Internet marketing or online marketing is a term used to refer to marketing efforts carried out via ecommerce tools such as the web and email to drive up sales. While in the past Internet marketing was a preserve of companies which carried out their business exclusively on the web, today it is commonplace to find offline businesses resorting to online marketing as part of their marketing mix.
Forms of Internet Marketing
In the early years of the World Wide Web, online marketing was mainly about placing banner adverts on other websites in order to drive up traffic and sales. In the new web, the world of online marketing has grown to include a myriad of strategies, some which are paid for and others free. These include:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Email marketing
- Social media
Search Engine Optimization
The major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing are key drivers of online traffic. Website owners spend endless hours optimizing their sites in order to achieve high ranking for crucial keywords when users search for products and services online.
The use of email as a marketing tool rather than just an effective way of communication is a relatively recent phenomenon. The most successful online businesses maintain complex databases of email contacts that they target regularly with offers and promotions.
The rise of social networking sites in the last few years has caused a veritable revolution in the world of online marketing. How well an online business integrates social media tools in their marketing strategy is often a marker of how successful they are in attracting profitable traffic to their site.
Online Marketing Agencies
Over the years, internet marketing has become a complex field and increasingly competitive as even more businesses realize the power of the web in influencing consumer choices. To market a website successfully online requires plenty of time and effort, and many entrepreneurs on the web cannot afford to do it effectively as an in-house operation. This state of affairs has created room for specialist online marketing agencies which offer the services at a fee. There are some convincing arguments why online businesses should outsource their marketing needs to an agency and some disadvantages as well.
Advantages of Using an Online Marketing Agency
1. Quick Results: An adept internet marketing agency has established channels and marketing templates which are guaranteed to deliver quick results. An online entrepreneur who opts to do the marketing on their own will first be required to explore different channels and create trust before they can begin enjoying increased traffic and, ultimately, more sales.
2. Advanced Reporting: Agencies offering internet marketing services provide regular feedback in the form of reports and projections which are good indicators of the effectiveness of different tools they have deployed in marketing the website.
3. Integrated Marketing Tools: When it comes to ranking of websites by search engines, it is important to have strong indicators of competitiveness in different fronts. To ensure a balanced approach to online marketing, the best agencies integrate different tools in their approach in order to send consistent signals to search engines that the website concerned is not only popular but also that it offers visitors the content they are in need of.
Disadvantages of Using Online Marketing Agencies
1. Little Flexibility: Many online marketing agencies have established procedures for carrying out marketing. While some or most of their methods may work well in a particular internet niche, this may not always apply across the board. A website owner who does their own marketing may be able to tailor their promotions to the best effect possible, a flexibility which is often lacking from agencies.
2. Low Conversion Rates: Marketing promotions mounted by online marketing agencies invariably bring a lot of traffic to a website. However, the percentage of online visitors who actually take time to view the offer, place an order and follow through is often lower than what more organically generated traffic can bring.