Often when you ask ‘what is internet marketing?’ people will tell you it is SEO (Search engine optimisation). And if you ask ‘what is SEO?’ You will get something like ‘Links, links and more links’. Both answers are wrong yet they are so widely spread there is now a common misconception about what internet marketing really is. The danger here is that people can end up focusing all their energy and time on SEO and missing every other form of internet marketing.
So what is internet marketing?
Internet marketing is essentially the same in principle to traditional offline marketing. The idea is about promoting a business, its products and services to an audience of potential customers. The objective is to utilize different methods and mediums to expand a business’s brand exposure and increase sales.
When you think about traditional offline marketing, many methods come to mind: tv, radio, print ads, telesales, direct mail and many many more. So why would anyone think internet marketing is about just one thing (SEO)? The truth is marketing is just like marketing offline, there are so many different methods and mediums a business can utilize to expand its exposure and reach new audience. SEO is just one form of online marketing.
SEO refers to the process by which one can improve the rankings of their website on search engine search results. It is very important because search engine traffic is highly targeted – people using search engines to find a product or services have a genuine interest in that product or service. Businesses who appear at the top of search engine results are viewed by these potential customers first thus have the best chance of making a sale.
There are many free classifieds websites where businesses can advertise for free and reach many potential customers. The advantages are that it is completely free and the business can target audience in a specific location. The disadvantage is that classifieds ads usually expire after a set time e.g. 3 months and the business will need to repost the ads.
Business Networks (B2B, B2C)
There are many business networking websites, where businesses can create a free profile and get found by potential customers. These networking websites let users search for manufacturers, wholesalers and distribution partners and contact them directly via online messages or even live chat to create new business opportunities. A business’s profile will also appear on all search engines, giving it a huge amount of free exposure to high quality search engine traffic.
There are many online business directories, where a business can get listed for free. Many of these directories specialise in business listings within a specific business sector or location. Potential customers can use these lists to make shortlists so it will provide the business with some valuable targeted exposure.
Online press release is essentially the same as offline press release except publishing press release articles online is much easier than offline. There are many press releases and articles distribution websites a business can use to publish and distribute its articles at absolutely no cost.
Blog is a unique online medium where businesses can utilise bloggers to promote their products, services and generate extra publicity. Many blogs are devoted to product/service reviews.
Display advertising include banner ads, text ads, contextual ads and video ads. They are usually paid on a PPM (pay per thousand views) or PPC (pay per click) basis.
Just like direct mail in the offline world, businesses can promote itself, its products and services through email.
Businesses can utilise social bookmarking tools and social networks to create virtual word of mouth and reach new customers.
As you can see, internet marketing embodies a wide range of methods and ideas in the same way as traditional offline marketing. It is very important to avoid the mistake of thinking internet marketing is just SEO. It is always a good idea to build multiple strategies into a marketing plan. Each strategy will produce a different result. When combined, the different strategies complement each other thus allowing the business to reach a broader audience.