11 Things You Should Know About Internet Marketing
Using the internet to promote goods and services for your business is generally known as internet marketing or online marketing. This process may also be referred to as electronic marketing, e-marketing and e-commerce.
Internet marketers use a wide variety of strategies to make their business visible to their target audience, or niche. These strategies include SEO (search engine optimization), blogging, direct marketing, email marketing, content marketing, social media marketing and the list goes on.
There are many advantages and disadvantages that come with internet marketing as a business model and we are going to be looking at a few in this article.
There are many advantages that come with having an online internet marketing business and these include cost, reach, technology, 24/7 availability of products/services. These are primarily customer advantages, but the business benefits include reliable data collection, quick competitive analysis and personalisation.
Compared to traditional brick and mortar or offline marketing, it is much cheaper to promote your business online using the internet and this is especially true about advertising. In fact, there are many ways to promote your business online for FREE! Unlike traditional ad media such as the TV and newspapers, your online ad spend will be a fraction of what it costs to promote a business traditionally. As well as being cost-effective, internet marketing is also time-saving because it takes less time to find prospects, turn them into buyers (hopefully) and complete their transactions.
As there are little to no overhead costs, the returns on investment (ROI) that comes with online marketing far exceed that of traditional marketing. If you have a good target market and laser focused marketing strategy, you will get higher and (sometimes) instant returns on the money you spend when placing online ads. And don’t forget that many of these techniques are completely free and will still yield good returns.
Staffing costs will also be lower when compared to a more traditional offline business. Hiring costs for virtual assistants is far less than on the high street and you can outsource all over the world!
Cash flow is also often improved. As consumers pay for the product before it is dispatched, this helps to improve the cash flow for the company, making sure that the business can pay any suppliers and other costs (such as online marketing tools) on time.
There’s also the advantage of being able to get in front of a global audience with your online business (unlike a traditional business that is normally restricted within a specific boundary of operation). This opens up so many new opportunities and even allows you to compete on a global scale, even with the big guys! If you already have a traditional business, it is a good idea to move some of your operations online, so that even if your offline office is closed for business, customers and prospects will still be able to visit your website and place their orders.
The amazing technology that powers the web, and also your online business is one of the major benefits of hosting your business online. And the technologies are only going to get better and more sophisticated as time goes by. With reliable auto-responder services, you don’t have to worry about your emails being delivered (email marketing) to your target audience in a timely manner; delivery is almost instant! And you can even schedule emails to go out on a daily/weekly basis on autopilot! On the other hand, the traditional direct mailing system can take days, or even weeks to deliver mail to their destinations, especially when you are mailing globally.
There is no time restriction on when a consumer can shop online because the internet is always available. Many online sales now start at midnight on a particular day encouraging customers to shop all hours of the day. For example, many retailers will start post-Christmas sales on the 26th of December at 00.00, but many consumers are starting to shop even on Christmas Day itself!
5. Data collection
Every time a customer interacts with your business, that interaction is captured. The business can then use this data in a number of ways. To start with, information can be analysed to find out which are the most popular products/services being sold. Secondly the data can be used to assist in segmenting their customers, profiling them and sending customers promotional material based on past buying habits. This can even go a step further with potential customers, as you can now retarget them with ads based upon their browsing history, so they see relevant, targeted ads tempting them back to buy.
There has been much controversy over the amount of information that is being collected online by various companies. This is of particular importance when it comes to social networking sites and there has been many a debate as to whether customers should be able to opt out of that information being shared to third party users.
6. Competitive analysis
Any business owner knows that it is important to analyse your competitors. The internet allows businesses to analyse their competitors’ online strategy quickly and easily. You can keep an eye on what new products they are releasing, react to any price changes, or use the internet to discover all sorts of secondary data on your competition. The internet allows you to react quickly to any change in a competitor’s strategy, and enables you to try to provide a service that at least matches, but preferably beat your competitors. Just keep in mind that they can do this too!
The internet often has information about your competitors (and you) which is prepared by independent organisations which are not connected to competitors so the data should be reliable.
When customers log into their accounts, a business can make their web experience almost unique. Using a membership portal which requires them to login is definitely a preferred option here as there are so many benefits, from offering special offers to that particular customer, offering an add-on to their recent purchase, (much like Amazon does), or by allowing the customer to personalise their own products, like Nike does with their trainers. Personalisation allows the business to form stronger bonds online with customers who they don’t have any physical interaction with, and this helps to form long term online relationships thus ensuring customers come back regularly.
Not everything is rosy! There are always going to be some disadvantages to any type of business and internet/online marketing is no different. Some of these include loneliness, motivation, no face-to-face contact, and once again technology!
Do not underestimate this! Many people dream about working from home and living the “laptop lifestyle” but it can be pretty lonely working on your own, especially in the beginning when you may see little reward for your efforts. Try to involve those closest to you such as a spouse, family and friends.
This is intrinsically linked to point 1. If you are lonely, not seeing much reward for your efforts, and have negative people surrounding you (we all do), it can be very difficult to stay motivated. This is a trial which pretty much ALL online entrepreneurs MUST overcome to become successful, but this is a very real danger and can have a serious impact on your relationships, but you need to hang in there because the rewards are well worth it!
3. Face-to-face contact with customers
This is a real downside to online marketing; the lack of a tangible physical connection. Limited face to face contact really is one of the major drawbacks of internet marketing because nothing beats having a potential customer in front of you. Businesses that are solely based online aren’t usually able to build strong personal rapport with their customers. As a result, there is the possibility that they may lose some of their customers to more traditional competitors who use strong customer service tactics. But the good thing is that more and more people are turning their buying power online for the convenience it provides so all is not lost!
Ah, so you have probably noticed that this can be an advantage AND a disadvantage! The virtual nature of internet marketing increases marketing complexity. When you are just starting out it can quickly become confusing when trying to choose which online marketing techniques will become profitable.
Customers also face complexities in the aspects of shopping online and may have security concerns leading the un-informed consumers to stick to conventional buying rather than enduring such online purchase complexities.
And there are such a myriad of tools to accomplish a particular task that it can quickly become overwhelming. Just look at the number of auto-responder services, domain name providers, hosting providers, page builders and it can quickly lead to despair. In fact, this is probably the number one reason why many budding entrepreneurs give up before they even really get started which is a real shame.
Don’t be one of those people; if you want to learn more about the technical basics of having an online business, I have a fantastic free report that you can download here.
So, there you have it. 11 things you should know about internet marketing broken into the advantages and potential disadvantages of internet marketing and running an online business. I’m sure you will agree that the advantages definitely outweigh any potential pitfalls. So, what are you waiting for? Go out there and claim your slice of the online pie, and if you want to remove the confusion around the technical aspect of running an online business, then download the Internet Marketing Startup Report now.