It is the age of the Internet and it’s only natural that advertising, marketing, promotion and sales of goods and services are done through the Internet. Such activity is broadly defined as Internet Marketing. Other terms that are used to refer to this are Online Marketing, Internet Advertising and Web Marketing. They all refer to the use of the Web to target and deliver promotional messages about products and services to customers.
Internet Marketing includes many types of areas used in marketing such as email marketing, social media marketing, web banner advertising, mobile advertising, search engine marketing etc. As any other advertising media, internet marketing involves an advertiser who provides the content for advertisements and a publisher who integrates advertisements into spaces in online content.
Basically, internet marketing does the following functions, which can be called ‘objectives’:
• Communicates messages about a company’s product or services to customers online
• Conducts research into the demographics, needs and preferences of potential and existing customers
• Sells advertising space, products and services online or over the Internet.
In the highly competitive and globalized economy that the world is seeing today, internet marketing has evolved into a ‘component mix’ that companies use to increase sales; it is an inevitable part of every business’ marketing strategy. For some online companies and smaller or home based businesses, internet marketing is the only method of marketing used.
Internet Marketing Components
Among the many components of Internet marketing are:
• Setting up a web presence – create a website or portal using text, images and graphic elements to convey information on existing and upcoming services and products to customers, thus creating a one-on-one dialogue with potential buyers. Here, this online presence becomes the equivalent of printed material such as leaflets, brochures or catalogues and are an extremely viable way of establishing a business identity.
• Search Engine Marketing – through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) it is possible to improve the website or the business identity of the company online to its customers.
• Email marketing – this is a way of distributing information about products, services and exchanging information with the customer to receive feedback and suggestions. Using email marketing, mass distribution of emails is done; it is the online equivalent to direct mail advertising or marketing
• Banner advertising – this refers to placement of ads on websites for a fee; something like placing an advertising in a printed medium like a newspaper or magazine
• Blog marketing – the act of expressing opinions, comments and sharing information in a public forum through discussion; this can be achieved through hosting blogs or posting comments on other blogs and linking URLs to company products and services
• Article marketing – this involves the use of articles written in relation to a business and its activities and posted on article sites. Article marketing can bring substantial traffic to a website and promote brands to a wider audience.
• Social media marketing – this is one segment that every Internet user is aware of and the impact of which is certainly felt on all aspects of a business. Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter etc. have increasingly become extremely useful tools for online marketing.