About Me

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Len focuses on helping small and new businesses succeed through developing appropriate marketing and sales strategies. Len enjoys mentoring, relishes in getting both arms and feet wet in addressing technology, marketing and sales issues. He understands the drivers impacting business results for today and tomorrow including time-to-market, time-to-revenue, marketing, sales channels and social media.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Taking 21st Century Steps: How to Make the Internet a Two-Way Street

Recently I was challenged to respond to a news item that had some profound social implications and I went to a well known religious site to make a comment. What amazed me when I toured the site, was how much the information was top down: rulings, opinions, news, commentary – it all flowed in one direction. There was no invitation to provide feedback. I could give them money or buy religious items through their ecommerce secured shopping application. That was the sum extent of the interaction.

I compared that to the recent experience I have had in engaging Barack Obama's websites where, despite being Canadian, I joined and even responded to survey requests. The Obama sites invited dialogue, asked for feedback, asked me to get involved, sponsor neighbourhood events, make my opinions and concerns known. It also asked m
e for money but wouldn't accept a donation because I was from outside the U.S.

I began to wonder how many other websites were like the one I described in the first paragraph. I tried Google searching for statistics to see if anyone was tracking this kind of data. My search results came up empty. Maybe nobody writes or comments on these types of websites because they certainly appear to be dead end web marketing strategies.

With over 1 billion of us on the Internet these days, a lit
tle interaction can go a very long way. A lot of interaction can make your web presence stand out from the crowd.

The tools of interaction are many and the key to being successful through interactivity lies in the underlying data that you can collect on members or visitors to your website. The illustration below, courtesy of Enable Consultants, lists the many functional features that can be added to make a website interactive. When site visitors comment on web content, participate in a poll, enlist in your loyalty program, request a document or view a video clip, these transactions can be captured in user profiles.

If you ever bought with any frequency as I have on Amazon.com, you know how transactions are turned into focused marketing opportunities. I regularly buy books at that site. Many are about history. So when I bought the complete “West Wing,” my favorite political drama on TV, two weeks later I received an e-mail suggesting that I might find “Band of Brothers” or “From Earth to the Moon” to be of interest. And they were. Amazon knew my buying preferences and specifically targeted their selling messages to me.

You would think that loyalty programs such as those run by airlines would pick up on Amazon’s cue. But so far I have yet to experience any e-mail marketing campaigns from them that remotely suggests that they know what I buy, where I go, and what types of reward merchandise interests me.

If your business has already invested in Internet presence then make that presence give something back to you in return. Static pages and one-way communication are just like throw away ad flyers. Today your web presence needs to be totally interactive.

Interactivity can start with simple tools such as giving something away of value in return for capturing the demographics of those who request that item. It could be information. It could be a promotional item with your brand. It could be a free service you offer that leads to a face-to-face meeting.

In the interest of getting your feedback, let me know how you have made your websites interactive. Post your comments and let's begin a dialogue.

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