Like a business plan and a budget, an Internet marketing strategy is something that absolutely every modern-day small business. While a good starting point is a website, Internet marketing requires more than a couple of static web pages. Instead, successful Internet marketing mandates a dynamic and well-rounded web presence that builds relationships in addition to sales, advocates in addition to customers.
A comprehensive Internet marketing strategy replaces newspaper ads with banner ads, yellow pages with search engines, snail mail with e-mail, town squares with social networks and sales letters with custom content. The technology is as evolutionary as it is revolutionary, and smart businesses are taking notice.
Tools and technology aside, there are dozens of reasons to engage actively and often in Internet marketing, of which the “cool” factor is just one. Here are a few of the most persuasive:
- When they need information, modern-day consumers turn first to the Internet; Internet marketing will make sure they find you when they do.
- Online marketing is ripe with research potential; if nothing else, companies should engage in Internet marketing in order to collect data about their customers and prospects.
- By marketing on the Internet, companies can reach a more targeted audience; what’s more, they can reach it quickly and intimately.
- Internet marketing lends itself to instant conversions; upon introducing customers to your product, they can immediately click through to purchase it.
- Compared with many traditional marketing vehicles, Internet marketing services are both more affordable and more effective.
- Internet marketing is global marketing; by marketing on the Internet, your company can enjoy international marketing exposure on a local marketing budget.
Make PR a core component of your Internet marketing strategy
Marketing on the Internet is about more than advertising; it's also about public relations. Use the Internet to generate publicity and to monitor, build and maintain your online reputation.
Purchase display advertising and take advantage of traditional online marketing tools
Display advertising, including banner ads of all sizes, is perhaps the most basic form of online marketing. Because you'll pay for impressions - banner ads are typically priced using CPM, or cost per thousand impressions - make sure you pursue ads only on websites that your target customers visit.
Engage in e-mail marketing in order to better target your Internet marketing efforts
Promotional e-mails, including targeted messages and periodic e-mail newsletters, are an effective, opt-in tool for doing one-to-one Internet marketing. Send coupons or send content, but whatever you do, don't send spam.
Use search engine marketing to strengthen your larger Internet marketing strategy
If you have a website, Internet marketing via search engines will help your customers find it. Consider search engine optimization, which will improve your search engine rankings, and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, which markets your company via relevant, targeted search engine queries.
Pursue affiliate marketing and let others do your Internet marketing for you
A collaborative approach to Internet marketing, affiliate marketing consists of advertisements on other people's websites; every time a customer clicks on those ads and visits your website, your affiliate gets a small commission.
Make blogging an essential piece of your Internet marketing strategy
In contrast to expensive Internet marketing services, blogs offer business owners an affordable and personable way to connect with customers. Blogging about your business, your industry and your life positions you as an expert, an advocate and most importantly, a person.
Find viral marketing tools with which to spread your online marketing message
Whether you send a viral e-mail, produce a viral video or build a viral website, Internet marketing of the viral variety spreads far and fast, allowing you to start small and finish big.
Participate in social networks to give your Internet marketing an interactive edge
Social networks are an essential component to your modern-day Internet marketing strategy; giving your company a presence on popular social networks allows you to engage younger consumers and turn them into brand evangelists.
Generate online word of mouth with consumer-driven Internet marketing efforts
Internet marketing is about interactivity. Give your customers a platform for expressing-and sharing-their opinions online in order to build buzz and goodwill.
- More than advertising for your website, Internet marketing should provide you with an entire online brand. Your Internet marketing strategy should therefore look beyond just making sales and toward building an engaging online web presence.
- Don't put all your eggs in one basket. When you're marketing on the Internet, reserve a portion of your budget for offline advertising, such as direct mail, which you can use to push traffic to your website.
- Keep in mind that not all online advertising can be bought; a big part of Internet marketing is building relationships and earning reputations.
- Whether offline or online, marketing requires a clear and comprehensive understanding of your target customers. Find out who you're after and on what websites you can find them, then proceed accordingly.
- Internet marketing is about utility. It's not enough to build a pretty website; you must also build one that's engaging and easy to use. If you focus your Internet marketing strategy therefore on creating a positive user experience, a profitable one will follow.