Three Ways to Pull a Prospect to You

Here are three ways to increase the pull of your Internet marketing activities so you can pull prospects to your Web site.

1. Make Effective Use of a Web-Response Area

A Web-response area with a Web-response form is the termination point for a campaign-specific URL. The inquirer visits the URL to find information about the offer and the product or service being promoted, along with a Web-response form.

The Web-response form can function as a gateway to a company’s electronic fulfillment process. Here’s an example. Suppose a prospect receives a direct mailing from a company promoting a line of modems designed for small-business usage. The informational offer is a white paper, promotionally enhanced with a discount offer for an order placed within the following 30 days. The direct mail heavily promotes a special URL as the primary response path.

When the prospect visits the URL, there is a “welcome” page that includes links to pages with brief information about each of the available modems. Each page shows a picture of the product and highlights its specific features and benefits. At this URL, there is also a qualifying form that the visitor must fill out to get the white paper. The form has certain required fields. Once these fields are completed and the form is sent, the visitor can receive the white paper via ordinary mail. However, the visitor also has the option of receiving the fulfillment electronically because the completed form leads to a page that allows the visitor to download the white paper.

Now what about that discount offer? This can be fulfilled in a number of ways. After the visitor completes and sends the form, a discount coupon can be dynamically generated. By linking the visitor’s ZIP code with a directory of resellers, the names and addresses of several dealers can be generated on the fly — so the visitor can actually be directed to the closest reseller.

With the addition of electronic commerce, the visitor could also use a credit card to purchase any of the modems online at the discounted prices — right from an order page. Alternatively, the visitor can be given an 800 number to ask questions, place an order, or inquire about where to purchase the products locally.

With Internet telephony, this scenario can include an interactive online conversation with a live sales representative. If the visitor has questions while navigating the site, those questions can be answered on the spot, through the computer itself, or via a connection between the computer and the visitor’s telephone.

2. Make Your Web Site an Electronic Fulfillment Center

You can also “pull” a prospect to your site using an electronic fulfillment center. In the preceding example, the incoming URL would terminate at a special “electronic door” into the electronic fulfillment center of your corporate Web site. The fulfillment center is a designated area of a corporate site, set up to collect leads and generate information in response to inquiries. In this area, the visitor would locate information about the modems and request the white paper, or take advantage of the discount offer.

The response path to a more general electronic fulfillment center may not be as focused as a campaign-specific Web-response form. However, it provides you with the ability to handle fulfillment in a centralized place, while exposing the visitor to a broader line of products.

3. Innovate With Email

Email itself can act as a “pull” medium. After you begin to correspond with a prospect or customer via email, you have established an ongoing dialogue. As part of that dialogue, you can encourage the individual via email to visit a Web site to get more information or to sign up for an email newsletter. Advertisers who place their promotional messages in email newsletters are, for the most part, advertising a Web site address. Internet marketers can make excellent use of email in support of “pull” Web site areas by continuously reinforcing URLs in the body of email messages.

And email doesn’t have to be “vanilla” anymore. HTML and rich email open up a whole world of possibilities. (You should always use an email distribution system that can detect whether or not the recipient can receive HTML email, and you should have a text email default.) The interaction of email and the Web is making integrated campaigns a reality. And “smart” email systems can now completely personalize and customize email marketing initiatives to individual prospects’ needs and be timed to reach prospects at the most opportune moment in the sales cycle.

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