Business and Marketing on the Internet

BY FRANK GARCIA

With the increasing popularity of the World Wide Web on the Internet, a lot of activity is being generated by those in the business of marketing products and services. For anyone who is interested in jumping into the pool, Jill Ellsworth is a good person to talk with.

Jill H. Ellsworth, Ph.D., is a university professor who is also an Internet consultant for Fortune 500 companies. She is a frequent speaker about business and marketing on the Internet.

"I used to be a professor of statistics and research methodology and then I wrote a book on Internet Businesses for John Wiley," says Ellsworth, who is based in Texas. "I became more interested in working with businesses online and started my own company, consulting about marketing on the Internet."

Dr. Ellsworth is co-author with her husband, Matthew V. Ellsworth, of The Internet Business Book (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1994), Marketing on the Internet: Multimedia Strategies for the World Wide Web (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), and Using CompuServe. She has also explored education on the Internet, and contributed chapters on business and education to the massive tome, The Internet Unleashed.

If you haven't looked into bookstores lately, you will find an explosion in the field of computing books. Ellsworth recalls that "When the Internet business book first came out, I would go to a bookstore and ask where the Internet books were," says Ellsworth. "They would look at me like I was nuts! Now, we have whole sections. Tons of books. When my book came out, there was Ed Krol's book [Whole Internet Book and Catalog by O'Reilly and Associates] a couple of navigating books out, but there weren't many. Now we have whole sections. The `Net has changed a lot."

At 50,000 copies for one of her books, Ellsworth is a bona-fide best-selling author. "In computer Internet books, that's a lot!" she says. "Luckily, having a reputation in that domain makes it easy for me."

Ellsworth also says that the book on education on the Internet is particularly successful because there are not very many books on that subject and, she exclaims, "K-12 is growing like crazy!"

The computing book growth parallels what's happening in the growth of the Internet itself as well as in the online business and marketing activity. Everything is on the upswing.

To be successful in Web page advertising, a marketer has to be noticed. The World Wide Web population is growing faster every month. It helps to be linked to search engines and category `suites' (ie., Auto Malls). For example, try Branch Information Services (http://branch.com:1080), MarketPlace.Com (http://marketplace.com) and The Interactive Super Mall (http://supermall.com).

But beyond being placed so that a visitor can find you, the construction of an advertising Web page must be done with care, taste and style.

"Virtual Vineyards (http://www.virtualvin.com/) is a very successful site," says Ellsworth. "It's an attractive site, well designed... makes it easy to pay for and shop."

According to a recent cover story by Information Week on "Making Money on the Web," Virtual Vineyards generates revenues in the tens of thousands and the company expects monthly sales to be US$100,000 by the end of this year.

However, a graphically pretty design alone will not guarantee a Web site's success. Ellsworth says content and graphics combine to play an important role in the success of a web site.

"There's Hot! Hot! Hot! (http://www.hot.presence.com/hot) that sells salsa, and hot peppers products," grins Ellsworth. "They are popular because they've gotten a lot of play with HotWired and other popular sites. They've gotten a lot of exposure just like you would in a big ad campaign."

Marketing salsa is truly scalding with $60,000 worth of sales over the Web in the last year. That's one-quarter of total annual sales.

"The Ragu site is great. (http://www.ragu.com -- Mama's Cucina) For Ragu spaghetti sauce! There's recipes! It's a marketing site. Good job!"

On the flipside, signs of an unsuccessful or poor site are easily identified, says Ellsworth. "Without picking on any particular sites, I'll give you a couple of characteristics. It would be a site that's possibly reasonably designed, but they didn't bother to register it with any of the search engines. So, no one can find them! You're hidden. I call that the invisible Web."

Ellsworth also makes reference to the "dead Web," which no one has visited for a long time, and which hasn't been regularly updated.

"There's nothing going on!" she says, "or, you e-mail to get information and no one answers you. You're not going to come back."

She also warns of the dangers of using "enormous" graphics, which take too long to load.

"The other kind of pages that don't work with business are the ones maintained by two guys out back who are a kind of renegade little group, who don't integrate with the company. They don't have the same image, messages... so when they get tired, it goes away. They don't want to work in tandem with the institution."

Ellsworth notes that "In real estate, success is location, location, location. On the Internet, it's content, content, content. With interactive repeats. People get on the `Net for two things: information and networking with folks! That's the thing! That's what they like to do! That's why they get on and the page that gets them involved in those things is going to be successful."

For more information about Ellsworth or her books, try her Web page at http://www.oak-ridge.com/orr.html.

Back to Table of Contents

Back to TCP Homepage


TCP Online January 1996