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Getting on the Internet

In part one of a two part series Philip Macalister explains why you should consider having your business on the Internet and how to go about it.

Tuesday, August 26th 1997, 12:00AM

by Philip Macalister

In part one of a two part series Philip Macalister explains why you should consider having your business on the Internet and how to go about it.

The Internet is surrounded by hype, everyday you hear about this sprawling network of computers known as the World Wide Web, but the question you ask yourself is what use is it to my business.

"You can't ignore this thing," Jim Higgins of the consulting company The Networking Edge told a workshop session at the Association of Investment Advisers and Financial Planners (IAFP) conference in Wellington.

Research shows that New Zealanders have one of the highest rates of Internet use in the world and it is estimated nearly 600,000 people are hooked up to Internet Service Providers.

What's more the rate of growth is running at about 10 per cent a month, he says.

Research also shows the Internet is being used as a vehicle for selling product. Higgins said 42 per cent of respondents to a survey said they had used the Internet to purchase a product.

Those people had either bought directly over the Internet, or had used it to find the product or service they eventually bought.

Perhaps the most surprising finding was that nearly a third of these people bought a product worth more than $100,000, while 25 per cent spent less than $10,000, 33 per cent spent between $10,000 and $50,000 and 12 per cent fell into the $50,000 to $100,000 range.

People wanting to put their businesses on the Internet need to clearly work out what they are trying to achieve in doing this.

Higgins says the Internet can be used for two purposes, branding and selling a product.

Many of the millions of businesses which posted sites on the World Wide Web have done it to promote their business, and many of them have done it poorly by just reproducing their marketing material.

As they have discovered this is not an effective strategy business are relaunching their sites in a way which does have impact.

Higgins says the main aim of such a site is to build brand awareness by having a memorable sites.

A site which is being used to sell product needs to have good design, be clear precise and have well presented information.

Higgins said there are eight misconceptions about the Internet, namely;

Web sites are a billboard for selling product. They aren't a billboard, he says as there is no drive-by traffic, what you have to do is attract visitors to your site.

Glitzy sites sell products: Wrong. The secret of selling product on the Internet is to keep your site simple.

You have to have a presence on the Internet: Higgins says in the future you will need to be on the Internet, but not necessarily have a presence. He says email is becoming the preferred communication tool for many customers, therefore it can't be ignored.

A site needs lots of links to other sites: Higgins says this a bizarre strategy as it sends people away from your site. He suggests if you have links to other sites, you try to keep the user on your site while they look at someone else's.

I can sell advertising on the site: Higgins says there is no definitive answer to this question yet.

The Internet is the Yellow Pages: Again this is incorrect as the World Wide Web is far more than just the yellow pages as it offers vastly more information.

The Internet is too Insecure for Business transactions: If that was true why would the ASB Bank be offering Internet banking, and why would most of the other banks in New Zealand be following ASB's lead?

Change, change, change: A site needs to be constantly changing. Higgins reckons a Web page is like a supermarket where all the products are kept in the same aisles each week. Just think how frustrating it is when the supermarket does move products to different locations.

While it is important to maintain consistency in a site, it is also imperative that it is kept up to date, and relevant.

 

The second part of getting your business on the Internet will look at how the World Wide Web can be used as an effective marketing tool.

King builds an empire »

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