NET.COLUMNS: The three keys to Internet success

As a sign of the changing times, the Times of India had a front page
ad asking companies to advertise on its family of websites to reach
out to an international audience. With more than a thousand companies
on the Net already (Source: khoj listings for
it would seem that the Indian companies might seem well on the road to
using the Internet as a marketing medium. Unfortunately, few Indian
companies take the Net seriously as a medium. Fewer still have a
strategy that goes beyond putting up information on the web.

What are the elements of a successful Internet strategy? How does one
attract and retain traffic?

An Internet marketing strategy needs to revolve around the three C’s:
content, community and commerce. Content helps attract traffic,
community helps retain the traffic and commerce lets you make money of
them. Most Indian sites tend to barely do a good job with the


Content is the starting point for a website. Not only must it be
comprehensive when the site is launched (without any “Under
Construction” messages), it must add value to the visitor’s life via
personalisation, be interactive and be updated on an ongoing
basis. You must think in term’s of daily additions/updates on the

Rajshri has, since its launch
last December, ensured daily updates to its site even though the
company has not launched any new product (film) in that period. But
every time a visitor comes in, there are new pages and section which
await him. Bharat Petroleum has an India Petro Daily, which summaries all the news
from the petro and energy sectors in India.

Kotak Securities offers a “My
India Page” which allows a registered user to personalise his stock
portfolio, and receive updates via email if the stock price goes
beyond a specified band. K Raheja
offers an interactive EMI calculator for those seeking
real estate loans.

In each of these cases, there is a “hook” which aims to retain a
first-time visitor, providing an incentive to come again.


Write John Hagel III and Arthur Armstrong in ”
Net Gain“:

Community in fact provides a unique context in which commerce can take place as customer equip themselves with better information.
The result is a “reverse market” in which power accrues to the customer. To become profitable, the organizer of the virtual community must understand and address the newly empowered customer’s needs.

Building a community involves providing a mechanism for visitors to the
site to communicate not only with the site managers but also with each
other. Using broadcast email, bulletin boards and real-time chat, an
online community can bridge distances and help create a longer-term
loyalty which goes beyond just the content.

International sites which have been very successful with building
online communities have been
(for book lovers), Counsel Connect (an on-line service for lawyers),
(sports), and Motley Fool (an online forum for personal finance
investment on America Online).


Electronic Commerce is the final goal of websites: using the site to
do business with people, irrespective of geography. Buying and selling
via the Internet is still a rare phenomenon in India, but with
organisations like ICICI Bank
introducing electronic banking and
Satyam, which has a tie-up up with
Open Market, we can expect
electronic payment systems to become available in the near future.

So far, banks and corporates through their initial public offers have
used this capability to cut down distribution costs for application
forms. ICICI Bank marketed its public issue online recently to

HMV’s newly relaunched site,
Saregama, offers a wide-range of
music albums for sale, with an online payment system for US residents.
Outtahere combines
content with the ability to maker travel reservations online.
Tangerine takes orders for
computer goods through its website.

Beyond consumer commerce lies the much bigger area of
business-to-business commerce. More on this next week.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.