What is Internet marketing, who uses it, and what happens to businesses who don’t use it?
These are questions I recently asked Alexandra Fricker. Fricker is a ten year marketing veteran, and my business associates liked her so much they hired her. That’s right; I came back from vacation last week and there she was!
And I thought, before sending her to help clients with their Internet marketing strategies, why don’t I see if she can help me out. So I put her to the test, and I must say she came through admirably with her answers to my questions.
Internet marketing, explains Fricker, is a series of easy and accessible tools available to anybody to assist them in promoting their business. This is done by using the power of the Internet, and those who choose to ignore it are missing out on a great opportunity.
To exemplify this last point, Fricker showed me the results of a recent Ipsos Reid study, which stated that Canadians now spend more time online that they do watching television. And they are not just talking about kids; if you’re 35 to 54 years old, chances are you spend 18 hours per week online, compared to 15 in front of the television set.
(And in case you are wondering, radio, newspapers, and magazines – in that order – take up the rest of your “media” time.)
So making sense out of all of this is what people like Fricker do. They start out by understanding business objectives, developing a strategy, and prioritizing steps. Then they execute the strategy and monitor progress and results on an ongoing basis.
The whole idea behind Internet marketing is to build a database of prospects who are interested in your products and services, then communicate regularly with these prospects. Components of Internet marketing include email marketing campaigns, search engine optimizations (free and paid-for “Ad Words”), social media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) , and other elements of what is known in the industry as “viral marketing” techniques.
For example, one useful tactic would be to host a webinar, a live online presentations on a specific topic of interest to a target audience. Webinars are inexpensive to put on, and allow the organizers to track who has attended, identifying potential business leads.
Email is another effective marketing tool in as it allows you to send targeted messages and measure results. For example, if a person gets an email introducing an interesting topic on a web site and that person goes to that link, that action can be tracked. And if that person wants more information and fills out a short form on your website, how more qualified a business prospect can you possibly get?
These activities are not to be confused with spamming, which is simply flooding the Internet with messages to random people. Internet marketing is about building relationships online, communicating with people who give you permission to do so, and providing value to the people you are communicating with.
And therein is the power of Internet marketing. Its advantages are that it is inexpensive compared to traditional marketing, it is easier to measure results and adjust campaigns accordingly, it targets specific audiences based on past interests, and it allows you to embark on one-on-one relationships. The ultimate goal is to bring in business leads that are already fully qualified, something called “inbound marketing”.
According to Fricker, recent studies show that marketing dollars are being redirected more and more from traditional marketing to online media. However, a smart strategy involves integrating both online and traditional offline marketing tactics in order to achieve your business objectives.
And she adds that merely having an informational web site is now considered part of traditional marketing. So 2005. What is needed is an engaging, interactive presence that meshes well with the other things mentioned earlier in this article.