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Does your business struggle with profitable online marketing? If so, you are not alone. Attracting the right customers to a site and keeping them coming back—while also turning a profit—can be a challenge. Consequently, I'm always on the lookout for ways to demonstrate profitable online strategies.

Recently, as I watched the Baseball All Star Home Run Derby and visited Major League Baseball's Web site, it struck me. The league is doing many things to effectively find and attract targeted Web customers and simultaneously generating revenue.

I noticed numerous lessons from Major League Baseball that you can take into account to profitably target your own customers. Here are six of them:

Lesson 1: Make your profit generators stand out

MLB.com has a separate, prominent navigation menu for profit-producing activities—MLB Shop, Tickets, Auctions, Subscriptions. The menu appears in the upper right of all pages, where potential paying customers cannot miss it.

Importantly, each corresponding area of the site is narrowly focused on the visitor's interests. For example, the shop sells baseball—and only baseball—items. This is readily apparent from the slogan “For all things baseball.”

Lesson 2: Sell subscriptions

The league generates revenue from a variety of event subscriptions—live video broadcasts, live audio broadcasts, archived clips, and fantasy games. This also help open the door for repeat purchases and add-ons.

Lesson 3: Include advertisements

Pop-ups and other online advertising are a fact of life on free-to-use sites. Major League Baseball demonstrates taste and intelligent implementation with its pop-under, limiting each visitor to a single impression. Banner advertisements and sponsorships are also apparent.

Lesson 4: Segment your visitors

The league uses a “hub and spoke” system, which allows visitors to choose their own interests. There is one general site (MLB.com), with links to several specialty sites (stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com, etc.).

This portal approach helps segment visitors into specific interest groups. It is a win-win strategy. Visitors find what they are looking for, and the league can more easily target its marketing activities.

Lesson 5: Target locally

Each “spoke” of the MLB hub contains local content, which segments visitors regionally. The league targets products and services accordingly.

For example, the Cardinals team site includes detailed information for Cardinals baseball events, ticket purchasing for Busch stadium games, and auctions for St. Louis baseball memorabilia.

Lesson 6: Offer tiered products

MLB offers subscription services at many levels. By packaging fantasy games into progressively larger bundles, it encourages trial visits as well as repeat visits. The offerings also target customers according to interest level and budget.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bobette Kyle is creator of WebSiteMarketingPlan.com and author of the marketing plan guide "How Much for Just the Spider? Strategic Web Site Marketing."