By Steven Delgado, WC&P Senior Editor
The small craft advisory flags have now gone up for the World Wide Web’s virtual regatta, where flotillas of startup websites once sailed smoothly as splendid crafts, many backed by a bevy of enthusiastic investors. Now, warnings of high winds are instituting a very real “battening down of the hatches” as past investors and shareholders are starting to inspect below decks using old fashioned business formats such as profits, market share and accounting to rate future participation. Many of these concepts seemed like irrelevant abstracts to the great Internet race of just a year ago.
Lately, investors are showing more inclination to pass on high tech companies that have seen revenues rise but are still unable to turn a profit or even meet costs. Even business-to-business (B2B) IPOs, or initial public offerings of stock, aren’t as sure a bet as they were a few months ago, and many analysts are saying these companies too will have to show their worth in order to field investors.
The free market is now demanding that e-business ships run a little tighter and a little more streamlined. But where can you find the marketing and e-commerce business info you need to convince your bosses that your Internet presence is still the way to go? By turning to the Internet, your virtual guide to integral e-commerce activity you’ll find the munitions you need to stay on the e-water.
CyberAtlas is the web marketer’s guide to online facts, providing valuable statistics and web marketing information fast. Here, online research from a number of data resources provides easy access to the latest surveys and technologies all about the illusive web viewer. Of note is a clear archive section that offers reports on such topics as “Lifestyles of Online Shoppers” under Demographics and “Web Ads Take a B2B Approach” under the Advertising section.
There’s a ton of free information here that’ll come in handy when you’re assembling that revised, consolidated business model to convince those financiers to drop another big check towards your cutting edge e-commerce endeavor. But some of the reports found here you’ll have to pay for.
No need to go looking for an “About Us” page here: Iconocast.com proclaims “We are the definitive source for facts, figures, trend analysis and insider information in the Internet marketing industry,” proving once again that you can say anything on the web. In fact, the fancier you say it, the more legitimacy it can gather, too.
http://Iconocast.com is testimony to this, as a review of cyberatlas.com has already compromised this opening decree before I’ve even looked at the rest of the site; it beat this website hands down both on available information and in organization. Directly above the fold on iconocast’s homepage is an ad for “Webattack!” an annual conference produced by the website host as an annual event for e-marketers. My first impression was that the whole website is in existence to generate participation for this convention.
Some web marketing information exists here, but you have to wade through pools of self promotion, rockin’ graphics and rumor-mill prompts and postings to get to it (I admittedly acquired a good joke here that I’ll email to my buddies, when I’m off the clock). I just hope sites like this one—with a bunch of cool flash, the latest in PR lingo and just about everything the savvy 2000 Internet marketer needs—are still around once the storm has passed.
Part of the internet.com matrix of e-business and technology information websites, ecommerce-guide is chock full of retrievable information and massive vaults of links for almost any seeker of Internet marketing statistics. Under the “Library” subject category on the homepage is a set of links to reports from academia on e-buying habits, including fresh, legitimate studies of exactly who is doing what on the Internet.
I point out the academic sites here for anyone seeking reports minus the “enthusiastic” language that is such a part of savvy Internet marketing. Sometimes a quest for real life, objective information about usage and profit about the Internet on the Internet itself is a little like doing a Mickey Mouse popularity survey on a Disney World property: Who’s gonna say anything negative about the mouse in his own house?
The “Link Vault” section contains information all marketers need to either to start up an e-commerce business, fine-tune one or to just keep track of current trends, including ups and downs of publicly traded web companies and how they’re faring in the investment and Wall Street storm. Introductions to e-commerce and more e-commerce resources are just a jump away within this clear, well-designed website.
As e-commerce companies start changing strategies, one place covering these trends that is still free is http://www.ecommercetimes.com, a diverse site with news, how-to’s and the kind of business success stories e-marketers will need to keep the winds in their own sails and their perspective crafts from sinking. This is a comprehensive, free online publication that features business strategies for the entrepreneurs and companies of the Internet.
The best section is under Small Business Advisor. Topics such as real e-commerce costs, challenges to be expected and building brand names on the web are featured here, along with the “Seven Deadly Sins of Ecommerce” and its web business survival techniques. Besides marketing information, you’ll find strong advice on such critical matters as keeping your online ordering and shopping venues untangled—and their importance to the profitability of a website that is, after all, looking to sell product. Most of the strategies on this site not only deliver specific direction but are accompanied by handfuls of links that offer second opinions or expansions of a particular topic.
Although a little heavy in the graphics, I found this site easy to navigate and chock full of content. Bravo to the webmasters et al., who have the foresight to determine that they have a vested interest in the continued survival of e-commerce investment and technology IPOs in general, and are showing it here.
Old business models that built websites on the notion of amassing eyeballs to later figure out how to convert those eyeballs into revenue can now be found in Davy Jones’ locker, i.e., deep sixed. Today’s business models must have some relevance to their niche in order to make an operation work, and exciting language accompanied by padded numbers aren’t getting very far anymore.
Trendy e-marketers are finding out that retail models that applied in the free market still do in cyberspace. But you don’t have to dig out those marketing textbooks from college with the old Campbell’s Soup product diversity case studies. The latest marketing numbers and strategic plans can still be found on the information superhighway. You just have to look a little harder to make sure the lifeboats you find there—no matter how beautiful the hull finishes on them are—will float.
Websites: “To our doom, aye? Well, you’re wrong, Mr. Christian!”
CyberAtlas has the reports and e-business models you’ll need to convince those skeptical investors that you’re team’s gonna win the Internet race.
ecommerce-guide is chock full of retrievable information with vaults of valuable links to academia, where reports sans the exciting language that has become such a part of Internet marketing are available.
An excellent tracker of e-commerce trends, with news and views, including cost and profitability studies—formerly taboo topics when speaking of website spending.