Internet marketing is a business imperative because the Internet is an irrevocable and unstoppable trend. Even if you have a traditional “brick-and-mortar” business, you’ll lose valuable customers without an online presence. People routinely search for goods and services with their computers in lieu of the yellow pages. If your business isn’t on the Web, customers will likely choose another company with whom to do business.
Also, online advertising is cheap. Advertising in the phone book or a newspaper is expensive, especially if you want an ad that has a presence on the page. An ad in an Internet directory is generally free, and you can include links directing customers to your Web site for more information. And because you can provide customers with a wealth of information, they no longer have to pick up the phone to have their questions answered.
Although you don’t need a Web site to register your site in an online directory, your marketing efforts will be much more effective if you have your own site. The first thing to do is to register a domain name. The name of your business is usually a good place to start, because it can help to build your brand and will be easy for customers to remember. If that’s not available, you may have to settle for another name. Before you commit, give your domain name serious consideration; the name you choose will be your company’s online identity for years to come.
Once you choose your domain name, you’ll need to build a professional Web site. You can use templates provided by your Web host, hire a Web designer to develop your site, or use software to design it your self.
The difficult part is to rise above the crowd and differentiate yourself from your competition. This is where a well thought out Internet marketing plan can help. Here are the main components of any good online marketing plan:
- Registering your site with search engines and directories
- Optimizing your site for search engines
- Sponsoring search engine keywords
- Building a database of customer email addresses
- Sending email newsletters
- Buying online ads