Any successful business—from a small, locally owned dry cleaner to a colossal, nationally operated department store—will agree that a large part of their success can be attributed to the marketing technique they employ. The simple truth is that consumers need to know about you and the products or services you offer before they can buy them from you. This is a truth companies have been acquainted with and been exploiting for years. From the first newspaper advertisement printed in the early 1700s to the latest Internet marketing technique available today, advertising has had an impact on the economy, on society, on culture, even on politics—this venture has transformed the twentieth century into the age of the advertising firm.
What many companies don’t realize, however, is that the advertising technique that was so effective for their company five years ago is no longer their best option. Traditional advertising techniques, while still beneficial, are not as effective as they once were. Even the once all-powerful 30-second spot on television is losing its strength with the development of such innovations as TiVo and other digital video recorders (DVRs). Now TV viewers can do more than just change the channel to avoid commercials: they can actually program commercials out. Consumers are gaining more control and it’s beginning to have an effect on the marketing industry.
If consumers are gaining control, how can the marketing industry use this to their advantage? Here’s a novel advertising idea: instead of pushing advertisements at people about what we think they like or will be interested in—assumptions based on general trends of an audience’s demographic type—why not target what we know they want? This is exactly what Internet marketing can do for you.
The Rise of Internet Marketing
Since its birth in 1989, the World Wide Web, and its worldwide use, has exploded. According to Nielsen/Net Ratings, there are now nearly 900 million Internet users worldwide, over 200 million in the United States alone. Research firm eMarketer reports that U.S. adult Internet users will spend an average of $878 online this year which equates to more than over 100 billion dollars in e-commerce business being generated from the United States alone.
In spite of these astounding numbers, Internet marketing—which includes such marketing techniques as e-mailing, display ads or banners, rich media, and the most effective: keyword search—is only a $3 billion industry. That may seem considerable, but a study conducted by ZenithOptimedia reports that Internet marketing makes up less than 4% of global spending on advertising, putting it far behind television and newspapers which combined compose more than two-thirds of total global ad spending.
However, statistics show that spending on Internet advertising is increasing at greater percentages than spending on advertising in other media. As reported by JupiterResearch senior analyst Gary Stein at the 2004 Search Engine Strategies Conference: “Spending on Internet advertising increased 27% from 2003 to 2004, while cable advertising increased 14.1%, broadcast TV advertising was up 8.2%, radio advertising was up 7.0%, magazine advertising increased 5.0%, newspaper advertising increased 4.8%, and Yellow Pages advertising was up 3.2%.”
Internet advertising is growing so much faster than other forms of advertising for a reason: The Dieringer Research Group reported in late 2004 that “online product research conducted by consumers the past year was responsible for driving $180.7 billion in offline spending, compared to $106.5 billion in direct online consumer spending.” Interland’s Business Barometer for Spring 2005, a nationwide survey of over a thousand leaders of small- and medium-sized business, showed that those businesses that are applying Internet marketing techniques are getting “a clear return in top-line revenues for their investment.”
The simple truth, then, is that if your company is not dedicating a significant percentage of its advertising/marketing budget to the Internet, particularly to search engine marketing (SEM), you’re giving up a valuable opportunity.
Marketing Sherpa claims that “so few marketers are budgeting enough for SEO [search engine optimization] that it can be a massive competitive advantage for you still.” Here’s why you should.
The Benefits of Search Engine Marketing
Acquire Qualified Visitors
The greatest benefit to SEM is that the people you reach are the ones you want, and the ones who want you, because they are searching for exactly what you sell. SEM has the advantage that it delivers exactly the information the searcher is looking for at the time that they need it. As opposed to television viewers who are watching for entertainment purposes, Internet users, and searchers in particular, are searching with a purpose—they want the information.
Enlarge Your Audience
In addition to bringing highly-qualified visitors to your site, SEM exposes you to a much larger audience. Not only is the number of people online increasing but the number of people searching and buying online is also growing, dramatically. Approximately 140 million in the U.S. have Internet in their homes and those who don’t have it at home have access to it at work or in public places like libraries. That’s better coverage than you can get through any other advertising medium.
Be Cost Efficient
Because the visitors you are bringing to your site are qualified, you’re not wasting marketing money on people who don’t matter to you. In addition, Piper Jaffrey reports that search engine marketing is the most cost effective Internet marketing technique available. At only $.45/lead, it far outweighs banner ads at $2.00/lead and direct mail at an astonishing $9.94/lead. Not only is search the most cost effective technique, but it’s also the most profitable. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, keyword search dominates any other category (including rich media and display ads/banners), producing approximately 41% of U.S. Internet revenue for 2004.
Measure Your Results
There is a vast array of technology available, such as Omniture’s SiteCatalyst ™, to help you track exactly what’s going on. You can track such things as the specific keywords that people are using to reach your site or where visitors are entering and exiting your site. This information is quantifiable and it can be gained immediately. Not many advertising firms can boast measuring and quantifying their results with that level of detail.
Revise Your Campaign (Easily)
Unlike TV commercials or magazine ads, which can both be expensive and time-consuming, especially if they fail, your Internet marketing campaign is quickly and easily revised. You rarely need to start from scratch but instead just need to do something as simple as rewrite a page or two on your website.
If you haven’t jumped on the Internet marketing bandwagon, it’s about time you do or you’ll soon find you’ve been left in the dust. Go beyond your traditional advertising firm and consult one who can offer you Internet marketing techniques with proven, measurable results.
About the author:
Hillary is a web content specialist for www.10x Marketing.com- More Visitors. More Buyers. More Revenue.