Online marketing (also called “internet marketing” or “web marketing”) includes all marketing efforts on the internet. This marketing strategy aims to influence users according to the business’s goals through the smart use of communication and sales strategies. Examples of online marketing are online ads or newsletters.
Online marketing can be used to pursue various goals, just as with offline marketing. For example, it is suitable to increase brand awareness and customer loyalty or improve the corporate image. In the long term, all of these objectives are intended to increase business turnover.
Online marketing tactics
There are a number of tactics you can use to achieve your online marketing goals. These include running a business website, search marketing (search engine optimization and search engine advertising), email and display advertising, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, and mobile marketing.
The center of all online marketing efforts is usually your company’s website. Its design, content, and technical setup play an important role because they not only contribute to the acquisition of new customers but are also intended to bind existing customers to your business. A good example is Asana. Their website is minimalistic and easy to navigate while providing a clear call to action.
Screenshot of a corporate website of asana.com
But since users rarely come across a business’s website on the internet by chance, a major task in online marketing is to attract as many visitors as possible. This is where tactics such as display advertising, social media marketing, or search marketing become important.
Search marketing has the ultimate goal of attracting as many visitors to your website as possible through search engines such as Google. It includes search engine advertising (SEA) and search engine optimization (SEO). Both are important strategies for online marketing since Google is usually the first choice of internet users looking for a specific offer or solution.
Search engine optimization is used to improve your website’s ranking in the organic (unpaid) search results. The best-case scenario would be to rank on the first page of the SERPs. This can be achieved by optimizing your actual website (on-page optimization) and building inbound links to your site (off-page optimization).
Search engine advertising, as the second field of search marketing, refers to the placement of paid ads that are labeled as such and displayed above or next to the organic search results. Since you can choose for which search queries you want the ads to be shown, these can be tailored to your target group, which minimizes scatter loss. The most prominent services that can be used for SEA are Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising.
Another important tactic is display advertising. The most common form are banner ads which are used to create attention for a business or product. They usually contain links to an offer or corporate website. Banner ads can be placed on all kinds of websites and offer countless design options. Other types of display ads are pop-ups and layer ads.
Email marketing, as the name suggests, describes the distribution of marketing messages via email. An example are newsletters. Email marketing can be compared to classic mail or flyers with the only difference that they are sent via the internet, which makes it cheaper. Another advantage is that email marketing enables you to address customers personally and individually. Just like display advertising, this kind of marketing also offers various design options. That is why it is an important online marketing tactic, despite some technical and legal challenges.
Advertising messages and other content that is distributed through social media can be summarized as social media marketing, which has become an important part of many companies’ online marketing strategies. The biggest advantage is that it allows you to interact directly with customers and achieve viral effects. Viral means that your message is shared a lot through Facebook, Twitter, or other social media.
Affiliate marketing is another area of online marketing which describes a partnership between an affiliate and an external advertiser, called merchant. The affiliate gets a provision for placing a merchant’s ads on their website. This provision is usually dependent on the ad’s success and calculated based on various models, such as pay per click or pay per sale. There are multiple affiliate networks which act as an intermediary between affiliates and merchants to simplify the cooperation, for example by taking over the financial accounting. Examples of such networks are Affiliaxe and Clickbank. Affiliate marketing has the advantage that you only pay if the ad has actually been successful. In addition, this is an easy way to increase the traffic on your website.
One last, but still important area of online marketing is mobile marketing. This type of marketing has become very important in recent years due to the increasing use of mobile devices. It allows you to create and distribute highly personalized messages based on extensive user profiles. These profiles can be generated based on GPS data and other information gathered by various apps. Note that mobile marketing also means that your website has to be adjusted to different displays in order to remain user-friendly.
Advantages and disadvantages
One advantage of online marketing compared to classic marketing is that advertising on the internet is often cheaper than offline. For example, a newsletter distributed via email costs considerably less than direct mail, which has to be printed first and then sent per post.
In addition, you can easily evaluate the success of an online marketing campaign by analyzing click rates, for example. In the case of print ads or billboard ads, it is difficult to determine how often it has been noticed or if it has been successful. This measurability of online marketing allows you to optimize your advertising strategies and eliminate unsuccessful campaigns to cut costs.
The fact that user data such as age, gender, or interests can be collected and analyzed on the internet yields another significant benefit of online marketing. Having access to this data allows you to directly address users in a target-group-specific manner. This helps to reduce scatter loss by ensuring that ads are only displayed to users that match your target group.
A disadvantage of online marketing is that certain types of ads, such as pop-ups or display ads, can be hidden through the use of ad blockers. Offline campaigns like poster advertising are not affected by this problem. This is no major disadvantage though since ad blockers only work for a few of the many possibilities of online marketing.
Another potential point of criticism could be that not everyone uses the internet so far. Especially among older generations, the medium is not as popular as among younger consumers. Nevertheless, the use of the internet is increasing internationally and across all age groups, which is why this disadvantage currently plays a minor role and will probably no longer be relevant in the future.
Finally, you should note that not every product is suitable for online marketing. An example of this are very complex products that require a lot of explanation as they are often seen in the business-to-business sector. However, even in this case, you can use the internet to create attention for your business and attract the interest of potential customers. You can then complete the subsequent steps to converting these customers offline.
The advantages and disadvantages of online marketing are summarized in the following table:
|lower costs||Hiding online ads with ad blockers|
|direct measurability of success||not everybody uses the internet (yet)|
|target-group-specific approach||not every product is suitable for online distribution|
The disadvantages named above are only minor points of criticism and apply only to a few online marketing tactics or will lose relevance in the future. This makes online marketing a valuable counterpart to classic marketing approaches, offering a lot of benefits.