There’s no mistaking that businesses of all sizes will rely on their website more than ever to promote, sell and support their products and services in 2008. Recent studies show an increased commitment by businesses to leverage the Internet to reach their customers – who are spending more time online than ever.
In the early days of the Internet, it may have been enough to simply have a website. Seen as the great equalizer in the late 90’s the Internet enabled a small business to compete on a level playing field with large competitors.
Much has changed since that time. In February 2007, Netcraft Web Server survey found more than 108 million distinct websites. In the fall of the same year, Compete.com reported a 24% increase in the amount of time Internet users are spending online. Businesses surely have their work cut out for them if they intend to connect with customers online and generate a return on the investment in their web presence.
Businesses are seeking ways to increase their share of the marketplace with unprecedented urgency. Those who take the Internet seriously more often enjoy a positive impact on their bottom line and are prepared to make the necessary investments to capture new revenue opportunities.
Some organizations will resort to paid Internet advertising. Zenith Optimedia projects that online ad spending will reach an all-time high of $44.6 billion, surpassing radio advertising in 2008.
Others will invest in search engine optimization, viral marketing, social media and email marketing
o reach new prospects, and to drive qualified prospects to their web site. ComScore reports that 61% of Internet users conduct local searches so even geographically-centric businesses are likely to increase their use of the Internet and local search to reach new customers.
Social media advertising is expected to increase significantly in 2008. In Prospero’s survey, 88% of respondents state that will increase social media spending in 2008. No longer just one of the hottest Internet marketing topics buzzing around, social media marketing will open new opportunities in 2008 for B2B, B2C and not for profit organizations through organic and paid advertising on viral environments like blogs, YouTube and FaceBook. These audiences are growing exponentially with an insatiable appetite, presenting opportunities few businesses can afford to ignore.
If ignored these trends could leave some businesses in the dust of the customers that will seek and find the organizations they will ultimately do business with. Web 2.0 is all about interactivity and letting online audiences drive their online experience. Bottom line, it will take far more than simply having a website to win the hearts and dollars of new customers in the New Year.