Almost everyone nowadays wants to have his own profitable home internet marketing business that can ease his financial burdens and help him sail smoothly through the ravages of the global financial crisis currently engulfing the world’s economies. Understanding the ABCs or fundamentals of internet marketing is essential to the success of any online home business.
Different people of different professions and stature have view internet marketing from different perspectives. On the one hand, people consider internet marketing as simply the act of placing banner ads or inbound links on other websites. On the opposite hand, many companies claim that it is the secret to exponentially increasing one’s wealth overnight. However, caution should be exercised because most of these companies only try to make you buy some internet marketing program that they proclaim will make you rich by morning.
At present, internet marketing or online marketing has successfully evolved to a higher stage, which now involves a combination of many components a business can utilize to increase sales regardless of whether the said business is being executed fully online, partly online, or fully offline. Internet marketing is fully discretionary, and it can’t be fully said that it is strictly needed for success, but its recent popularity has caused those who don’t use it to get left behind by those who do. It can provide a vast and unique competitive advantage to any company. For this reason, some companies even rely purely on online marketing to promote their business, its products, and services.
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Internet Marketing Objectives
Internet marketing is being employed to make use of the Internet to do at least one of the succeeding:
1. Communicate a company’s message about itself, its products, or its services online.
2. Conduct research as to nature (demographics, preferences, and needs) of existing and potential customers.
3. Sell goods, services, or advertising space over the Internet.
Internet Marketing Components
Internet marketing is made up of many components, which may be summarized into the following:
1. Making a business website and getting it launched and published over the Internet. It may consist of text, images, and possibly audio and video elements that broadcast the company’s message to visitors, informing current customers and prospects of the features, benefits, and value-for-money of its products and services. The website may also include additional features that extend its capabilities, like capturing and storing leads from potential customers or the function to sell a product or service online directly. A website may very well be the best way to establish a company’s own internet persona and business entity. Web sites can always outperform their offline equivalents – brochures and mail-order catalogs.
2. Marketing a website over the World Wide Web via search engines, otherwise known as Search Engine Marketing or SEM, is the process of helping a website shop up in the top search engine pages whenever one searches with certain defined keywords through search engine optimization or SEO, pay-per-click or PPC advertising, or pay-for-inclusion or PFI advertising in which a website is listed in online website directories, the same way as with yellow page listings.
3. Email marketing is the technique of getting information about a product or service out to customers or getting feedback from customers about a product or service through emails. Email addresses of customers or potential customers can be collected through the company website or purchased from lead generation specialists. Email marketing is simply the online version of direct mail marketing. Different methods can be utilized to do this form of online marketing, like the regular distribution of newsletters or mass mailing of offers related to its product or services.
4. Banner advertising is the online marketing equivalent of the traditional ads in newspapers and magazines. It is the free placement of ads on a website, usually known as free ad directories.
5. Online press releasing is the placement of a newsworthy story about a company, regular distribution of newsletters, or mass mailing of offers related to the company’s product or services on online wire service or online press release directories.
6. Blog marketing is the process of posting comments, expressing opinions, or making online announcements in a discussion forum or blog directory that can be done by hosting your own blog or comment and link exchanges with other blogs whose content is related to your product or service.
7. Article marketing involves the syndication or online publishing in article sites or directories of freshly written or unique articles that tackle things related to your business, products, or services. These articles can spread and circulate over the internet since online article hosting services allow the re-publication of articles so long as all links in the articles are maintained. Traffic boost can be the primary result of article marketing, together with promoting your brand to a wider audience through the syndication of these articles.
Internet Marketing and Home Business
A website is an element that all internet marketing components, prospective customers, and clients anticipate a business to have. Having a website has become one of the best ways to get a consumer’s trust and interest in a company and its products and services through the years. Having no website may even cause a prospect to lose interest and head to a competitor. Up-to-date information available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, something that can best come from a website. And the all-encompassing use of online means has caused many prospects to decide to transact only with companies with a good and useful website.
Engaging in online marketing and having a website is so comprehensive in scope that it can benefit even a business that only has very local customers like a single location food store or clothing store. Internet marketing offers a very cost-effective and comprehensive way of attracting customers, and it also gives a business a worldwide reach with its own Web presence that can be very hard to get from other methods, especially in the case of businesses whose customers are not restricted to ma single geographical area only.
In some instances, a website is not a complete necessity and can definitely provide a home business operator various benefits due to the virtual nature of most home businesses. A website can act as a storefront for direct selling of products and services as well as serve as a very inexpensive means of getting prospects, as well as clients, to know what your business does or what products it sells, especially to those home-based businesses that do not have a physical location.
The internet has been one of the primary drivers that fueled home-based businesses’ growth and expansion because it has paved the way for starting and maintaining a web presence with reasonably low cost. Therefore, it is a must that internet marketing becomes an integral part of your business plan and marketing strategy.
Finding the Right Internet Marketing Mix
Determining and utilizing the right marketing strategy is essential to business success. Defining the percentage of marketing efforts that should be done online, the needed Internet marketing elements, and the amount of focus given to the website is vital to the formulation of a marketing plan that will work. The nature of the business, the budget, and some personal traits may affect the marketing mix. All these and many others influence the development of an internet marketing business blueprint.
Using Offline Elements with Internet Marketing Strategies
Only businesses that transact 100% of their business online can use a fully online marketing scheme. All others should utilize a marketing mix made up of both online and offline efforts. Traditional methods can greatly supplement the effects and benefits of web marketing. In fact, there are even businesses that conduct all their operations completely online and yet employ the placement of traditional ads on newspapers and magazines to drive prospects to visit their website and participate in online transactions with the firm. Perfect examples of businesses that integrate offline elements as components of their internet marketing strategies are Expedia, Travelocity, and Monster.com. These firms shell out huge investments in radio and TV advertising and other traditional means of advertising to get consumers to visit their sites where the real business dealings are being transacted.
Develop Internet Marketing Strategies You Like
Only incorporate in your strategy the marketing techniques you like or those that do not annoy you whenever someone does them to you because most people probably feel the same way. The most hated marketing tool as regarded by many is spam. This is why many companies nowadays do not include email marketing in their arsenal of promotion methods.
Many forget that email marketing does not necessarily mean sending out unsolicited emails to every email address you can find. Email marketing can also be accomplished by incorporating a visitor registration web page on your site. This page then works as a tool to gather the email addresses of interested prospects. You can then create a newsletter that you can send to all who have registered on your site. You may also consider updating your newsletter and sending it periodically to your prospects. You may also create a schedule for sending regular emails to see how your prospects are doing, if your company can be of assistance in any way, or if any of their wants or needs had changed since when you last had a conversation. This is an efficient way of utilizing email to boost your business promotion even without engaging in email marketing.
Your Budget and Internet Marketing Strategy
The budget plays a vital role in any marketing strategy as it lays out which components and techniques you can develop and exploit. For example, a website needs you to select a domain name and then register and purchase it from a web hosting service. Due to the growing demand for web hosting services, the competition has greatly tightened, and many now offer discounts. Some offer domain name registration for as low as $1.99 per year – provided you also purchase other services, like hosting, which is now also available for less than $10 per month. Next are the design and content of your website. You can design and write your own content, or you can hire a graphics artist for the design and a web content writer for the content. You can also opt to use the online website builders that can be found all over the internet.
After your site is all ready to go, getting it found is the next task because no matter how good or useful a site is, it is of no value if people cannot find it. This is the point where search engine optimization or SEO comes in. SEO is vital to every website. You can either learn and do the SEO yourself or hire search engine optimizers to do it for you.
Web content should be search engine optimized from the time it was written. The same goes for web design, as to how a website is designed can either enhance or limit the site traffic it will be receiving in the future. SEO should definitely be a major part of any internet marketing strategy. You can opt to do things faster but more costly or vice versa, depending on your perspective and your budget.
Once your website is up and running, you’ll either need to maintain it yourself or outsource the duties to an independent Webmaster to do it for you.
Google AdWords and similar pay-per-click (PPC) advertising services can be a good choice as they go easy on your budget because you can specify the maximum amount you are willing or able to spend. You also get to decide how much you will be paying whenever someone clicks on your site, as well as the limit of how much you will be paying per day. You also get control over whether the pay-per-click ads appear only on major search engines or on other related websites as well. Geographic and time restrictions regarding when and where your ads run are also at your disposal, making the said ads quite easy to update. Real-time tracking of the benefits is also possible with PPC services. You can also use images and/or videos with PPC advertising, which may be less costly than placing banner ads on other websites. On the other hand, you can also utilize pay-per-click advertising to earn money with your website to such programs as Google AdSense, Yahoo Publisher, or Microsoft AdCenter.
Tracking the Results of Internet Marketing Strategies
Putting up and operating a successful home-based business is not easy, especially for the average home business operator. Tracking is essential, especially when you spend money on strategic Internet marketing initiatives. You should know the effectiveness of such initiatives to make the right decision on whether to go on or discontinue them. If you are satisfied with the performance of the currently implemented techniques, continue using them. If you are not satisfied, learn from your mistakes. Determine why such approaches did not work and find other means that can work better. Such practice is sure to improve your skills and enhance your chances for success.
Your business will mature and grow faster and more efficiently if you know which internet marketing strategies are worth spending your money on.
Remain patient in tracking the performance of your internet marketing efforts, and they will surely pay off. Always keep in mind that effects do not occur overnight, and a significant amount of time is usually needed before you can feel the benefits. The same is with revenues. At first, your efforts may seem to be in vain, but after some time, more revenues will surely materialize.