Home Internet Marketing Business ABCs

profitable home internet marketing business that can ease his financial burdens and help him sail smoothly through the ravages of the global financial crisis currently engulfing the economies of the world. Understanding of the ABCs or fundamentals of internet marketing is essential to the success of any online home business.

Internet Marketing

Different people of different profession and stature have view internet marketing in different perspectives. People in one hand consider internet marketing as simply the act of placing banner ads or inbound links on other websites. On the opposite hand, there are many companies claiming that it is the secret to exponentially increasing one’s wealth overnight. Caution should be exercised however, because most of these many companies only try to make you buy some sort of internet marketing program that they proclaim will make you rich by morning.

At the present, internet marketing or online marketing has successfully evolved to a higher stage which now involves a combination of many components a business can utilize to increase sales regardless whether the said business is being executed fully online, partly online, or fully offline. Internet marketing is fully discretionary and it can’t be fully said that it is strictly needed for success but its recent popularity has caused those who don’t use it get left behind by those who do. It can provide a vast and unique competitive advantage to any company. It is for this reason that some companies even rely purely on online marketing to promote their business, its products, and services.

Internet Marketing Objectives

Internet marketing is being employed to make use of the Internet to do at least one of the succeeding:

1. Communicate a company’s message about itself, its products, or its services online.
2. Conduct research as to the nature (demographics, preferences, and needs) of existing and potential customers.
3. Sell goods, services, or advertising space over the Internet.

Internet Marketing Components

Internet marketing is made up of many components which may be summarized into the following:

1. Making a business website and getting it launched and published over the Internet. It may consist of text, images and possibly audio and video elements that broadcast the company’s message to visitors, informing current customers and prospects of the features, benefits, and value-for-money of its products and services. The website may also include additional features that extend its capabilities like the ability to capture and store leads from potential customers or the function to directly sell a product or service online. A website may very well be the best way to establish a company’s own internet persona and business entity. Websites can always outperform their offline equivalents – brochures and mail order catalogs.

2. Marketing a website over the World Wide Web via search engines otherwise known as Search Engine Marketing or SEM is the process of helping a website shop up in the top search engine pages whenever one makes a search with certain defined keywords through search engine optimization or SEO, pay-per-click or PPC advertising, or pay-for-inclusion or PFI advertising in which a website is listed in online website directories, the same way as with yellow page listings.

3. Email marketing is the technique of getting information about a product or service out to customers or getting feedback from customers about a product or service through the use of emails. Email addresses of customers or potential customers can be collected through the use of the company website or purchased from lead generation specialists. Email marketing is simply the online version of direct mail marketing. There are different methods that can be utilized to do this form of online marketing like the regular distribution of newsletters or mass mailing of offers related to the company’s product or services.

4. Banner advertising is the online marketing equivalent of the traditional ads in newspapers and magazines. It is the free placement of ads on a website usually known as free ad directories.

5. Online press releasing is the placement of a newsworthy story about a company, regular distribution of newsletters or mass mailing of offers related to the company’s product or services on online wire service or online press release directories.

6. Blog marketing is the process of posting comments, expressing opinions or making online announcements in a discussion forum or blog directory that can be done by hosting your own blog or by comment and link exchanges with other blogs whose content is related to your product or service.

7. Article marketing involves the syndication or online publishing in article sites or directories of freshly written or unique articles that tackle things related to your business, products, or services. These articles have the potential to spread and circulate over the internet since online article hosting services allow the re-publication of articles so long as all links in the articles are maintained. Traffic boost can be the primary result of article marketing, together with the promotion of your brand to a wider audience through the syndication of these articles.

Internet Marketing and Home Business
A website is an element that all internet marketing components, prospective customers, and clients anticipate a business to have. Through the years, having a website has become one of the best ways to get a consumer’s trust and interest in a company and its products and services. Having no website may even cause a prospect to lose interest and head to a competitor. Up-to-date information available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week something that can best come from a website. And the all-encompassing use of online means has cased many prospects to decide to transact only with companies that have a good and useful website.

Engaging in online marketing and having a website is so comprehensive in scope that it can benefit even a business that only has very local customers like a single location food store or clothing store. Internet marketing offers a very cost-effective and comprehensive way of attracting customers and it also gives a business a worldwide reach with its own Web presence that can be very hard to get from other methods especially in the case of businesses whose customers are not restricted to ma single geographical area only.

A website though in some instances is not a complete necessity, can definitely provide a home business operator various benefits due to the virtual nature of most home businesses. A website can act as a storefront for direct selling of products and services as well as serve as a very inexpensive means of getting prospects as well as clients know what your business does or what products it sells especially to those home-based businesses that do not have a physical location.

The internet has been one of the primary drivers that fueled the growth and expansion of home based businesses because it has paved the way for starting and maintaining a web presence with reasonably low cost. It is therefore a must that internet marketing becomes as integral part of your business plan and marketing strategy.

Finding the Right Internet Marketing Mix

Determining and utilizing the right marketing strategy is essential to business success. Defining the percentage of marketing efforts that should be done online, the needed Internet marketing elements and the amount of focus to be given to the website are all vital to the formulation of a marketing plan that will work. The nature of business, the budget, and some personal traits may all affect the marketing mix. All these, and many others influence the development of an internet marketing business blue print.

Using Offline Elements with Internet Marketing Strategies

Only businesses that transact 100% of their business online can make use of a fully online marketing scheme. All others should utilize a marketing mix made up of both online and offline efforts. Traditional methods can greatly supplement the effects and benefits of web marketing. In fact, there are even businesses that conduct all their operations completely online and yet employ the placement of traditional ads on newspapers and magazines to drive prospects to visiting their website and participate in online transactions with the firm. Perfect examples of business that integrate offline elements as components of their internet marketing strategies are Expedia, Travelocity and Monster.com. These firms shell out huge investments in radio and TV advertising as well as other traditional means of advertising to get consumers visit their sites where the real businesses dealings are being transacted.

Develop Internet Marketing Strategies You Like

Only incorporate in your strategy the marketing techniques you like or those that do not annoy you whenever someone does them to you, because most people probably feel the same way. The most hated marketing tool as regarded by many is spam. This is why many companies nowadays do not include email marketing in their arsenal of promotion methods.

Many forget the fact that email marketing does not necessarily mean the sending out of unsolicited emails to every email address you can find. Email marketing can also be accomplished by incorporating a visitor registration webpage on your site. This page then works as a tool to gather email addresses of interested prospects. You can then create a newsletter which you can send to all who have registered in your site. You may also consider updating your newsletter and sending it periodically to your prospects. You may also create a schedule for sending regular emails just to see how your prospects are doing, if your company can be of assistance in any way, or if any of their wants or needs has changed since when you last had a conversation. This is a very efficient way of utilizing email to boost your business promotion even without engaging in email marketing.

Your Budget and Internet Marketing Strategy

The budget plays a very important role in any marketing strategy as it lays out which components and techniques you can develop and exploit. A website for example needs you to select a domain name and then register and purchase it from a web hosting service. Due to the growing demand for web hosting services, the competition has greatly tightened and many now offer discounts. There are those that offer domain name registration for as low as $1.99 per year – provided you also purchase other services, like hosting, which is now also available for less than $10 per month. Next is the design and content of your website. Your can design and write your won content or your can hire a graphics artist for the design and a web content writer for the content. You can also opt to make use of the online website builders that can be found all over the internet.

After your site is all ready to go, getting it found is the next task, because no matter how good or useful a site is, it is of no value if people cannot find it. This is the point where search engine optimization or SEO comes in. SEO is vital to every website. You can either learn and do the SEO yourself or you can hire search engine optimizers to do it for you.

Web content should be search engine optimized from the time it was written. Same goes for the web design as the manner in which a website is designed can either enhance or limit the site traffic it will be receiving in the future. SEO should definitely be a major part of any internet marketing strategy. You can opt to do things faster but more costly or vice versa, depending on your perspective and your budget.

Once your website is up and running, you’ll either need to maintain it yourself or outsource the duties to an independent Webmaster to do it for you.

Google AdWords and similar pay-per-click (PPC) advertising services can be a good choice as they go easy on your budget due to the fact that you can specify the maximum amount you are willing or able to spend. You also get to decide how much you will be paying whenever someone clicks on your site as well as the limit of how much you will be paying per day. You also get control over whether the pay-per-click ads appear only on major search engines or on other related websites as well. Geographic and time restrictions regarding when and where your ads run are also at your disposal, making the said ads quite easy to update. Real time tracking of the benefits is also possible with PPC services. You can also use images and/or videos with PPC advertising, which may even be less costly than placing banner ads on other websites. You can also, on the other hand, utilize pay-per-click advertising to earn money with your website to such programs as Google AdSense, Yahoo Publisher or Microsoft AdCenter.

Tracking the Results of Internet Marketing Strategies

Putting up and operating a successful home-based business is not that easy especially for the average home business operator. Tracking is very important especially when you spend money on strategic Internet marketing initiatives. You should know the effectiveness on such initiatives to be able to make the right decision on whether to go on or discontinue with them. If you are satisfied with the performance of the currently implemented techniques, continue using them. If you are not satisfied, learn from your mistakes. Determine why such approaches did not work and find other means that can work better. Such practice is sure to improve your skills and enhance your chances for success.

Your business will mature and grow faster and more efficiently if you know which internet marketing strategies are worth spending your money.

Remain patient in tracking the performance of your internet marketing efforts and they will surely pay off. Always keep in mind that effects do not occur overnight and a significant amount of time is usually needed before you can feel the benefits. The same is with revenues, at first your efforts may seem to be in vain but after some time, more revenues will surely materialize.

Strategic Internet Marketing Needs to be Flexible

There are millions of people wanting to succeed with their own home internet marketing business and most of these also engage in strategic internet marketing. It is therefore vital that you make your marketing strategy flexible. It should be ready to quickly absorb changes and necessary adjustments. However, some knowledge, some capable assistance, and a well-managed strategic Internet marketing plan can increase your chances for success.

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Are Investment Costs of Business Internet Marketing Higher Than You Might Think?

Having just started to use internet marketing in our own business and trying to bring together all the different components to deliver a set of desired outcomes, we have discovered it is not a simple task. We have created a huge amount of online content from websites, blog sites, micro-blogging, and social media network participation. But and it is a big but, how do you convert all this activity (or lack of it) into a coherent message that brings visitors to your target online content and transcends to registrations and / or sales?

To be honest we have been merrily creating web content, accounts on twitter, Facebook pages, blogs and regularly posting but without paying specific attention to the direction or the message. This has been a conscious choice on our part as we were not ready to join everything up yet, so we just started by increasing our online profile until we were set to go. I think this is one of the big hurdles for most people entering Internet Marketing at any level is… why am I doing this? Why am I posting content onto Blogs, twittering, when no one is visiting anyway? I’m not reading my other 1000 followers tweets, so I am sure they are not reading mine! If I’m the only one ready what I’m writing I’d sooner not bother! 2 Blog posts a day, why? for what? What am I going to say? What difference will it make?

We expect those new to Internet Marketing to blindly accept that ‘you should get a blog, you should use Twitter and join Facebook… trust me… you will see the benefit, later on everything will be much clearer…’

Here then is the issue… of course signing up to these services, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Linked in or any other social media platform is not in itself going to make any difference to a business. Just the same as printing some leaflets for a mailshot and leaving them in the garage, or attending networking meetings and not talking to anyone, these won’t make much impact either.

The facts are that Internet Marketing is a complex business. It performs the functions of building individual’s profiles and credibility, Brand awareness and product / service sales via one medium. Each of these areas requires different techniques, services and strategies online, but you can’t go about this in a half baked, apathetic manner. Internet Marketing has the ability to transform businesses, enable small companies to compete with the ‘big boys’ and build new enterprises from nothing but not by making one blog post a week, the odd twitter tweet now and then and complaining that sales haven’t increased yet!

So what is the reality? The reality is this, that Internet marketing provides the ability to reach 100,000’s of people and quickly, but it won’t happen without effort… A LOT OF IT!

Most Small Business’s are owned privately, very often by the entrepreneur who found a niche, designed a new product or took advantage of an opportunity. These individuals are often technical people and suffer from the old ‘Feast and Famine’ syndrome that finds refuge in Micro and small businesses. When we’re in Sales mode we are extremely busy, when servicing customers, prospects dry up… then we’re found scratching around for business again which happens, eventually, months after we needed it.

Now typical business owners don’t think of themselves as sales people and will readily admit they don’t like this part of the business and yet without it the business can’t survive. I’ve heard many a business owner admit they are not sales people, ‘I’m basically too honest to be a sales person’ as if a sales person’s role was to somehow convince someone to buy a product they don’t need and don’t want. Well, let us now separate Marketing from Sales.

Marketing is encouraging people to consider your products and services… visitors if you like, whereas Sales is the matching of the customers requirements to your offerings. At no point in this is there any persuasion or manipulation… better still, much of this sales process can be automated with Internet Marketing. Marketing requires an audience to market too… sales requires us to provide information, substantiate our offering and provide a method to engage with us.

You will hear this time and time again with the Internet Marketing crowd… ‘the money is in the list!’ and if we are to market successfully then having a list to inform on a regular basis is absolutely essential. If we apply this to offline marketing, most of the hard work in sending out a mailshot was creating a quality list of people in the first place… our target audience! If we are to engage the services of a Direct Marketing company for a telephone campaign… at some point before this a list must be found, either from an existing database or bought from an organisation specialising in such Lists, the higher the quality the better.

So let us now see what relevance our Online – Internet Marketing activities have in identifying a target market. Consider Facebook, Linked-in, Twitter, Blog subscribers and Registrations for an ezine or other regular communication… what are these?

They are lists of course! lists of people who in some way have connected with you and are probably comfortable to receive correspondence from you or your business. Herein lies the secret then behind why we should bother at all to seek people out, follow and be followed. List building… and the good news is that it can be quite good fun too!

Now in our business we have 5 main products offerings… some of these products have an overlapping potential audience, others do not. It may be necessary therefore to have multiple accounts for Twitter and / or a separate Facebook page for the different audience. Already you can see that if we are to manage, maintain and post for each product on a regular basis (desirable) then this is a substantial amount of work.

One of the difficulties that some of my colleagues have with building a large list of friends or followers is, ‘How can you possibly keep in touch with all these people?, I struggle to stay in touch with my immediate relatives’ and for sure, personally corresponding with 60,000 people is not viable… but this is not the point.

These social sites represent a massive network of interconnected people, you are not necessarily communicating on a 1-2-1 basis (although you can do this) but rather are broadcasting what you want to say to everyone who is connected and often to their immediate connections as well!! Suddenly we have the ability to get a message to a very large audience with a single post.

Now… most people certainly with Twitter won’t see your post, and a good many won’t in Facebook or Linked-In either, however this is not an issue. It is not our problem to worry about who will see our posting or not, that is not our responsibility and we should avoid getting attached to the outcome. Our role is to provide the information (post), that is it… Now there is a magic number in marketing and sales this is 3%. This little number is very important. It is the recognised average response rate in a cold market… sometimes it can be more, often less. If we sent out 1000 mailshots then it would be acceptable to set a benchmark of 30 as the number of positive responses. This is about the same % that I have experienced in responses to click-through’s on Tweets and Facebook postings. Taking these numbers if we tweeted with a follower list of 30,000 then we could expect around 900 visits. We have absolutely no idea which ones will click the link… or tell a friend or retweet, however the figures can be quite staggering… Imagine if you worked with other ‘Big List’ owners and offered a percentage to tweet to their lists… and you did this 3 times per day… the number of visits could become very large indeed.

The lists provide us with a ‘potential market’ for our products and the purpose of this article is not to go into the detailed techniques for building lists, only that it should be very high up on the list of priorities. So how much time, money and effort should be put into this exercise?

The answer to this question depends on the nature of a business, the ideal customer profile and many other factors, clearly a restaurant has a different set of requirements to someone selling a digital product (such as an ebook) globally. The first thing is to decide an Internet Marketing strategy which is complimentary to the business, once this is defined then the activities required become much clearer.

Once the basic Architecture of the marketing is defined then comes the work and the Investment. If I look at our business as an example, we have invested in three key areas, Colateral, People and services. Lets look at what is involved in each of these -:

Collateral

We have 5 blogs, 6 websites (some complex, some a single page), 7 Twitter accounts, Facebook (4 Business Pages), Linked-In, Ecademy, Hub Pages, StumbleUpon, Squidoo and other online social networking accounts, all these had to be set up, populated, and now managed on an ongoing basis. This is not something which can be done in 20 minutes per day. We have to work all of these resources on a regular basis to keep ourselves in the ‘Public eye’.

People

We have invested in 1 full time person, plus both myself and another member of staff allocate 3 or 4 hours per day to Internet Marketing activities. Firstly staff require training to use the tools that enable us to work our internet marketing, including analyze results. These resources manage our social networking sites, engage with our contacts frequently, update profiles as things change and post new content constantly. This cost alone is over $3000 per calendar month, developing and building our online presence.

Services

We utilise a number of ‘helper’ services which are online and rented monthly, these include subscriptions to some Business Networks, Shopping cart and checkout services, Databases that contain sign-ups for ezines and regular communication, Membership platforms, Blogging services and many many more. None of these services are hugely expensive month on month but vital to continue our Online Marketing activities.

In Conclusion

Business Internet Marketing – Taking an offline business and using Internet Marketing techniques to increase sales utilises many of the techniques and tools that conventional Internet Marketing has developed and built over the past 8-10 years. We have all heard the stories of individuals with no overheads generating large monthly incomes without setting foot outside their door, but Internet Marketing is moving into a new phase, one where Offline Businesses will seek to engage the Internet to work for them.

I speak with many Micro and Small businesses on a regular basis and most are oblivious to Internet Marketing and what it could do for them, whether this is because no one has yet bothered to show them, or there is a fear and reluctance to dance with the unknown, or a bit of both perhaps. One thing is for sure, Business Internet Marketing will be deployed by every business over the coming 10-20 years and it is set to be one of the largest markets worldwide.

As we saw with offline marketing in the past where we had PR, Advertising and Marketing agencies, so we shall see the emergence of similar businesses offering Business Internet Marketing services. Traditional companies in this marketing space will need to evolve and offer a completely new range of services The print industry went through a similar metamorphosis some years back, when pre-press production moved entirely to computers and revolutionized the marketplace.

As the Internet Marketing industry matures and the ‘Get Rich Quick’ mentality fades, successful Internet Marketers will bring a wealth of experience and begin to offer professional Business Internet Marketing solutions to Small and Medium sized businesses. Not shackled with the conventional trappings of offices the Business Internet Marketers will manage a network of global outsourced resources to deliver high quality, low cost Internet Market solutions. The services will include the whole range of activities from setting up infrastructure services such as Blogs or Shopping carts to transactional activities such as managing Twitter accounts, searching and posting tweets, finding / posting suitable blog posts, even writing articles and sending email campaigns.

Without doubt we are on the edge of yet another evolution with the Internet. Some larger companies, such as IBM and Dell have already woken up to the power of using the Internet and Social networking to engage with a global audience, small businesses have been busy surviving the recession… but as the recovery gathers pace, I am sure that Business Internet Marketing will become an attractive proposition for many.

Chris Ogle is Managing Director of Internet Power Systems Ltd. and is author of his best selling book, In 2 The Clouds. Chris has lived in Watford, England for the majority of his life and is a keen Table Tennis player.

In a career spanning 30 years in the computer industry Chris has worked with 000’s of businesses from small Micro companies through to large multinationals such as Laing O’Rourke. With the exposure to such a diverse range of businesses and their operating processes coupled with his technical background Chris was well placed to design and create one of the first completely web based business platforms for SME’s.

Drawing on 7 years of providing Cloud computing solutions to the SME marketplace coupled with a detailed understanding of Internet Marketing has culminated in SME7 – 7 Steps to getting the Business that you really want – more Profit, more time and more Choices! Chris’s book ‘In 2 The Clouds’ takes us through these 7 Steps and removes the mystery of escaping the rat race ‘no time and no money’ to the more desirable ‘More money and more time to enjoy it’!.

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