Explore the Strategy of Internet Marketing
Tens of billions of dollars are spent every single year marketing on the Internet. In 2009, Forbes Magazine reported that $65 billion would be spent in the following twelve months by American corporations on online marketing alone.
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Since then, the amount of money going into online marketing has only grown and the profits resulting from it have increased commensurately. For those interested in a job in the field of marketing, a thorough understanding of how marketing on the Internet works is a vital aspect of maintaining a career in the field.
Internet marketing is not a singular approach to raising interest and awareness in a product. Because of the vast number of platforms the Internet creates, the field encompasses several disciplines. It involves everything from email, to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), to website design, and much more to reach an ever-evolving, ever-growing audience. (See also Web Marketing)
The Internet is an interactive, multimedia space with a vast and growing population. This means that there are an increasing number of ways to reach potential customers. These include, but are not limited to:
An Internet marketing campaign doesn't have to be comprehensive. Not all campaigns need an email newsletter, a viral video, or a social networking component, but finding the right balance between these options typically leads to greater rates of success for marketing professionals.
For instance, a strong Internet marketing campaign for the release of a new album might consist of a website about the album, daily updates by the artist on social networking pages, and a music video released on popular video sites like YouTube.
The Internet is pervasive and ubiquitous. It has grown to encompass nearly every aspect of society, augmenting or outright replacing older methods of communication. This means that any organization, from the smallest non-profit, to the largest corporation, and even the individual, has an incentive to create a strong online presence.
One of the earliest adopters of Internet marketing in the world of Fortune 500 companies was the Coca-Cola Corporation. Today, this huge purveyor of soft drinks has one of the strongest online portfolios in the world. More than 12,000 websites link to the Coca-Cola homepage, which itself is a stunning display of Internet savvy. Their homepage alone sports an auto-updating social network column, an embedded video, a unique piece of advertising art, frequently rotating copy, an opt-in user registration tab, tie-in branding with pop culture properties, and even a link to the company's career opportunities page. Despite how busy that sounds, the Coca-Cola homepage is clean and easy to read. It is a triumph of Internet marketing for its confidence, personality, and professionalism.
Private corporations use Internet marketing techniques to reach new customers by providing easy-to-access information about their products. The most important element is a website that informs the audience about the company and its products, but many corporations also integrate interactive elements like social networking sites and email newsletters.
Non-profit corporations and political entities use Internet marketing to raise awareness about the issues they address and engage individuals in their campaigns. They strongly favor social networking platforms because they are more personal than websites and they are easy to share, increasing the “viral” word-of-mouth effect that is so prevalent in online media.
Individuals find the Internet to be an easy and cost-effective way to promote themselves as professionals, performers, artists, and more. The cost of an Internet marketing campaign is small compared to more traditional methods, and has the potential to reach a very large audience.
Internet usage around the world, especially in the wealthiest countries, has steadily risen over the past decade and it shows no signs of slowing. According to a report by the Internet trend investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, 245 million people in the United States were online as of 2011, and 15 million people connected for the first time that year. As Internet usage grows, online commerce grows with it. This means that more people are using the Internet with each passing year, and enough of them are spending money online to impact the economy in significant ways. (See also E-Commerce Marketing)
The audience for Internet marketing is not a niche group, and hasn't been for a number of years. There is no “Internet” demographic a company will try to reach with an online marketing campaign. Today, the number and variety of people who spend time online and are willing to spend money online is only growing.
Infographic data: 18-33: Heavy mobile Internet usage; 34-45: Prefer website and financial surfing; 50 and older: Email and social networking use on the rise
Considering the ever-growing importance of an online presence for any business or non-profit organization, the question isn't whether to implement an Internet marketing strategy, but what kind of Internet marketing technique to use.
The first step is to identify the audience for the product. Who is interested in this product? Who does the business want to interest in this product? Once the target audience is identified, the next step is to conduct research about how that particular demographic uses the Internet so the campaign can focus on the best method of reaching them.
For instance, the Pew Internet & American Life Project has demographic data that suggests individuals between the ages of 18 and 33 are the most likely to use mobile Internet technology like smartphones and tablets, while the “Gen-X” demographic of individuals who are in their 30’s and 40’s are far more likely to seek out information through their laptop and desktop computers.(See also Targeted Marketing)
Once the company has identified the target demographic for its Internet marketing campaign, they then decide what online platforms will comprise the campaign. For instance, a company that is seeking customers from the 18 to 33 demographic should develop a mobile application that raises awareness about the product, such as a game, a news feed, or a daily coupon program users can download for free.
An aesthetically pleasing and informational website is an excellent anchor that can easily connect to other platforms like social networking pages and app downloads. It's also relatively simple to set up a blog within the website that uses well-written content with “keywords” an Internet user is likely to use when searching for a topic. For example, a company that wants to market its new sugar-free energy drink could create a blog that publishes one article per week that uses terms like “energy drink,” “sugar-free,” and “low-calorie” to attract users to the product website.
An essential part of any Internet marketing campaign is the analysis of data gathered from not just the campaign as a whole, but each piece of it as well. An analyst can chart how many people have visited the product website since its launch, how people are interacting with the campaign's social networking pages, and whether sales have been affected by the campaign (See also Marketing Data Analyst). This information will not only indicate whether the marketing campaign is working, but it is also valuable data to determine what to keep and what to avoid in the next campaign.
Because there are many components of Internet marketing, there are many different jobs available for those who have the education and expertise to fill them. Below are listed a few examples:
What do they do?
Many companies now rely on multi-talented individuals to create the content in Internet marketing campaigns. This includes written text (aka “copy”), interactions with potential customers on social networking sites, informational or promotional videos, and other materials.
A content specialist needs to be a Jack or Jill of all trades, utilizing excellent written and verbal communication skills, above-average computer literacy, and a natural interest in trends. This job is ultimately about translating the key aspects of the product into content the target demographic finds appealing. This is part art, part critical thinking, and 100% attention to detail.
Content specialists can come from a variety of backgrounds, but a bachelor's degree is essential. Employers will be looking for a degree in English, communications, business, or marketing. There are many entry-level positions in this field and it's easy to translate into a senior creative position or a management role after several years.
What do they do?
Web designers are code-writers and graphics experts that are responsible for developing and implementing the online image of the product. This role involves creating not only the look of websites and applications, but engineering the user experience. A web designer should always pay attention to how easy the materials are to read and use, ensuring smooth interactions for the customer and making sure the form of the materials serve the function of the campaign.
Web design is a very technical field that requires high literacy in many different kinds of software, including image editing and website architecture programs. A designer should be comfortable with computer “languages” like HTML and stay up to date on new technological developments. The designer is also an artist, so he or she should also have a firm grasp on aesthetics, visual continuity, and image composition.
The lowest levels of education suitable for a web designer are either an associate's or a bachelor's degree in computer programming, web design, information technology, or a Bachelor of Science in marketing. It is very valuable and often required to have a portfolio of designs going into an interview.
What do they do?
An Internet marketing campaign is not an isolated, one-off proposal. Any company that plans on using it once is certain to continue to use it. An individual who is knowledgeable about all aspects of an Internet marketing campaign and who has strong interpersonal skills is well-suited to maintain an ongoing managerial role on a dedicated marketing team.
Marketing managers need to be conversant in every element of a marketing campaign, and considering the importance of an Internet presence in any marketing plan today, this means having a clear understanding of Internet marketing from start to finish. A marketing manager should have confidence in his or her team and know how to facilitate work efficiency and communication between coworkers. This keeps each project on schedule and helps create a relaxed work environment.
It is very rare for an individual to enter a management role early in his or her career. Most marketing managers have spent several years working somewhere else on a marketing team. This assumes the existence of at least a bachelor's degree, but an advanced degree such as a master’s in marketing or business administration can give an aspiring manager a deciding edge.
A thorough marketing education will introduce students to multiple aspects of Internet marketing and its place in the wider spectrum of commerce. Students should expect courses in everything from content composition, to data analysis, and the principles of management.
The course work of a marketing program will consist of real-world and hands-on components, such as case studies of both successful and failed marketing campaigns, and simulated businesses marketed by students using the concepts they have learned. This will include diving into several computer programs like Adobe InDesign and Dreamweaver, as well as both free and proprietary website analytics software.
This broad overview of each piece of the Internet marketing world gives students a firm foundation in the field to help them decide where their interests and talents fit the best. All designers should have an understanding of content creation, while all content specialists should have respect for the design process (See also Content Marketing Specialist). At the more advanced levels of a marketing program, students will hone the skills that are most important to their areas of emerging expertise to create sharp minds and strong portfolios on their way to the workplace.