They can – and they should, local businesswoman Kristy Crabtree said.
But making the transition to e-marketing might just give a business the edge it needs to attract new customers as well as retain current ones, she emphasized.
Crabtree’s company, Westward Strategy and Design Group, has been busy the past few months. With the launching of six Web sites for Reno and Sparks businesses, Crabtree spends her time consulting with businesses and showing them how a Web site can enhance their services.
“We try to be a full-service for online (needs),” said Crabtree, who opened Westward, her first business, two years ago.
Crabtree, along with marketing and design specialist Chris Gandolfo, consult with their clients to understand their advertising objectives and design Web sites to target their desired demographics, increase traffic hits and optimize Internet searches so their companies are found more easily.
Web marketing, Crabtree said, offers businesses som things that traditional methods of advertising doesn’t: the ability to evaluate results and effectiveness.
Westward can report to their clients how effective their sites are through analytics, which is the tracking of information about a Web site’s user: their location, how long they spend on the site and even what they’re interested in by the pages they visit.
Such background information helps Westward and other e-marketing companies determine whether the Web site’s information is effectively helping the company achieve its goals.
“With analytics, you can see an impact has been made to the bottom line,” Gandolfo said.
E-marketing has potential for businesses of any size. Westward is now focusing on rural clients, such as businesses in Winnemucca, for whom they are now building a site similar to www.monster.com for rural employers and job seekers.
Crabtree said having a site geared specifically on the local level allows these businesses to have more control over what they’re posting.
Westward’s clientele is a variety of businesses in different industries, all with different needs. One of the six companies that recently had their Web sites launched by Westward, ACS Business Insurance Services, Inc., had its former site redone to become more user-friendly, said ACS President Andy Perwein.
“We created more of a user-friendly site that would involve interaction from a quoting perspective,” Perwein said. “Prospective clients can go in and obtain quotes for themselves and family members on medical and life insurance.”
It creates easier access for the potential client, who can then call the company to talk to an agent further about their options. Hiring Westward Strategy was a good move for ACS, he said.
“I’ve known Kristy a long time and the e-marketing side of the equation was important to be able to get more traffic driven to our site,” Perwein said.
Still, ACS will continue using its traditional mailings and print advertising to promote its services, begging the question: Will e-marketing replace traditional means of advertising?
Carol Wenzel of Nevada Presort and Mail Marketing, said she doesn’t think so.
The Sparks-based business that sorts and meters individual and mass mailings hasn’t seen a significant decrease in services due to e-marketing because some people prefer the old-fashioned method of receiving materials in their mailbox, Wenzel said.
“I think people still prefer … to look at a pretty picture of something they might need instead of getting it in their e-mail,” she said. “I personally delete it (from my e-mail) because I don’t know I need it.”
Wenzel said if there has been a decrease in advertising mailers, it’s because of the slumping economy, not necessarily because businesses are taking their marketing online.
“You never know from day to day,” she said. “It goes back and forth.”
Crabtree said e-marketing is often cheaper than mailing out postcards and purchasing advertisements in local newspapers. She said designing a site, in general, often ranges from $500 to $25,000, depending on how sophisticated and complex the clients’ needs are.
“If it’s a site for an entrepreneur or sole proprietor, it’s cheap for them,” Crabtree said. “The rest are just bells and whistles.”
Regardless of price, Crabtree said if companies want greater success at bringing in customers, e-marketing is becoming the way to go. They might do well on traditional means of advertising, but without an online presence, “you’re missing out,” she said.