If you’re not on the internet then you’re probably not in business. Even if you’re just looking at having a basic page with your shop hours people all turn to their favourite search engine to find local businesses. Social media has changed the world of internet marketing more than internet itself changed the way we sold goods and services. Internet marketing is one of the fastest growing industries, and this is partially because the vast majority of people who are online actually have no idea what they are doing, this is just as true if you are in business.
Getting noticed can actually be quite difficult, even if you are in a key niche in a small demographic, making sure that your online presence is found, and trying to work out if the people who do find your online presence actually turn in to customers, can be quite confounding. There is a fantastic range of tools and software that you can use to improve your internet marketing, and even google offers instructions on how to optimise your site, but the share amount of information available can be overwhelming.
What Do I Need To Know?
Most people want to be running their core business, not worrying about their marketing – thankfully there are a number of people whose core business IS marketing, because that’s the thing they love. There are a number of books, podcasts and YouTube videos that can help point you in the right direction. You can also find a good internet marketing course & software review site that has already looked at the latest trends and can compare the options. If you are a small business who sells direct to the public you will have different marketing needs to someone who is drop shipping around the world, or a business that primarily draws their income through affiliate marketing.
Key phrases that you are likely to want a cursory understanding of include:
SEO: This is one you will see everywhere. Search Engine Optimization – which simply means making sure that your website is nice for search engines to read as well as human beings. In the old days of the internet search engines weren’t as sophisticated and could be tricked into moving a webpage up the search engine rankings if they used tricks like hiding an entire dictionary (so that every time any one searched ANY word their site would come up). Despite the fact that this has been completely debunked there are still so called ‘SEO experts’ who recommend similar tactics – don’t listen to them!
Affiliate Marketing: This may simply be putting an automated google ad on your site, but generally it is when you have an agreement with a firm so that each time someone clicks on a link on your site, which takes your customer to the affiliate site, and they then make a purchase, you get a (small) percentage of the sale. There are a huge range of options for this, and some are more reputable than others. This is definitely one area that you will want to research before you go ahead.
eCommerce: This is simply selling things ‘electronically’. This may be selling digital downloads, or that your customers purchase and pay online and then you physically ship goods to them. The keyword your looking for is ‘platform’ – there are a number of different ways that you can launch an online sales site, from WordPress plugins, standalone websites, social media integration right through to just an email link. However, the range of security varies incredibly – and it will not do your business any good if your business is hacked, customers credit card details are stolen, or goods are shipped to locations unknown before you get paid. Make sure you compare the different options and weigh them up against your needs, your expected income and how much they cost. Also think about scalability – is the eCommerce platform that looks like it will work best for you know still work for you in a few years as your business grows (if you have done your marketing right it should), and if it is a platform that you are thinking of using just short term, how hard will it be to transfer to a more robust platform?
How Do I Learn All Of This?
The learning curve for online businesses and marketing can be pretty step. Most people have a google and look through a few websites, get completely confused, then watch several hours of YouTube videos, things start to become a bit clearer – then they try to replicate these ideas on their own businesses. Trial and error likely will work, but it will take time, and internet time goes a lot faster than real life time.
If you look around you will find some good courses. Skip the university ones, as they are struggling to stay up to date with new changes and trends. You will likely have to invest a small amount to get decent training though, however, if they are constantly updating the course to pick up on the latest changes to the major algorithms (Google, Facebook, Instagram etc undergo minor updates every few months and major updates at least once a year – like this) then you should stay on trend and have internet marketing that is up to date, and ahead of your competition.