Internet marketing is simply a phrase that has been used to describe marketing in the virtual world. It refers to the activities involved with generating ideas, developing the products and services into deliverables, packaging, presenting, offering, promoting and transmitting products and services using the internet.
In this post we look at the fundamental and basic determinations that should guide your internet marketing decisions.
The Internet Marketing Plan
There is a common saying that failing to plan is planning to fail. Unfortunately, planning the internet marketing programme is often overlooked. Most businesses will only invest their efforts and resources into the design stage and expect revenues to turn in without extra efforts. We have found that over 30 percent of business websites that ran without a clear plan and focus on sustainability ran out of business within two years and the domains were not renewed.
The major reason we could attribute to this is that they failed to drive the expected revenues and could not justify continuous investment in internet business.
But the reality is that the internet drives lots of revenue for businesses annually. According to Digital Ecommerce Consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020, up an incredible 44.0% year over year, according to Digital Commerce 360 estimates. That’s the highest annual U.S. ecommerce growth in at least two decades. It’s also nearly triple the 15.1% jump in 2019. We can therefore deduce that just in the real world, there are enormous opportunities for online business profitability but it all depends on how well the marketing aspect of the business is planned and executed.
Many business owners claim they had a plan which turns out in most cases to be a mental picture of the conceived business and how it will be promoted. In some cases, the business manages to become a success especially when operated within an industry with low competition. As competition grows, they either begin to be more strategic and implement a growth plan or they gradually lose market share.
Let’s be precise to define planning as the statement of objectives and how they will be achieved. So, in planning, you state what you want to achieve and follow up with how you intend to achieve them. This means plans must be clear, time bound, realistic and measurable.
Clarity of Plans
The starting point in planning is to state what you want to achieve. Let’s take search engine ranks as an example. You could plan to rank at top position number 3 on the Google search engine result pages for a certain search phrase or term. That is a clear statement of the objective of your marketing programme.
Plans Should be Time Bound
When you define your goal and objectives, in our example above, the goal or objective is to rank at position No. 3 in the Google Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) for a certain search term. This objective should be for a certain period of time. So, you could plan to achieve your targets within one year, two years, three years or more. This will further categorize your plans in short-term, medium term and long term plans. Plans that are designed to be achieved in over five years are generally considered to be long term plans while plans that are designed to be achieved within a year are short term plans.
Plans Should be Realistic
When you define your objectives, you have to make them realistic. Plans should be attainable. For example, if you are currently ranking at position 50 on the SERPs after being in business for five years, you will sound unrealistic to target position number 3 in a period of six months. That is not to say that such is not attainable, we have seen an unprecedented rise in search engine positions for websites in a week but in reality, that is an extreme achievement.
When you set plans, you need to set realistic targets which must match the budgets and expenditure to be invested in prosecuting the marketing campaign.
Plans Should be Measurable
Of course, if you are unable to measure your performance, you won’t be able to determine how close you have been close to achieving your targets. Plans should be measurable so as to determine the controls that may be necessary for business and customer satisfaction.
The Marketing Planning Process
Strategically, there are five stages involved in the planning process.
The 5 Steps of the Strategic Planning Process
- Determine your strategic position.
- Prioritize your objectives.
- Develop a strategic plan.
- Execute and manage your plan.
- Review and revise the plan.
Determine your strategic position
This will answer the question of “where are we”. You will first need to determine your position, successes, challenges and potentials before you move on with the remaining stages in determining the marketing plan. This stage requires that you compare your strengths and weaknesses with those of your competitors. This calls for an analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
The strengths and weaknesses are internal while the opportunities and threats are external.
Once you are able to determine your strategic position in the market, you can process to set your objectives.
Prioritize your objectives
Now that you have been able to determine what you can do and what counts for you in relation to your competitors, you can proceed to set your objectives. It is important to prioritize objectives because you can’t achieve everything within your limited budget and time. So, you have to set prioritized objectives and stick to the most important within your available resources.
Like with your plans, your objectives should be clear, realistic and attainable.
Develop a strategic plan
At this stage, you need to define your mission and integrate that into the overall vision of your business. You will then assess the growth opportunities for your business. At this point you will consider downsizing your markets and diversification if possible.
Then proceed to conduct a review of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This should lead you to the formulation of your strategies. It will include an analysis of your competition and the determination of the keys to success, a definition of your target markets and the mix of marketing programmes and offerings to reach them.
You will have to relate this with a budget and some controls. Internet marketing requires money and the amount of money available for marketing will determine how much you can execute your plan.
You will also have to insert some controls. This will follow a review of your programme and how much the objectives are being achieved. If there are deviations, then there should be some adjustments to realign the marketing programme of course.
Execute and manage your plan
Now, after the definition of the action programmes, it is time to execute the marketing plan. Marketing plans revolve around four key variables – the product/service offering, the pricing, the promotion and distribution/delivery. These are traditionally referred to as the “Four Ps” of marketing. We can look at them in greater detail as they relate to internet marketing.
The Product/Service Offering
Here, you bring your idea to reality. You could have conceived a blog, an ecommerce shop to sell ebooks, do drop shipping, teach or run a consultancy programme. The product offering encompasses all that including the design of your website.
Your product offering must be attractive with aesthetics and convey professionalism, build confidence and assurance. It also needs some call to action and get visitors to try your offering. Generally speaking, you must put extra effort into your offer and presentation because internet marketing is a service and its quality will be judged by the accuracy, the authoritativeness, expertise and trust that your website conveys. Interestingly, these are all valuable signals for search engine ranking.
Pricing has been used to encourage early purchase and also as a stamp of quality. However, entering any market with a high price has not been a good and recommended strategy. For services and online marketers, pricing should reflect the advantages and perceived differentiation in the product offering. Otherwise, it is recommended that you enter with a low price.. Further, low pricing should not be an excuse to compromise on quality.
Tools like newsletters, webinars, discounts, coupons and freebies are good promotional techniques for internet marketers. Before you decide on the promotional strategy to deploy, you will have to review competitors strategies, consider your budget and of course, your market – the target of the promotion.
Young people can be reached through social media but tend to like freebies. They eventually want to buy after they try the free offers and find additional useful features in paid offers.
Older people tend to go for quality and so could buy once they find satisfactory features and benefits in the offer.
These are just some of the critical decisions to take before embarking on a promotional program.
How do you get the service or product delivered after a payment. This is a critical decision to take. We recommend immediate delivery of products where possible. Fortunately, there are plugins offered that can trigger such deliveries today so customers do not need to wait for days after making payments. Most of the popular payment system providers can do that.
The Role of the Search Engines in Internet Marketing
Here we want to look at the business of reaching a large number of customers through organic search traffic. The search engines also offer paid search services. But we are concerned about organic traffic not paid traffic. Of course, it is a huge expenditure to try to use paid search to win business today. There are some interesting and astonishing statistics on this:
1. 53% of website traffic comes from organic search.
2. Almost a third of consumers search for local businesses on a daily basis.
3. Over 99% of all searchers click on one of the links in the first SERP.
4. Organic search drives over ten times more website traffic than organic social media.
5. The first result on a Google SERP has a 28.5% click-through rate. By the time you get to the 10th result, the CTR has fallen to 2.5%.
These stunning figures should justify the efforts you put in building organic traffic and suggest that any internet marketing program must take organic search ranking very seriously.
Internet Marketing Components to Take Seriously
- Advertising. …
- Content marketing. …
- Email marketing. …
- Mobile marketing. …
- Paid search. …
- Programmatic advertising. …
- Reputation marketing. …
- Search engine optimization.
Online advertising can be very useful during the introductory stages of your website when you wouldn’t have gained reasonable traffic from organic searches. Advertising can help promote your brand and if our content and offering is of high quality can help you build early brand loyalty.
Content marketing involves creating interesting content like videos, blogs and webinars and sharing the content with the intention of generating user interest towards a predefined action. The action could include a purchase, a subscription, a share or registration.
Let it be noted that content marketing is very important for any internet marketing strategy. And Google values content because the quality of content it displays also determines the quality of its search results. Google loves fresh content because it enriches its search engine. If you are consistent in developing high quality content, Google will reward you with high ranking.
Email marketing is probably the most widely used method of internet marketing. And email sending is not so simple. The time and how your message headers are crafted all matter to how the message is received and the responses you can get.
Mobile marketing has a relationship with the other methods earlier mentioned. It’s focus is on the use of mobile devices. But it is a critical aspect of the marketing programme because there are now more mobile users accessing the internet than desktop users.
There are two major ways to appear in the search engines. It is either it is natural, also called organic search or it is by paid advertising. It may really be very difficult to drive the desired traffic and results through paid advertising but it can be very useful during product launch.. Moreover, paid clicks account for less than 20 percent of clicks to websites.
Programmatic advertising involves using automated techniques to buy media space as opposed to traditional media placements. It uses specialized techniques to ensure that ads are targeted at the right audiences and advertisers only pay for adverts that are rightly targeted. Facebook uses this technique effectively to target audiences in its advertising program.
Reputation marketing focuses on building strong brands through positive reviews, social media comments and the entire process of managing a company’s or brand online reputation. Protecting your brand is not so simple, it is affected by what you do online, what you do to your customers and how you manage and resolve issues when they occur. You must work hard to protect your brand so that you can build trust and gain business.
Simply called SEO, it is the mother of online marketing success. It relates to all you do to gain prominence and high ranks in the search engines. This has some relationship with building your reputation, building quality content, social shares and much more.
In embarking on your internet marketing campaign, bear in mind that the search engines and yor visitors make judgements based on the content of your website. From the titles, to the descriptions, body, menus and so on, it is important that they be properly researched for optimum performance.
The right use of targeted keywords will help the performance of your content. When people conduct searches in the search engines, they use keywords and keyword phrases. As you develop your content, you need to build in the keywords for which you desire to rank . This is because Google only understands your website based on its contents. The keywords will enable Google to do a proper categorization of your website.
Finally, remember that planning is fundamental for marketing success. Also remember that plans will be funded and so they need to be realistic and attainable, not bogus. Take your time to plan your marketing program and you will attain success. The market is ever growing and the opportunities are there. Plans that are carefully and methodically implemented are required for success.