Internet marketing has come a long way since 1990, when the World Wide Web had its grand kick off. In the early days, companies joined traffic rings and wrote articles for each other’s websites, or paid for display ad space. It didn’t take long for directories to pop onto the scene. Yahoo! was one of the first, and was the first commercial success story. From there, search engines, forums, and pay-per-click advertising took over. Blogging took off like a rocket followed by social networking and video marketing. Today, there are a ton of viable options for the serious marketer. How should you proceed?
What is the Essence of Internet Marketing?
All marketing boils down to one thing, essentially. Who is your target audience and where do you find them?
If you own a bricks-and-mortar store where you sell sports clothing and equipment, then your target audience may consist of professional athletes, semi-professional sports enthusiasts, high school and college players and coaches, Little League players and coaches, and amateur sports players. That’s multiple demographics. Obviously, each of them can be found in different places–even online.
The key to finding your target audience, or audiences, online is to understand search and social psychology. You’ll likely find a few forums where athletes meet to discuss their interests, but you’ll also likely find a few blogs where this occurs naturally. You might even run some ads and drive traffic to your website.
After defining your audience and identifying where they hang out, you have to make an appeal. That often involves creating content. The key to creating content that entices your target audience to visit your website and take advantage of what you have to offer is to craft content that people love to read. It can be entertaining or informative, but it has to be appealing enough that it causes members of your audience to take some desired course of action. This isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Why Channels Are Important
Marketing channels represent opportunities. You may find different members of your audience at different forums and reading different blogs. Soccer players, for instance, won’t be interested in golf blogs (unless they also play golf). Golfers won’t be interested in track & field forums. Those are separate target audiences with separate marketing channels.
Online marketing channels are just as important as offline channels. You are attempting to segment your audience into interests, and that’s important if you’re going to appeal to those interests.
Internet marketing has many faces, but there is just one goal: Drive targeted traffic to your website and convert it into money.