What is Internet Marketing?

Updated on

As a huge part of our daily lives in countless ways, the internet provides a unique and fantastic opportunity to grow your business and reach potential customers. Harnessing the full potential of internet marketing can completely change the future of your business and open a host of new opportunities.

Internet marketing is available through four main channels:

  • Organic search
  • Paid Advertising
  • Social Media
  • Email Marketing

Organic search puts your website in front of customers who are using a search engine to find out about products and services. Businesses can take advantage of this by using search engine optimization (SEO) to reach those potential customers.  When customers use a search engine such Google, Yahoo!, or Bing to look for a local merchant, research a product, or locate a business, the search engine uses an algorithm to present relevant results. Appearing among these results is an important way to reach customers who are interested in what you have to offer. For instance, if someone in Houston, Texas searches for “houston seo company”, a company which provides SEO services throughout Houston would want to appear among the top results, so that the customer can find their service as an option.

Paid advertising, also known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, involves paying for an advertisement to be placed on a website and paying for the traffic gained through that exposure. One of the most popular avenues for this advertising is Google Adwords, which displays relevant ads at the top of search results. With high levels of customization available, you can choose for a campaign to target certain keywords and search terms, limits for your budget, and geographic areas to reach – from entire countries to cities or states.

Social Media is used to reach customers through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. These platforms offer a number of great opportunities, such as increasing brand awareness, opening meaningful dialogue with customers who can more easily find your business, connecting with other professionals in your industry, building a customer following, and gaining exposure for your content by having an audience to share it with. Although you can reap some of these benefits by using the platform for free, paid social media marketing can bring significant traffic to your website, a product or service that you provide, or to grow your following on that platform.

Email Marketing is a valuable tool to connect with past, current, and potential clients. By growing a list of email subscribers over time, you have a direct way to ensure that you’re reaching your audience: straight through their inbox. You can share content, announce news, and promote special offers quickly through sending out an email newsletter that is also consistent with your branding.

 CostConversion Rate
Television$24 / 1000 viewers0.0002%
Print$33 / 1000 viewers0.00625%
InternetLess than $1 / 1000 viewers1.3%

Online advertising versus offline marketing

Traditional marketing, such as print items and TV commercials have been used by businesses for decades, and many companies are hesitant to relinquish these avenues. However, internet marketing offers a very different opportunity to reach customers.

When advertising through offline media, you’re trying to search out interested clients by simply putting your services in front of as many people as possible and hoping that someone is interested. In contrast, internet marketing reaches potential clients who are already interested in what you have to offer. For instance, a dentist who puts an ad in a magazine is hoping that someone who sees the ad is looking for a dentist. On the other hand, a business investing in SEO so that the dentist’s website appears for someone who searches for “Houston dentist” knows that this person is interested in the services of a dentist.

Costs of Advertising

In addition to focusing only on customers who are interested in your business, the cost of internet marketing is also comparatively less than traditional advertising.

Research indicates that the price of advertising through TV costs, on average, about $24 per 1,000 viewers reached. Print media, such as magazine ads, typically costs about $33 per 1,000 readers. Internet marketing, on the other hand, costs an average of less than $1 per 1,000 potential customers reached.

The conversion rate for internet marketing and other forms of advertising also varies greatly. This rate indicates the percentage of people who viewed the advertisement and took the desired action, whether that’s making an appointment, requesting a quote, or purchasing an item.

For TV advertisement, the conversion rate is about 0.0002%, while print media sees a rate of 0.00625%. Internet marketing yields a conversion rate of about 1.3%, which is a significant difference.

How much does Internet Marketing cost?

Just like any other form of advertising, the price of internet marketing can vary greatly depending on the type, frequency, and other factors. To provide any sort of worthwhile results, however, the projected costs of organic search can range from $750 to $5,000 per month, social media can cost between $750 and $2,000 per month, and email marketing is about the same at $750 to $2,000 per month. These amounts are typically set by the advertising company providing the service and can only be altered up to a certain amount. However, paid advertising is a little different. These campaigns allow the business to set a budget, so that the price can vary depending on exactly how much the client wants to spend. These can range anywhere from $500 up to tens of thousands. More competitive keywords will cost more to appear for, so highly competitive industries, such as law, may require a significant budget to reap any benefit.

Obviously the optimal amount spent on advertising will vary for every business. According to many marketing experts, though, businesses should be spending about 15% of the company’s income on marketing in general.

What is Internet Marketing?

Can You Do It?

We are frequently asked by businesses if they would be able to undertake their own internet marketing efforts rather than paying a professional for the task. This depends on whether you have the right staff available. To truly reap the potential benefits of internet marketing, you will need the services of certain professionals:

  • Front-end developer, for coding elements of a website or other content that visitors will actually see
  • Back-end developer, who codes items that help a website function but are unseen. Average websites may not need this, but those using databases or other specialty coding will require an experienced programmer.
  • Mathematician/Statistician who can review the data from how your website is performing and understand the impact of these numbers, plus how to optimize your efforts to improve them accordingly
  • Content writer, who will create the written portions of everything from your website to your email newsletters and blog posts while optimizing appropriately for marketing
  • Designer to create engaging visual elements for your marketing

All of these team members are essential to genuinely get the most from an investment in internet marketing, and these individuals must be experienced and knowledgeable in their field. If you happen to have all of these skills, you might be able to effectively manage your business’s internet marketing, but it would still require a significant amount of time. Employing the services of an internet marketing company entrusts your advertising to a team of experienced professionals, to yield results and save your business time.

Choose Your Path Wisely

Not every marketing channel will work for every business. Depending on your location, budget, industry, and audience, your most effective strategy may be completely different from another company’s best campaign. It may take a bit of trial and error, but discovering the most beneficial strategy for your business can yield incredible results. However, it’s important to be willing to adjust your strategy if necessary. Investing in the wrong channel can be a big waste of your resources without providing any benefit. It’s important to keep your expectations reasonable, but if what you’re doing isn’t working – change it!

Not sure where to start? Luckily, there’s a free tool available that can point you in the right direction. Take a look at your website’s Google analytics. Go to the Benchmark section, and you can find data from other companies in your industry and how many visits they typically receive from different marketing channels. This can be very helpful data for deciding which channels might work for your business.

Benchmark Data in Google Analytics

In short, internet marketing is a valuable tool for reaching customers. This field of advertising offers many benefits unseen by traditional means, and using it effectively can mean big growth for your business. For many companies, enlisting the services of a professional internet marketing company can be the most effective way to reap the most benefit and ensure that an investment into online advertising is a wise investment of resources.
For more information on many aspects of internet marketing, check out the rest of this series on Internet Marketing, or join the SEO Center for news, resources, and tips.