Introduction - In simple terms, Internet Marketing or Online marketing, describe a set of business strategies and marketing techniques that are employed to represent a company's overall online marketing objectives. It describes the practical methods of analysing the market, performance testing and promotion to ultimately sell products and services using the Internet. The first step is to research and analyse your target market to be in a position to make decision regarding online objectives and tactics. Market Research and Analysis - the first stage in any form of online marketing is to find out as much as possible about what your prospective customers want. By reviewing market research information, reviewing competitors web sites, industry surveys, obtaining online feedback, obtain company reports, research search engine usage and so on; a qualified business strategy can be formulated. Without collection of unknown information to discover and learn from, creation of business strategy is nothing more than guess work. The main areas of information to qualify and quantify are; target market size, industry conversion rates, website traffic, distribution channels, purchase behaviour, sales copy testing, price elasticity, regulatory and legal restrictions and company product testing. By far the best form of market research and analysis is primary feedback from prospective customers (as opposed to general secondary research from 3rd party industry surveys); these secondary surveys results are usually out of date and data collection, analysis and conclusions questionable. Practical ways to get customer feedback when testing new product ideas could be asking for feedback via Online Feedback Surveys, Free Prize Draws, Free Product Samples, Special Offers on the Confirmation Pages of Contact Forms, Newsletters, Contentious Forums, Competitions and Quizzes. Setting Goals and Targets - if you don't know where you are going, how do you know when you have got there? Without previous experience or good quality market research, it is extremely difficult to quantify and forecast how much you will to sell in the future, by when and at what profit margin. However, use your market research to put numbers against the elements you can quantify. Look at the realistic boundaries for your online marketing projections... if your competitive analysis shows the average product value, market size and search traffic volume, you could make some realistic sales assumptions if a top engine ranking were to be achieved. Similarly, if you knew of the average number of sales per affiliate (see below) could send you, you could plan the number of affiliates you need to recruit and how quickly you need to recruit them. If you want buy into a market quickly via online pay per click advertising you can test return on investment very quickly. By test spending on pay per click in search terms using various sales copy, it is easy to begin to develop some useful metrics to project future sales volumes and profits. Download the company reports of the top three competitors in your target market to check sales revenues... then apply some common sense to the situation... If your top three competitors only turnover X per year it would indicate a certain ceiling in that particular market. Most importantly, understand your predicted conversion rates and average product margin associated with your product or service. Without those two numbers it is difficult create a spreadsheet business model to forecast sales and profit targets.
Choosing The Right Business Model - now that you have created a quantifiable set of objectives, the next step is to decide how this is going to be achieved online. In most situations websites can be categorised as using one or a combination of the following business models... - Dominating 'Natural Organic' Rankings - Getting to the top of a search engine is every company's number one priority when we talk about organic rankings. 80% of surfers only bother to visit the first three results related to any given search term; and in most queries you are provided with millions of search results and hundreds or even thousands of competitor websites to choose from. Once top rankings have been achieved across a range of highly relevant search terms, the ability to make money scales to a point at which the market demand for at search term is reached. So how long does it take to get to the top of a search engine? There is no quick way to get to the top of search engine. There is no quick way to get the to the search engine. Yes that is right, we have repeated ourselves. Do not believe any of so called to search engine optimization company that claims they can provide you with a new secret method to get your site there in weeks or even months. Everybody seems to be an 'expert' and a little information is sometimes dangerous as you can just as easily get your website banned from a search engine, as listed. Speak to people who have achieved results as opposed to other people who want to risk your money. It is true that the ability to dominate rankings varies according to a range of factors; we will expand on how top rankings are achieved and what these factors are in our section on search engine optimization. SEO covers a whole range of inter-related areas that include professional website design, affiliate marketing, pay per click advertising, email marketing, user interactivity, social networking, blog marketing, viral marketing, and conventional forms of advertising. Essentially, factors include the market competitiveness of any given search term, site content relevancy, website age, link buildings effectiveness, to name but a few.
- Selling Using an Affiliate Channel - by sharing the profits of a sale with other websites it is possible for webmasters to generate higher sales volumes . By devising an attractive affiliate scheme and promoting and implementing that scheme in a professional manner, it is possible to generate thousands of website visitors using an affiliate of channel online. Affiliate marketing is a very well established method of selling online. Thousands of affiliates schemes already exist from multinational brand names to locally based niche online shops - all designed to motivate entrepreneurs, portals, etc, to promote their products and services. The main advantage of affiliate marketing is high sales volume with nominal sales effort. The main disadvantage is much lower margins as affiliates need paying commission to remain motivated. This business model relies on a sensible amount of available margin to be divided between the website owner and its affiliate on each sale. In addition, critical to success is patience/ time to recruit the desired number of motivated affiliates. Also, a thorough understanding of online affiliate tracking software and services to ensure affiliates are paid on time, sales are allocated fairly and automated new affiliate recruitment can be initiated. Ask yourself basic questions... if it takes 6 months to recruit 100 affiliates who generate 200 sales equivalent to £100,000 profit in that time, could you have generated more than 200 sales in that time (and at what profit) if you had concentrated on direct selling only. Please visit our section on affiliate marketing to find out more.
- Advertising Driven Sales - Using this business model, webmasters drive visitor traffic to the web site by on spending advertising alone. By raising website brand awareness either through conventional means such as newspapers radio or online, visitors can be enticed to visit the website and buy something. This simple model relies on deep pockets and a thorough understanding of margin, product break even point and good old fashioned marketing skills. For instance, the sales copy must be compelling and have unique selling points related to target buyers needs. To find out read our section on online advertising. The Global market for online advertising (predominately pay per click advertising) now stands at a staggering $40 billion per year and expected to double to $80 billion dollars per year over the next 10 years. For webmasters, the various methods of advertising potentially available means instant website visibility and access to thousands of prospects almost instantly. The key questions a new webmaster should ask are how much I spend on advertising?; How and where should I best my budget? and How do I calculate the return on investment of any advertising spend. Unlike hugely expensive TV advertising (which is normally used to raise brand awareness), online advertising can provide a level playing field for nimble flexible webmasters, with smaller budgets to compete in niche sectors.
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