When I talk to people outside the industry and ask them how they define internet marketing, I usually hear one of two things:
- Those ads that appear when you do a Google search, or
- It has something to do with Facebook, right?
Internet marketing is much bigger than Google and Facebook. To reach their target market online, companies must take advantage of all the potential strategies.
Let’s review the major internet marketing strategies companies use to drive targeted traffic to their websites:
1. Search Engine Optimization
When you type a keyword into Google, two types of results come up: paid and unpaid. Unpaid search results rely on algorithms that determine the relevancy of your website compared to the search terms. Where you land on these unpaid search results depends on search engine optimization (SEO). Solid SEO can determine how high up you appear in the search results, often called your page rank. According to Forrester Research and Lee Odden, search marketing outlays (pay per click and SEO) will reach $20.7 billion in 2011.
2. Pay Per Click Campaigns
In 2008, search industry stats showed that paid ads accounted for 30 percent of search traffic click through. When your website’s SEO doesn’t lead to a high page rank, pay per click (PPC) advertising can get your site above the fold. Just be careful. PPC campaigns can burn through a ton of cash and generate a negative ROI unless you know what you’re doing. Also keep in mind that success in 2011will require that you leverage both SEO and PPC efforts to lower click costs and increase page rank by having both channels work in sync.
3. Social Media Marketing
Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. Heard of em? That’s because they are the type of marketing tools that can reach millions of your target market. For example, if you aren’t advertising on Facebook, at minimum you need to set up a corporate profile page that engages with current and potential customers. To use these tools to their full advantage, you need to understand the demographics and mind sets of each of the major social media channels. Choosing the correct strategy for each channel matters since social campaigns used incorrectly can create a backlash. In 2011, Forrester predicts that companies will invest $1.2 billion in social media marketing.
4. Affiliate Marketing
The 2010 holiday season generated a record return of $32.6 billion for retail ecommerce. A huge chunk of those returns went to affiliate marketers. However, many merchants are unaware of the potential for performance-based marketing.
Commission Junctions (CJ), a leading affiliate marketer, recently shared its numbers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2010. The results show that businesses are missing sales opportunities if they fail to include performance-based marketing in their internet marketing strategy. Comparing same store sales, sales driven through CJ outpaced overall comScore sales numbers.
Performance-based marketing comes with few risks at a low cost since companies only pay out if a desired action is met. Success, however, requires that companies hire an experienced affiliate manager to manage their program and to create a positive experience for you and your affiliates. Without proper management, performance-based marketing can dilute your brand, misrepresent your products, not perform at all or override other marketing efforts entirely.
5. Shopping Channel Management
The recession and its economic challenges change the way people buy. Customers look for the lowest possible price, daily deals, coupons, and any other potential savings. People also have less time to shop around. Shopping search engines like Nextag.com, Google Product Search, and Shopzilla.com remain popular picks for buyers who want to simplify their shopping experience. With one click, potential customers can see all the merchants who sell the desired product filtered by tags such as price, rating, description, and image in one convenient location. Google Product Search remains the most popular, according to SearchEngineLand.com, followed recently by TheFind.com.
6. Mobile Marketing
In 2011, we’ll see mobile marketing make its breakthrough. Still in its infancy, millions of smartphone users are clamoring to get the best applications and mobile technologies available. Huge opportunities await the companies that understand the potential of affordable mobile stores, advanced applications, and wide-spread usage. Even banks now understand the power of mobile. In 2011, over 150 million people will use their mobile devices for banking. This channel and others like it, show huge growth potential over the next three to five years. You can set yourself apart from your competitors by getting brand into the hands of your biggest fans.
7. Video Marketing
Billions of people share and view original videos at YouTube, Founded in 2005, YouTube stands as the third highest ranked search engine in the world, after Google and Facebook. YouTube’s serious sticking power comes with the benefit of being free. But how do you create that one video that goes viral? What elements do you need to take your video from 100 views to 10 million views? This question gets asked by marketers every day and companies spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions trying to master the medium. Despite the challenges, you can’t ignore video. For 2011, TechCrunch projects that online video advertising will grow by 50 percent and hit $11.4 billion in the next five years, outpacing the growth of traditional TV advertising.
8. Email Marketing
According to MarketingSherpa, when integrated with emerging marketing channels such as social media, email appears to have unlimited potential especially when combined with multiple improvement tactics now available through various sources. As one of the most simple, effective, and sometimes overlooked marketing channels, email marketing is inexpensive, highly lucrative, and does a great job of solidifying brand loyalty for current customers.
Dozens of email distribution networks offer exceptional services, including free templates, ongoing support, and recommendations for high delivery, open, and click through rates. MailChimp.com’s service still stands out from its competitors with its free monthly options, easy-to-use interface, high-converting templates, and useful reporting tool. If email marketing is not something you’ve tried, now is the time to get help and get it done.
9. Display Advertising
Display advertising can be a great option for companies with a larger online marketing budget. Also referred to as banner ads, you find a site with high traffic (calculated as unique visitors) whose audience fits your target market. You then pay the site to put up a featured banner ad for your brand. Display ads drive targeted traffic back to your website and help establish your brand in buyers’ minds. Placing banner ads can also help with search engine rankings since the ads create a link back to your site, increasing your website’s authority in search engine algorithms. Google predicts that by 2015 display advertising will reach $50 billion.
10. Online PR and Article Marketing
According to PR Newswire, 84 percent of journalists like to get pitched via email. In addition to email, these journalists also use Facebook (79 percent), LinkedIn (64 percent), and Twitter (58 percent) to search out potential stories. Beyond full-time journalists, a few million bloggers also want good stories to publish. Taking the time to create and distribute press releases and articles can help promote your business through these channels, both online and offline.
Not only are bloggers looking for a good story, but both online and offline media (publishers, editors, writers) are looking online for their next big story. There are several free article and PR distribution sites exist, however the well-known, paid-distribution networks, like PRweb.com are great options for fast and furious media reach.
Additional Things to Consider
Before you spend a cent on any of these marketing channels, please take the time to understand the following:
- You must measure results (e.g., website traffic, page performance, and conversion rate). If your site doesn’t include analytics currently, you must add a service like Google Analytics.
- What is your overall site conversion rate? If you have a 0 percent conversion rate, no money in the world will get you a positive return on your advertising dollar.
- Where does your website traffic come from? What keywords do people use to find your particular product or service?
- Who do you define as your target market? Where do they hang out most? What messages are you reaching them with?
- How do you compare to your online competition? What’s your pricing like? What are your differentiation factors? What value propositions do you offer and how clear are they on your website?
- What’s the quality of your website design and imagery? Does the site appear fresh and relevant or old and dated? If you use advertising on your site, does it match your target audience and offer clear messaging?
- Does your website make sense?? Do you have clear calls to action? Do customers know where to go once they get to your site?
- What opportunities do you need to consider offline? Have you lined up your online and offline marketing efforts to increase overall effectiveness? If so, which marketing channels will best serve your particular product or service with your target market?
- Do you need new tools or technologies to get the best results or do you already have what you need to be effective?
- Do you have the right team to design, plan, execute, and manage your marketing strategies? Can your in-house team do the work or do you need to outsource these marketing channels to a specialized service provider to ensure the best results and a higher return on your marketing spend?
Asking these important questions will help you build a successful internet marketing strategy.
With the right planning, positioning, and personnel to deliver your product into the hands of your online buyers, you will find that the online marketplace offers incredible growth and higher profits for your business.