Introduction to Online Marketing

Your customers are online. You need to be too. Here are the ins & outs of online marketing

Consider this:

As of June 2010, there were 266.2 million Internet users in North America. That’s 77% of the population. Source: Internet World Stats.

Nearly 70% of U.S. Internet users ages 14 and older were online buyers in 2009, according to an estimate by eMarketer. Experts see that figure rising to 74.2% in 2013 (eMarketer).

Online retail sales in 2010 will be nearly $173 billion, up from $155 billion in 2009. Forrester Research

Online retail sales increased by 11% in 2009, vs. 2.5% for all retail sales, says Forrester Research.

Black Friday sales grew 15.9% from 2009 to 2010, according to Coremetrics.

Digital marketing budgets increased by an average of 17% in 2010, and 28% of marketers are migrating at least part of their overall marketing budgets from traditional to online channels, according to Econsultancy.

Digital marketing budgets will increase by an average of 17% in 2011.

The amount companies spend on marketing through social-media sites like Facebook is expected to grow to $3.1 billion by 2014, according to Forrester Research.

With the rapid growth of online purchasing, you are missing out if you’re not optimizing the Internet as a sales channel.

The good news is that there’s never been a better time to go digital. The Internet has become the great equalizer, leveling the playing field for businesses so that small startups can compete against powerful, established brands.

In the past, marketing was focused on promotion. You would place an ad in a newspaper or a magazine, or on television or radio, and hope that people would see it and make a purchase. Public relations was similar: companies would hire a publicist to send out a press releases, with the hope that journalists would feature them in articles or on TV or radio shows, where people would see them, and, hopefully, make purchases based on that. That’s a lot of hoping!

Things started changing after the Internet was introduced, computers became more affordable and more people came online. Suddenly there was this huge network of sites that millions of people could access. Google and other search engines organized it so people could find things. Online shopping got its start when e-commerce pioneers Amazon and eBay both launched in 1995. It wasn’t long before they became immensely popular. Since then, many others have followed suit.

Today online marketing has evolved, as building a website has gotten less expensive and a lot easier. Online advertising offers a variety of ways to place ads based on keywords. Social-media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter enable their members to share their lives online—and brands are jumping onboard. The emphasis is on finding out what your target customers want and “super serving” them, like McDonald’s does, so they’ll keep coming back and want to share it with others.

In this ultracompetitive environment, a business, no matter what industry it’s in or how small it is, will need to have a sales channel online.

Learn how to build one: Online Marketing Tools for Immpreneurs.

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