As anyone who has a product they can sell through a website will know, Marketing plays a vital part in reaching out to an audience. It’s all very well having the best product in the world, but if no-one knows about it, it’s not going to sell. Marketing, including Internet Marketing, is the best way to address this problem.
Marketers need to identify the needs and desires of consumers, and then to raise awareness of a product that will be useful or desirable for them. Essentially, marketing is a means of recruiting new customers and retaining existing ones – and in today’s fast-changing retail world, it is quite simply critical.
The internet provides a ready-made audience of millions, but marketers need to take the correct steps in order to put their product before them. Website owners have an advantage in that online audiences are growing, while newspapers, radio and (to a lesser degree) TV are in decline.
This is illustrated by the fact that Google recently overtook ITV1 in terms of advertising revenues. Figures from the search engine showed that it made £327 million in advertising for the July to September period, as opposed to the £317 million made by the TV channel.
Another key benefit is that smaller businesses can effectively compete with larger companies using internet marketing, because they don’t need a huge budget for an expensive print media or billboard campaign.
But how do small businesses and other webmasters take advantage?
Search engine marketing
One tried-and-tested method is search engine marketing. This can include search engine optimization (SEO), whereby websites are boosted in Google, Yahoo, etc by containing more relevant keywords and fresh, ever-changing content, as well as through Link Building.
As the BBC notes, “one of the most important factors in deciding how relevant particular sites are is to count how many other sites link to it”, and responsible link building increases a site’s credibility.
Paid search is also popular, with companies bidding on certain keywords and having their ads displayed at the side or the top of the main results pages of the search engines.
Finally, a fast-evolving method is viral marketing,
whereby social networks are used to spread awareness of a brand or product, in a self-replicating way similar to the spread of a virus.
The internet is particularly well-suited to this process because of the popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, and because of the emerging trend for other collaborative projects and spaces.
A recent example was the Guinness viral campaign that trailed the launch of its latest television ad.