What you need is a way to get customers to come to your extranet and a way to get them to come back. The best way to do that, says Mark Fracker, president of Web site design company Double Infinity, is the same way you draw people to your Web site in the first place: give them something they need or want.
The Federal Express extranet is one of the better known sites. With tracking numbers, users can check on the status of their packages.
Even if theyre not buying products directly from the site, there should be useful information customers can access. The AFL-CIO Web site brings visitors back by keeping track of the salaries of CEOs around the country. Banks offer amortization tables. The latest research and industry news are also popular extranet amenities.
If you want someone to come back to your site, Fracker says, its vital you update the information regularly. No one wants to read about the companys August picnic in the middle of December.
I think its very important, Fracker says, that the freshness of somebodys Web site be kept up to date. You get a bad taste in your mouth that these people arent really interested in their Web site.
But if you have the ability to go in there and change that content by simply cutting and pasting out of an existing document or typing in a short paragraph or couple of sentences, well, the chances of that getting updated are much greater. And then (there is) the chance of people having more visitation and more respect for the information thats on your page.
Scott Manners, director of marketing at Double Infinity, agrees.
Thats another thing people overlook, Manners said. So when you say drive people to a Web site, people are thinking about the person making their first visit to your Web site. If I can make that guy come back, thats a great way to increase your traffic.
Cellular Concepts Online, one of Double Infinitys clients, offers a glossary of technological terms used in the phone accessory business. Owner William Delligatti Jr. doesnt have a traditional storefront, so if customers dont visit his site, he doesnt have a business.
Of course, before you can get customers to come back to your extranet, you have to get them there in the first place. And to get them, you must know where to find them.
Fracker and Manners offer traditional marketing services. Including your URL in newsletters, press releases and print advertising is one way to draw attention to your extranet. Visiting listservs and news groups such as Usenet is another.
Delligatti cautions against doing too much soliciting in newsgroups.
Ive done a little bit in newsgroups. You can sometimes really, really get yourself into (trouble) with them, because people dont like you advertising in newsgroups, Delligatti says. Newsgroups are a place for discussions on certain topics and not actual advertising. Ive gotten away with it pretty well. But the search engines are my main thing.
E-zines are another method for drawing attention to your extranet, Delligatti says, although he confesses he doesnt use them.
I am 100 percent search engines, he says. That is the only way I promote my Web site is search engines.
If a client is interested in finding out more about a product or service, they have any number of companies to choose from, including your competitors. A search engine is the easiest and quickest way to find a variety of sources for products with the least amount of work. The right key words are the best way to get your company to appear at the top of their search list.
Fracker likens it to a using a shotgun instead of a rifle.
You can go out there with a rifle and youre going to put one hole in the target, he says. And youre going to hope you hit it in the heart. When we go out there with a shotgun, weve got 50 little holes in that target. And three or four of them are in the heart and three or four are in the head. So weve got a kill.
Over time, though, a companys Web site will drift toward the bottom of the list or disappear completely.
Its an ongoing process, Delligatti says. It never ends. Your rank will drop. You have to really stay on top of it.
Delligatti has a trick, which he uses to make sure he will always be among the leaders. First, he says, do a search on a key word appropriate to your business.
Find out who comes at the top. Right click on them. Copy their source, their key word and paste it into a page. Its really working well for me already. You find somebody thats one or two, youre going to come up two or three.
How to reach: Double Infinity, (216) 589-0464; Cellular Concepts Online, (330) 468-5691