Internet marketing is a strong tool to reach potential customers and provide them with an ‘experience’ of a brand, while at the same time allowing an immediate feedback loop which empowers the customer and promotes a feeling of engagement but also allows the marketer to collect information to enhance approaches to that customer in the future.
Internet marketing done well is a powerful thing. The problem is that if often is not done well, and not only that but it is done so badly in some cases that the net result is brand damage rather than enhancement.
The ‘traffic’ fallacy
Internet marketers are obsessed, by and large, with directing traffic to predetermined websites of greater or lesser value to the customer. The purpose of sending the customer to the site is either to impart a message or to extract information, usually both. Systems are employed to count the number of unique hits a site receives in a day, and less sophisticated marketers feel confident in their success if a certain number is reached, meaning that X number of customers have been exposed to the brand.
There are a number of things wrong with this limited view. The main two issues are that the content used to drive the traffic is often of limited worth to the reader and the end site is commonly nothing more than an advertisement. Online material which is devoid of any benefit to the customer endears itself neither to Google nor the customer. In the worst cases, where the copy provided is nonsensical and simply stuffed with chosen keywords at a ‘density’ which renders the page unreadable, the marketer might have been as well or better off to have an empty site.
Poor quality online material can damage the reputation of a business with potential customers. The fact that a ‘hit’ registered tells a business nothing about the customer’s experience on the site and parting sentiments.
The second primary issue in poor use of the internet is that it fails to leverage what should be an amazing, interactive marketing channel. A great website with lots of good quality content can enhance customer relationships and encourage word of mouth traffic. The best online marketing is ‘viral’, whereby customers electronically forward information to friends, who forward to friends …and so it goes.
Sites which use a pay-per-view or pay-per-click advertising revenue mechanism are said to be ‘monetized’. A monetized site must satisfy the advertiser’s requirements, usually Google, which normally stipulates a required level of quality. Factors such as excessive personal backlinks and content that Google deems inappropriate will result in no advertisements appearing and consequently, no revenue being earned.
Viral marketing and email campaigns
Savvy online marketers tap into the desire of regular internet users to be entertained. Recent years have seen enormous successes in the field of viral advertising, whereby short, entertaining online material is made accessible to be quickly emailed from one user to another.
Like viral email campaigns, all smart Internet marketing considers the customers wants and needs rather than simply seeking hits.