Here's a (not so) surprising study that simply confirms that hype in all areas of life runs rampant, while common sense takes a back seat. Really, eat less calories and you'll lose weight? What a concept!
The weight loss debate about specific diets being better than others is similar to what's going on right now in the online world. The Web, while a powerful medium for marketing, is simply that, just a medium to do these things. The well rounded approach of online and offline efforts with a strong plan of action is still key to marketing success. There are no magic bullets, tricks or special diets to getting low cost (or free) advertising and turning that into huge revenues. Since sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Ning are free and get a lot of attention, people assume that online marketing is free and easy.
When it comes to online marketing, these areas are getting a lot of attention:
Web Site Optimization/Search Engine Optimization is the process of enhancing a Web site to attract more visitors from search engines and converting that traffic into sales or leads once it hits your Web site. One often overlooked facet of Web Site Optimization is the quality of traffic coming to your Web site and the quality of your Web site in general. It's much better to get targeted traffic to your Web site that is likely to convert to sales and leads then it is to get a bunch of traffic to your Web site and not get any sales or leads. I'm sure you'll take 100 visitors a day/week/month that make a purchase, then 1000 visitors that don't. Also, it doesn't make any sense in spending money to increase traffic to your Web site if your offerings, pricing or ease of purchase once they get to your Web site are not optimized. Focus on the latter items first before you bother with the former. WSO/SEO takes time, anywhere from 3 to 12 months before results can be obtained. Sometimes the competition is so fierce, these efforts may never pay off as there are no guarantees. That's where SEM/PPC comes into play.
Search Engine Marketing/Pay Per Click involves paying money every time a person clicks to visit your Web site. For example, on Google, you have the "Sponsored Search" results on the very top and to the right side of the page (see graphic below). When someone clicks on those links, it costs the advertiser money. Once the money runs out or the advertiser stops paying, those links are removed. The other links, known as "organic links" (those obtained via WSO/SEO) don't cost any money or disappear because an advertiser stops paying. In fact, no amount of money will guarantee that your link will get displayed in the "organic links" section. SEM/PPC works and is popular because it can net immediate results, but in the long run, can be much more expensive and short lived than success obtained via WSO/SEO.
The above graphic is a sample from a google search. You can see the difference between organic and paid search listings. We happen to have two listings on the first page for the term "Newsletter Management System."
Social Media/Web 2.0
Social Media/Web 2.0 involves things such as Social Networking and Blogging. There are various Web sites from massive social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace to a popular newcomer called Ning where you can develop your vertical social networks. As mentioned above, these sites are free, but it doesn't mean using them is necessarily free. Whereas having your Web site reconstructed to be optimized and ready to accept business has hard costs as does paying for immediate traffic to your Web site, Social Media/Web 2.0 can have significant soft costs so don't get confused by "free." Some organizations dedicate entire employees just to be active on Social Networking Web sites as that's what it can take to make it successful. I recently visited Zappos.com's headquarters and learned that they have 5 employees alone dedicated to Social Media! You get what you put into Social Media, results aren't guaranteed and there are situations where it can backfire. The upside is that unlike traditional advertising the benefits are usually long lasting. Brands can be built, goodwill can be obtained and your PR profile can significantly be enhanced. It's very difficult to obtain those type of benefits simply by purchasing advertising. In fact, you can now follow BannerView.com on Twitter.
Educating yourself about the above facets of online marketing can be critical to helping you avoid the hype and expend your efforts in the right area.
Just with any marketing campaign or diet, it takes time, money, patience and a commitment to achieve success.
|About the author
Mark Cenicola is the president and CEO of BannerView.com, developers of BannerOS, the software that helps companies turn their websites into powerful business tools. Mark is also the author of the book "The Banner Brand – Small Business Success Comes from a Banner Brand – Build it on a Budget." Read Mark's full biography. You can find him tweeting on Twitter and starring in videos for the company's YouTube channel.
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