Online Marketing Principles and Practices for Webmasters
Internet Marketing or Online marketing, describes the marketing strategies, techniques and practices used to analyse a market, performance test, promote and sell online.
Market Research and Analysis
The first step in setting up an online business is to find out about your potential customers. By reviewing competitors web sites, industry surveys, online feedback and company reports, you can build up a picture of the market environment. Without this essential market research information, the formulation of business strategy is nothing more than guess work. You should quantify market size, conversion rates, website traffic, distribution channels, buying behaviour, price elasticity, regulatory and legal restrictions.
Download the company reports of the top three competitors in your target market to check sales revenues. Then apply some common sense to the situation. If your top three competitors only turnover X per year, it would represent a market ceiling. Most importantly, research conversion rates and average product margin associated with your product or service. Without those two numbers, it is difficult create a spreadsheet business model to forecast sales and profit targets.
By far the best type of market research and analysis is feedback from prospective customers. Only by understanding the psychology of your target customers, can you hope to create a tremendously compelling website. You could obtain feedback online via feedback surveys and questionnaires. These can be tagged to to free product samples, special offers and completing an industry survey.
Setting Goals and Targets
Use your market research results to set quantifiable goals. At this point, many dreamers get carried away and imagine floods of orders arriving the day their website goes live! So first look at the realistic boundaries for your online marketing projections. If your review has identified a market ceiling price, an average margin, search volumes for targeted search terms - you can calculate the maximum sales and profits achievable. The principal objective should be traffic levels and conversion rates. They are incredibly difficult to predict without experiencing trial and error.
In addition, do not assume everyone who buys a widget goes online to buy it! Similarly, if you knew of the average number of sales per affiliate could send you, you could plan the number of affiliates you need to recruit, and how quickly you need to recruit them. A powerful reality check is to test spend a limited budget using pay per click to begin to develop practical metrics on likely sales volumes and conversions. The next step is to determine which business is best suited to your needs...
Dominating 'Natural Organic' Rankings
Achieving high rankings for your website is every company's top priority. It is the core of internet marketing. Yet think about this. 80% of surfers only bother to click through to the first three search engine results for any given search term. Yet, it can take months or even years to achieve a top ranking position. Once top rankings have been achieved, the ability to make money scales to a point at which the market demand for at search term is reached. There is no quick way to get to the top of search engine. Speak to people who have achieved results as opposed to 'SEO experts', who want to risk your money.
The ability to dominate rankings varies according to a range of search engine optimization factors. SEO covers a whole range of inter-related disciplines that including keyword research, professional website design, affiliate marketing, pay per click advertising, email marketing, user interactivity, social networking, blog marketing, viral marketing, and traditional forms of advertising. Essentially, to make website search engine friendly means following guidelines and using ethical means to promote it.
Selling Using an Affiliate Channel
By sharing the profits of a sale with other websites, it is possible for webmasters to generate higher sales volumes. It is possible to generate thousands of website visitors using an affiliate channel alone. Affiliate marketing is a very well established method of selling online. Thousands of affiliates schemes already exist from multinational brand names to locally based niche online shops. This business model relies on a healthy amount margin, to be divided between the website owner their affiliates. Also, critical to success, is employing the patience and time needed to recruit the desired number of motivated affiliates. Logistically, you will need some decent affiliate tracking software or service to make sure affiliates are paid on time, sales are allocated fairly, and new affiliates can atomically sign up online.
To make affiliate marketing work for you, ask yourself the basics. If it takes 6 months to recruit 100 affiliates who produce 200 sales (equivalent to £100,000 profit over that time), could you have generated more than 200 sales in that time (and at what profit), if you had used just direct selling instead?
Advertising Driven Sales
Webmasters drive visitor traffic to the web site by online advertising alone. By raising website brand awareness, visitors can be enticed to visit the website and buy something. This advertising model relies on deep pockets and a thorough understanding of margin, product break even point and good old fashioned marketing skills. For webmasters, online advertising means instant website visibility and access to thousands of prospects almost immediately. The key questions are where should you advertise and how can you measure a return on investment?
Types of Websites
Your choice of business model should dictate the type of website you build. The main types are as follows...
Good luck with your online marketing endeavours!