Internet marketing or advertising online is based on the key principles of marketing in general, with the main difference between traditional offline and internet marketing being the techniques and solutions used. With a presence on the Internet, via a well designed website, the consumer (user) has a wider range of products, services and suppliers to choose from, unlike offline marketing where consumers are only exposed to a limited number of services or providers. Any company with an Internet presence should therefore focus heavily on online advertising, but should not neglect offline advertising.

With online advertising, consumers are attracted to your website through the use of words or phrases referred to as “keywords.” These keywords appear in links in search engine listings.

Keywords should therefore be well researched and closely represent the search word or phrase used by the consumer in the search engine search box.

Attracting the consumer to your website is only part of the marketing strategy. Once at your website, you must convince the user to make use of your services and purchase your products. Ideally, you want the user to come back and keep coming back to your website, hopefully to continue using your services and buying your products. Also, you want them to remember the location of the website and to promote it to other users.

In the ever changing world of the Internet, to make the most of Internet marketing, you must use a combination of the latest available strategies and marketing tools and not stick to one major campaign only. This is essential as user behavior on the Internet is different and keeps changing. Your marketing plan must cater for all the search behaviors of the different users.

To make the most of online advertising, you need to take definite and important steps:

#    Identify you target market
#    Identify the needs of the consumer
#    Identify the search behavior of users
#    Research the major keywords and phrases
#    Research the search methods used by users to locate information
     on the Internet
#    Gain knowledge of how search engines work
#    Plan your marketing campaign
#    Execute your marketing campaign
#    Monitor your marketing campaign

Whether you make use of a professional Internet marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) company or do it all by yourself, is a matter of personal choice and the availability of time and resources. What is clear is that an in-depth knowledge of search engines, user behavior and Internet marketing techniques is required to launch a successful Internet marketing campaign.

Making use of a professional company may give you a competitive edge, but doing it yourself might be a more rewarding experience.

Remember though that Internet marketing starts with a proper well-designed website. Do not forget the basics when you design your website, as it will make your Internet marketing more successful if you pay close attention to the following:

*    Optimize every page of your website properly, keeping both user and search engine friendliness in mind.
*    Create content for both user and search engines through informative keyword enriched articles.
*    Submit to the major search engines and link to other websites, making use of legitimate techniques only.
*    Monitor and track visitors to your website. Use all available information such as what keywords were
      used to find your site, entry and exit pages identification, assessing the length of visits, how many users
      returned, how many unique visitors entered the site, what links were used, from where the users came,
      what browsers were used, time and days visited etc. This is important for adapting marketing to fit user
      requirements and behavior.
*   Test search engine ranking and link popularity on a regular basis, preferably weekly.

The above techniques are important since 60 to 70% of users make use of search engines to locate information on the Internet. As about 30 to 40% of the users make use of sponsored links and other methods for locating information, you should also include some of the following tools in your advertising campaign:

*    Email marketing
*    Pay per click promotions
*    Affiliate marketing programs
*    Mobile phone messaging (SMS)
*    Link exchanging
*    Animated banner adverts
*    Viral marketing

Remember, visually attractive, content rich and user friendly websites, marketed correctly, will ensure high returns on your investments.

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