Many business owners think (or have been told) that Internet Marketing is a more cost effective use of their marketing budget than more traditional print or media advertising. It's not that simple.
The truth is that Internet Marketing can increase sales and reduce marketing costs, but only if done right. The best known tools, search engine optimization (seo), search engine marketing (sem) and e-mail marketing, work best as coordinated parts of an inbound marketing campaign. On their own? Not so much. If you want better results, it may be time to change horses.
Let's take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of these tools:
A few years ago a great battle began between SEO experts, who claim to know how to get your Web site to the top of the Google rankings, and the Google wizards, who constantly dream up ways to foil them. Who's winning? It's hard to say, and equally hard to get on Page 1 of a Google search. Some simple rules remain in place, and the most important is getting a lot of content indexed by Google and finding ways to attract people to read it. This is what blogging and social media promotion, the pillars of Inbound Marketing strategy, are all about. You do a lot of this and people like it, and you will rise in the rankings. But SEO by itself gets you nowhere. So what if you get a lot of traffic visiting your website? Does that buy you anything but monthly bills paid to your SEO company? Not unless you convert visitors to leads using effective calls-to-action and landing pages that entice your visitors to sign up for your valuable offers or content. Without this part of inbound marketing, you have no idea who's visiting and nothing to do but admire your stats.
Most business owners have at least tried some pay-per-click (PPC) advertising via Google Adwords or other banner advertising on web sites. How many are thrilled with the results? The problem is that this is outbound marketing, i.e. you are pushing out an ad to an untargeted audience that pretty much hates unsolicited advertising. Even if you get a lot of click-throughs, how many of them convert into real leads and ultimately into customers? Unless you have a well-known brand, the answer is pretty few. From a cost perspective, you have to pay by the click-through volume, not by the leads. Pay per click can work as part of inbound marketing campaign, when there is real value (a helpful webinar for example) at the end of the click-through and the lead is captured via a landing page for follow-up sales calls. Again, SEM by itself can be a waste of money, but combined with inbound marketing, you have a better chance of success.
At this point in our technology evolution, e-mail is nothing better than a necessary evil. We all hate the spam, and most e-mail offers get trashed before they are opened. The problem is that we either don't recognize or we don't like the sender, so there is no relationship that might otherwise inspire us to open an e-mail. Once more, this can be remedied by incorporating e-mail marketing into an inbound marketing strategy. Build relationships first through great blogs, comments and social networking. Then build your list of people who want to hear from you and send them valuable offers or content via e-mail. Update them when new products or services become available, but don't beat them over the head with marketing.
You can increase sales through Internet Marketing, but not the way it's been practiced for years. Using Inbound Marketing as a strategy you can leverage SEO, SEM and e-mail marketing without their downsides.
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