Building your website is akin to opening a storefront on a very busy freeway. Unless you put up a big billboard, the thousands of drivers zipping along the freeway in their nice cozy cars will never know you exist. Online marketing is the online equivalent of a freeway billboard, informing the world to come by and check you out!
In order to put together an online marketing plan, you need to have a very good understanding of the different types of Internet marketing options available. If you are not familiar with Internet marketing in general, you should work with an Internet marketing professional in developing your understanding and your online marketing plan.
Internet marketing is not that much different from offline marketing. In its core, the principles are the same:
When deciding on the websites you want to place advertisements on, the critical things to consider are
When you have a reasonable advertising budget, an Internet marketing plan using a mix of these options is the best way to drive a consistent volume of new and high quality traffic to your website. However, due to the cost structure, the sustainability of your marketing plan depends heavily on achieving clearly defined conversion targets.
2When the cost of ad placement is free, the competition is equally fierce, as there are more people trying to to use the free options to promote their websites too.
Search engines are typically the only websites offering free ad placements, and generating enough traffic worth fighting over. However, it is important to understand, the competition is not about getting into the list of results, rather, the competition is all about ad placement.
Buying Internet marketing services promising to get you into search engines is a complete waste of money.
Buying Internet marketing services promising to get you to the top of the search engine results is buying into a pipe dream.
So is search engine optimization ( SEO ) a scam?
No, SEO is a process by which you compete for a better ad display placement ( i.e. higher position, or first page ranking ) on search engine results.
Remembering that it's free to be listed in the search engine results, means there are a lot of web pages vying to be on the top of the search engine result lists.
How much competition there is depends on the industry you are competing in. So it is easier to get to the top in less competitive industries, not so easy in highly competitive ones. However, competition on the Internet is measured in millions of web pages, so expectations need to be calibrated to Internet realities.
There are basic rules that search engines go by in determining the order in which websites appear in the result list. These rules are not trade secrets; they are readily available on the Internet, particularly published by the search engines themselves.
The goal of search engine optimization is to assure that the content of your web pages are published in a way that satisfies most, if not all of these basic rules, sufficiently enough that your web page can make its way, over time, to the top of the search results list.
While the SEO strategy do not have a quick turnaround time, and hence cannot be relied upon when you need immediate traffic, it's free ad placement cost structure makes it critical in achieving a long-term, sustainable online marketing success. Simply put, once you achieve the desired ad placement you want, it's a cost-free advertising channel that just gives on giving.
Note, free ad placement, does not equate to SEO is free. Actually, SEO can be quite costly to complete successfully, especially if you applied time-constraints to your plan. No matter how you want to advertise online, there is no substitute to having a significant marketing budget.
Bottom line, your online marketing plan should include a natural SEO development strategy designed to achieve long-term positioning of your brand in the competitive online landscape for your industry.
2. Placing your online advertisement, pick your ad format
Your choice of websites you decide to advertise on determines the ad formats you will have to provide.
On the Internet ad formats are limited to
- All text ads
- Graphic / banner ads
- Animated / flash ads ( with or without audio )
Each format has its advantages and disadvantages.
Most websites offering to show your ads for free ( i.e. search engine listings ) will require text ad listings.
Most websites where you pay to list your ads, will support most, if not all, of these options.
Either way, once you decide on the websites you want to advertise on, all that is left is actually listing your ads on those sites.
1When cost of ad placement is not free, you can simply go to the website and sign up for an advertising account, place your ads, and run your advertising campaigns. How much control you have over your advertising dollars, and your campaigns depend on the quality of campaign management tools the website has made available to you in your advertising account. This is why larger websites like Google are easier to advertise on than others. If you are new to online advertising, you may consider working with an experienced Internet marketing professional in the setup of your advertising campaigns, but you should be managing how your money is spent yourself.
2When the cost of ad placement is free, placing your ads also begins with going to the website and submitting your website address and information. However, in the particular case of search engines, getting to the desired ad display placement, involves more targeted and long-term SEO work on your part.
Further, there are a lot of websites out there offering free listings for your website, and while many of these will not make any significant contribution to your website traffic, there are some SEO benefits to using these free listing options. However, since you cannot locate and complete the ad placement process for each website in a manual way, it is useful to use one-time submission services, ( or better yet, just buy the submission software ) that will do the job for you more expediently.
3. Reaching the right demographics
Assuring a positive ROI on your Internet marketing dollars starts with delivering your ads to the right demographics. The right demographics assures you will get a higher number of the traffic you generate actually doing what you want them to do on your website. You can easily deploy ads that will drive a huge amount of traffic to your website, only for them to leave ( i.e. higher bounce rates ).
Many of the bigger websites offering advertising now provides greater control over demographics information, allowing you to match your ads to just the sort of people you want to reach.
In addition, some of these websites offer even greater control over geography ( i.e. geo-targeting ), allowing you to deliver your ads to just the people in a certain area.
The more low-level controls you have over your ads delivery, the higher your conversion will be, and it's the only assurance of a positive ROI on your marketing dollars.
4. Bringing traffic to your website; measuring quality and ROI
An Internet user comes to your website when they click on any of your ads from another website. This is called a click-through.
Your ad click-through rate ( CTR ) is the first measure of the efficiency of your online advertising. This simply means that if your ad is shown 100 times on a website you are advertising on, but it is clicked on 10 times, then your CTR is 10% ( i.e. 100 divide by 10 ).
The higher your CTR, the better for you. Some websites will charge you more per click, if you are paying with a CPC model, if your CTR is very low, and charge you less per click if you CTR is higher.
Further, when a visitor lands on your website, and immediately leaves, this is a bounce. You just paid for useless traffic. You track how much useless traffic you are getting using the bounce rate.
Another metric that is significant to track is your click fraud rate. A click fraud is simply the same person generating multiple clicks that you pay for. So it you are using the CPC model to pay for your advertising, while you may think your 10 clicks are 10 unique visitors, it actually isn't. It's just one single person, clicking 10 times. It goes without saying, that click fraud rate has a huge impact on your advertising ROI.
The final metric, and most important to you really is the conversion. Conversion measurement can be based on actual sales, orders, or any other act that you are marketing for. What is a conversion is completely defined by you, however it can easily be tracked.
Your ability to calculate your effective advertising ROI depends on efficient and comprehensive campaign management, tracking and reporting tools and diligent campaign management. This is where most online advertisers, especially small firms buying hands-off marketing services ultimately fail. Of course you can hire Internet marketing professionals to design, implement and manage your online advertising campaigns, but where limited budgets are significant constraints, you can get more value by learning the basics and taking a hand-on approach.
5. Assuring higher conversions on your website traffic
Your ability to convert your website visitors ( or traffic ) is the key to a sustainable online marketing plan.
Preparations for effective conversion should not begin after you've expended your marketing budget to drive traffic to your website. It needs to begin much, much more earlier.
What will prompt a website visitor to convert ( i.e. do what you want them to do )? A lot of factors, each individually significant; collectively, it's all about quality.
- The quality of your brand presentation
- The quality of your messages
- The quality of your message presentations
- The quality of your products and services
- The quality of your product and service delivery processes
- The quality of your response to inquiries
- The quality of your online reputation
Conversion can happen within a few seconds, a few hours, or a few weeks. Hence your ability to track conversion origins over an extended period of time is key to accurate conversion measurement, and proper alignment of your marketing campaign cycles to actual conversion cycles.
Avoid Internet marketing service scams
Do you need to hire anyone to do your Internet marketing for you?
No, you don't. You can run your own marketing campaigns.
Yes, only if you don't have enough time or experience to run your campaigns on your own.
Running and monitoring a marketing campaign do take significant time. So if you hire someone to do it, expect that your overall cost of marketing will go up. What you need to do is make sure you know what percentage of what you paid is spent on your direct marketing campaigns, and what percentage goes towards management overhead.
Can you find a service provider that can put you on page one on Google?
No, any service provider that promises this is either hawking a fraudulent service, or counting on your inexperience. First page rankings means nothing, unless it's for high-traffic generating keywords. Chances are you already have first page rankings for keywords relating to your brand ( i.e. your name ) anyway. A successful SEO plan begins with proper keyword research to locate high-traffic generating keywords with the least amount of competition.
Do I need to buy Internet marketing services to get into search engines?
No, buying Internet marketing services promising to get you into search engines is a complete waste of money and time. Getting into search engines is free. If you want to use an automated solution, simply buy a directory submission software, and run it anytime you want. There is no value provided by these services, and continuous submission services with recurring service fees are frauds.
What about flat rate monthly fee marketing services?
These are mostly value deprived services marketed to people with little knowledge of Internet marketing. These are called new names to make them seem different or new. It does not matter what it's called, the key question still remains, how much of what you pay goes towards your marketing campaign?
Do you need to hire anyone to provide SEO services?
No. You can easily optimize web pages yourself, if you care enough to learn the basic rules.
Yes. only if you don't have enough time or experience to run your campaigns on your own. Optimizing website content requires careful patience and can take time. You need to perform good keyword research and make sure you are optimizing on good high-traffic generating keywords. Finally, SEO is a long process with no guarantees. You may or may not achieve first page ranking, but you can easily monitor your progress along the way and make adjustments necessary to get there.