What is Internet Marketing?
Internet Marketing or Online Marketing is the full range of activities that you undertake on the web in order to make certain that you are meeting your customers’ needs and that you are receiving enough value in return for doing so. Internet Marketing is related to online advertising, promotion, PR, and sales, but is actually a distinct activity that helps prepare you and your organization to perform the related activities thoroughly and well.
Internet marketing, like marketing off-site (off of your website), requires that you know enough about your customers and markets that you know how best to price, sell, and distribute your product or service. Doing so requires a level of marketing research and the development of a marketing plan.
Online Advertising is the process finding new ways to drive traffic or visitors to your website. Online advertising can take many forms: banner ads, pay-per-click (PPC) ads, links placed on other websites and more. Usually advertising is focused on one product at a time or one segment of your target market at a time.
So, your Internet marketing plan might require several different advertising campaigns in order to help generate the number of customers and sales that you need. Advertising may also involve ways of letting your customers know about special offers or pricing that is limited in time or scope.
It can be thought of as the way to keep your company, product, or service in front of your customer. It can help to generate more demand for the product as well. Whereas it might include advertising as part of your promotional strategy, it also includes publicity, public relations, and sales. Promotion can be done online through sales efforts, press releases, offering a free information product, or writing targeted email campaigns. Any effort that you make to improve or enhance the image of your organization, sell more products, or get the name of your organization into the thoughts of your customers and potential customers is part of promotion.
When you are speaking about an online form of public relations, you need to consider first and foremost what your website looks like and how it operates. Is it young and trendy because that’s who your target audience is? Or is it more traditional and less focused on social media because your products appeal to an older demographic? Your website can be thought of as the “front line” of your public relations strategy.
PR also involves representing your organization to the media. You should have someone designated to speak to the press who is able to represent your organization’s interests and strengthen the image you want to portray – as well as answering any questions about your products or services. Your PR department or representative would send press releases announcing new products or services, answer complaints that the press might have picked up on, and generally be ‘the face’ of your company to the public. This might require adopting some form of technology on your website so that the press and customers can both communicate with you.
It’s the act of locating, informing, and agreeing on terms of the purchase with your customers. Today, many people will first look for you online. So in online sales, you need to help your customers find you. However, the Internet is full of other websites clamoring for the attention of the same customers. You will need to actively market your company, your services, and your products to reach these customers.
The Five Ps of Internet Marketing
One popular definition of marketing is known as the Five P’s of marketing. The five P’s refer to the type of decisions that you will have to make when you effectively market your product. These decision categories still apply in Internet marketing, though the decisions you make around them may differ when you are dealing with an online environment vs. a “brick and mortar” store or location.
These decision categories are:
Product – The physical product or the service that you are offering to the customer. You will decide what to sell or offer, how it should appear, what customer service support will come with it, and any warranty or additional aspects of the product that will be included. You may be offering the same product or service as dozens, hundreds, or thousands of other websites, so you’ll need to somehow distinguish yourself from the pack if the customer is to choose your offering over all the others.
People – The people decisions that you will make are those that refer to how you want your customer service representatives to interact with your customers. How will they be instructed to work with the customer? How will you make sure they have the information they need to help the customer? How will you incorporate your current customer service strategies into your Internet strategies? Will you offer live support even to online customers?
Price – Pricing decisions are made based on profit margins, pricing that competitors use, and the demand in the market. You will also have to make decisions regarding when to offer price discounts and whether or not you’ll allow financing or other payment arrangements. With the Internet market, you’ll need to compete on price but also on shipping charges and any other fees that might change what the customer pays for the product or service.
Promotion – As described earlier, promotion decisions will need to be made regarding how you will communicate and sell to your potential customers. You’ll have to decide what you can afford to spend on promotions as well based on the expected return on investment (ROI). If not done carefully, you could easily spend thousands of dollars on promotion activities that do not provide any significant return on investment. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is one example; if it’s not delivering you buying customers, you will spend a lot of money for little to no results.
Place – Also sometimes called Placement, these decisions regard how you will distribute your product or service to the customer. Will you have a store front shop in addition to your website? Will you deliver the items yourself or will you simply resell someone else’s products for them (called being an affiliate)? Will you offer immediate delivery of electronic information products or just use your website as a tool to drive customers to a live location?