eMarketing - What should you be reading?
The National B2B Centre (and partners such as the Business IT Guide, AccreditUK and BusinessZone) provides lots of articles, tips and guides on various aspects of eMarketing. The question lots of our members pose is “How do I find out more detail about the subject?” So we thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight some of the books (and authors) that we think make valuable reading.
There are lots of good eMarketing books to choose from and this is just a snapshot of some of the favourites from the B2B library. They should all allow you to dig a deeper into some of the key topics and get a better understanding of how you can make changes and improvements. Prices are for new books where possible and should be regarded as indicative.
Marketing Your Services
Marketing Your Services: For People Who Hate to Sell, Rick Crandall, McGraw Hill, ISBN 0-07-139871-6. £16+
The first book on the list makes it on somewhat by stealth. As you can see the title doesn’t include “e” and it may be less easily available in the UK then some of the other books. The reason that it appears in this list and why it is worth making an effort to get a copy is that it provides a very easy to use guide to establishing an appropriate set of marketing activities for small businesses. That is all small businesses and not just service businesses.
Two things especially endear this book to me. Firstly the author, Rick Crandall , recognises that one of big advantages that small businesses usually have over larger rivals is enthusiasm, and he seeks to harness that enthusiasm in suggesting particular activities such as networking or giving talks. Secondly a lot of what he suggests is instantly convertible to eMarketing. For instance the chapter called “Writing your way to clients” is easily adaptable to writing web copy or articles for online publication.
This is an excellent book for any of you who are new to marketing and need to understand some of the basics to get yourselves started.
Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Steve Krug, New Riders, ISBN 0-321-34475-8. £15+
Website usability is something that the B2B Centre is emphasising more and more in as we assist companies on website planning and perform website assessments. We see it as a future battleground in establishing competitive advantage over rivals. Usability tends to take second fiddle over “look and feel” in the design process, which leads to websites that look good but offer a poor experience to users who are actually trying to achieve a purpose.
“Don’t Make Me Think” is great because it manages to be both easy to read and high informative at the same time. It uses lots of graphics, illustrations and screen shots so it easy to see how to apply Steve Krug's key lessons to your own websites.
What are those lessons? Well Steve Krug has done plenty of research about how we actually use websites and those insights are at the heart of what he has to say. So the first lesson is that people scan sites not read them. This is why we have stressed in previous articles the need to split text up with headings and sub-headings, for instance. It allows visitors to understand the key messages in a glance and then choose to read in more detail or navigate to an appropriate part of the site.
Another point that Krug emphasises is the need for usability testing, and he describes various ways of achieving this. Whether or not you follow the formal processes we would always encourage our members to get people (friends, trusted advisors, even customers) to trial a new site before it is launched to get an independent perspective on what it is really like to use.
Buy this one if you need some practical steps to improving the client experience on your website.
How to get people to do what you want after they have reached your website.
Call to Action: Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results, Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg, Nelson Business, ISBN 10: 0-7852-1965-X, £9+
Where Steve Krug takes a visitor perspective on website design and functionality to get us to make improvements, “Call to Action” is much more about what you want to achieve and helping to meet your objectives. It goes beyond simply making sure that each web page needs a purpose and a specific exhortation to “call us today” or “claim your free gift worth £15 with every online purchase”, although that helps. It is really about everything you need to do to achieve conversion, which could be a purchase of a product or a sign-up to a newsletter.
What particularly commends this book is that the Eisenbergs don’t take a “get rich quick” approach. The opening chapter, for instance, is on planning and does take a back to basics approach to get readers to focus on the strength of their core proposition and understand their target audience. After that the emphasis is on practical tips on online selling.
What I particularly like is the concept of embedding a sales process within the website. This means that recognising that visitors don’t always (or perhaps ever) see a product entry on the home page and immediately click through to the checkout and make a purchase. Just like in the real world they will
- look at alternatives
- want further product information
- need reassurance that your site is a safe place to purchase
Does your website recognise that sort of decision making complexity?
So if you need to boost sales? This book is for you.
Google Analytics 2.0, Jeri Ledford and Mary Tyler, Wiley, ISBN 978-0-470-17501-9. £12.99
Google Analytics is rapidly becoming the most requested topic for articles and workshops for the B2B Centre. We think that is partly because people are recognising the power of the tool to understand more about website activity and partly because when they do start using Google Analytics they are put off by its apparent complexity!
Google Analytics 2.0 is very much an “it does what it says on the tin” type of book. It provides a straightforward introduction to the product and leads readers through to the more advanced functionality on offer.
And what functionality is on offer. Did you know that you can find out what entrance paths visitors use to get to your website and where they ended up? Or that you can define specific goals that Google Analytics will track to help you measure your conversion performance?
You could just go and play around with Google Analytics but if you like a bit of structure and want simple explanations this book is a good place to start.
Take a high level view of what’s going on
The Long Tail: How Endless Choice is Creating Unlimited Demand, Chris Anderson, Random House, ISBN 9781844138500, £17.99
This is a selection for those of you who want know the background to the eMarketing revolution. It isn’t quite as practical as the other books on the list. However its fundamental premise is absolutely compelling for all small businesses because it outlines the massive opportunity that does exist for them to compete against the big players.
Now, even Chris Anderson admits it’s hard to come up with a simple explanation of the Long Tail. My best shot is that the web has created an environment where
a/ we demand and can access products and services that suit our specific needs and tastes
b/ suppliers can offer almost infinite varieties of products and services and to target specific consumers for those products.
In practical terms it makes it possible for businesses like yours to identify and dominate profitable market niches by virtue of your ability to aggregate a particular set of products, show exceptional product knowledge, offer better delivery times etc. So even Amazon (which has recognised that the Long Tail provides opportunities for high margin sales for less popular books or music) doesn’t stock the same range as Progrock.co.uk .
The Long Tail is a great introduction to the hidden economics of the internet era.
So there you have a quick overview of some of the books that we think will help you achieve greater eMarketing success. There are others.
Dave Chaffey's “Emarketing Excellence” is a great primer on the subject. I would also highlight anything by Jakob Neilsen (for instance “Designing Website Usability") if you want to go into more depth on usability. Seth Godin ("The Purple Cow" or "Meatball Sundae") always provides interesting insights and his books have the advantage of being fun to read too.
If you have any favourites of your own, let us know. We are always open to new ideas.
There is lots of information around the ideas outlined in this article on the B2B Centre website at http://www.nb2bc.co.uk .
For detailed guides, tips and Blogs on using IT in your business try our partner website at the Business IT Guide..
For information on our events visit our events section.
Gareth Edwards, The National Business to Business Centre
© The National B2B Centre 2008 http://www.nb2bc.co.uk
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