"Email Marketing is about building a strong relationship with your customer."

• The Process

The first step in the process is the domain name. I work with clients to determine an appropriate name, its availability, and the term of its registration. A shorter, easy to remember domain name is better than a long one.

After considering the nature of your proposed website, website hosting is reviewed. Hosting is where your website is stored and made available to the internet. There are a wide variety of hosting services available, and depending on which services are needed I will make several recommendations. As your site grows, you will want the flexibility to add additional services.

The technology required for your site is an important decision. Flash based, action script sites that have e-commerce capabilities take longer and cost more than simple template driven HTML websites. I don't believe in one-size fits all approaches.

The content of your site, the written word and images, are critical. The cost and delivery time of creating your website depend on what materials are available and how much they need to be reworked. Visitors to your website will ultimately judge your success based on your content. I work with several talented writers that can help you with your message.

Search engine optimization is a must - and we are experts!

Once your site is up and running, website promotion is a must to make your investment pay off. Search engines, online directories, banner ads and pay per click ads are only a few of the options available to you. It is imperative that you include your new website address on all of your printed material.

As your site matures it's not uncommon to make changes and additions. A well designed site anticipates future needs. You should consider making periodic updates so that your visitors have a reason to return.

• Strategies

An internet strategy is crucial. The strategy depends on your expectations, what you do, and what we can do to make your website successful. "Build it and they will come", was a popular saying a few years back. But speaking from experience, with the internet in mind, it's not true. You wouldn't build a store on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere and expect walk-in traffic. Well, the same holds true with your website The good news however is that there are numerous, low cost techniques that will drive visitors to your site. Then it's up to you to make your product or service desirable.

There are countless ways to promote your new website, both online and off. Your business card and all of your printed material should include your web address. If you advertise in newspapers or magazines, mention your web address. Online opportunities are numerous too. There are search engines, pay per click, affiliate programs and banner advertising to name a few. E-mail marketing campaigns are also very effective. All of the above should neatly dovetail into your existing business/marketing plan.

Flexibility is a keyword in any website plan. Be ready to "play up" what works and "give up" what doesn't. It all takes time but in the end, websites are a good investment. Done well, they will help you grow your business.


Internet Facts

Financial Post reporter Johanna Powell writes that '"commerce on the Net is a baby about to become a giant... and by 2010