Often people ask me what is Internet Marketing? And trust me its very difficult to answer this question in short. I used to wonder how to explain the wonderful art and science behind internet marketing to people who are complete stranger to the concept. There are a lot of vague perceptions people think of when I say I work in the Internet Marketing industry. People perceive channels of internet marketing to define it. Facebooking, tweeting, blogging etc. are considered internet marketing activities. I agree they are, but the fact is that Internet marketing is much more than that, what ever I mentioned above are just channels and represent few drops in the ocean of Internet Marketing.
I stumbled upon a nice infographic by Mohammad Saad Khan and I think it is perfect to explain the entire concept of Internet Marketing. Thanks to him for this wonderful work, you can follow him on twitter @invinciblesaad. Now lets get started and get drenched in the ocean of Internet Marketing
The Internet Marketing Tree
Let me get started with the most important part of the tree:
Research: This is first step of any internet marketing activity, every marketer should ask the question “What is the purpose of the website/product he or she intends to market?” “What problem does the website/product solve for the consumers?” If this question is answered and well defined then you are on your way to become an Internet Marketing ninja. After defining the purpose, research about the competition of the website/product, where does it stand? – the situation, and finally the target audience – age group, interest levels, demographics blah blah blah…
Strategy: A well defined strategy can help the internet market clinch success soon. Its a combination of a whole lot of activities, not sure if I can justify it in this small paragraph, but still here is my try
- Think of a plan as to how best the product can be used to solve the consumer’s problems
- Examine if any new addition is required to help consumers better
- Define the unique selling proposition(USP) if it doesn’t have one already
- Think of ways to attract consumers based on the USP
- Think of avenues to engage and keep consumers interested
- Think of the “Wow” factors your product can offer so that the consumers will multiply your product reach by by sharing it with others.
Chalk out all the above factors and formulate the internet marketing strategy and most importantly execute them one by one.
Content: This is the real deal, the the live wire that will keep the product alive. Based on the strategy defined above, position the content. Keep it relevant and don’t make it sound/read salesy. Maintain the 80:20 balance, i.e., 80% of the content should provide information about various aspects of a problem the consumer wants to get solved and 20% of the content can be used to convey the sales message of your product. Formulate a content plan and keep it organised.
Branding: A very important branch of the root that defines the identity of the product. Building a brand is very important and this is a continuous process, practically doesn’t happen overnight. The most important factor in branding is to convey the brand message clearly i.e., what problem your product will solve for the consumer and this message should be evident in each and every component of the product tangibly and intangibly. Keep the brand message focused, your product cannot solve every problem of the consumer. Do the basics right, a catchy brand name and visually appealing logo that consumers can relate to can do a world of good. The bottom line is that, if people recogonise your product by its brand name, as a marketer you will eliminate the competitors out of the equation straight away. A brand is built on the credibility consumers have on the product, this can yield rich dividends in the form of loyal customers in the long run.
The product/website is the trunk of the Internet Marketing tree. The various functionality it offers, the development that goes into it, the design, usability all together form the bark of the Internet Marketing tree.
Development: SOP’s should be laid out for the development, it should be in compliance with web standards (in case of websites). Smart coding that keeps the product error free and faster page load times is key for any development.
Usability and design- A vital part of the product. Intuitive and user centric design helps the purpose of the product to be achieved. There is no point in building a great product which the consumer cannot access or make use of effectively. A good user experience design is a result of smart decisions taken on the basis of user behaviour research data and not the gut feeling or the aesthetic preferences of the designer.
The various channels of conveying the brand message to the target audience form the branches of the Marketing tree. The Marketing channels are customisable based on the product and can be used in various combinations.
Online advertising: Very similar to traditional advertising, it involves buying advertising space on websites relevant to the niche and attracting visitors of those websites towards the product by conveying the brand message. Web banners, widgets, guest blogging, affiliate partnerships etc. fall under this channel.
Public relations (PR): This involves being the thought leader in the niche by publishing news about new developments in the niche, publishing white papers, reaching out to the Press, addressing customer feedback etc.
Social media: Very hot and happening channel in the last couple of years, this involves engaging with the target audience through various social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc. and building relationships with them. It is primarily a community building activity around the brand by contributing remarkable aka share-able content that will directly benefit the community. This channel falls under inbound marketing, the art and science of attracting target audience by contributing remarkable content in various forms – infographics, blogs, videos, e-books etc.
Email marketing: This involves creating custom content and engaging with leads through newsletters in periodic intervals. It is ethical to involve in email marketing only with prior permission of the consumer. Buying email list from third party vendors and spamming the inbox of the users is unethical and of very low impact.
Directories and listings: This involves listing the product information on directories (both paid and free) in the niche and generating leads through the listing. Example: bloggers generally list their blogs on directories like Technorati and are categorised based on the niche they represent.
Search Engine Marketing: This involves generating leads through search engines. It is of two types:
Paid search engine lead generation aka pay per click (PPC) campaigns, wherein the product results are featured on top of the search engine results for some targeted keyword searches.
Organic search engine lead generation – this involves producing quality content and optimising the website by following the search quality guidelines and best practices advised by the search engines, which if done right can eventually result in organic listing of the website results on top of the search engine result pages (SERPs).
Lastly the most important factor in any activity for that matter is measuring the impact. Analytics is key for measuring the impact of time, money and effort spent in all the above activities. Constant monitoring and repositioning the strategies as per the trend can help sail the ocean of Internet Marketing successfully. Hope this post was helpful, I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback’s in the comments section.
Thumbnail image courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos