A Detailed Overview of Web Marketing: Definition, Types, Usage, Benefits, Strategies, and Career
Web Marketing At A Glance: Definition of Online Marketing
The history of the Internet may be long, winding, and convoluted; but its impact in today’s world is exact, clear-cut, and monumental.
According to the International Telecommunications Union, as of the end of 2015, almost half of the world’s population is on the Internet. In the US and across the developed world, the rate increases to 4 in 5 people.
With a reach this extensive (and growing), it is no surprise that companies are taking advantage of the Internet to reach out to potential customers.
In a nutshell, that’s all web marketing is about—promoting your business over the Internet. Some may prefer to call it online marketing, internet marketing, e-marketing, or some other fancy term like webvertising; but all of those are synonyms to describe the same concept.
Marketing on the Internet is an old game with new rules and exciting perks (which we’ll get to later on). And for many businesses, not marketing online is tantamount to leaving money on the table.
Types of Online Marketing
If you wanted to have an analog of a billboard online, you’d look to display advertising. For a while, the scope of display ads was limited to a graphic advertisement, typically a banner (an image), similar to ads in magazines and newspapers.
Today, the scope and intricacies of display advertising are far wider. In addition to banner ads, there are now pop-up ads, floating ads, expanding ads, news feed (and other forms of contextual) ads, and text ads.
Marketers use several techniques such as geotargeting, contextual advertising, and retargeting to improve their ROI.
Payment calculation methods
In traditional newspaper/mag marketing, you typically have to pay a set price (depending on the size of the space and location) to put up a display ad.
Online display advertising takes a different turn, with the use of several different methods to calculate the cost of ads. Of course, size of the ad and location is factored in some cases; but there’s a lot more that goes into it. Compensation is typically performance-based.
The most common calculation method is CPC (cost per click) or PPC (pay per click). Quite a lot of marketers specialize majorly in PPC advertising, such that some regard it as a type of web marketing in its own right.
Other regular methods are CPM (cost per mile), CPV (cost per view), CPI (cost per install), CPE (cost per engagement), and CPA (cost per action) or PPP (pay per performance).
Oh, and fixed cost compensation is very much alive and kicking in online advertising. It could be CPD (cost per day), CPW (cost per week), or cost per some other specified period.
In 1998, Google officially made its entrance into the Internet scene. By 2016, Google was processing upwards of FIVE (5) billion searches a day, amounting to TWO (2) trillion searches annually.
Sure, there are other search engines like Bing, Yandex, and Baidu, but Google’s share is disproportionately high in most markets.
Search marketing is simply using the extensive nature of the search engines (and their result pages) to connect to new audiences. The two major facets of search marketing are:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Using Google as a case study, a searcher who types a query (keywords or key phrase) into a search engine receives a search engine result page (SERP) containing a list of web pages that best relate to the searcher’s query.
On a basic level, the SERP would have two parts. An unpaid, organic list of websites, and a paid list of advertisements.
SEO gets you high on the first organic list and is technically free. SEM gets you into the second list, and you’d have to pay to get your foot in the door.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
YouTube is the second most visited site in the world (Google unsurprisingly is first).
In June 2017, Facebook announced that they had crossed the TWO (2) billion monthly users milestone barely 13 years after its launch.
And with social media capturing 30% of the online time, there is hardly a case to be made for social media marketing.
The Big Four are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. However, there is other nuanced social media networks ideal for certain industries and verticals, such as Pinterest for companies in the beauty and fashion industry or Houzz for businesses in the home design and remodeling industry.
SMM is vast and interconnected with other types of web marketing. For example, social media engagement is great for SEO, and you could use display advertising on social media sites to extend your reach.
Certainly one of the most direct forms of web marketing, e-mail marketing has that all-important personal touch that can be decidedly effective.
Marketing through email gives you the extensiveness of content marketing—as you can include virtually any form of content (display ad, text, image, audio, or video), admixed with the direct human connection of social media marketing.
Web referral marketing is simply an online adaptation of the oldest and most trusted marketing strategy. Online referral marketing and traditional referral marketing are different only in approach.
The objective is the same—to encourage a customer (or another contact) to recommend/promote a product or service by word of mouth. Typically, it’d involve the use of incentives, such as a gift card, limited free service or product, or entry into a contest; but this isn’t always the case.
It is a kind of referral marketing, although it could very well stand as a direct type of web marketing. It involves having a third party refer customers to your business for a share of your profit (called commission).
It is especially popular amongst e-commerce and B2B (business-to-business) firms; but can be effective for many types of businesses, especially in a competitive industry.
Amazon did growth-hack its e-commerce business using affiliate marketing. Its affiliate program, called Amazon Associates, is one of the oldest, largest, most popular online affiliate-marketing network.
This involves the practice of courting attention to your website by providing crucial, helpful information that’d interest prospective clients.
This information doesn’t have to be anything directly related to a product or service you’re offering. Instead, it would be vertical. For example, if you have a hair salon business, you could publish content about the “top 5 hair summer hair styles.”
Such content would pique the attention of users looking to use your hair salon services, and point them toward (reason for the “inbound” part of the name) your site and business.
The primary pillar of inbound marketing is content marketing.
The idea behind content marketing is simple. Create a valuable content or media, such as an article, guide, infographic, chart, webinar, or video; distribute it to potential future customers; and with proper targeting, a percentage of users who view your content would perform an action with commercial intent.
This action could be to view a product demo, sign up for a club or subscription, book a trial, contact for sales visit, make a reservation or booking, download product information, or just straightaway purchase your product or service.
In content marketing, the emphasis is on producing high-quality content, building trust, and ensuring effective distribution.
You may use a wide variety of channels, including a blog on your website and social media. Content marketing overlaps with SEO and SMM.
Video marketing, a form of content marketing, specializes in using videos for promotional purposes. The platforms of choice are video sites with YouTube leading the fray.
A Concise Note on Mobile Marketing
In April 2015, comScore revealed that mobile usage was more than desktop usage in the US. In October of the same year, Google corroborated this statement with its own stat that mobile search queries surpassed desktop queries worldwide for the first time.
Mobile has revolutionized the web in about the same way search engines did. Now, focus is on speed, compactness, and brevity; factors that impact all forms of marketing.
Adapting your online marketing strategy to mobile (ranging from 4” smartphones to 12” tablets) is not a suggestion anymore; it is a necessity.
Internet Marketing for Businesses
For many businesses, developing an online presence is an ideal way to augment sourcing for clients offline—some more so than others.
Building a professional business website is no longer prohibitive in terms of cost and social networks are inherently free to access.
That said, the mammoth extensiveness of web marketing means just about any business regardless of size—from a one-man command (sole proprietorship) to a behemoth multinational corporation—can exploit it for growth opportunities.
A local plumbing company, for example, could use local SEO, SMM, Email Marketing, and Inbound Marketing as its preferred primary ways to engage prospective clients online. While a multinational clothing corporation could exploit virtually all forms of marketing to drive growth.
Benefits of Internet Marketing
You probably get why you have to market online because of the heavy desktop and mobile usage by a large percentage of the population.
Is that the only reason why you should invest in an all-new marketing angle or ramp up your existing marketing strategy?
Well, there are more reasons to engage in web marketing:
- It is easy and seamless to measure or quantify the success of your marketing effort
- It is convenient, doesn’t have a time constraint, adaptable to multitasking, and has an exciting residual effect
- It offers exceptional customization, personalization, and targeting
- It lets you effortlessly build and manage vital customer relationships
- It is cost-effective
Web Marketing Plans
What is an internet marketing strategy?
If you are going to succeed at web marketing, the last thing you want to do is try the spaghetti method—randomly throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. You want a plan that is a lot more methodological, concrete, and clear.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be baseless either.
How to develop a web-marketing plan
To craft an effective internet marketing strategy, you NEED to have a firm understanding of the offering (your product or service) and KNOW your ideal target customer (usually by creating a customer profile or persona).
If you have this knowledge at your fingertips, you’d be better able to, amongst other things, ascertain:
- where your target customers congregate,
- what form of content they’d prefer to indulge in,
- how to present your business,
- what kind of engagement to expect
For example, seniors are more dependent on email, while young users are all over social media. In a similar vein, if you run a resume writing service, then you’d want to prioritize using LinkedIn over Pinterest.
How to implement an online marketing strategy
Implementing your web marketing plan starts with establishing an online presence and building on from there. A vital fact to note is that it is essential to follow best practices and be as future-proof as possible.
You should also pay as much attention to the technological infrastructure you use as you would to the message and appearance. Accessibility is a big deal, as you want to convert at least as well as you pull in leads.
Tracking is available on most web marketing platforms through inbuilt or third-party/add-on tools, so why not use it.
An old saying in marketing is that “half of the money marketers spend is wasted if only marketers could tell which half.” Well, in web marketing, you can tell which half and even possibly ascertain why it was a waste and devise solutions to plug the leak.
Effective tracking and testing give you the firepower to optimize your marketing strategy—there’s always room for improvement.
Web Marketing Careers
A digital marketer is a jack-of-all-trades online marketing professional. S/he is able to formulate an encompassing strategy that involves virtually all types of web marketing and implementing same, often without delegating any task to another internet marketing pro.
Education and Experience
- Requires a bachelor’s degree in marketing
- Advanced degrees in specialized internet marketing areas is necessary to gain expertise
- Tons of experience with expert knowledge of the technology and culture of the web
Social Media Marketing Manager
This is a marketing pro specializing in all things social media marketing. They are at the forefront of noting new rule and policy changes, added features, and performance metrics for specific social networks across a wide range of industries.
Education and Experience
- Possessing a degree in marketing with special focus on new and digital media marketing is an advantage
- However, far more important is extensive experience and expertise
SEO is vast, knowledge-intensive, and delicate. Search engine algorithms are updated way too often, with newer algorithms making a debut every now and then. And then on Google at least, there are over 200 ranking factors, with varying levels of importance; most of which Google does not officially admit using.
SEO can be overwhelming, especially its technical aspects, and that’s why SEO specialists are often indispensable for the creative and technical proficiency they possess.
Education and Experience
- A degree in marketing, English, or communications offers a solid background
- However, individually-learned experience and expertise trumps academic qualifications in most cases as the SEO field is always changing