A customer looking for hotels in Hawaii, on random sites, suddenly finds emails, web pages, social media sites providing information on not only hotels in Hawaii but tourist attractions, airline deals, local culinary delights and many local dos and don’ts! Why, because customer is the king and how, because internet spreads the word. A word of mouth used to be enough to market a product some time back in close knit communities. With time, things evolved; communities, markets, and products grew. Word of mouth was not enough to promote a brand. Various marketing tools such as print, advertising, telephonic promotions came into being. This was good enough but not for long as it was expensive and still had limited reach to the customer. Fortunately, the parallel growth of technology gave us the internet and opened the entire world to spread an electronic word of mouth.
Internet marketing simplified
Marketing is an act of buying and selling goods and services in a market. As more and more people use the internet every day, it is only wise to market products through internet marketing. This constitutes use of various internet marketing channels such as web, email and social media marketing. All these channels work to attain the objectives of generating flow of customers to the website. This creates online communities favouring products and encouraging conversation about the product on various social media platforms.
A website is the basic step for online marketing. It provides detailed information about a product and is a place where traffic could be directed to from other internet marketing conduits.
Major conduits of internet marketing:
1. Search Marketing:
a. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) –An organic (free) way of utilising techniques which rank a product higher in internet search and create traffic to the website. This is achieved by applying specific rules to the design of the website to make it search friendly and by getting votes from other websites building trust in a particular website.
b. Paid Search Advertising (PSA) -Placing of ads on search engines and paying for clicks to the search engines, also called Pay Per Click (PPC).
2. Social Media Marketing – To utilise the changing habits of customers who spend considerable time on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube and so on, the website is promoted here and the readers are encouraged to share it across social networks. The user generated content, in form of reviews, further promotes the brand.
3. Content Marketing– Sharing of valuable content through different techniques such as infographics, webpages, podcasts, videos, books, and blogs. This type of marketing is intended for a clearly defined customer base.
5. Banner Advertising – Banner or display advertising is where an ad is placed on a web page linked to the advertiser’s own web site. It could be text, graphics, or sound. These banners create traffic to the advertiser’s web site and are positioned on those web pages where the intended customers are most likely to visit.
6. Email Marketing – Collecting email addresses of customers to whom messages could be sent about the products to build brand awareness. This is a fast and almost free method of internet marketing and the return on investment can be tracked.
4. Mobile Marketing – Creating content to market a product that could be suitably viewed on a mobile device such as phone and tablet computer. It may also consider the location of the device and show nearest points where a product could be available. These ads appear in applications, mobile games, search ads and SMS messages.
Why is internet marketing important?
The primary pursuit of any business is success. Internet marketing fuels this goal and kickstarts the journey towards it. The internet or online methods provide interactive and cost effective ways to businesses to better sell themselves. A business can connect to a larger customer base, across the world, 24×7. Reduced costs, better grip over market, connection with individual customer and competitive gains are important reasons too. The data collected could be utilised for market research and statistical analysis to develop methodologies to better address customer concerns. Through internet marketing, existing and potential consumers can be classified based on variables like age, earnings and lifestyle and could be offered customised plans and promotions.
The availability of localisation services such as translation and product modification to ensure that a product is suitable for a local market has opened new avenues for businesses. In this technology driven world, a personal touch has a lot of significance. Trust, confidence and sustainable customer relationships could guarantee customer loyalty to businesses. What internet marketing does is exactly this – being there for an individual and reminding them constantly that they exist!