Internet Marketing – Who, What, Where, Why & How?

Internet marketing can seem like a mountain of information that covers hundreds of topics. However, if you break it down into a few main components it’s really not that scary. This article will help anyone looking to get a grasp on the basics of internet marketing.

WHO

We are far past the point in time where only giant brands need an online presence. There are many aspects of internet marketing that can help just about any small business owner from a local hairdressers or pet shop right through to professional services such as accountants or PPI compensation specialists.

WHAT

First we need to break down what internet marketing for a small business really is. There are many different strategies that can be tailored to your needs, but the fundamental metrics that you will be using will always be the same.

You must first define the goal of your campaign; after all you need to be able to determine your return on investment (ROI) later on. For most businesses, the goal will be to get more sales. In order to optimise your sales you should have your own website. If you don’t have one yet you can get one built for relatively small amounts of money.

In order to make sales on your site, you must have potential customers. The next thing you must do is identify your target demographic that you wish to interact with. You may not know which part of the population is best for your business at first, but using different techniques for testing you can track the visitors to your site and learn more about which ones are most interested in your product or service.

How do you get people on your site? Well that’s what internet marketing is really all about. As you’ll see in the following sections there are many platforms to interact with potential customers that will allow you to direct them to your website or advertise your business directly.

WHERE

If you need short term results you can buy ads on the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing). However, internet marketing as a whole encompasses so much more than just buying clicks from a search engine, and if that’s all you do you are missing out on a lot of traffic.

Social media platforms are a great way to not only increase the awareness of your business, but to build an online presence by interacting with people and other businesses in your niche. Don’t limit yourself to just one if you think multiple platforms fit your business needs.

Google+ and Facebook are both excellent social sites to reach a broad audience. Just about every demographic is on either Facebook or Google+ and there are many ways to interact with people by commenting, sharing, posting, and messaging. LinkedIn is like Facebook in a lot of ways but oriented towards business professionals. If you offer a service in this niche it is a great place to start.

Twitter, on the other hand, is usually used as a complementary online asset. Users post short messages which allows for easy communication with a massive user base, but you won’t be able to fully show off your service or product. Look to use Twitter as a funnel to another platform or your website.

In the last few years we have seen the rise of Instagram and Pinterest, photo sharing sites. Businesses that focus on niches like fashion and cooking do well on these sites. Given these topics it’s no surprise that 30% of Pinterest users are women who are between 25 and 34 years old.

WHY

At this point the internet is nothing new. There are billions of people online an online shopping has rapidly grown in the past decade. In fact, 61% of consumers who have access to the internet research products online before buying them. If they can’t find you online either because you don’t have a website or online presence, they may decide to take their custom elsewhere.

Outbound marketing consists of older techniques, including just about all real life advertising. Inbound marketing on the other hand consists of internet marketing and using the channels we have discussed. Why is inbound marketing getting more popular? Simple – because it works.

Social media alone has a 100% higher conversion rate than traditional outbound marketing, despite the fact that social media isn’t always the most effective method of advertising.

HOW

You don’t necessarily need to jump in with two feet, but you need to assign some resources to internet marketing. Start with one platform or strategy we’ve discussed and expand out once you start having success.

There are many ways to attract attention, build relationships, and promote your brand. There are also many fantastic resources on these different strategies that will teach you about them. If you are looking to attract organic search traffic (not paying for clicks) you can learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) from SEObook or SEOmoz. For general relationship and brand management help I encourage you to learn from ProBlogger or CopyBlogger.

As you can see there are many aspects to internet marketing, but when you compartmentalise them, you can identify smaller areas to focus your efforts on initially. This will allow you to focus on your core duties while expanding your reach slowly, and over time you will reap the benefits.