Internet marketing, also known as digital marketing, web marketing, online marketing, or e-marketing, is the marketing of products or services over the Internet.
Internet marketing is considered to be broad in scope, because it not only refers to marketing on the Internet, but also includes marketing done via e-mail and wireless media. Digital customer data and electronic customer relationship management (ECRM) systems are also often grouped together under internet marketing.
Internet marketing ties together the creative and technical aspects of the Internet, including design, development, advertising, and sales. Internet marketing also refers to the placement of media along many different stages of the customer engagement cycle through search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), banner ads on specific websites, email marketing, and Web 2.0 strategies.
In 2008, The New York Times, working with comScore, published an initial estimate to quantify the user data collected by large Internet-based companies. Counting four types of interactions with company websites in addition to the hits from advertisements served from advertising networks, the authors found that the potential for collecting data was up to 2,500 times per user per month.
Internet marketing is associated with several business models:
• E-commerce: a model whereby goods are sold directly to consumers (B2C), businesses (B2B), or from consumer to consumer (C2C)
• Lead-based websites: a strategy whereby an organization generates value by acquiring sales leads from its website.
• Affiliate Marketing: a process wherein a product or service developed by one entity is sold by other active sellers for a share of profits. The entity that owns the product may provide some marketing material (e.g., sales letters, affiliate links, tracking facilities, etc.); however, the vast majority of affiliate marketing relationships come from e-commerce businesses that offer affiliate programs.
• Local Internet marketing: a strategy through which a small company utilizes the Internet to find and to nurture relationships that can be used for real-world advantages. Local Internet marketing uses tools such as social media marketing, local directory listing, and targeted online sales promotions.
In a one-to-one approach, marketers target a user browsing the Internet alone and so that the marketers' messages reach the user personally. This approach is used in search marketing, for which the advertisements are based on search engine keywords entered by the users. This approach usually works under the pay per click (PPC) method.
When appealing to specific interests, marketers place an emphasis on appealing to a specific behavior or interest, rather than reaching out to a broadly defined demographic. These marketers typically segment their markets according to age group, gender, geography, and other general factors.
Niche and hyper-niche internet marketing put further emphasis on creating destinations for web users and consumers on specific topics and products. Niche marketers differ from traditional Internet marketers as they have a more specialized topic knowledge. For example, whereas in traditional Internet marketing a website would be created and promoted on a high-level topic such as kitchen appliances, niche marketing would focus on more specific topics such as 4-slice toasters.
Niche marketing provides end users of such sites very targeted information, and allows the creators to establish themselves as authorities on the topic or product.
In Internet marketing, geo targeting and geo marketing are the methods of determining the geolocation of a website visitor with geolocation software, and delivering different content to that visitor based on his or her location, such as latitude and longitude, country, region or state, city, metro code or zip code, organization, Internet Protocol (IP) address, ISP, and other criteria.
Internet marketing is inexpensive when examining the ratio of cost to the reach of the target audience. Companies can reach a wide audience for a small fraction of traditional advertising budgets. The nature of the medium allows consumers to research and to purchase products and services conveniently. Therefore, businesses have the advantage of appealing to consumers in a medium that can bring results quickly. The strategy and overall effectiveness of marketing campaigns depend on business goals and cost-volume-profit (CVP) analysis.
Internet marketers also have the advantage of measuring statistics easily and inexpensively; almost all aspects of an Internet marketing campaign can be traced, measured, and tested. The advertisers can use a variety of methods, such as pay per impression, pay per click, pay per play, and pay per action. Therefore, marketers can determine which messages or offerings are more appealing to the audience. The results of campaigns can be measured and tracked immediately because online marketing initiatives usually require users to click on an advertisement, to visit a website, and to perform a targeted action.
However, from the buyer's perspective, the inability of shoppers to touch, to smell, to taste, and "to try on" tangible goods before making an online purchase can be limiting. However, there is an industry standard for e-commerce vendors to reassure customers by having liberal return policies as well as providing in-store pick-up services.
Information security is important both to companies and consumers that participate in online business. Many consumers are hesitant to purchase items over the Internet because they do not believe that their personal information will remain private. Some companies that purchase customer information offer the option for individuals to have their information removed from the database, also known as opting out. However, many customers are unaware if and when their information is being shared, and are unable to stop the transfer of their information between companies if such activity occurs.
Another major security concern that consumers have with e-commerce merchants is whether or not they will receive exactly what they purchase. Online merchants have attempted to address this concern by investing in and building strong consumer brands (e.g., Amazon.com, eBay, and Overstock.com), and by leveraging merchant and feedback rating systems and e-commerce bonding solutions. All these solutions attempt to assure consumers that their transactions will be free of problems because the merchants can be trusted to provide reliable products and services. Additionally, several major online payment mechanisms (credit cards, PayPal, Google Checkout, etc.) have provided back-end buyer protection systems to address problems if they occur.
The number of banks offering the ability to perform banking tasks over the internet has increased. Online banking appeals to customers because it is often faster and considered more convenient than visiting bank branches.
Internet auctions have become a multi-billion dollar business. Unique items that could only previously be found at flea markets are now being sold on Internet auction websites such as eBay. Specialized e-stores sell a vast amount of items like antiques, movie props, clothing, gadgets, and so on.
As the premier online reselling platform, eBay is often used as a price-basis for specialized items. Buyers and sellers often look at prices on the website before going to flea markets; the price shown on eBay often becomes the item's selling price.
In addition to the major effect internet marketing has had on the technology industry, the effect on the advertising industry itself has been profound. In just a few years, online advertising has grown to be worth tens of billions of dollars annually. Pricewaterhouse Coopers reported that US$16.9 billion was spent on Online marketing in the U.S. in 2006. This has caused a growing impact on the United States' electoral process. In 2008, candidates for President heavily utilized Internet marketing strategies to reach constituents. During the 2007 primaries candidates added, on average, over 500 social network supporters per day to help spread their message. President Barack Obama raised over US$1 million in one day during his extensive Democratic candidacy campaign, largely due to online donors.
Several industries have heavily invested in and benefited from internet marketing and online advertising. Some of them were originally brick and mortar businesses such as publishing, music, automotive or gambling, while others have sprung up as purely online businesses, such as digital design and media, blogging, and internet service hosting.
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