“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.”
~ Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft
Yes, the Internet is the town square where most of your target audience is gathering. Are you ready to reach, address and attract them with internet marketing?
According to the Forbes magazine (June ’15), “an estimate of one in four Americans makes at least one online purchase a week, 70% of Facebook users interact with Facebook daily, and the average smartphone user picks up his/her phone about 1,500 times a week.”
These are reasons enough for companies (B2C or B2B) to know that being online is important. You can no longer ignore internet marketing if you want to connect with your consumers or other businesses effectively.
What is Internet Marketing?
Internet marketing (also known as online marketing, integrated marketing or digital marketing) is one of the most effective and powerful tools to promote, market and sell services or products on the web.
Internet Marketing comprises of:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
It is important to make your website easy for both visitors and search engine robots to understand. SEO helps search engines decipher what each page is about, and how it may be useful for searchers. Keeping your website content and navigation updated and relevant is essential to stay on top of search results. A well-optimized site comprises of:
- relevant and original content,
- business-related keywords,
- simple navigation (for users as well as search engines),
- crisp meta tags,
- user-friendly layout and design,
- updated XML and HTML sitemaps,
- low page load time,
- mobile friendly design,
- structured data, and
- minimal (or no) broken links.
A company’s website is key to its business, and a well-planned search engine optimization strategy is key to the website’s success.
Social Media Marketing (SMM):
Social media marketing refers to the process of garnering website traffic or attention through social media sites.
When a potential customer is looking to make a purchase or needs information, reviews and social media are generally among the first place he/she will look. Reviews help customers decide on whether to buy a product or service. These channels of communication, or “user engagement,” can build positive or negative impressions about your brand.
With posts on social media sites appearing in search results, it is essential to have an online presence across social media with updated profiles, relevant content and meaningful engagement with the target audience.
Important social media platforms that companies should not ignore are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram (yes, Instagram too!). Depending on your business niche, you may need to use all of these channels.
As Scott Cook (co-founder, Intuit) puts it, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is. It is what consumers tell each other it is.”
Pay Per Click is a model of internet marketing in which companies (advertisers) pay a fee each time one of their online ads, that appear in search results, is clicked. It is one of fastest ways to drive targeted traffic to your website.
The frequency of your PPC ads appearing in search results depends on which keywords and match types you select. Also, how you bid for keywords will affect the frequency when compared to your competitors who are most likely bidding on the same keywords.
The most important factors for the success of your PPC campaigns are keyword relevance, ad copy, a landing page with content relevant to the ad and a clear call-to-action. Search engines assign a Quality Score to your website based on your keywords, landing page, and ad campaigns.
Content marketing involves the creation and sharing of content in various media outlets. It is about:
- publishing valuable, relevant content
- to reach the right audience at the right time (in the buyer’s journey)
- in the right place (online platform).
Some content marketing examples are infographics, whitepapers, videos, podcasts, and e-books. For effective content marketing, you need first to define your target audience as closely as possible. Next, you need to determine what forms of content would resonate with this audience. This includes the type of content, tone, and personality. When done right, content marketing can be one of the most influential channels for generating traffic creating brand recall.
Blogging is an important component of online marketing. Your company’s weblog (blog) helps drive traffic (with potential leads) to your website. Blogs give you a platform to communicate with your audience in both formal and informal ways. It helps you add pages, and most importantly, establishes authority and credibility.
E-mail remains what a vast majority of consumers and businesses use the internet for. It is among the oldest and remains an extremely effective channel for internet marketing. E-mail is the only channel that offers genuinely one-on-one communication opportunity. It allows you to create highly personalized communication that connects with the recipient of the email. Broadly, you can use e-mail in four ways:
- Customer acquisition: This involves buying email lists and sending out e-mails to an entirely new audience that knows nothing about you.
- Customer engagement: Newsletters emailed to existing customers or past visitors to your website is a powerful way to engage with your customers, engage with them and ensure that your brand is not forgotten.
- Customer retention: Especially for businesses that have a subscription model, email can play a huge role in retaining subscribers.
- Amplification: There are many ways email lets you amplify your business with your customers. It can help you educate customers about new developments in the industry. It can help you sell other products or services the customers may not be aware. It also enables you to establish thought leadership if you use it as a content marketing channel.
Affiliates are other websites that promote your products or services for a fee. Ever landed on a book or movie review site that said, “buy this on Amazon?” That is an example of affiliate marketing. There are plenty of platforms that help you build an affiliate network and attract potential partners to promote your products or services. For it to be effective, you need to develop your affiliate marketing program.
- What’s the value proposition? Why should another business promote your products or services?
- What’s the consideration? How and how much would you compensate your affiliates? Would that be attractive to them while being profitable for you?
- What’s the action you want visitors to take? Is it sales, subscription, downloads or something else? Your desired action would determine how your affiliate program is constructed.
- How would you attract affiliates? Some affiliate platforms promote your business within their affiliate network. However, even with that, you want to make sure that your own website has an affiliate section that attracts affiliate partners.
Remarketing is when visitors see your brand in multiple channels. It helps create recall and build credibility. When that happens, visitors are more likely to return to your site and turn into customers. When a visitor comes to your site from any of the marketing channels, you can track the visitor through cookies or tracking codes added to the URLs on your site. Once you track a visitor, you can promote your advertisements and messages on other sites or channels the visitor goes to. For example, when you visit a product page on Amazon, you often see an advertisement for the product when you next visit Facebook. This is an example of remarketing.
Web analytics is the collection, measurement, reporting and analysis of data from the Internet for understanding and optimizing web usage. Web traffic is measured using Analytics, but it is not limited to just traffic and numbers. Analytics is an important tool for market research, to assess the effectiveness of your online marketing campaigns (organic and paid), to record website changes that affect user behavior on your site and to develop Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and online strategies to meet your digital marketing objectives.
Just as a brick and mortar business benefits from the local newspaper promoting their business, internet publications can promote online businesses. Hosting a fundraiser or contest is good way to catch an internet publication’s attention.
Networking is common among business owners who see an opportunity and act upon it. Business networking is when each business shares their leads or referrals to gain a broader marketplace. This practice is an excellent way for business owners to meet other business owners and help each other. Networking can happen within a local community or across the world via the internet.
Internet marketing methods are typically inbound marketing such as the types of internet marketing above. The difference with paid advertising is trying to convert internet users who are not specifically looking to make a purchase or decision at that moment. Banner ads are a common form of paid advertising. The banners are flashy in hopes of catching the eye of prospective customers.
Why Internet Marketing?
These are some advantages of Internet Marketing:
Using internet marketing, you can start a campaign (or several campaigns) to reach your target audience, even on a limited budget. Depending on your target audience, even a small-budget mix can include PPC, SEO, and Social Media. When done right, your digital marketing campaigns can ensure a greater reach at a lower cost when compared to any other traditional marketing channels.
Internet marketing has become a dependable advertising and marketing instrument to measure campaign performance and progress. It enables businesses and individuals to track, monitor, and analyze all aspects of an online marketing campaign and its efforts.
An online marketing campaign is adaptable and can be altered to suit your business goals as per the performance and success of the marketing method deployed. When in doubt, use an internet marketing strategy.
Online marketing is becoming more diverse and challenging in this era of exciting technological developments. It is fast-evolving and ever-growing, and making the best use of Internet Marketing is the way forward.
CEO, Flying Cow Design
Attended University of Auckland
Lives in San Francisco Bay Area