Ever since the early to mid-60’s when the Internet first began, the global network known as the World Wide Web has brought various forms of online media to a global audience in light-speed fashion. Because of the ability to interact in real or near real-time, Internet marketing is very unique and different than traditional marketing channels such as print, direct mail, radio, TV and billboard advertising. In the Internet marketing environment, you are able to monitor your customers’ inquiries in real-time mode and respond to them with immediate responses that are customized for each of your customer’s online transactions.
Four Reasons Every Business Needs an Internet Marketing Strategy
- Build an ongoing stream of profitable and targeted traffic to your website
- Connect with customers at the very instant that they're making a buying decision
- Maximize ad spending by targeting only relevant prospects through specific keyword phrases
- Expand your market more cost effectively compared to traditional marketing
Internet marketing is segmented to support various phases of your customer’s decision-making and buying lifecycle as well as after-the-fact customer service. Different Internet marketing programs are applied at the right times for you to acquire new leads, convert them into paying customers, and to nurture and to retain them as your long time customers. These Internet marketing programs allow you to listen to what your customers are saying about your products and services when they are talking about you, and to leverage or respond to their positive and sometimes negative feedback.
A Comprehensive Internet Marketing Program Is an On-Going ProcessYour Internet marketing plan is not a one-time program, but rather a long-term strategy. To keep targeted traffic flowing to your website and new customers coming in to your front door through your online channels, your Internet Marketing program should consider the following:
- Interactive Website Design based on conversion architecture principles that will keep your site visitors coming back and taking the necessary call-to-action that you want them to take, such as placing a phone call to your place of business, downloading a brochure or whitepaper, or submittinga form. A website that doesn't convert is basically a poor investment, so this part is essential.
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM) consists of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Paid Marketing or pay-per-click ads (PPC) such as those delivered by Google Adwords or Microsoft's adCenter to bring extremely targeted traffic to your website. SEO provides the "organic" or "natural, un-paid listings you see in the search engine results pages, and involves on-page and inbound link building techniques. PPC campaigns can be targeted to specific geographic locations, so it is perfect for targeting people in the local vicinity of your business, and charges only occur when someone actually clicks on an ad and visits a specific landing page on your website.
Online re-marketing is a PPC technique that allows you to display your ads to people who have previously visited your website but left without buying ... an opportunity where special offers such as free shipping might be in order, for example.
- Social Media Marketing (SMM) involves leveraging the social networks for achieving word-of-mouth referrals and endorsements, keeping in touch with what your customers are saying about your brand, responding to negative comments, as well as being used as another channel to keep your existing customers and prospects aware of what is happening at your business through special promotions, event notifications and customer loyalty programs.
Usually a good SMM strategy will include the setup of branded pages on the Social Networks, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and the creation of a blog that is integrated with your website, a process to get your customers and prospects to find you and become a fan or follower on those networks, and a process to syndicate your digital assets such as articles, press releases and blog posts across the internet and through each of these social networks. By properly syndicating your digital assets, your message can easily go viral and quickly grow your online presence through these new channels.
Other methods for marketing through the social networks include integrating online videos with your website and syndicating the optimized videos through various online video directories, which provides both customer service and SEO benefits to the viewer. Also, by integrating online customer reviews into your overall online strategy, you can increase online sales conversions by 20% or more. 70% of consumers trust what other consumers are saying about a product or service, while only 27% trust what the experts have to say.
- Targeted Lead Marketing, including opt-in Email Marketing for Lead Nurturing, Lead Generation and Customer Retention. eNewsletters, event notifications, special promotions, informative news briefs and customer loyalty programs are just a few techniques of leveraging this marketing strategy. Spam is not considered a proper email marketing technique, so this communication is only distributed to those who either asked to hear from you by "subscribing", or at the very least are given the chance to opt-out on every email message that you send.
- Mobile Marketing is a good reason why "Internet Marketing" strategies are becoming known as "Digital Marketing" strategies. Rather than only leveraging the channels that the Internet provides, Mobile Marketing leverages cellular technology as well, usually through smartphone or tablet devices such as the iPhone or the iPad from Apple. With today's technology, we now have the ability to market your products and your brand to subscribers to your mobile marketing programs, similar to sending out eNewsletters or special promotions to email subscribers. Why should businesses consider moving into this environment? Here are a few reasons why:
- Currently 1/3 of the world has mobile internet access, which is twice as many internet-connected PCs.
- 60% of the world's population is expected to have access to the internet through a mobile device in 1 year.
- Mobile web technologies allow us to provide location-specific resources to users with the help of GPS technology.
- 2.1 billion people are actively text messaging today, and 2/3 of mobile phone users subscribe to "SMS text marketing".
- There are 2 times as many active SMS users as are active users of email.
- And the real kicker ... on average text messages are read within 4 minutes of receipt compared to 48 hours for email. While 65% of all email is SPAM, less than 10% of SMS is SPAM.
- Display ads (banner advertising) or the equivalent of ads in newspapers and magazines.
- Web Analytics will allow you to see your return on your marketing investment. Without web analytics, you'll never know what is working and what isn't. A good analytics program is essentail to your online success.
Experienced sellers know that reaching a potential customer during the right phase of their buying cycle is key to converting interest into a sale. Search engines have the unique ability to connect with prospective customers at the exact moment they're researching a product or service; they want to find your business ... so make sure they can or you will lose that business to your competition!
Success with these internet marketing programs, as with any advertising, lies in making sure your ads are being seen by the right group of people at the right time. This means knowing who you're targeting and where they can be found. It sounds simple, and thanks to the Internet it really is. Your WSI Internet Marketing Consultant can sho
Thomas J. Holzkopf
Certified Internet & Digital Marketing Consultant