How to Ruin Your Web Business in Five Easy Steps

According to an old adage, success has many fathers. But failure is an orphan.

Most would rather share a sliver of success than be alone in failure. However, if you prefer being a loner, exhaustive analysis of recent research reveals how you can sink your Internet efforts — and your career to boot! Just follow these five simple steps:

Step 1. Gut your marketing budget.
It is no coincidence that top Web sites have big marketing budgets. New Harris Interactive research reports Amazon, Priceline, eBay and E*Trade are the top four most recognized ecommerce sites on the Web. Meantime, Intermarket Group research says in 1998 had the biggest Web site marketing budget ($133 million), followed by e*Trade ($71.3 million). Even the little guys aren’t skimping: Intermarket goes on to report that companies with less than 100 employees spent $2.2 million on average to market their sites.

Step 2. Count on search engines to boost your traffic.
Search engines used to be the #1 way to attract visitors to your site. Click for more. Now just 57% of Web users rely on search engines to find sites. According to Intermarket Group stats:

• 25% use magazine articles
• 14% use TV commercials
• 10% use newspaper ads

For more proof, consider the recent NPD Group survey that found 44% of Net users visit sites because of a mention in offline media. And Mary Murphy, Wired’s Senior VP of Marketing, says 49% of first-time visitors say they discovered HotBot via TV advertising.

Step 3. Only advertise online.
The effectiveness of banner ads continues to drop. Click for more. Already only 14% of top e-merchants advertise exclusively online, according to Forrester Research. The rest spend 44% of their ad budget on offline media, and plan to increase that offline share to 52%.

Step 4. Ignore the cachet of “online.”
U.S. Net shoppers are more likely to tell their friends about an online shopping experience than a favorite movie, according to Opinion Research Corp. International (ORCI). The typical Internet consumer tells 12 people about their online shopping experience. Compared to the average U.S. consumer who tells 8 people about a favorite film.

Step 5. Convince your boss marketing your site will be cheaper next year.
New computers may cost less next summer, but it will never be less expensive to build an online presence than it is right now. Erik Brynijolfsson of MIT says brands are key online because they help people sift through a glut of choices.

Do any of the above and you can expect negative results within three months. Do them all and you may as well get a head start on bankruptcy proceedings right now. Doing business on the Web may change a lot of things, but one thing remains the same. You still have to spend money to make money. Failure to do so can leave your site an orphan… fast.

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