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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Online Marketing Made Easy

Sunday, September 10, 2006


By Michael Fleischner | Marketing Expert, Internet Marketing Secrets*


For anyone interested in growing their business or maximizing the return of their marketing spend, online marketing is one of the most effective means of doing so. Online marketing is effective as a part of a well developed marketing plan.


What is Online Marketing? Online marketing has come to mean many things. You can consider online advertising, search engine marketing, affiliate marketing, and even SEO (search engine optimization) as online marketing. It has also changed and evolved over the last decade. With the advent of Google Adsense and other forms of targeted, pay-per-click advertising, online marketing means a whole lot more than 468 X 60 banners.


When thinking about the types of online marketing available today, you really need to think about the objectives of your online marketing spend. Are you looking to sell a product? Drive prospects to your web site or marketing pages? Create awareness for your company? The most important thing to remember is that your online placement, creative, and offer must be consistent across the web and your own website or retail establishment. This creates a seamless buying experience, increasing the odds of a purchase being made once a browser clicks on your online marketing creative.


As mentioned previously, online marketing also includes affiliate marketing - a method of utilizing partner sites to distribute your products or services. One of the best methods of developing an affiliate network is by providing content in addition to an aggressive affiliate commission plan. Other web sites seek out content and useful information. If you can provide meaningful content to partner sites with an opportunity to earn money at the same time, they're likely to participate in your affiliate program.


It's important to realize that Search Engine Optimization is also a component of online marketing. Too often, SEO is not considered part of the online marketing mix. However, it is one of the most important aspects of an online marketing campaign. When launching a new product or marketing an existing one, make sure that it's easy for individuals to find your website and offer page. Browsers who see your online ads may not click right away. Rather, prospective buyers may later be searching for your promotion when a specific need arises. Think about the keywords prospects may use to search for your offer and optimize your pages accordingly. Also, be sure to link to your promotional pages from your web site's home page to optimize search result rankings.


Why is Online Marketing Important? Online marketing often provides direct responses and the ability to measure campaign effectiveness. This immediacy helps you to test your offer(s) and creative, as well as measure the overall return on your marketing investment. Having the ability to evaluate effectiveness in real time allows you to reposition your marketing spend or switch out creative to increase results.


With more than 68% of homes having internet access and about two-thirds of them having a high speed connection, the web has become a reality. If you wish to reach the majority of consumers, you need to include online marketing as part of your overall marketing mix. Online marketing also gives you the opportunity to segment your market, providing highly targeted positioning. Unlike traditional advertising, online advertising allows you to select the sites upon which you run your ads. There are also many services which help you deliver ads around appropriate topics or contextual pages.


Best know for contextual and pay-per-click advertising, Google allows you to choose specific keywords around which your ad can be displayed. When individuals search on the keywords you've selected, your ads will appear. The power of Google is the affiliate network they've created which displays their contextual ads across hundreds of thousands of websites. Despite recent allegations of click fraud, Google still provides one of the most targeted online marketing options. Other services, like Overture, owned by Yahoo! provide similar services that deliver targeted online marketing.


Who Can Benefit? Anyone who is interested in improving their marketing results should think about the role that online marketing plays in their marketing mix. Because there are so many ways to engage in online marketing including advertising, contextual ads, pay-per-click advertising, affiliate programs and more, the practice is sure to benefit anyone who is seeking a measurable return on investment.


Before beginning any online marketing campaign, you should always determine your budget - how much you're willing to invest in your marketing efforts. Ask yourself how much you're willing to spend? What type of conversion will you need to break even? What you anticipate your click to purchase ratio will be? Understanding these fundamental financial metrics is essential to determining how much you're willing to spend on your online marketing efforts.


How to Begin. Starting your online marketing campaign can be as simple as bidding on a few keywords or as complex as developing a comprehensive online marketing campaign that consists of multiple buys across a network of websites. As with any new marketing venture, it's best to start small and work your way up to more intricate marketing campaigns.


My recommendation for beginning your online marketing initiative is to focus on your own site (developing promotional banners, buttons, and content), creating an affiliate program, and pay-per click advertising. The first two methods should cost little or nothing to implement and will propel your online marketing forward. Supplemented with pay-per-click advertising, your marketing message is sure to reach your intended audience.


* Michael Fleischner is a marketing expert and the president of MarketingScoop.com, the Internet’s biggest source of online marketing information and free marketing resources. He has more than 12 years of marketing experience and has appeared on The TODAY Show, Bloomberg Radio, and other major media. Visit Marketingscoop.com for further details, Internet marketing secrets, Marketing Blog Directory, and more FREE reprint articles.


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