?One of the great things that eMarketing has done is level the playing fields. The barriers to entry for online marketing are far lower than more traditional marketing channels. eBusiness channels mean that small start-ups with scant resources can put their products and services in front of the same audiences as Fortune 500 companies. Many people perceive eMarketing to be a complex and difficult discipline, but in reality getting started is relatively easy. Regardless of the size of your business, you can start simply and grow as you learn more and your requirements develop. Online marketing is more dynamic, interconnected, potentially immediate and lower risk than traditional marketing. You can measure activity and performance far more accurately and easily when you market online. Internet marketing is also far more human - this channel allows people to interact and comment. It is more communicative and a far cry from traditional 'interrupt and repeat' models. Effective and Marketable Websites There are many eMarketing channels within the online space. At the core of any successful internet marketing strategy is an effective and marketable website. Three elements that should work together to create a satisfying user experience as well as synergy with your business are the site's design, usability and functionality. Once the site is operational, it's important to put tools into place that will collect and analyse your site's data. This is the easiest way to gain empirical insights into your sites' performance and the ways in which your customers are interacting with it. A classic mistake is leaving your website and expecting it to perform well over time. The key is to give it constant attention and improvement and to ensure that you update it regularly with quality content. What eMarketing Channels are there? There are a number of channels available for marketing online. These include search engine marketing, affiliate marketing, social media marketing and online media placement to name but a few. Which of these channels you chose to incorporate into your internet marketing strategy really depends on your audience and desired outcomes. Search Engine Marketing Search engine marketing comprises Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC). In both of these cases, users type keywords into the query bar of a search engine's website (like Google.com) and the search engine returns results which show the web pages that it deems most relevant to that search. In the PPC model, you bid on keywords and this bid in conjunction with the quality of your ad, determine its placement. The ad will only be shown for searches that match the keywords you've specified or, in the case of the content network, next to contextually relevant content. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It can take time to achieve results and careful keyword planning and optimisation, content development, website structure, linking and analysis are all important elements in a robust SEO strategy. If this is carried out properly, a site can enjoy high rankings and longevity in the SERPs. PPC on the other hand is immediate, and can be targeted more specifically. Not only to specific keywords and sites but you can also determine which page on your site users will click through to. The difference here is that you pay for each 'click'. Affiliate Marketing Affiliate marketing is another way to market online. It's the online equivalent of having a sales agent or distribution partner. Affiliate marketing has massive potential as people with websites, email lists, and traffic promote your product or service. Normally, you pay a set cost per acquisition or a pre-determined percentage of the sale to the affiliate partner who referred the customer as a commission. Because this commission is results based, there is very little risk or cost involved for the advertiser. It's quite easy to get going with affiliate marketing, especially through the more established networks like LinkShare.com and Commission Junction (cj.com). These companies can help smaller businesses drive sales by recruiting and managing affiliates. Email Marketing When managed in the appropriate manner, email marketing is cheap, has great customer relationship management (CRM) potential and can be amazingly profitable. Good email marketing will build a strong personal relationship with the recipient and allow you to learn more about your customer's likes and dislikes. The most acceptable way to do email marketing in through permission-based emails. Here you would use a list of subscribers who have opted into receiving information via email from you. In terms of CRM, and achieving top results from your email marketing campaign, segmentation is key. Segmentation will allow you to cross-sell and up-sell appropriately, as well as target your emails appropriately so that you achieve maximum open and click-through rates. Social Media Marketing Web 2.0 is more collective and collaborative than what the internet was previously. Web 2.0 is characterised by user generated content (UGC), a large 'social' element, sharing and open source. This means that everybody can contribute, share and communicate more seamlessly and effectively. Social media falls into the category of Web 2.0. Social media includes social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, LinkedIn and so forth, but also includes sharing sites such as YouTube and Flickr, blogs, wikis, podcasting and micro-blogging services such as Twitter. Any site that has an element of community, UGC and sharing could be considered as social media. To leverage these communities as part of your internet marketing strategy is very powerful. Peer-referrals are far more highly valued than anonymous messages, and there is potential to have your brand and marketing message spread virally through pre-existing social networks. You need to keep up to date with new developments and social media trends and sites to succeed in social media marketing. Also remember that social media is about conversations, not one way messages. This means that these interactions need to be managed, monitored and engaged with regularly. Simply throwing up a Facebook page is not a social media strategy - it is only a start. eMarketing channels are most effective when they are implemented together as complementary strategies. eMarketing isn't all that different from traditional marketing in that it's still about getting your message out to the world. The main difference is that online you have to innovate more rapidly as everything changes so quickly. About the Author: Shoulders of Giants is an online business resource featuring various business gurus exploring a range of business topics such as Vinny Lingham who is an eMarketing thought leader.
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