Many companies have realized the effectiveness of Internet marketing in reaching targeted audiences with measurable results. This trend has resulted in many companies rebalancing their marketing budgets to spend more online than on traditional marketing activities. Research company eMarketer estimates that online ad spending n the U.S. will reach $15.6 billion in 2006, up from $12.9 billion this year. Beyond online advertising, marketers are also investing in the newer digital marketing options including blogs, podcasts, Webcasts, e-mail, Web sites and database marketing to reach business customers.
This article concentrates on the fundamentals of Internet marketing – web sites, search engine optimization and online advertising including banners, pay-per-click, and directory listings. Future articles will cover some of the newer digital marketing options such as blogs and podcasts.
Benefits of Internet Marketing
Spending some time and money on building an Internet marketing strategy can be the difference between a good year and a great year for your business. Some benefits of engaging in online marketing include the following:
- Your online presence can give the impression that your company is far bigger than it really is. Done right, you can get an incredible amount of visibility that far exceeds your business size or the ability to compete through traditional sales and marketing channels. The Internet has leveled the playing field for businesses of all sizes. Planned and executed correctly, you can achieve a large portion of marketing online for a reasonable budget.
- A professionally developed web site and expert content can build credibility for your company faster than traditional methods. Using your web site as an educational vehicle for your prospects makes it easy and convenient for them to learn about what you do, how you do it, and the knowledge you possess. Make sure you take advantage of this key capability that your Web site offers that many other marketing efforts do not.
- You can generate a large number of leads that convert to prospects and customers. Capturing and generating leads through the Internet enables you to build a prospect list that you can continue to nurture either through sales activities or through marketing activities such as an online newsletter.
- The world becomes your marketplace. You can reach prospects globally, 24 hours a day, every day. There is no other marketing activity that has extensive reach at minimal costs. Conversely, if you only want to do business within a 50 mile radius of your business location, you can choose where and how your advertising is displayed. You get to choose how to advertise your company on the Web that benefits you the most.
- If you combine Web based marketing with traditional off-line marketing activities such as direct mail or public relations, you can increase your exposure to your products and services, improve your image, and support your marketing activities at reasonable costs.
Getting Started with Internet Marketing
As with all marketing activities, you need to develop a plan, execute it effectively and measure the results. The basic elements of the plan should include a professional web site, expert content, and a combination of search engine optimization and online advertising using banners, directory listings and pay-per-click. Working together, these components of Internet Marketing can raise the visibility of your company and help you achieve quality inbound leads.
When considering your budget for Internet marketing, make sure you include the cost of developing and hosting your web site, developing the search engine optimization strategy, developing the content if you can’t do it yourself, and the individual campaigns you want to run. Keep in mind, however, that the cost of marketing is only relative if you don’t get any new business from the activity. A $500 marketing program may not seem like a lot, but if you don’t get business from it, it is too expensive. However, if you spend $500 on a sponsored link in an appropriate and relevant site and you gain a new client that brings in $3000 of income, then the $500 is well spent.
Internet Marketing can Work for You
If you think Internet marketing doesn’t apply to your business, you are missing a wonderful opportunity to easily and cost-effectively grow your business. Virtually any business today can benefit from a quality web site, sound search engine optimization practices and strategically placed online advertising. If you want people to find you online, then you need to engage in effective online marketing.