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
For more information about Ellsworth or her books, try her Web page at http://www.oak-ridge.com/orr.html.
TCP Online January 1996