The large volume of online businesses and advertisements make it seem hard to imagine that e-commerce is relatively very young. Many of the current online platforms that are popularly used by marketers are less than ten years in existence.
For example, Facebook was only launched in 2004 as a campus-based social network. Within eight years, Facebook users increased to almost one billion users from a few hundreds when it was launched. The great advertising potential of this social networking platform raked in multi-billion profits for the company. It also made the founder, Mark Zuckerberg richer by US$ 9.4 billion. The platform also continues to help bring significant profits for many small businesses online.
It is now estimated that more than US$ 200 billion is being spent on online marketing. The amount is expected to steadily increase as competition becomes tougher. Virtually all companies, large or small, are vying for attention online. Securing a place in the search engine results page is a very valuable strategy. It can determine the difference between success and failure, between profitability and bankruptcy. This is especially true for startup enterprises that are highly dependent on online presence.
Just like offline or traditional marketing strategies, online marketing strategies have the same three basic purposes. These are initiating pubic awareness, creating desire, and prompting consumers to act. Listed below are the main categories of online marketing.
Display advertising – This is perhaps the most visible type of online marketing. It is straightforward but oftentimes expensive. Just like traditional offline banner or billboard ads, display advertising online relies on graphic design, words or slogans, and proper placement. These can be prominently and strategically placed on various websites so that they can be seen by large number of internet users. These banners range from simple text boxes to animated ads. All of them have clickable links that lead to the company websites being promoted.
Search engine marketing or SEM – This type of marketing is actually a comprehensive strategy that may incorporate other strategies online. The main purpose of this strategy is to improve the ranking of a website when displayed in the result pages of search engines. The use of contextual advertising based on specific keywords or keyword phrases are commonly utilized. Oftentimes it involves paid advertising in the search engine websites. Pay per click advertisements are commonly used. Extensive search engine optimization techniques are also implemented.
Search engine optimization or SEO – As part of the SEM strategy, SEO techniques focus on natural or algorithmic search results that are not based on paid advertisements. Articles with specific keywords are commonly used to improve ‘organic’ search results. Several web 2.0 platforms such as blogs are also utilized for this purpose.
Social media marketing – As mentioned earlier, this type of marketing strategy utilizes the convenience of various social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. This strategy often targets specific demographics and implements viral techniques.
Email marketing – Email is perhaps the oldest form of online marketing. It is very effective when used strategically. However, the abuse of this direct marketing approach is oftentimes associated with spamming and scams.
Referral marketing – Otherwise known as tell-a-friend approach is basically a word of mouth strategy that can utilize emails, social networks, forums and chatting to spread the word. It relies on social influence in a close-knit group of friends or acquaintances. Satisfied customers have the tendency to refer their friends.
Affiliate marketing – Very few marketing strategies offer opportunities for third-party endorsers and even customers to earn. This strategy works by attracting those who are interested to earn extra cash by serving as affiliate partners or agents. It simply involves putting a link or advertisement on a website of a participant. The affiliate gets paid certain percentage per referral who is converted into customer or client. Hence, this is an incentive-based marketing strategy.
Inbound marketing – Offering e-books, online services and software applications for free seems counter-intuitive. Nonetheless, it is very effective when done properly. It is all about titillating prospective clients or customers in trying specific products for free but on limited conditions. This strategy aims at establishing a loyal clientele base.
Video marketing – Many people mainly use the internet for entertainment purposes. One of the simplest strategies to attract the attention of online users is through videos that are directly or indirectly connected to specific products or websites. Oftentimes, popular amateur but viral videos are useplace advertisements.