Online business is taking off in Hong Kong, with good marketing being the key to success. To help companies and individuals capitalise on this business trend, one company is providing an array of internet marketing coaching services.
Building a website is a relatively straight forward process, but aside from the design itself, other business factors need to be taken into consideration, such as search engine optimisation and the conversion of traffic into sales.
"Many companies submit their websites to search engines such as Google to generate free traffic. However, if these websites fail to obtain high ranking search result positions, there's no guarantee for traffic, let alone business," says Fione Tan, president & CEO, eOneNet Limited.
Established in 2000, eOneNet.com, a Malaysia-based company, offers one-stop online marketing services and internet marketing coaching for multinational companies and home business entrepreneurs. Its Singapore office was opened in 2005 followed by its Hong Kong office in 2006.
"Some companies opt for paid traffic, where they pay for each click through to their website. However the clicks do not promise a profitable return," Ms Tan remarks. "Hong Kong's internet business model lags behind Europe and the US, and even mainland China, as most players are only familiar with online bidding."
earning the ropes
In an effort to instil the knowledge needed to run a successful online business, eOneNet offers three levels of training courses.
Recently the company launched a series of HK$1 seminars, teaching successful online business models. There are also elementary classes that teach individuals how to sell products online in 10 steps, as well as a four-day certificate programme in practical internet marketing that covers the necessary skills and knowledge for starting a successful online business.
According to Harrace Lau, eOneNet's chief consultant, the certificate programme in practical internet marketing is second to none in Hong Kong and is well received by many entrepreneurs. "There are many standalone programmes covering the technical skills for e-commerce and web design. Marketing courses that have a focus on internet application, however, is our competitive niche," he says.
Despite a tuition fee of more than HK$20,000, the programme has attracted some 400 business upstarts since 2006. The programme is now eligible for the reimbursement of Continuing Education Fund (CEF), for up to HK$10,000.
What makes the programme stand out is its strict focus on the application of marketing online and the sharing of practical experience. "Since I started my business in Malaysia nine years ago, I've been selling products via the internet and profits are still growing despite the financial crisis," says Ms Tan.
The four-day programme is spread over two months, as students are required to build their websites and promote them after the first two classes.
"Reviews and comments will be given in the last two classes. We're passing on practical experience rather than giving textbook lectures," Ms Tan emphasises.
Going the extra mile
To meet the growing corporate need to explore internet business opportunities, the company recently launched a "train the trainer" programme. "Our students are trained to be trainers and deliver seminars or classes to different companies," Ms Tan reveals.
Meanwhile, eOneNet is in negotiations with corporations to encourage them to send their staff to attend the practical internet marketing certificate programme. "Instead of allocating resources to have an external agency design a website and optimise its traffic, companies can have internal staff monitor their websites," Mr Lau notes.
According to Mr Lau, practical internet marketing skills will certainly be an advantage for marketing people in the near future. "While most marketing people have a university degree in marketing, business or public relations, those familiar with online marketing can enjoy a competitive advantage."
Despite rising demand for internet marketing talent, there is a limited supply of prospective professionals. To develop a career in internet marketing, technical skills such as website design are relatively unimportant. Rather, a strong business sense, good interpersonal relationships and creativity are essential, in addition to basic academic qualifications.
"Some of my students have started their own businesses and made considerable profits a few years after attending my class," says Ms Tan. She feels confident that business opportunities on the internet are boundless, while her students and staff are encouraged to put their skills to good use and start their own internet businesses.