Online Marketing Lesson 1: What is Internet Marketing?

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Internet marketing is the fastest growing and most exciting branch of marketing today. As the world becomes ever more connected, keeping up with developments and trends is vital for marketers trying to reach new audiences – who are more discerning, fragmented and cynical than ever. Technology and software are changing at such a high rate that it seems almost impossible to keep up with trends. Products and services are evolving and adapting to the online sphere. The web is constantly shifting, growing and changing – everything is fleeting.

How do savvy internet marketers cope with all this? They harness the power of the web – and its myriad tools – for their own needs. They find unique and personal ways to interact with customers online. They plan, organize, implement and measure complex Internet-wide strategies seamlessly. Most importantly, they never stop learning, growing and adapting themselves.

What is Internet Marketing?

Internet marketing – often called online marketing or eMarketing – is essentially any marketing activity that is conducted online through the use of Internet technologies. It comprises not only advertising that is shown on websites, but also other kinds of online activities like email and social networking. Every aspect of Internet marketing is digital, meaning that it is electronic information that is transmitted in a computer or similar device, though naturally it can tie in with traditional offline advertising and sales too.

Internet marketing has three cornerstone principles:

1. Immediacy. The web changes at a blistering pace and online audiences, whose attention spans are short, expect on-the-minute updates and information. To keep the favor and attention of this group, you must respond to online messages and interact with communities as quickly as possible.

2. Personalisation. Customers online are no longer faceless members of a broad target audience – they are individuals who want to be addressed personally. Use the wealth of personal information available online to your benefit by targeting the relevant people precisely and personally.

3. Relevance. Communication online must be interesting and relevant to the reader, otherwise, it will simply be ignored. With all the information that is competing for your audience’s attention, you must find a way to stand out and engage readers. The best way to do this is by giving them exactly what they want when they want it.

Advantages of Online Marketing over Offline Marketing

Long, complex process of making a sale vs. instant conversion. Few clicks of a mouse and the product is sold, whereas offline is time and manpower consuming, from generating leads to making a sale.

Fixed offline hours vs. 24-hour store. An online business can sell its products 24 hours a day while an offline business will open and shut at particular hours.

Advertising in print, TV and radio is expensive. While you can easily offer content, audio and video clips on the Internet for a very low cost.

Unlimited time and space vs. pay for time spots. Ads in offline marketing mediums are for a limited time and you pay for time slots and space. In an online marketing, you would keep your ads up for a longer time and pay much less.

Cost per incremental customer. This cost is very low for web marketing based concerns, whereas this cost is appreciable in case of offline marketing efforts.

Targeted approach vs. blanket approach. The above reason leads to offline marketing businesses to target and select carefully, eliminating a lot of potential customers, who may buy in the future if not the present. However, low incremental costs result in online businesses covering a broad spectrum of the market.

Segmentation. Segmentation is simpler. The web marketing effort has the information it needs to customize its pitch at once.

Customer contact. Access to customer information is automatic in the case of online businesses which is simplified and efficient. Databases and mailing lists are created in an instant. On the contrary, offline marketing efforts for the same require time, employees and money.

Measuring statistics is easy and inexpensive. Internet marketing campaigns can be traced, measured, and tested. Therefore, marketers can determine which messages or offering are more appealing to the audience.

Disadvantages of Online Marketing over Offline Marketing

Online marketing is not free. The cost of software, hardware, website design, maintenance of your site, online distribution costs and of course time, all must be factored into the cost of providing your service or product.

Slightly over 50% of households shop online. While that number will continue to grow, you are reaching less than two out of three households.

Many people prefer live interaction when they buy.

Easier to have outdated information on your site, thus timing of updates is critical.

The majority of Internet Marketers lack customer service and inquiry response programs.

Internet Marketing does not build trust instantly.

Internet Marketing has tough competition.

There are no physical evidences.

Online Marketing can leave businesses feel isolated.

It is hard to tell if people are lying because you can’t see their face.

Is your site secure. Does your customer know this? Fear of having their credit card info stolen is a clear and present danger in the minds of your visitor.

Many sites are created with a marketing view, no a customer service point of view.

There is lot of competition for your product already out there.

Activities under Internet Marketing Umbrella

Web Development: The website itself is usually the cornerstone of any Internet marketing strategy. Web development is the process of building a website, and it involves the design, the coding, the content production, the server setup, the e-commerce integration and so on. Freelancers and small businesses usually have only one person to handle all those tasks, while large corporations can have web development teams with hundreds of people.

Search Engine Marketing: Also called SEM, this is the activity of marketing a business or organization inside search engines (e.g., Google, Yahoo! and MSN). Search engine marketing can be performed by improving the organic rankings of a website (called Search Engine Optimization), or by paying to be included on the search engine pages (called Pay-per-Click advertising or paid insertion).

Search Engine Optimization: One of the largest pillars of SEM, Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the practice of optimizing both internal and external factors on a website to ensure they comply with the search engine guidelines, and therefore that the pages on that website will achieve the highest possible rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Pay-per-Click Advertising: Also called PPC, this is an Internet advertising model where advertisers pay whenever a user clicks on their ad. This is the most used model for advertising inside search engines, and advertisers can bid on specific keywords that are triggered by the search queries of users. Google Adwords is the largest PPC ad network on the Internet.

Email Marketing: One of the oldest and most profitable forms of Internet marketing, email marketing consists of building email lists of prospects and/or clients, managing the relationship with those subscribers, and using the list to solicit specific actions (e.g., purchasing a product or visiting a website).

Online Market Research: The Internet pumped new life into traditional market research, thanks to the interactivity that you can have with consumers. Using different tools and techniques, it is possible to test a product or idea on a global scale in a matter of days. Not surprisingly, companies from around the world are increasingly turning to online market research even when they need to test offline products and services.

Online Advertising: On one side you have companies that are willing to spend money to promote their products and services online, on the other you have web publishers and content producers (as large as the New York Times and as small as an individual blogger) that are willing to display advertising on their sites in exchange for that money. There are several advertising models around the web, including CPM (cost-per-mille, which is based on a specific price for every 1,000 impressions), CPC (cost-per-click), text links, direct banner ads and so on.

Affiliate Marketing: In affiliate marketing, you have a merchant that is willing to let other people (called affiliates) sell his own products or services, in exchange for a commission. Commissions can be fixed or variable, and based on clicks, leads or sales. This is one of the most popular Internet marketing segments because it can be highly profitable for both parties involved.

Social Media Marketing: Social networks like Facebook, microblogging tools like Twitter, social bookmarking sites like Digg and StumbleUpon and the universe composed of blogs and wikis have completely changed the online landscape. Marketers and business owners saw a big opportunity there and adapted their strategies accordingly. Social media marketing consists of leveraging those websites to attract traffic and prospects, increase sales and to raise your brand awareness.

Action Points

  1. First three lessons are just introductory lessons, so there are no action points. In most other lessons, however, you will have them, and it is essential that you go through the tasks mentioned to make sure that you will be applying what you will be learning.

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