Marketing is all about convincing people to buy your products or services. And these days, the easiest place to reach those potential customers is on the internet.
According to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, 85% of Americans go online daily, including 31% who report being online “almost constantly.”
But the internet is big, so where exactly can businesses find their target audience or the people most likely to want their product? This calls for an internet marketing strategy.
What is internet marketing?
Internet marketing—digital marketing, web marketing, or online marketing—is an umbrella term for all marketing that takes place on the internet.
This includes, but is not limited to, social media, email, content marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO), a process that makes it easier for search engines to find your website.
Because so many people spend a significant amount of time online, internet marketing is a valuable method for businesses to engage their audience and attract new customers.
Content marketing vs. traditional advertising
In the past, most marketing consisted of buying ad space and running billboards. This is still effective for some purposes, but it can be very costly, and there’s no guarantee that potential customers will actually see your ad.
A report from Content Marketing Institute shows that content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional marketing and costs 62% less. So it’s no wonder that 87% of marketers use content marketing.
Content marketing is a type of internet marketing that focuses on creating and sharing engaging content to attract and retain customers. High quality content marketing comes in many forms, such as blog posts, infographics, videos, images, and even helpful guides.
Content marketing is a long-term digital strategy that can take months or even years to produce results. But, when done right, it can be a very effective way to grow your business.
Types of internet marketing strategies
An effective online marketing strategy includes efforts across multiple platforms. Here are a few different types of internet marketing to consider:
1. Social media marketing
According to a 2021 survey by the Pew Research Center, 72% of US adults are on social media, up from just 5% in 2005. And while younger Americans are heavier users, nearly half of adults over 65 are on at least one social network.
This means that no matter your target audience, you’ll be able to reach your customers on social media, whether they’re on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or another platform. Depending on your goals and budget, there are a couple of different ways to approach social media marketing:
- Organic. Organic social media marketing is anything you can do on the platform for free—your in-feed posts on Instagram, for example. Organic posts on social media are a cost-effective way to engage with your customers and shape your brand’s identity.
- Paid. Paid advertising on social media—think promoted posts with demographic targeting—can help you reach more potential customers and target a particular demographic.
2. Influencer marketing
When making purchasing decisions, people tend to trust other people more than they trust advertisements, even if they don’t personally know them. Partnering with an influencer, whether they be a celebrity or someone with a smaller following that matches your target audience, can be part of an effective internet marketing strategy. Influencer marketing can happen on various platforms:
Social media is the most common way brands engage with influencers, who are especially prolific (and powerful) on Instagram and, increasingly, TikTok.
While social media might now be the more dominant form of influencer marketing, bloggers still have a lot of sway with many demographics.
An added bonus is that many bloggers typically maintain social media accounts with a heavy following, meaning that brands who engage with bloggers have the potential to get more exposure across multiple platforms. Lifestyle industries, such as fashion, travel, cooking, and parenting, in particular, are where blogs are especially powerful marketing tools.
3. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is similar to influencer marketing but has a different payment model. While influencers are typically paid flatly for a post, affiliates (usually blogs or mainstream magazines that can include links in their content) that feature your product are paid by sales or by clicks when they refer customers to your site.
4. Email marketing
Most online marketing strategies involve some type of email marketing. According to a recent Hubspot report, the three most effective email marketing strategies are subscriber segmentation, message personalization, and email automation campaigns.
When customers share their email with a brand, that allows the company to solicit them for future marketing campaigns, including but not limited to:
- Welcoming new customers
- Advertising new products or services
- Sending discount codes or promotional offers
- Promoting new blog content
- Following up on an abandoned shopping cart
- Soliciting product feedback
5. Content marketing
Content marketing is a marketing plan that includes the creation and distribution of valuable content online to attract and engage potential customers.
This can include social media, but more often refers to a brand’s in-house blog, where they can share stories and case studies related to their products, industry, or other topics their customers may be interested in.
Content marketing can be an effective tool for educating and engaging with your customers, and it can attract a larger audience to your site when paired with a strong SEO strategy.
SEO is a set of practices designed to make your website more easily found by search engines, including Google. Some steps toward improving SEO are:
- Using relevant keywords for the topic
- Adding title or header tags
- Linking to relevant pages, both internally and externally
- Build backlinks to your website
- Offering a positive user experience, which can come down to a faster download speed and pleasing web design for both desktop and mobile devices
7. Online advertising
Search engines like Google and social media platforms like Facebook offer paid advertising to reach more of your target market:
- Pay-per-click (PPC). One of the many benefits of web advertising is that it typically allows you to track performance better than other platforms. In some cases, the payment model will reflect this. Many search engines and websites bill you based on how many clicks your ad placement gets.
- Search engines. Advertising on search engines essentially buys your way to the top of search results. This tactic can be helpful when your website is new or you have a lot of competition for market share, as these conditions make it hard to earn a high ranking organically.
- Website. A variety of websites, including news sites, magazines, and blogs, offer pay-per-click banner ads.
- Paid social media posts. These give you the option to target potential customers based on demographics, interests, and behaviors, so you can reach those who will be interested in your products or services.
Some businesses create or sponsor podcasts as part of their internet marketing strategy. You can also seek out podcasts related to your industry and offer to be a guest on them. Podcasts can be a useful tool for thought leadership and brand building, in addition to driving traffic to your website.
These highly shareable graphics are a pack of information in one image, making them an effective way to deliver a lot of information in a consumable format. Infographics can be used on social media to attract attention and drive traffic, or included in a blog post to support the written portion.
How to develop an internet marketing strategy in 4 steps
The internet is vast, and with so many different types of internet marketing to explore, getting started can feel intimidating. Before diving into every platform at once, take time to consider what might work best to build your online presence.
1. Identify goals and set metrics
Consider what you want out of internet marketing and how you will measure your success. Will you focus on increasing sales? If so, conversion rate—the percentage of website visits or ad clicks that result in a sale—is a valuable metric for measuring success.
Other goals, such as improving brand awareness, may offer less tangible results but can pay off in the long term. In these cases, increasing social media followers, overall website traffic, and customer loyalty can indicate success.
A solid digital marketing strategy will often include efforts in both areas, so it can be useful to prioritize different metrics for different campaigns to reflect your goals.
2. Define your target audience
If you know who your target audience is, you can meet them where they are. For example, according to the Pew Research Center, older internet users are more active on Facebook, while younger people are more likely to be found on Instagram. Knowing this kind of information can help you reach your potential customers.
3. Devise a marketing plan
Once you know what your goals are, you can map out a plan to accomplish them. For example, a small business that sells sustainably sourced baby clothes and wants to increase its brand awareness might focus on campaign strategies that help it reach its target audience: new parents who have expressed interest in environmentalism and sustainable fashion.
This could be achieved with targeted Instagram ads or by partnering with a prominent parent blogger who shares their target audience’s values.
A good marketing plan is complete with a budget and timeline. Answer these questions before you set out:
- How much am I willing to spend on this initiative?
- How quickly do I expect to see results?
4. Execute and monitor
As you implement your internet marketing campaigns, it’s helpful to track the growth rate of key metrics, such as followers, engagement, site traffic, conversion rate, and sales.
For example, suppose you notice that email campaigns promoting your blog content have higher click-through rates.
In that case, you might plan to invest more in your content marketing strategy in the future or figure out how to distribute the content effectively on other platforms. On the other hand, if you notice a certain type of subject line seems to result in a poor open rate, you can experiment with a different approach.
Investing in digital marketing as an ecommerce brand
It’s clear internet marketing is a great way to increase brand awareness and reach new customers. Test a few of the internet marketing tactics above and see which stick. Then, track your success over time so you can invest more in the strategies that function best for your business.