THE RULES NEVER CHANGE…
The process of marketing never changes; target an audience, engage that audience, persuade that audience. The procedure of marketing, however, is far from set in stone. In the endless endeavor to target, engage, and persuade, advertisers have had to adjust and adapt their messages to an ever growing suite of media channels. Print advertisers had to adapt their copy to the more lively medium of radio. Radio advertisers had to learn to mate auditory with visual as television marketing emerged.
Modern advertisers, and the companies that employee them, face a new paradigm shift, one caused by what is arguably the most important technological advance of the last century; the internet. The internet has changed the world and shortened the divides between people, it has put the power to communicate and share in the hands of millions.
It has also forced advertisers to rethink how the engage with audiences and has been the genesis of the newest branch of marketing; internet marketing.
…BUT THE PLAYING FIELD DOES.
Internet marketing, or online advertising, is any advertising communication effort delivered via the internet. Banner ads at the top of websites; internet marketing. Emails from retailers offering discounts and extra saving, internet marketing. A Youtube video demonstrating a new product;you guessed it, internet marketing.
The proliferation of the internet has heralded the birth of dozens of new advertising techniques and channels, efforts that are more interactive and directed than ever before. As many marketers and companies struggle to adapt these new techniques, others have flourished in this new realm of internet marketing. For many of these companies and marketers, the difference between advertising success and failure is a matter of selecting the most effective and efficient internet channels to pursue.
Social media represents the perfect mesh of low cost and high impact so coveted by companies and marketers. Social media is the use of social media platforms, like Facebook or Twitter, to engage with consumers on a consistent and hands-on basis. Most social media platforms operate on a ‘posting’ system, whereby a social media manager creates or curates content to share with ‘followers’ or ‘fans’ and then ‘posts’ them online.
As an internet marketing platform, a well managed social media portfolio can engage current customers, attract new ones, promote positive dialog, and even serve a bevy of public relations functions, all while serving the ultimate end of generating traffic and increasing sales. On the other hand, a poorly managed social media advertising campaign can do more harm then good. Poorly created content or content that does not relate to your audience can alienate potential customers. A failure to post often or respond to comments can give off the impression that a company is dismissive of their customer base, or worse, behind the times.
Despite the potential pitfalls, the benefits of a properly handled social media campaign as part of an internet marketing effort are invaluable. If you find yourself unwilling or unable to keep up with the unique challenges of social media, consider outsourcing your efforts to a digital marketing professional.
Blogging is another great low-cost engagement option for companies looking to make efficient use of their internet marketing efforts. Blogging is the practice of writing, or having others write, articles or interest pieces that focus on your product or product category. Such writings are called a blog (a combination of the word ‘web’ and ‘log’) and can provide your company’s website with an ever-expanding pool of content to engage and attract readers and encourage customer growth.
Many companies have had great success implementing ‘blogging’ into their internet marketing efforts. Sweet Leaf Tee runs a blog on their site where they feature employee spotlights and pictures and light-hearted, behind-the-scenes glimpses at the company. Soutwest Airline runs a travel blog called ‘Nuts for Southwest’ that is built upon the idea of building a relationship with their customers featuring well structured articles and offering readers ways to contribute their own stories or experiences.
Content marketing refers to the creation and sharing of media to attract and retain customers. The created media can take the form of videos, e-book, infographics, images, photos, and any other form of digital media. For example, a construction company may hire a digital media artist to create a computerized animation showing the building process. The aim of such media is two-fold; to a) create content that is seen by consumers as a service, one that fulfills a need, be it to inform or to entertain while also b) reinforcing a positive attitude towards the company that sponsored the creation of the content.
Companies that can successfully utilize content marketing practices create interest in their product, good, or service that is perceived as helpful and well-meaning. While some companies dismiss these efforts as ‘unimportant’ or ‘doing-something-for-nothing’, the truth is that quality content marketing generates very positive responses from consumers and should be well considered as part of a company’s internet marketing plans.
SEO (SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION)
Search Engine Optimization is the process of generating ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ traffic to a website and works on the principal that not all websites are created equally. While the strategies and processes of SEO are constantly changing and evolving to keep pace with development in search engine technology, here’s the basics of how it works. All of the primary search engines, from Google to Bing, utilize primary search results. Primary search results determine how and in what order web pages, videos, or local listings are shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users. Many factors can influence the priority given to different sites including content, encoded images, videos, geographical information, and a host of other variables.
Search Engine Optimization works to align the content, coding, and functions of a website with the criteria of each search engine’s primary search results algorithms. These criteria and algorithms are different among all search engines and are subject to frequent changes. For example, a website that is on the second page of a Bing search result may be on the fourth page of a Google search result. A site that shows up at the top of the first page may find itself lost on the 23rd after a coding update.
For these reasons, proper Search Engine Optimization is not a one time internet marketing effort, but rather an on-going and hands-on endeavor.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…
There are countless other internet marketing channels available to companies and advertisers. Newsletters, affiliations, paid ads; the lists goes on and on. Choosing the channel that works best for you is a matter of aligning your goals with your available resources. An internet marketing campaign doesn’t have to be ‘big-budget’ to generate ‘big-results’. It just has to be smart.
So be smart, be on target, and be adaptable. The internet has presented companies with nearly limitless opportunities to grow. It’s your job to seize them!
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