Coudray describes how to strengthen your online marketing and improve your standing in search-engine results.
By Mark Coudray
We registered our first domain name, coudray.com, in 1997. Back then, Internet marketing was simply putting up a Website and scoring all kinds of business. The attitude was, “If you build it, they will come.” It didn’t work out quite that way for most companies.
First-generation Websites weren’t much more than static brochures on the Internet. They were designed in much the same way as traditional media. The results were about the same as well. Starting in late 1997 or so, we began seeing dynamic Websites that changed based on user interaction—amazon.com, buy.com, Travelocity, and so forth. These were big B2C sites with lots of venture-capital money behind their dot-com-bubble growth.
These sites had the money to program relational databases to deliver pages based on what the consumer looked at or bought. The classic example is the Amazon page that recommends selections based on what others who made the same purchase also bought.
I distinctly remember the fever pitch of the dot-com boom in our industry. The buzz was around the collaborative portal with companies like Noosh and Impresse. They sought to redefine the buying workflow for graphics purchases. Their objective was to create a wide funnel to feed and develop orders across the Internet while dramatically reducing the cost to acquire each sale. They also sought to speed up the overall transaction process.
It was a time of lots of experimentation and few successes. By 2000-2001, the Web was beginning to change—the effects are still with us today. We began to see highly targeted niche sites appear that focused on improving the buyer experience. The low-hanging fruit was to buy it cheaper on the Internet.
Customers in local markets could now search the Web for comparable product at much lower prices, or so the theory was. The Internet competitors aimed to streamline their business, stripping out unnecessary overhead and passing the savings onto the customers. In the meantime, they could further subsidize their overhead by selling ad space on their highly trafficked Websites. This spawned the rise of the Web-to-print model we see virtually everywhere in our industry today. Companies like Café Press, Zazzle, and Vista Print fall into this category.
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