Is your company’s online presence failing to generate the interest, traffic, page rankings and ultimately, the revenue that you had hoped it would? Similar to the “brick and mortar” world of business, targeted and effective marketing is an essential activity for increasing visibility, traffic, the ability to monitor performance accurately, and to improve brand recognition and hence, value.
There are three primary areas of consideration that you should take the time to fully explore before leaping into, and defining, your Internet marketing strategy:
What the tools of the trade are, what are the main benefits that are being delivered to the consumer and/or business, and what is the cost effectiveness of the product(s) and/or services that are being offered.
The majority of consumers today have wireless Internet, an always-on connection that allows them the freedom to surf the Internet at all hours, from the comfort of home to a coffee shop to the passenger seat of a moving vehicle. What could be better than having your marketing efforts and messages open and accessible to consumers at all hours, in all places, every single minute of the year? Shoppers are always online. Your company’s message should be too.
What Is Internet Marketing?
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
First on the list is the most popular and most effective aspect of Internet marketing, SEO. This is a collection of search engine-friendly techniques that help lift a website from relative obscurity to page one of search results in Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. SEO consultants are plentiful, but SEO can also be done in-house. Understand that SEO is more of a commitment than a campaign.
SEO appeases search engine algorithms, which determine who gets the top positions in search rankings. These algorithms are updated with relative frequency, so SEO tactics must be tweaked in response. When used appropriately, SEO tactics generate a ton of traffic to your website, multiplying the viability of making sales.
One time-consuming aspect of SEO that really pays off is keyword research. This involves learning which keywords are being used the most to find a specific product or service, and which of those keywords and key phrases (called long-tail keywords, usually two to four words) your competitors use. Keyword research also reveals which keywords see less usage than last month, and other data. Once enough information is gathered, you can list which keywords you want to rank highly in the search engines for, and which lesser-used keywords you want to try in addition to the more competitive ones.
The riskiest and most rewarding option that keyword research offers is the chance to predict which keywords will be hot in the near future. If you predict correctly that a certain keyword will soon experience tremendous use, and only your site uses that keyword, you can beat the competition to the top of the search results, at least until they catch on and start using the same keyword.
Search engine optimization requires a set of books to explain thoroughly, but other SEO tactics worthy of mention are link building and on-site optimization. Link building is the process of hyperlinking to websites that search engines consider high quality – sites that rank high in the search results – and having those sites link back to you.
High quality sites tend to link only to sites they consider high quality, meaning your content must be unique and engaging. On-site optimization concerns the technical details of increasing site visibility and favor with search engines.
PPC – Pay Per Click
This is a means of paying search engine companies for them to list your website at the very top of search engine results pages (SERPs). Through Google’s AdWords service, your ad will appear in the ‘Sponsored links’ section at the top of the search results page. The other search engines off a similar service as well. You only pay when people click your ads, which are associated with keywords you choose. For example, you sell lawn mowers and choose the long-tail keyword “affordable lawn mowers Boston.” When people type that phrase into search engines, your ad is displayed. When people click your ad, they arrive at your website’s landing page.
SMM – Social Media Marketing
The term social media refers to socially-oriented platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, StumbleUpon and others, places where people communicate and share in near real-time. The most effective use of social media for a business is to follow social media etiquette closely. This means using these platforms to show you are a fellow enthusiast and not just a salesperson. Social media should be used to post interesting content and polls, but never to engage in hard selling.
Three considerations to entertain before leaping into social media are time, money and host scalability. Social media should be monitored and updated frequently because that’s how non-businesses, i.e., people, use it. Money is an issue because you either pay someone to track a social media campaign’s ROI, or do it yourself. Host scalability means that when social media spikes traffic to your website, your host provider should be able to handle the traffic instead of your website being inaccessible when a large number of potential clients are looking for it.
The Benefits to Customers
In a word: comfort. Customers who live nearby save money when they can browse your products online instead of driving to your location. Consumers don’t have to suffer any cumulative wear and tear on a vehicle, gasoline expense, or time-consuming interruption in the flow of their business activities.
The Benefits to Business
The fact that your showroom, or product line, can be accessed online is great for your business because it’s such a benefit to consumers. Every benefit consumers reap from the online realm is good for business. For example, before the Web existed, marketing efforts such as direct contact had to be made via telephone, mail or travel. Email is a wonderful improvement over costly mailing campaigns, and always-on Internet connections give your marketing messages a platform every second of every today.
The geographical barrier does not exist for businesses online, which is a great opportunity for marketing to a much wider audience. There are cases when marketing cannot help, for instance when hindering tariffs or laws make the cost of doing business across regional or national boundaries uneconomical or illegal. Aside from that tiny and expected snafu…
Is Internet marketing cost effective?
Without question. A smart mixture of search engine optimization tactics for your web pages, social media campaigns, and good relationship management is a recipe for success in cyberspace. ROI metrics are slightly different than in the offline world, but similar parameters are taken into account. Take one measurement, conversion rate. This is simply the ratio of website visitors who engage in a certain action, or goal, like buying something, to those visitors who do not perform those actions.
Conversion rate is one of many, many metrics in the marketing toolbox. Good measurements detail what does not work. Since online tools can measure website performance 24/7, the opportunity for tweaking your strategy to cater to your audience more effectively is always there.