Internet Marketing Online 7-Step Guide To Success

As of March 2007, 16.9% of the world’s 6.5 billion population was using the internet which roughly translates into 1.2 billion people! Asia boasts more than 50% of the world’s population and of that Asian populous only 10.7% is currently online as compared to almost 70% of the North American population!

1. INTERNET MARKETING: IS IT WORTH YOUR WHILE?

PROS: The internet is one vast marketing arena that grows bigger and bigger every year. Put another way, in the year of 2006, online advertising racked up revenue in excess of $ 16.7 billion dollars and is expected to reach $ 45 billion in the next five years.

CONS: That many people online means that the competition is bound to be fierce; but the opposite holds true as well. That many people online means there is more than enough market share to go around.

BOTTOM LINE: An internet business is a great way to generate a second income or a primary money generating system that once set up is completely automated. However if you are starting out now be aware that you have millions of already established internet marketing businesses to compete with.

2. DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST

Before deciding on what your internet business is going to be make sure that there is a large enough target audience to make it worth your while. There’s no point marketing something that nobody is interested in.

PROS: Countless opportunities abound online and also there’re several websites such as digitalpoint.com which offer excellent free marketing research tools.

CONS: Excellent as a lot of these free tools are, they cannot compete with some fee-based tools as far as in-depth analytics go.

BOTTOM LINE: Plenty of novice internet marketers doom themselves right from the get go because they don’t bother doing any prior research which is tantamount to firing first before readying yourself, aiming then finally firing!

3. GETTING YOUR WEB PRESENCE

The internet has come of age. A few years back getting a credible web presence usually translated into having to shell out exorbitant hosting fees. That has since changed!

These days you can get luxury-level, premium loaded web hosting for less than $ 4/month. Even better yet you can conduct an online business without ever having to pay web hosting fees. All you have to do is use a blog!

PROS: Starting an online business today need not cost you a single cent upfront!

CONS: Just starting out means that you’ve got your work cut out to distinguish your internet business from the rest of the crowd; a very big crowd!

BOTTOM LINE: You really no longer have an excuse for not getting a web presence. The old oh-I-cannot-afford-hosting-fees excuse no longer cuts it! As previously mentioned it is now possible to conduct internet marketing without putting down a single cent. And as for not knowing HTML (web coding language)! That excuse too is dead and buried.; knowing html or other web coding language is a thing of the past, these days you can make do quite nicely without.

4. WHAT IS THE FASTEST/EASIEST WAY TO MAKE MONEY ONLINE?

Hands down the cheapest, easiest and quickest way to make money online is through affiliate marketing.

And what is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is simply a partnership between an affiliate (you) and a merchant (the merchant being the owner of the product). Affiliate marketing may also be referred to as affiliate programs, referral programs and associate programs.

Here’s how affiliate marketing works–You (the affiliate) promote or advertise a product on your site that belongs to somebody else (the merchant).

Basically, the merchant supplies you with a variety of text links, banners or graphics embedded with your own affiliate code. You then strategically insert any number of those coded links or graphics onto your website (or blog) with the purpose of referring your visitors to the merchant’s site.

When one of your site’s visitors clicks on any one of those code-imbedded links they are transferred to the merchant’s site. If that visitor then purchases something from that merchant you get paid. It’s as simple as that.

PROS: You don’t have to spend a cent to be an affiliate marketer. The best affiliate programs furnish you with all the necessary tools to conduct a successful promotional campaign of their products. Best of all, there are more than enough well-established and trustworthy affiliate program directories from which you can choose almost any product to promote!

CONS: You need to make sure that the products that you promote actually achieve what the claim to do (which in some cases entails trying them out beforehand). Also you are going to be faced with the issue of being just another affiliate marketer promoting the same products as thousands of other internet marketers.

BOTTOM LINE: Affiliate marketing is the cheapest way to start out. However bear in mind that the internet marketers who make the big bucks do so through selling their own products. So in essence you should promote other people’s stuff up until you’ve become internet marketing savvy enough to sell your own product, be it digital goods (downloadable stuff) or whatever.

5. INTERNET TRAFFIC: THE POT OF GOLD AT THE END OF EVERY INTERNET MARKETING RAINBOW

In the online world once you’ve got lots of internet traffic you’re made, without it, you’re dead! Internet traffic is the true engine that drives any successful internet business. Those websites or blogs that are raking it in do so for one reason and one reason alone; they get tons of online traffic!

So how do you get traffic? There’re a variety of ways to get traffic, some of them free and others not so.

A. USE WEB 2.0 TECHNIQUES: Web 2.0 is the newest phase or 2nd generation of web based services which include social networking sites such as myspace.com and youtube.com to name but a few. A well organized and interesting blog is a good platform with which to gain web 2.0 based internet traffic.

B. WRITE ARTICLES: Cheap and highly effective method to attract quick relevant traffic to your website or blog. It does require a certain amount of effort on your part (in other words conveying useful information) to make sure that your article attracts a ton of visitors to your site. The best bit about article writing is that you have literally thousands of article directories where you can submit your articles to.

C. POSTING IN FORUMS: Most people trawl forums to find answers that resolve their problems. You can capitalize on this by checking out forums relevant to your market and posting replies to current or recent questions to which you know the answers. If you post a genuinely useful and helpful reply you could end up with several grateful customers.

How?

Well, it’s very probable those people whose problem you just solved will click on your signature link to see what further useful information they can get from your site. Most forums enable you to promote your site by allowing you to paste a link pointing to your site at the end of your posting (different forums have different guidelines so it’s good to read them up).

D. PAY-PER-CLICK ADVERTISING of which perhaps the most famous (or infamous depending on your perspective) is Google Adwords. Paying to get internet traffic through advertising is what is commonly known as PPC or pay-per-click. At its most basic, pay per-click marketing involves you composing an ad and bidding for a relevant searched-for keyword. Your ad will then be listed on the relevant search engine index pages for that same keyword you bid.

E. INTERNET TRAFFIC FROM THE SEARCH ENGINES: This is the best traffic to draw to your website because it is the most qualified and targeted type of online traffic. What do I mean when I say the most qualified type of internet traffic?

I am talking about people who actively typed in a search term/phrase (keyword) into any search engine online. Such a person is more likely to purchase, subscribe or do whatever you most desire your visitors to do when they get to your site.

Getting this kind of traffic requires search engine optimization (seo) of your website or blog.

PROS: There’re multiple avenues to draw internet traffic to your website/blog these days, all of which involve a certain amount of effort, some more so than others. A well written article costs you no more than the whirring of your brain and the tip tap of your fingers on the keyboard, yet the traffic generated from that one article could quite easily translate into big sales.

CONS: Online traffic is what everybody with a web presence desires, only problem is that it happens to be rather challenging to get a significant amount of it unless your website has been around for quite a while.

BOTTOM LINE: Internet traffic is the lifeblood of any online business and if you intend to be an internet marketer then you cannot do without it.

6. PLAY NOT FOLLOW THE LEADER!

Masura Ibuka, a co-founder of Sony once said “You never succeed in technology, business or anything else by following others!” That quote is equally applicable today in the internet marketing arena as it was when he said it. If you insist on playing follow-the-leader, then by proxy you’ll always be playing catch-up which is not the best marketing strategy.

PROS: Being the leader in whatever marketing endeavor you pursue automatically makes your brand instantly recognizable to the public which translates into more profit because people will always think of you first for that particular niche market. After all don’t forget your ultimate internet marketing goal should be selling your own products eventually.

CONS: Being in the forefront by its very nature means that you’re going to have to put in a little more time and effort at the beginning to attain that lead than if you were just joining the ranks of followers.

7. AVOID THE MINEFIELD OF ONLINE SCAMS.

I’m sure you don’t need to be told that the internet is awash with scams. A good rule of thumb to abide by is: If it seems too good to be true then it is precisely that! Most people get scammed because they are looking for the easiest path to riches and hence ignore that little squeaky voice in their head that is telling them “there’s no such thing as an overnight success!”

PROS: A lot of internet marketers who had been operating smoothly behind a facade of respectability have since been exposed together with their scams. Still the onus is on you to keep your wits and common sense and not get duped!

CONS: It is easy to be swept off your senses by good copywriting and visions of all that money you’re apparently going to make overnight doing practically nothing!

If you ever do start getting that giddy feeling ascribed to gonna-be-rich-overnight syndrome, remember what world-famous hairstylist Vidal Sassoon had to say about success: “The only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary!”

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Tips for Social Media Success

Social media marketing techniques can streamline an existing business, making its website productive; result oriented, and makes it user-driven. The techniques are highly effective and easier to implement. Business marketers use it extensively and measure the output. They leverage more efficient and effective social media optimization techniques to improve website performance. The techniques are good for small to medium-size business. This has significantly shifted the marketing and advertising framework of companies and today, most of the companies are utilizing social media to publicize their brand.

Social media is the best way to connect with the customers. More and more companies are embracing it harmoniously to understand the needs of their customers. However, most of the companies are using it to maintain good relations with their customers and reap long-term profits. Some of the social media marketing tactics that can bring success for your business are as follows.

Understand Your Customers

It is important to understand your customers and their inherent behavior. It is also vital to know their particular choices and expectations. This will enable you to define your social media strategies. You can promote your product or service accordingly. You can offer discounts in order to attract your audiences. No doubt, it will help you to direct carve your position in your customers’ heart. Indeed, customers also like to get entertained in innovative ways.

Develop Suitable Content

Once you have successfully identified the needs and wants of your audiences. It becomes easier to develop intuitive and specific content for them. Social media is the best platform to upload content for your audiences. Audiences also like to read, understand, and share content through these sites. They love videos, images, case studies, success stories, and advertisements. These elements engage them and create business value over time. In fact, it helps in maintaining better relations with them.

Optimizing content is also a major element, which helps in making your content readable and shareable. Audiences can search your content easily through optimization. It also includes making the content the exclusive, optimized, and transparent. Giving proper and worthy headings and sub-headings are very essential to attract visitors.

Most of the successful companies extensively use the power of social media techniques to simplify, standardize, and streamline their online operations. They look to empower their audiences and provide value to them through these mediums.

Business marketers use social platforms to build their reputation through these mediums. They turn their disasters to opportunities, and recover from huge loses. They fix problems and issues their customers have and take immediate actions for complete customer contentment. Whether the organization is profit oriented or not, business marketers connect with the audiences through these channels to enjoy organic traffic and better rankings.

Alex Smith is a ghost writer, contributing in search engine optimization, internet marketing, social media optimization and online reputation management to help clients getting high rank and generate targeted traffic from genuine sources.

Public V Private Sector Innovation – The Basis For Success

A lot has been written over the years about both public and private sector innovation. Following the wave of managerialist reform in the 1980s and 90s it has been widely believed that the Public Sector could improve its innovation performance by looking to the Private sector. That is not the conclusion we drew from a recent comparative study of Private Sector CEOs and Public sector heads of agencies experience of innovation. Innovation was commonly pursued for different reasons irrespective of whether in the public or private sector. The approach adopted differed primarily based on the degree of uncertainty presented by the environment and whether the innovation was in response to an unexpected situation or part of a deliberate repositioning. The means available for being proactive, as well as the options available for managing uncertainty in the different contexts, most explained the difference between the sectors and the likelihood of a successful outcome.

The backdrop to the debate

Over the past few decades public sector innovation has been a hot topic in many countries. This has been in response to rapidly changing national and global circumstances requiring increased innovation in both policy and delivery to meet the needs of diverse stakeholders within limited budgets. While the need for innovation has increased there is a general perception that the public sector lacks the capacity to deliver it. This perception has been reinforced in the research literature, with the public sector frequently characterised as conservative, bureaucratic and reluctant to change. However, much of this past commentary has been based more on opinion (and perhaps a little prejudicial stereotyping) rather than solid evidence. There have been few direct comparisons made between the public and private sectors approach to innovation and none that considered both successful and unsuccessful innovations. As with all areas of public management, innovation in the public sector has been influenced by changing ideological conceptions of governance and public management. The New Public Management (NPM) of the 1980’s widely advocated the adoption of private sector management principles in Government. One of the implications has been a focus on the similarities between the public and private sectors in their approache to innovation, rather than the differences. We sought to understand what is unique about the public sector and what implications this has on the approach to innovation most appropriate to the public sector context.

How we did it

We collected 84 stories of innovation from the 25 CEOs and 20 Public Sector leaders (generally heads or deputy heads of Government Departments). Forty two of these stories were of innovation experiences which were successful and a further 42 unsuccessful. Detailed qualitative analysis was then undertaken to identify patterns within and between these stories. What this analysis overwhelmingly revealed was that, regardless of whether it was the Public Sector or the Private Sector, the way the leader thought about innovation was driven by the context they found themselves in and the problems they needed to solve – not some higher meaning or concept of innovation. Understanding and accounting for the context in which the innovation occurs is therefore crucial to the adoption of the best approach. The stories were drawn from a wide variety of contexts so we looked for those contextual characteristics that were common. Two characteristics emerged:

– The Level of Uncertainty the CEO/Head held about both their organizational situation and the environment it was operating in; – The Level of Pro-activity inherent to the CEO/Heads situation – whether the innovation was part of a planned strategy or a response to external triggers that needed to be incorporated.

Public V Private: What are the differences?

The first and most obvious difference was the existance of three quite distinct approaches to innovation in the private sector. Following the wider literature we labelled these incremental, evolutionary and revolutionary. The public sector, howerver, only displayed two, which we have called:

– Ministerial: innovation that occurs through interaction with and on behalf of the government’s political appointee; and – Departmental: innovation that occurs within a department and has been initiated internally and led internally.

Interestingly, and contrary to what many might expect, relatively few Public Sector innovations could be classified as incremental – characterized by low levels of uncertainty. This may reflect the generally more complex environment which the Public Sector confronts – particularly the diversity of stakeholders and interests which must be managed during any change to existing process. Secondly, the private sector interviews showed that the approach taken by the CEOs to different types of innovation can have a significant impact on the likelihood of success or failure. The same can be said of the public sector but the reasons for this are completely different.

Irrespective of whether a private sector CEO was reacting to an organizational circumstance or proactively innovating there was little difference in their likely success or failure. In the public sector the difference was dramatic. Indeed there was only one successful innovation from a reactive context in the public sector. Conversely the complexity or uncertainty appeared to have little impact on success for the public sector indeed the public sector had more revolutionary successes than failures suggesting a well developed innovation capability when circumstances are right – a finding which challenges those negative stereotypes!

There is a case for comparison or benchmarking between ‘Departmental’ innovation and the private sector. However ‘Ministerial’ innovation, presents such a significantly different innovation context that comparison with private sector approaches is of limited value. For example, comparisons are sometimes made between the role of the Board and that of the Minister and Government in terms of oversight of executive functioning. When it comes to innovation, the Board will generally take its lead from the corporate executive. In the public sector, in addition to performing an oversight role, the Government is an important source of innovation initiatives. Departments have an obligation to pursue political initiatives and these may be introduced with relatively little advance warning and with limited scope for modification or adaptation at the Departmental level. Consequently, public sector managers are far more likely to find themselves reacting than are their private sector counterparts.

A further and particularly significant difference is that the private sector assumes and accepts that failures are a normal part of innovation. The failures are acceptable as long as the successes outweigh the losses from a commercial point of view. This is reflected in the use of probability based approaches – an approach completely absent in the public sector profiles. In the private sector, return on investment is the ultimate measure of success. In this context, speed to market can be more important than a perfectly implemented idea. Removal of all uncertainty associated with the idea is a luxury that it cannot always afford nor indeed always need. By contrast, failure is not acceptable in the public sector due to the attendant political risks.

Historically the public sector, in many Western Democracies at least, has been very successful in the implementation of quite complex and revolutionary innovations – not least the extensive reforms of the 80s and 90s. However, it has arguably succeeded because it can use time as a resource to reduce uncertainty in a way that the private sector cannot. Innovation in the public sector then is highly sensitive to time and the quality of the idea, in a way that does not exist in the private sector.

It is significant then that of the thirty public sector stories collected we only had one successful story where the innovation was initiated in a reactive context. To put it another way, where the public service had little influence over the idea or the timing of the implementation, the chances of failure were substantially increased. The concern is that the public services in many countries may increasingly be confronting an innovation environment where reduced influence over the nature of the idea and the timing is the norm. The implication of this is that it removes some of the key strengths of public sector innovation, by reducing the time taken to implement complex public policy, and the ability of the public service to temper bad ideas through the reduction of uncertainty. If this trend is believed likely to continue, new models are needed designed to deal specifically with this environment.

Dr Chris Goldspink is an Executive Director of the Sydney Australia based research and consulting firmIncept Labs. The company helps SMEs, large corporates and Government deal with uncertainty in current and future environments by providing targeted research and supporting innovation, risk management, change and quality governance.