When you think of the term “internet marketing
For some business owners, they’ll think of a website. Others may think of social media, or blogging. In reality, all of these avenues of advertising fall in the category internet marketing and each is like a puzzle piece in a much bigger marketing picture. Unfortunately, for new business owners trying to establish their web presence, there’s a lot of puzzle pieces to manage.
And yet, internet marketing is essential to all businesses, even if they’re small, local, one-person LLCs. Your online presence can help you establish your expertise, draw in new leads and make sales without even needing anyone to help market your company.
In this post, we’re going to give you a crash course in internet marketing 101 and go over the basics of each type of online marketing platform and what you need to get started.
What is Internet Marketing?
Internet marketing is a pretty broad term. Any type of marketing efforts that you execute online will fall into this category. To help you get oriented, however, here are some of the most popular and important avenues small businesses need to know about.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search engine marketing (SEM) is any marketing effort designed to help users find you through search platforms like Google. Search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search platforms like Google AdWords both are considered crucial—but separate parts—of SEM.
SEO is free. With SEO, you’ll create a website that’s designed to rank well in search engines, helping people find you organically. To rank well organically, you’ll need to do extensive keyword research and knowing how to write great content that is focused on those keywords.
SEO will also require you to learn about techniques like link building, which can help your site move up in the rankings, too. While you’ll want to check in on your keywords every so often to make sure your site’s SEO health is in good function, the SEO of your basic site doesn’t require ongoing maintenance unlike other marketing platforms.
Tools like Yoast SEO—which is a free WordPress plugin pictured above—can help you optimize your site for SEO even if you’re relatively unfamiliar with it.
Pay-Per-Click Marketing (PPC)
PPC marketing is paid advertising where marketers create an ad, bid to have it shown to their target audience, and then pay for results. Depending on the platform and what they choose to optimize for, they may pay for clicks, conversions, actions taken, or impressions.
PPC marketing comes in either two forms: search ads or display ads.
Search ads allow you to show text ads to users who are actively searching for the keywords you’ve targeted. If they’re searching for “purple checkered pants” and you’re running an ad campaign to sell some, they’ll be shown your ad at the top of their search results.
Google AdWords and Bing Ads are the two most common PPC search ad platforms. They allow you to connect to users who are actively looking for your product and are at a high intent of purchasing.
All other ad types are display ads, including Facebook and Instagram Ads, Google AdSense, Promoted Pins, Quora Ads, and LinkedIn Ads.
Display ads let proactively show your ads to users while they’re browsing the web. Your ad could show up on their Facebook feed, for example, or on the news page they’re reading. They give you the advantage of introducing customer to your product even if they aren’t looking.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing includes both organic marketing and paid advertising through a social media platform’s native PPC ad programs. The main goals of social media marketing campaigns are often to build brand awareness and nurture relationships with customers, keeping your brand at the forefront of your mind.
The most popular social media platform for marketing is Facebook, where you can create thorough Pages with a lot of information about your business. Even with the latest algorithm change that is causing a big drop in organic reach, it’s still likely the most important social media site for business to be on.
Other big players are Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, though there’s also Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Periscope and so many more.
You can have business profiles on as many social media platforms as you’d like, but it’s good to start small and scale up unless you’re hiring someone to manage your social media for you. Pick one or two platforms that you believe will be most beneficial to you and that your audience is most active on, and start there.
Email marketing is the practice of nurturing leads and driving sales through email communications with your customers. Like social media, the goal is to remind users that you’re here and your product is waiting. Unlike social media, however, you can be a lot more aggressive with your sales techniques, as people expect that email marketing will contain offers, product announcements and calls to action.
You’ll want to capture users’ emails regularly, both when they purchase…and even before they become a customer. You can use lead magnets or discounts to incentivize email sign-ups and using an email management service like MailChimp allows you to create triggered autoresponders that will automatically send out pre-made welcome email campaigns when they subscribe.
Content marketing is the use of content that’s published online to draw in leads and establishing trust by offering value. It may involve the creation of:
- Blog posts published on your site
- Guest posts that you write for other sites, linking back to yours
- Lead magnets like ebooks, white papers, or case studies designed to capture lead information
- Infographics or videos that can be shared on various social channels
Content marketing must be executed with goals in mind and it should be used in conjunction with search engine optimization. You should also plan on creating content regularly, or this marketing avenue loses most of its momentum quickly.
Online networking, when executed correctly, allows you to build valuable relationships in online forums and groups that can help you advance your business. You could meet peers and fellow experts with whom you could collaborate or partner up with for a project, or you could provide value to your target audience by sharing your knowledge and winning over some customers as a result. No matter what, though, the goal with this type of marketing is purely relationship building and not selling outright.
Some of the best places to look for online communities that are relevant to your business include:
- Facebook groups
- LinkedIn groups (like the one pictured above)
- Industry forums, like the Warrior Forum for business or Wedding Wire for wedding professionals
- Question and answer forums like Quora
Regardless of how you choose to network online, it’s a great way to get in front of potential clients and grow your business—often for free!
Where Should I Start?
To get started with internet marketing, the first thing you need to do is to put together a strong, well-designed website. In many cases, hiring an expert to do this is a good way to go, as they’ll be able to create a site that has motivating copy and intuitive navigation designed to get customers to convert.
While your site is being built and the copy is being written, do extensive keyword research. You can use our guide here to see how to do this. The keywords you’re choosing will be vital to helping you rank well in search engines, so crafting a good keyword strategy is a fundamental part of your internet marketing approach.
As people start coming to your site, have an email capture form clearly visible. You should have a welcome-series autoresponder ready so you can start to build relationships with them.
After your site has been built out, creating a social media presence is the best second step for most businesses. All businesses should have a Facebook Page that’s fully fleshed out with plenty of information about your business. Depending on your audience, you can also start a Twitter, Instagram, and/or Pinterest account. Social media is a long-term commitment that requires frequently updating and monitoring, but it’s one of the best ways to build an online community around your business.
After your social media accounts are established, you can then branch out into other internet marketing options. PPC marketing—either on social media ads or search ads—can help you extend your reach quickly and efficiently and content marketing is a good way to showcase your expertise.
How Do I Measure My Internet Marketing Results?
There are free tools that you can use to track the effectiveness of your internet marketing, no matter which platforms you choose. These include:
- Google Analytics, which helps you track what channels are sending your site traffic, who is visiting your site, how they’re interacting with it, and what’s encouraging them to convert. You sync it to your site with simple tags and it’s an invaluable source of information all sites should have.
- Native on-platform analytics, including Facebook’s Insights, Twitter’s Analytics, and Instagram’s Insights. These platforms can help you evaluate your on-platform metrics such as likes, shares, retweets, comments, and direct messages. With this information, you can evaluate the effectiveness of your community-building efforts and your audience’s interest in your content.
How Much is This Going to Cost Me?
Internet marketing can cost a whole lot, but fortunately it can be affordable for all marketing budgets. You’ll have to spend about $100 per year to purchase a domain name and pay for web hosting, which allows you to build and maintain a high-functioning website.
Social media marketing on its own is free to use, as is content marketing if you’re creating and managing the content yourself. Several email marketing platforms have free plans for your first few hundred or thousand subscribers, giving you time to get your revenue increasing before you have to start paying. There are even free keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner that can help you optimize your site at no cost.
There are a few costs that I recommend investing in, however, as soon as you have the capital to do so. These include:
- Hiring a professional designer to create your site for you. This typically starts at a minimum of $1,500 if they’re good. It’s expensive, but an investment that will be well worth it.
- Hiring a copywriter to handle the copy on your site, which can start at around $500 depending on your site.
- Investing in PPC campaigns to expand your reach and speed up your lead generation efforts. This can cost anywhere from $10 t0 $10,000 depending your budget and what you bid. If you have the capability to do so, hiring an agency or marketer can get you more results.
Don’t forget, too, that every penny you spend on internet marketing is not only an investment that can bring in new revenue, it’s also a business expense. Business expenses can be helpful come tax time, so that makes the money even more worthwhile.
Internet marketing can seem complicated when you first start. It is, however, a necessity for all businesses. Even small businesses who only serve local customers need to be utilizing internet marketing to reach new customers and nurture relationships with them.
Fortunately, the number of different platforms and free tools make internet marketing capable of molding to fit your budget. This makes internet marketing accessible and profitable for businesses of all sizes.
By the way, if you’d like help getting started with internet marketing, let me know here or in the comments. I’d love to help!
What do you think? What avenues of internet marketing have been most beneficial to your business? Which do you use most frequently? Share your thoughts, knowledge and questions in the comments below!
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Ana Gotter is a freelance writer specializing in social media and content marketing, though she writes on a variety of other niches and subjects. She can be contacted at anagotter.com.