Web marketing frog

Friday, November 25, 2005

Dismantling E-Business Myths (Part II)

In Part I, we examined the following myths:
1. E-business is having difficulty recuperating from the dot-com slump
2. B2C companies corner the majority of online sales
3. E-business = online sales

Myth No. 4:
Informational sites generate no business spin-offs

In order to respect the confidentiality of the mandates entrusted to me by my clients and to illustrate how it is possible to generate business spin-offs from an informational site operated by a business in the service industry, Iwill present to you the case of hypothetical company called Whatever.

Whatever offers various types of informational content that is derived from research and analyses. From a marketing perspective, this content is divided into what we can call generic, bait and value-added content. Generic content includes a range of pertinent information about the company. Bait content is comprised of excerpts of longer, value-added documents and is designed to present just enough material to interest visitors and incite them to download the value-added documents. Value-added content consists of documents with sufficient informative substance to motivate visitors to willingly give us their contact information in exchange for the document.

In Whatever case, it is easy to understand that one important step towards generating business spin-offs from the informational site, is to create a database using the information we can collect from visitors who download the documents. When visitors register to Whatever, they provide Whatever with their contact information and give permission to contact them in the future for promotional purposes. Equipped with the prior consent of the visitors and armed with a privacy policy that protects their personal information, it is then possible to solicit the visitors in keeping with a marketing concept and thereby attempt to convert them into clients.
Furthermore, when Whatever contact visitors, either individually or via personalized messages, it is possible to know exactly where their interests lie since we can verify which content they selected to download. This makes it much easier to ensure that the first conversation with a visitor is relevant, and increases the chances of success. From that point on, achieving business spin-offs is a matter of follow-up, opportunity and talent. This example illustrates how a company can indeed benefit from the business spin-offs of its informational web site. It is important to note that numerous other strategies can also be used to achieve equally satisfying results.

Myth No. 5: It is dangerous to use your credit card online

It is dangerous to give out your credit card number on the Internet, in restaurants, at gas stations, as well as in a multitude of other situations. In the real world (as opposed to the virtual world), your credit card is frequently handled by individuals. We have all heard plenty of horror stories about customers who gave their credit card to an employee in a store only to notice a month later that the transaction they authorized for a specific amount turned out to be processed for a completely different amount, generating losses for the parties involved. However, in the virtual world it is primarily machines that handle your confidential information. These machines do not know who you are and they safely process millions of transactions per week. The machines have no interest in your personal information, although they are sometimes manipulated by human criminals who use them to their advantage.

Nevertheless, as in the real world, credit card companies frequently protect unauthorized online transactions. For instance, MasterCard Canada offers a “Zero Liability” program that will protect you from losses in the event of the unauthorized use of your credit card on the web as long as:

  • You have an account in good standing
  • You have exercised reasonable care in safeguarding your card
  • You have not reported two or more unauthorized events in the past 12 months

It is, however, still important to take the appropriate security measures before disclosing your credit card information online, just as you would in the real world. For those who are interested in finding out more, the Canadian Bankers Association web site provides a list of the precautionary steps consumers should take to protect their personal information.

This article was originally written in French and have been translated by Wendy Wolbert


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