Internet marketing has become the word on the street, and rightly so. Every second, millions of people are selling and buying commodities over the Internet.
Sites like Amazon make billions of dollars through such trade. With the possibility to make orders online and receive them right at your doorsteps, most people are choosing online stores over bricks-and-mortar ones.
Internet marketing is an idea that would have been laughed at 30 years ago but has turned out to be exactly what the world needed: a one-stop-shop that promises convenience to the buyer and huge returns on investment to the seller.
So, What is Internet Marketing?
Also known as web marketing, online marketing, e-marketing, or webvertising; this is a form of marketing that involves promotion of products over the Internet.
It refers to advertising and marketing efforts that use the web and email to drive sales through e-commerce as well as generate leads from websites or emails.
In other words, when you take your products to the Internet with the intention of getting interested people to view them and potentially make an order, you’re doing Internet marketing. It doesn’t matter if the person buys the service over the Internet or not.
It is possible for a consumer to learn about a product over the Internet but complete the buying process offline. This is the case with service providers such as interior designers.
Consumers learn about your products online, make contact, and the rest of the processes are completed offline. That still qualifies as Internet marketing.
Types of Internet Marketing
There are at least seven forms of Internet marketing:
1. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money on the Internet. The term “affiliate marketing” is used to describe a revenue-sharing marketing program that lets webmasters place advertisers’ banner ads or buttons on their websites.
The webmaster will then receive a referral commission or fee from conversions linked directly to the banner ads/buttons.
Online businesses can benefit from affiliate programs both as webmasters and as advertisers. For instance, as a business with a high-traffic website, you can allow other business advertisers to place ad banners or buttons on your website and charge them a commission every time a consumer clicks on the ad.
Alternatively, you can also place your ad banners and buttons on popular websites and benefit from referral traffic.
There are several affiliate marketing programs to choose from including Pay-Per-Lead and Pay-Per-Sale.
However, Pay-Per-Click remains the most popular option.
2. Display advertising
Also known as banner advertising, display advertising is another very effective way of marketing on the Internet.
Here, a wide range of banners is displayed on selected websites where customers can see them. The main purpose of this form of marketing is to deliver general ads and brand messages to site visitors.
Display ads come in four main formats:
- Video ads feature video elements,
- Interactive ads, which include some form of interactivity such as a game,
- Dynamic ads, which include content that regularly change or update, often using web feeds; and
- Expandable ads to show large advertisement displays when a user interacts with the banner.
Display ads offer many benefits:
- They are excellent for building brand awareness
- They can also be used to drive traffic to a website as well as to create a buzz around a brand
- Through retargeting, display advertisements can also be used to drive visitors back to a particular website
3. Email marketing
The use of emails to market your brand, products, and services has incredibly increased over the years. It is a very popular form of marketing but one that nevertheless comes with a host of challenges.
In the broadest sense, any time you send an email to a customer, a potential customer, or public avenue, we can call that email marketing.
However, three features are used to define email marketing:
a) Sending direct promotional emails to try and convince potential customers to make a purchase or to convince existing customers to buy again (also known as direct mail).
b) Sending emails designed to enhance customer relationships and promote customer loyalty (also known as retention mail).
c) Placing your marketing messages in emails sent by other people.
There are several benefits of email marketing:
First. Email is very cheap compared to other forms of marketing.
Second. It allows you to deliver message to people, rather than people coming for the information on your website.
Third. Email marketing, when done right, has a very high return on investment.
4. Inbound marketing
The closest term to inbound marketing is “Permission” marketing. What happens is that you make people regular buyers by impressing them.
This is the biggest difference between inbound marketing and other forms of marketing; you only tell consumers what they want to hear, when they want to hear it.
In inbound marketing, it is believed that at any one time, a consumer can only be in one of five stages of the buying curve. The curve starts with complete strangers, then visitors, leads, customers, and finally promoters, in that order.
A person can only move from one stage to the next within the loop; one cannot skip a stage.
Moreover, for a person to move from one stage to the next, they must be convinced to do so. For this reason, there are four predefined sets of activities that connect any two stages in the buying loop:
There are multiple benefits of inbound marketing. Blogging, which is the heartbeat of inbound marketing, for instance, has over the past decade proven to be the best possible way to woo consumers over.
According to Hubspot, 82% of companies that blog daily have seen significant growth in website traffic and even conversions.
Inbound marketing is also cheaper.
Add to it the fact that “inbound is ad-free and people dislike ads” means that you’ll have happier customers!
5. Search engine optimisation
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is currently the most powerful form of Internet marketing. On its own, SEO can be rather ineffective. But as soon as you make it part of your overall marketing strategy, you will begin to see significant benefits.
SEO refers to the process of affecting a website’s visibility on search engines for selected keywords or phrases.
What makes SEO so popular is that every single day billions of Internet users start their Internet journeys at a search engine.
Research shows that 87% of consumers looking for a product or service online will start at a search engine, enter a search phrase in the search bar, and wait for the search provider to list websites that might have a solution to their problem.
Studies also show that over 60% of these people use Google.
Appearing on the first page of Google search results is something people pay for because the benefits of such a feat are endless. The visibility alone is usually worth a lot considering that close to 70% of all people never go past the first page.
So, the chances that these people will end up on your website are so high.
However, SEO itself is a complex process involving careful selection of keywords among other factors.
6. Search engine marketing
Closely related to search engine optimisation but slightly different is search engine marketing (SEM). The concept behind search engine marketing is quite simple.
When a person searches the web through either a directory or through the text box, that person is said to be in “hunt mode”.
This psychological state is important both for marketers and search engines because it means that the person is in “search mode”, often of a direct or indirect commercial nature.
To marketers, a person in hunt mode can only fall into one of the three categories of the buying cycle: the beginning stage, the middle stage, or the end stage.
People who are researching for a product or service merely to satisfy an immediate or future need are said to be in the unusual state. Still, these people need the search engine to find relevant information and are open to acting on that information.
This makes search engines an excellent source of targeted traffic, whether from organic searches (unpaid) or paid search listings.
As a marketer, you need to appreciate the fact that the term “search engine” doesn’t just mean Yahoo, Bing, and Google but also includes commercial sites such as Amazon and eBay; plus YouTube and Hulu, Yelp, Angie’s List, Yellow Pages, etc.
As with SEO, search engine marketing comes with several benefits including enormous exposure, increased traffic, and increased sales.
7. Social media marketing
Using social media for marketing is a tactic that almost every business uses today.
Through social media, small businesses can take their products and services to more customers, create communities, and build their brands.
If implemented correctly, marketing with social media can be an effective tool in attracting more traffic, which can only lead to more sales.
In general terms, social media marketing is a form of Internet marketing that leverages social media networks to achieve marketing communication and branding goals. It primarily covers activities involving social sharing of content, images, and videos for purposes of marketing.
However, to be truly successful with social media, you need to have a solid plan. Since there are more than a dozen social marketing platforms, you need to choose which ones to concentrate on.
Moreover, you need to clearly identify your objectives. Do you want to attract website traffic, improve conversions, or drive brand awareness?
All these can be achieved through social media marketing but you need to first identify your priorities and develop a well-thought-out plan to pursue each goal.
Benefits of Internet Marketing
There are several advantages of Internet-based marketing over traditional marketing. For a start, online marketing is all-hour marketing: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Throughout the year, your website and blog will be available to consumers. Even your PPC banner ads and buttons are usually online and functional as long as you’ve paid the required cost. This alone promises unrivalled exposure, and in turn significantly increases the probability of making a sale.
Here are 11 other benefits of Internet marketing:
1. Increase your brand reach
What is more important to a business than getting their products in front of a wide prospect base? Yet, that is exactly what you get with Internet marketing.
Billions of people visit the web daily in search of information. Often, these are people interested in buying something, either immediately or in the future.
Businesses, irrespective of size, can take advantage of this to reach millions of users. And with more reach come more prospects and the opportunity to make more money.
2. Residual and continuity effect
One of the greatest benefits of Internet marketing is the inherent residual effects. While you might be working hard to affect your reach presently, probably creating blog posts and optimising your sites for search engines, the fruits of such labour can usually be reaped several years later.
E-books, for example, might take a few months to create and may need significant investment. But once you take them to the public domain, the effects are usually lasting and can remain in place years after the campaign is over.
3. Highly adaptable to multi-tasking
Internet marketing is also beneficial in the sense that it allows you to attend to millions of customers at the same time.
Once you have a solid infrastructure in place, you will be able to attend to huge numbers of buyers and sellers without, at any point, diminishing customer satisfaction.
4. Cost effective
Internet marketing requires very little to no starting capital. For instance, if you can write and post on your blog, then you may start your blog at no cost.
Even strategies such as email marketing cost much less compared to traditional marketing, which tends to heavily rely on the four factors of production – land, labour, capital, and entrepreneurship.
These four factors are NOT prerequisites to Internet marketing. There are no costs incurred in staffing or procurement of business premises.
5. Time effective
Internet marketing is fast and easy to start. Although you need a concrete plan in order successfully launch an effective Internet marketing campaign, as soon as you have one, you’re good to go.
You don’t need a business permit to start a blog, for instance. And, some strategies such as email marketing, which is the one of the best forms of Internet marketing, can be set up within hours.
No one can dispute the convenience of Internet marketing. First, consumers incur no cost in accessing Internet markets from anywhere in the world.
This effectively removes the cost of transportation to the market. As an added plus, your products and services will be accessible to consumers around the world. This has proven a masterstroke for importers who can now easily make orders online from the comfort of their own home.
And, digital products such as software and e-books can be downloaded at the click of a button!
7. Easy follow-up
In the past, merchants would offer consumers their business cards, which carried the address of the business and contact information. If at any time the customer needed support, they would have to call the merchant or visit the business premises.
In some cases, people could even lose the card! Internet marketing removes such risks by placing the merchant in full control.
Through carefully planned contact management system, you can easily reach your target audience without fear of ever losing their contact information. Even building relationships becomes so easy.
8. Easy targeting (efficient)
For all the benefits of traditional marketing, such strategies failed badly when it came to targeting.
Radio advertisements, for example, were only “hopeful” advances. You were simply praying that the right people would listen to your ads. Yet, there was every possibility that a large portion of your target consumers were not even tuned-in to the station where your ad is being aired!
Internet marketing is exactly the opposite. In fact, you can target audience by just about any parameter – age, sex, location, etc. Even interest-based and behavioural targeting is possible.
9. Personalisation benefits
In Internet marketing, it is possible to collect and thereafter use customer information to personalise your relationships.
Customer data is usually collected through customer profiles and Internet tracking tools/software.
Once you have relevant information about your customers, targeting them with relevant advertisements based on their interests becomes easy. Again, this is something that was almost impossible with traditional marketing.
10. Ease of diversification
Diversification is an important tactic in marketing and advertising.
Essentially, it means using a variety of methods to reach prospects. Diversification is much easier in online marketing compared to traditional marketing.
For example, if you want to use both Search Engine Marketing and PPC, you can accomplish the two simultaneously – very easily. You can also mix blogging with SEO without breaking a sweat.
Finally, and perhaps the greatest benefit of Internet marketing is the fact that every possible activity in Internet marketing is measurable. If you’re optimising for search engines, for example, you can see where you rank for selected keywords, how many clicks you’re getting, your conversion rates, etc.
You can track everything that happens from the moment your strategy takes off until you close a sale. At the end of the day, you will find out what works and what doesn’t which gives you a starting point when reviewing your business.
Internet marketing has been a welcome innovation. It makes life easier not just for sellers but for buyers as well.
It has been the main reason small and medium businesses have been able to go toe-to-toe with bigger businesses when hunting for customers.
There are many forms of Internet marketing but more importantly, there are several advantages of internet marketing over traditional marketing which often leads to more sales and greater returns on investment.