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Online marketing refers to a collection of strategies that are used to promote a business via the Internet. It encompasses a broader range of marketing elements than traditional marketing methods. Online marketing can offer businesses a wealth of benefits, including increased brand awareness, better customer reach and greater profits. In this article, we give an in-depth overview of online marketing, including the strategies that are used and the advantages for businesses.
Online marketing is the process of selling the products or services that a business offers over digital networks, including the Internet and cell phone networks. This process involves using a larger variety of marketing tools than traditional marketing methods use. This is due to the fact that online networks offer more channels and mechanisms than other marketing strategies.
Experts consider online marketing both an art and a science. The art of this type of advertising involves choosing the right mixture of strategies that will appeal to and reach your target market to lead to sales. The science of this type of advertising involves researching and analyzing that is necessary for selecting the right strategies to use and gauging the success of those strategies.
Types of Online Marketing Strategies
There are several strategies available for online marketers to take advantage of. Some of the most commonly used techniques include:
- Search engine marketing. This method involves using search engine optimization (SEO). This free process that involves fine-tuning a website and other online channels, such as social media, so that they rank higher in search engine results when people search for specific terms (keywords) that match the products or services a business offers. It also involves using search engine marketing (SEM). This paid process involves paying search engines, such as Google, for displaying ads for a business when someone searches terms (keywords). SEM can offer great feedback regarding the effectiveness of an advertisement; the number of times an ad has been clicked on versus the amount of times a page that an ad is displayed on has been viewed (this is referred to as click-through rate.)
- Email marketing. This method involves building a list of email subscribers or prospective customers that might have interest in purchasing the products or services you offer. Once your list is built, you develop email messages and send them out to your subscribers. Emails contain information related to the products or services you offer, upcoming events, important news about your company, and any other information that potential customers would find of interest.
- Online advertising. There are several forms of online advertising available that can be used for the purposes of online marketing. Examples include banner ads, text ads and interstitials (web pages that are displayed prior to or following a content page a searcher is expecting.) There are two cost models involved in online advertising:
- Cost per thousand impressions (CPM). Space is purchased on a web page and an amount is paid for a certain amount of impressions, or the amount of times an ad will be displayed.
- Cost-per-click (CPC). An amount is paid only for the number of times a person actually clicks on an ad, not the amount of times the ad was displayed on a web page.
- Social media marketing. The rise of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, have opened up a new opportunity for online marketers. Social media marketing allows businesses to interact with existing and potential customers in a meaningful way. It is a more open form of communication, which means that businesses and consumers can interact with one another on a more personal level. Conversations can be sparked, which means that businesses can appear more “real”, as consumers can see that there are actually real people behind the company. Social media marketing is also more real-time, as users access these platforms on a regular basis. As such, companies can keep their followers abreast of the latest news, such as new product launches, sales, etc., quicker than they can via other marketing methods, such as email.
- Blogging. Another tool online marketers can use to communicate with their customer base, blogging allows businesses to keep their audience informed about the products and services that they offer. It also enables them to share helpful information that their audience would find useful. For example, an electrician might write a blog post that shares tips for saving money on an electric bill.
- Affiliate programs. This strategy involves paying other people (website owners, blog owners, etc) to promote the products and services your business offers. Since you only pay when you see results, it’s an affordable option. It’s also an excellent way to spread the word about your business.
These are just a few of the strategies that marketers can use to build their presence online. New methods are being created and introduced all the time.
Why Developing an Online Presence is Important
Given the fact that the Internet is so widely used, and it is being used by more and more people every day, it is exceptionally important for businesses to build an online presence. In the past, local businesses didn’t necessarily have to develop a presence online. In fact, it didn’t make much sense to spend time and money on online marketing for a local business. However, given the fact that more people are relying on the internet to find virtually everything – from restaurants to dry cleaners – it is important for businesses of all shapes and sizes to have an online presence.
Not only does online marketing allow businesses to connect with a larger customer base, but it also helps to build your business’ reputation. Before new customers choose a company to do business with, they often check out reviews online. If you have a solid reputation for offering quality product or services, as well as good customer service, your chances of attracting new customers will increase.
Benefits of Online Marketing
Online marketing offers myriad of benefits for all businesses, from large corporations to local brick and mortar establishments. It has been proven to be one of the most effective marketing strategies available. Here’s a look at some of the primary benefits that marketing online can offer:
- A larger reach. By marketing on the internet, you can easily overcome the constraints of distance. You can put your business in front of literally billons of potential customers in other towns, cities, states, provinces and countries around the world. This significantly increases your reach. A craftsman located in a rural location in the United States could reach potential customers in large European cities, for example. With a larger reach, you can drastically increase your revenue.
- It’s cost-effective. Cost is an extremely important factor to consider for any type of marketing campaign. Advertising products and services online is much less expensive than traditional means of mass marketing. For instance, the price of starting an online marketing campaign is a mere fraction of the amount it would cost to place an ad on the television, on the radio, or on a billboard. In addition to the lower cost, your marketing efforts will have long-term exposure, which will lead to more positive results for your business.
- It’s personalized. With the various strategies that are used in on online marketing campaign, you can personalize your messages. For instance, you can ensure that your advertisements are designed to meet the specific interests and needs of your targeted audience. This personalization will lead to a higher conversion rate. This personalization also allows you to engage with existing and potential customers, which also helps to increase conversion rates.
- Build relationships. Developing relationships with your audience is important. It not only boosts your credibility, but it also aids in customer retention; both of which leads to more sales. With online marketing, you can easily build relationships with the customers you are targeting. By interacting with your customers online, they learn that there is a person behind your company’s logo, and even more importantly, they learn that you care about them. It’s also a great way to enhance customer service and ensure that your customers are having the experience with your business that they are looking for. Social media marketing, a method used in online marketing, is a highly effective way to build relationships with customers.
- Greater convenience. An online marketing campaign makes doing business much easier. It is a much more convenient way for you and your customers to stay connected. It also affords the opportunity to keep your business opened around the clock without the high overhead that’s associated with paying having to ensure someone is present within your store, and without having to pay overtime wages. Additionally, customers have the opportunity to learn about your business and place orders at a time that is the most convenient for them.
Disadvantages of Online Marketing
Despite the wealth of benefits that online marketing can offer, there are some disadvantages associated with this type of marketing that should be noted. Some of the drawbacks of online marketing may include:
- Ad blindness. Consumers have become so used to seeing ads on TV and in magazines, and hearing them on the radio that many have developed an aversion to all types of advertising, including online marketing. As such, they may ignore ads, avoid clicking on banners, and bypass advertisements that are displayed in videos that they watch. Essentially, your potential customers are in control of what online advertising messages they view and respond to. This means that if they don’t choose to view your ads, your message won’t be received and you won’t gain the results you are hoping for.
- Issues with viewing. The internet isn’t always reliable. A website server can go down, there can be lag times when videos are loading, or complications with a browser can arise. Slow connection speeds and mobile viewing are other problems that can occur. These issues can limit the amount of times consumers see online ads and how well they can see them. When technical problems arise, a business can lose out on the chance to broadcast its advertisements, which could lead to a loss of potential sales.
- Distractions. Whether it’s to find out the weather, to research the latest news, or to find a recipe, consumers usually have a specific goal when they search a website. Since they are focuses on looking for the information that they are seeking, viewers can become distracted, which means that they may overlook your ads.
- Too many choices. The internet provides a wealth of websites that various companies can place their advertisements on. With so many options, it can be difficult for business owners to determine which website they should place an ad on to attract the most customers. Even after a business has decided which website to advertise on, a decision regarding the type of online marketing strategy that will work the best needs to be made. Options include banner ads, sponsored posts, video marketing, and so much more. With so many choices, it can be hard for a business to pinpoint which route to take in order to reach and attract the most customers in order to elicit the best response.
Who Should Use Online Marketing?
The answer to this question is simple: anyone! Online marketing has proven to be a highly effective method of advertising for businesses of all shapes and sizes and in all industries. Online marketing affords large corporations and small local brick and mortar establishments alike the opportunity to increase their reach, build their brand, boost their sales, and improve their overall success. The bottom line is this: if you own a business, no matter how big or small, and no matter what industry, you should be looking into building an online marketing campaign so that you can take advantage of the long list of benefits that it offers. While yes, there may be some disadvantages associated with online marketing, the advantages far outweigh them.