Internet Marketing in its simplest terms refers to the marketing and selling of goods and services using the Internet as the sales and distribution medium. What started as a cottage industry in the early nineties has mushroomed into a global multibillion-dollar industry that has been embraced by industrial giants such as Microsoft and General Electric.
The Internet has reduced the world into a global village, has made distance irrelevant and time zones little more than an inconvenience. Businesses in the remote parts of India can easily service clients in the bright cities of America, while goods produced in China are sold to consumers in all parts of the world.
The Internet has made all this possible and made Internet Marketing a reality.
Internet Marketing offers anybody over a certain age with access to a computer and access to an Internet connection, the opportunity to go into business for themselves with little or no start-up costs.
There are two main ways to conduct business over the Internet.
You could either sell your own products and services, in which case you will be doing business as a merchant. Many people though, have neither the time nor resources to create and offer their own products or services. Fortunately for this large group of people they can still earn significant sums of money as affiliates.
Affiliates are Internet Marketers who are actually middlemen or women. They will typically have a website of their own, and on this website they will promote or review a product or service that is provided by a third party (the merchant). Affiliates earn money by joining the affiliate programs of merchants, and earn commissions when visitors to their websites go to the merchant’s website by clicking on either a textual or graphical link strategically placed on the affiliate’s website.
In the brick and mortar world, businesses only make profits when they make sales… they only make sales when they have customers and clients… which they only get when they have prospects. Do you see the trend?
It all starts with prospects.
It is the same with Internet Marketing. You could have the biggest, baddest and even best website in the world, but without prospects, your website is dead on arrival.
So the million-dollar question is ‘how do you bring prospects to your website?’
Brilliant question… I thought you’d never ask.
Let’s go back to our brick and mortar business… how does it get prospects? I can think of a few ways.
2.Word of mouth referrals
As you might have guessed, it is no different with Internet Marketing.
For advertising, Internet Marketers advertise on third party websites using banner adverts or plain text links. They can also use Pay-per-click campaigns, of which Google Adwords is probably the most popular. We will talk about this in more detail later.
Word of mouth referrals can happen in two ways. Firstly, someone could verbally give you the address of a website, which you then proceed to type into your browser. An example would be www.microsoft.com. The other way word of mouth referrals happen is when people write about a website on their own website and then include a link to the other website. Visitors can then click on the link and go directly to the other website.
Finally, you have passing traffic. For most Internet Marketers this is usually the cheapest and largest source of prospects. It usually involves Search Engine Marketing – where marketers try to get traffic by ranking high in the search engines. The technical name for this effort to rank high is ‘Search Engine Optimization’ (SEO). As you well know, Google is by far the largest search engine, so you can’t talk about SEO without mentioning Google’s role in Internet Marketing.