What Is Internet Marketing?
Internet Marketing is also known as Online Marketing, E-Marketing and Digital Marketing. It is the marketing of products or services over the Internet and includes an ever growing list of disciplines such as email marketing, search engine marketing, affiliate marketing, online advertising, online PR, social media marketing and mobile marketing.
With 73% of Australian internet users researching product reviews online and 43% actively discussing brands, products and services online, Internet Marketing can’t be ignored even by the most traditional bricks and mortar business (source: Nielsen).
Advantages of Internet Marketing
Internet Marketing is generally more targeted and cost-effective than traditional marketing. In the good old days, the most common way to spread the word about your business was to either spend big bucks on advertising campaigns (TV, radio, newspapers, billboards etc), or to obtain a list of addresses and send out a catalogue by direct mail. Nowadays, even niche companies can find and target their audience on the Internet with relatively small budgets.
The other big advantage of Internet Marketing is that almost everything is trackable. For example, you can track how many people have visited your website, which country they are from and how they found your website. This opens up many possibilities for optimisation, for example you could test different email messages or advertisements and track which one performs better.
There are free ways of marketing your business on the Internet, such as blogs, online PR and social media marketing. For these, the only investment is your time.
For some tools, you have to pay a fee, for example many email marketing providers charge monthly fees plus a fee per email subscriber. You’re also likely to pay web hosting and possibly maintenance fees for your website.
Many Internet Marketing tools are paid for depending on the results you get, e.g. paid search engine marketing, online advertising and affiliate marketing. Usually you would pay either per impression (how many people have seen your advertisement), per click (how many people clicked through to your website) or per action (e.g. how many people have purchased a product from your online store, or contacted you via an online form).
Strengths of different Internet Marketing tools
Each tool in the Internet Marketer’s arsenal has some unique strengths: Online advertising and PR are great for building your brand. Search engine optimisation and content marketing help make your website discoverable on the Internet. Affiliate marketing and pay-per-click advertising campaigns on search engines can bring targeted traffic to ecommerce websites. Email marketing and social media marketing are good tools for customer acquisition and to encourage repeat business. And mobile marketing permeates all of these areas, providing a way for customers to interact with your business on the go.
Internet Marketing has come a long way
In the last decade, Internet Marketing has come a long way. When I started studying marketing at university in 1998, Google didn’t even exist yet and hardly anyone owned a mobile phone. Looking back over a comprehensive Internet Marketing textbook written in 2005, there is no mention whatsoever of “social media” – Facebook and Twitter were only publicly launched in 2006.
Needless to say, things have moved on, but for the marketer or business owner it is becoming harder and harder to keep up with rapid new developments.
A strategic approach
When feeling overwhelmed, it can be tempting to try out all the different tools, quickly dismissing them if there are no instant results.
Fortunately, there is no need for every SMB to master all of these tools, and in fact this can often prove distracting. With the right strategy in place, it will become quite clear which tools are the best fit for the business and its specific target audience, rather than a waste of time or money. That way, you can focus on what really matters: delivering a fantastic product or service and delighting your customers.