By Joe Dysart
January/February 2001 - Although establishing an Internet presence has become a priority for many Hispanic companies, consultants warn that without proper marketing and promotion, Web sites can quickly become cyber-elephants.
"The now cliche Web maxim 'If you build it, they will come' has led many online marketers into a false sense of opportunity. The truth is that Web-site traffic building has its own set of PR needs and requires its own system of aggressive, attention-getting tactics," says Charles Sayers, an Internet marketing consultant based in Acworth, Georgia.
Specifically, Mr. Sayers says, Hispanic enterprises looking to maximize the Web's potential should first attempt to determine how many of their customers or clients are actually online -- and how feasible it will be to reach this market.
"Don't rationalize the number. Don't inflate your projections," Mr. Sayers says. "Be conservative. And determine whether it's a number you can live with."
He says it makes no sense to invest resources in a Web page if only a minute percentage of your potential customer base actually uses an Internet connection. But if you decide to take the Internet plunge, consultants advise that you use as many of the following Web-site marketing and promotion strategies as possible:
* Rent or buy a consumer e-mail list. This is probably one of the easiest -- although maybe one of the most expensive -- ways to promote a Web site and company services on the Web. Essentially, firms using this technique rent exposure in the e-mail customer distribution list of a firm that is already established on the Web. Often, the firm owning the list recommends via e-mail that its customers visit the site of the list renter, sometimes including a discount coupon for goods or services at the list-renter's site.
* Consider a professional search engine listing firm. Seasoned Web users turn to search engines such as Yahoo (www.yahoo.com) and Excite (www.excite.com) to help them find specific information on the Net quickly. Given the great power these search engines have to steer Net cruisers to specific sites, it should come as no surprise that a number of Web-savvy firms have cropped up to help firms be among the first links the search engines return to information seekers.
The Web Hitman (www.webthemes.com) is one such firm. For $795, it will guarantee that any site it lists will appear in the top 10 links from one of the Net's larger search engines, including Yahoo, Excite, Alta Vista, Web Crawler, Hot Bot, and Northern Light Search.
* List your site with hundreds of search engines free of charge. Those unwilling to lay out hard cash right now can still get a site listed in hundreds of search engines by visiting Virtual Promote, which is devoted to Web-site promotion. Set your browser to www.virtualpromote.com/promot1.html and you'll find links to nearly 500 sites offering links to thousands of search engines.
Software programs such as Web Site Traffic Builder, by Intelliquis International (www.intelliquis.com), based in Draper, Utah, offer another option. Traffic Builder registers your site with more than 900 Internet search engines and will automatically put your business in the appropriate category for each search engine. You also can use the software to check your site's position on the Net's most popular search engines. A similar program, WebPosition Gold, by FirstPlace Software (www.firstplace.com), focuses on returning high site placements during searches with the Web's top engines.
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