Online Marketing 101

I was recently introduced to the Wiley world of online marketing by an x-colleague and I’m fascinated at how systematic this discipline is. Managing relationships, getting attention, creating impressions.. I always felt these were things inherent in personalities and not things that can be crafted and managed. I guess the real world has been seeing this for a while but in my naivety I thought that the internet was still largely safe from this manipulation. I was wrong.

Here is a little inventory of things I was told they do to give you an idea of what is involved here:

  • Websites – for the newbies, preparing websites for online shop fronts, campaigns and regular corporate websites. is one such example. If a page is down, marketing cannot even take place, so it’s important to ensure there are no errors. So, to ensure marketing can even take place, a web server was recommended, like You cannot even set up a website without a web host, and this is something hostiserver can take care of.
  • SEO – Search Engine optimization. With most consumers finding customers via search engines, getting on the top 10 has a lot of value; people whose sites are on various eCommerce platforms may want to utilize BigCommerce SEO services to get their site rising through the rankings
    • Search engine submission services: There are apparently something like 10,000 search engines out there and many of them require you to manually submit your site for their indexing
    • Link Building: Search engines look at how many external sites your site links to and (more importantly) how many external sites point to your site. The more the connections, the higher up you go
    • Affiliate marketing networks: This is where affiliate sites/partners sell your product and get a commission. Online, you might be hosting inventory while an onsite store vendor sells it on your behalf and keeps a commission.
    • Viral Marketing: This one is sneaky. The idea is to basically use word of mouth and personal credibility of people to spread the word. I will write more on this later but from what I understand, these people will find influential people in groups and then incentivize them to like the product (e.g. free give-aways) and then to see spread the word (more goodies every time you tell friend). Once it attains critical mass, the message should have a life of its own.
    • Social media management: Facebook, twitter, Digg etc are being used increasingly as sources of information for many online users. Managing them as a channel becomes critical to how your brand is perceived online.
    • Traffic analysis and optimization: Perhaps one of the most valuable facets of online marketing (vs in person marketing) is that it provides a very large amount of information about who is viewing your online presence, how they are accessing it (what pages, in what order, how often.. ), from where (geographic location) etc. , using what medium (mobile, browsers.. ?). Services like google analytics will give this stuff out for free and the reports these generate are very useful feedback regarding the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.
  • Advertisements – pay per click: All the popular hangouts online (google, yahoo, bing, facebook) have pay per click (PPC) programs where you every time a user clicks your add and ends up at your site. A variant of this is a Pay per view where you get charged by (or earn by) impressions, i.e viewing. You can also make money this way btw, albeit very small amounts.
  • Email broadcasts – This is an evolving science. Very popular at one time and then abused to the core by spam mails, email still remains the most popular channel of communication to customers and hence an attractive choice to those looking to broadcast their message. The quality of the email lists, the tone and frequency of the message can all be managed to generate results. This is all managed very carefully since people’s tolerance of email spam is fairly low now a days. Most successful campaigns I have seen over email take the shape of newsletters or other content that is interesting for the user and doesn’t sound like an advertisement. An advertisement for a services firm usually takes the shape of a technical article demonstrating competence or an architect sharing his vision of technology world. The company itself rarely markets itself directly in indirect approaches like this

Now you can tell that a lot of this requires people to be writing about you on the web. The right things, in the right places and lots of them. These include:

  • Newsletters
  • Blogs
  • Press releases
  • Case studies

This one is nothing short of amazing for me. There are people who will actually will actually make your consultants sound like heros and your products sound like the best thing since the wheel for a few dollars. And these “technical writers” can write something like 50 to a 100 of these articles in a day!

There is a lot of buzz in the offshore industry now a days around SEM. Sofizar is one company that is told to be a 20 person outfit gross 20M$ odd with their marketing analytics product. With the world economies on the downturn, marketing budgets are shrinking and internet penetration increasing and deepening, online marketing campaigns sound probably provide good value for money for most companies.


Muhammad Omer

Muhammad Omer is the founding partner at Allied Consultants. Areas of interest for him are entreprenuership in organizations, IT Management, Integration and Business Intelligence.