No marketing program today would be complete without an online component to it. But what exactly is online or Internet marketing?
Google “Internet marketing” and you’ll get “about 7,920,000,000” results. That’s nearly 8 billion search results if you don’t feel like translating all the zeros.
Instead of wading through billions of online pages, I decided to call my friend Jeff Powell and get his thoughts on the current state of Internet marketing. Jeff is the Vice President/CFO of Prosperous Internet Marketing. Prosperous I.M. is a full-service digital marketing agency in Pensacola, Fla., that helps brick-and-mortar businesses throughout the U.S. and Canada market to their local area.
Following are the highlights of my recent conversation with Jeff.
Q: Your company is called Prosperous Internet Marketing, so how do you define Internet marketing?
A: Internet marketing today covers so many different areas. For example, at Prosperous IM we do website design and hosting, website landing pages, SEO and PPC, social media marketing, reputation marketing, call tracking, lead generation, video ad production, and related services.
Q: What are the biggest trends you’re seeing right now when it comes to Internet marketing?
A: Online video is a huge trend right now. It helps customers get to know you before they do business with you. The challenge is that consumers’ attention spans are getting shorter and shorter.
You’ve got less than 10 seconds to grab their attention or they’re gone. If you do get their attention, the sweet spot is about 90 seconds of video. From there you can move viewers to your written content.
Q: That’s interesting because a few years ago I wrote about how video was going to be big. What are some other Internet marketing trends?
A: Two other trends are call tracking and chatbots. Call tracking helps identify which ads and media (online and offline) are working best. We use a different local phone number on every ad, website, social media post, etc., so when a call comes in, we know where the caller saw the business.
For example, if someone started on Facebook which took them to a website, the phone number is dynamic and follows the person in the browser. Call tracking also works for text messaging. This is a really inexpensive technology now.
Chat bots are great and getting better every day. They let businesses start conversations with customers online so they get to know and trust the business enough to start a real dialog, which is crucial.
Q: What is one area of Internet marketing that is currently being underutilized?
A: Retargeting offers huge potential, but 90 percent of businesses that do PPC aren’t using it. Retargeting is when an online ad follows you to other websites after you searched an item or clicked on an ad earlier. It cost less than the initial click but has 10 times the click-through rate.
Q:What are the biggest trends you’re seeing when it comes to search engine optimization, or SEO?
A: We don’t really use the term SEO that much. Instead, we use the term Search Engine Marketing and refer to this as one tool in the online marketing toolbox. SEO is our point of beginning or initial setup for our clients. Once we have the websites properly optimized, it’s time to add value with content and start marketing the business.
Q:Talk about the role of content marketing as part of an ongoing Internet marketing program.
A: Publishing quality content is vital to ranking high in Google and the other search engines. Creating consistent, fresh and relevant content is one of the most important things we do for our clients.
Creating strong content doesn’t have to be overwhelming. For example, an article can be chopped up into snippets and published over a week or a month. The same thing goes for longer videos — edit them into several 60 to 90 second clips and post these individually.
Q: What about social media marketing? How important is this to an Internet marketing program?
A: Social media is just as important, if not more important, than a website. Many businesses have a professional website but their social media pages look like something a kid put together. Also, you need to keep your message and look consistent across all media.
You should post new content to your social media channels on a regular basis and use Facebook live to connect with your audience and make offers. Remember that it’s not about you — it’s about the customer. So provide value in your social media posts.
Q: What are your top three tips for Internet marketing success?
A: First, you need to define your ideal profitable customer, or avatar, so you know exactly who your digital marketing strategy will be targeting.
Next, update your website, social media channels and other online properties with quality content aimed at your ideal customer while soliciting as many positive reviews as possible. Reputation marketing is the starting point for digital marketing.
Finally, don’t think you can do all this yourself, or even hire a digital marketing employee who will know how to do everything. Find a digital marketing company that you feel comfortable working with to help you reach your Internet marketing goals.