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 July 1, 1999

iMarketing: On the Web, firms still have to capture market share

Is your e-mail often spammed with a message like this?

“We’ll list your Web site with every search engine for only $50.”

Research shows the leading way people now find Web sites is through search engines like Yahoo!, AOL, MSN, Infoseek, Excite, etc. Some 57 percent of us enter these Web “portals” to locate information we need. E-mail messages are second in how we decide to navigate, with Web links and “word of mouth” close behind.

Our entire Technology section this month reports on the seductive business of e-commerce and the burgeoning sector emerging in the Boulder Valley to provide business-to-business and business-to-consumer solutions. These super-fast-growing e-biz companies, many with multimillion-dollar venture-capital financing deals in hand, often were just an idea in an entrepreneur’s head a year ago. Today, they’re sprinting into totally uncharted territory.

What’s so wild about the Net is just about anyone with a computer easily can sell or buy something over the Web. Like other garage-sale lovers, for example, I’ve been bit by the eBay bug and auctioned off a dusty Coca-Cola cooler for a lot more than the $15 I paid for it.

But no matter if you’re a huge online retailer like Amazon.com or a mom-and-pop operation like Jerry’sJunk.com (my next enterprise?), you still have the age-old challenge of bringing customers to your business.

And it’s that pricey piece of every good business plan — marketing — that every Web company expecting to make a profit also must figure out. With an estimated 550 million Web pages out there, the job gets tougher every minute.

So in a “wired” place like Boulder County, it’s only natural someone now has an “iMarketing” company.

You can get a lot of information, of course, by visiting www.metavisio.com, the home page of Boulder-based Metavsio. If you’re serious about e-commerce, I suggest checking them out.

I was tipped to Metavisio by Don Hobbs, a Boulder entrepreneur who recently launched his own online distance-presentation site at PresentPLUS.com. Hobbs has used their service and is extremely pleased by the results.

Metavisio Chief Executive Thaddeus Agar and his partner David Farber offer a service that focuses on:

* Search engine placement. Metavisio initially sits down with a client to “figure out how people using the Internet “perceive” their product. One of Agar’s first clients sells vintage posters online. However, Metavisio found people weren’t typically “searching” for the keyword “posters.” Instead, many looked for words like “John Wayne.”

Once that’s accomplished, Metavisio’s goal is to get your site in at least the top 40, and hopefully top 10, of your category in each major search engine.

Since every search engine uses different directories and algorithms to do this, Metavisio is constantly researching the new closely held technologies companies like Yahoo! use to outpace competitors.

* Second, Metavisio works on “opt-in” or e-mail permission marketing. With this technique, “which is very different from spam,” Agar emphasizes, a company can buy — for between 15 cents to 45 cents each — the names of people who have said they want specific information. If their request matches what you have to sell, it can instantly generate new visitors and sales on your site, Agar says.

Metavisio provides clients with a monthly traffic analysis report, detailing the number of visitors to your site, and how they got there. They’re able to do this by directing your visitors “invisibly” to your site through their own server, where they can analyze what’s going on.

Depending on your targeted monthly traffic to your site, Metavisio charges a one-time set-up fee ranging from $750 to $4,000. After that there is a click-through charge for every new visitor ranging from 15 cents to 25 cents, with monthly caps of $250 to $750, again depending on which level of service you choose.

With their best service, called their platinum plan, Metavisio’s goal is to bring about 170 new customers to your site every day.

It doesn’t happen overnight. Getting good search engine recognition takes a few months at least. But from the start, Metavisio will report on where you stand and what progress you’re making.

Metavisio client Hobbs is a believer. “Basically, we weren’t on the charts, and we didn’t have the internal horsepower to deal with it,” he says. “Today, we are ranked one to 10, 40 to 50 times on various search engines, when before we didn’t even appear.

“People are going to our Web site, they’re picking up the phone, and they’re calling us,” Hobbs continues. “Literally thousands of hits are the results of what they (Metavisio) have done.”

Is your e-mail often spammed with a message like this?

“We’ll list your Web site with every search engine for only $50.”

Research shows the leading way people now find Web sites is through search engines like Yahoo!, AOL, MSN, Infoseek, Excite, etc. Some 57 percent of us enter these Web “portals” to locate information we need. E-mail messages are second in how we decide to navigate, with Web links and “word of mouth” close behind.

Our entire Technology section this month reports on the seductive business of…

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