One of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs is marketing their businesses in an online world. Conduits Open initiative can help. The new program combines the companys four-year-old browser toolbar-creation platform with new direct and indirect distribution opportunities that leverage the companys existing base of 200,000 Website publishers and their 60 million users.
Small businesses have limited resources to build and promote their online presence, explained Adam Boyden, president of Conduit. The challenge is to have a sufficiently interactive experience so that users come back often, and on their own initiative.
Conduits solution is an SaaS (software-as-a-service) platform that allows Web site owners to create and distribute their content on a branded custom toolbar. The cross-platform toolbars created with the Conduit platform work under Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari, and they provide customers with useful components such as a search bar (powered by Google), e-mail notifier, RSS and Flickr readers, weather info and more. To promote a business, the toolbar would also be branded with a companys name and logo and include links to the providers Web site. The toolbar could also include an area to show current promotions or upcoming events.
Businesses can use the toolbar as a powerful community communication tool, to let customers know what youre up to, noted Boyden. The challenge is to get customers to install and keep using your toolbar, as opposed to a big brand-name toolbar. The solution is to let them acquire and maintain compelling content.
To help smaller Website publishers compete against the toolbars offered by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others, Conduit has now launched Conduit Open. With Open, publishers will have direct access to the entire network of more than 60 million users via the new Conduit Marketplace by two means.
First, a toolbar publishers content can be picked up and distributed on any other Web publishers custom toolbar. This lets a business share its content with more than 200,000 other community toolbar publishers, gives potential access to Conduits universe of unique users and opens up cross-promotion opportunities among small businesses.
Second, customers that are currently using a toolbar created with the Conduit platform can get additional content directly from the online Conduit Marketplace free of charge. According to the company, the Conduit Marketplace is now the worlds largest resource for components for community toolbars.
If the business so chooses, its toolbar customers can select from the wide range of modules available from Conduits partners and customize the toolbar to their own liking. The Conduit Marketplace includes content from CNN.com, eMusic, YouTube and others. Since customers can pick which gadgets to add to a toolbar, they are more likely to continue using it, said Boyden.
Boyben reports that getting started with the Conduit platform is easy. The toolbar creation tool, Conduit Open and Conduit Marketplace are free of charge. There are thousands of gadgets available, and the site provides an intuitive dashboard-style user interface for adding or editing toolbar components. Conduit also provides analytics, so businesses can see the use of various toolbar components over time.
Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with nearly 14 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.
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