marketing division and the company’s overall strategy.He gave the example of recently purchasing a CD online from a well-known music retailer. The CD was delivered with a $5 voucher redeemable at the company’s bricks and mortar store.Not only was the store unaware of the offer, but it drove Mr Loveridge away from the company’s website, where it is cheaper to service customers.Mr Loveridge said now, 18 months after what he calls the dot.com “shake up”, was the time for companies to kick-start their business by spending on e-business strategies.“It’s the case in a lot of businesses that they are still holding onto the purse strings.”“And understandably so, because they may have lost a lot of money in the past on dot.com projects. They may say ‘we’ll stop spending money on the web until things get better,’” he said.“But things don’t just get better on their own.“You’re not going to survive on organic growth, you have to learn from the mistakes of others and perhaps deliver a strategy to make things get better, quicker.“Now is the time to be doing it because traffic is cheap, development is cheap and market forces are making this interactive area a lot more cost effective.“If you want to jump ahead of your competitors, now is the time to do it.”
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