What happens when too many companies use the same marketing techniques to reach their audiences? Too often confusion, and, above all, little results. Welcome to the new world of marketing on the Internet, a world where thousands of companies are competing for the attention of your prospects and customers. And because Internet marketing offers significant cost-advantages over traditional marketing vehicles, there is no shortage of "emarketing" messages. Your audience is continuously bombarded with ads and incredible offers. It is not surprising that hundreds of marketing professionals are finding themselves at a loss, unable to explain why they are getting no significant results while others seem to generate unheard of response rates by marketing their offerings on the Web.
Make no mistake; Internet marketing represents a powerful way to deliver your messages, reach your audience and sell your products. Yet, to achieve significant results, marketing professionals must carefully avoid 4 pitfalls of marketing on the Web.
Pitfall 1. Too late to the game
The Internet has done more than simply deliver new tools to market products and services. Most professionals are led to believe that Internet marketing simply entails using Internet-based tools to market their products and services. Well that's true but.... that's not the complete picture. A new dimension to marketing has been added: that of first-mover's advantage. Often reserved to describe corporate strategies, this term has become perfectly suited for Internet marketing because a big part of achieving remarkable results on the Web is being among the first to use the marketing technique/tool in question. Case in point: web site promotions on search engines. A few years ago, simple page optimization (adding meta tags to your web page source, cleverly composing page titles, etc...) and submission to search engines was enough to assure a very good ranking in the indexes.
Today, these techniques are routinely used by every webmaster. That's hundreds of thousands of companies doing the same thing. As a result, the chances that your site will generate significant traffic from search engines have decreased dramatically. Why bother? Well, search engines still represent vital elements of the Web where millions of surfers congregate every day. Plus, perseverance eventually leads to positive results. Nonetheless, search engine promotion has evolved. What was appropriate just a few years ago is not enough today. The sheer number of sites composing the World Wide Web forces marketing professionals to constantly rethink their approaches to marketing on the Web. The best approach is to closely keep an eye on how the market and Internet marketing tools evolve in an effort to be among the first to exploit new or improved techniques. (Click here for an example of new search engine promotion strategies).
Achieving a first-mover's advantage also requires a certain flexibility in marketing plans whereby a yearly plan may need to revised every six months to account for changes in Internet marketing. To this end, marketing professionals must ignite their curiosity, surfing the web extensively to spot emerging trends while experimenting with new Internet marketing techniques. This exploration of Internet marketing need and should not be limited to web sites in your industries. Broaden your horizons, and you will quickly discover amazing things. ( Note: advancis.com offers several free resources to help you stay a step ahead, click here for details). Only then can you ensure that your Internet marketing efforts will have a great impact. However, be warned that higher-than-average response rates are short lived as thousands of companies and individuals will eventually learn to modify their approaches to copy what works best.
Pitfall 2. Too easy to forget the rules
Internet marketing is first of all marketing. While it is true that the Internet has changed the way we reach prospects and customers, the basic marketing concepts and principles still apply. In fact, as competition in cyberspace becomes more intense, marketing expertise will be as vital as technical expertise. Knowing the latest Internet technologies or latest tricks and techniques does not really matter if you don't understand how everything fits in the big picture.
Too many marketing professionals have been led to believe that marketing on the Internet is completely different. This is not totally accurate. The environment has changed; the tools and techniques have evolved, but the underlying principles remain the same: you must deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. The most difficult part is not finding out which techniques to use but understanding how the Internet has affected your audience.
First, you need to review the stages your prospects go through when making their purchase decisions and gauge the impact of the Web. Only then will you be able to determine which Internet tools are the most appropriate. Second, you must develop a fully-integrated Internet marketing plan which defines how the different Internet marketing tools will be used to achieve your objectives. The goal is to ensure a cohesive approach. By focusing on the whole picture instead of the individual elements of the campaign, you will create an Internet marketing plan that generates a greater impact. Finally, revise your Internet marketing plan every three months or so to ensure you can integrate the latest Internet tools and techniques as well as account for changes in your audience's online habits and shopping behavior.
Pitfall 3. Failing to use the right tool for the right job
The best part about marketing on the Internet: the multitude of powerful new tools you can use to reach prospects and customers.
The Internet has introduced marketing professionals to ad banners of course, but also to search engines and web directories, sponsored links and eNewsletters, link and banner exchange programs, web rings, affiliate programs, opt-in email marketing, push technology, and more.
Yet, not all Internet marketing tools have been created equal. Some tools offer a more precise and effective way to reach well-defined target segments while others are ideal for mass marketing. The main challenge is using the right tool for the right job.
Your Internet marketing mix will depend on the target markets and objectives you need to reach. In other words, what is right for one company may not be (and is usually not) right for another. Marketing professionals must start with clear objectives and a thorough understanding of their prospects. Only then, will you be able to select the Internet marketing tools that are the most appropriate to deliver your messages.
For instance, consider search engine promotion. Used by millions of companies, search engine listings represent a very cost-effective way to attract large numbers of prospects to a site. True... at least in most cases. Assume, for example, that your need to reach Presidents and Senior Staff members to sell management consulting services. Search engine promotions would fall short of producing any significant results because executives rarely have the time or know how to conduct extensive searches on the Web. In this case, you would need to deliver your message using a more precise tool; a tool that allows you to accurately target professionals who fit your prospects' profiles, namely email marketing.
Most companies will find that a combination of several Internet marketing tools works best to reach the right people at the right time with the right messages. For maximum impact, always view your Internet marketing projects as part of a greater whole or campaign. Use each tool to target specific prospects or achieve specific objectives.
Pitfall 4. Falling victim to spammarketing
Falling victim to spammarketing is a lot easier than people think. Even well-intentioned companies are unknowingly using techniques and tools that fall into the spamming category.
Spammarketing or the unintentional use of spamming techniques to generate traffic or promote web sites is becoming a widespread problem because spammers are disguising themselves as legitimate Internet marketing agencies. As a result, the Internet marketing tool you use may be nothing more than a cleverly-disguised spam. The most common examples of spammarketing involve email marketing and search engine promotions.
Whether spammarketing takes the form of renting "opt-in" email lists which are really spam lists or submitting a web site to search engines using mass-submission systems, the results are often detrimental to your brand or company image. Your audience categorizes you as an organization that sends unsolicited email or spams search engine indexes.
The best way to avoid spammarketing is carefully screening the Internet marketing service providers you plan to use. If the offer sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Whenever executing an Internet marketing strategy, always use your common sense to differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate solutions.