Internet Marketing: How To Decide What Will Work For Me

By Joe Cunningham, Internet Marketing Manager

I just watched Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” which was incredible if only for the phenomenal, obviously Oscar-winning performance of Mr. Daniel Day-Lewis.  Incidentally, I ended the movie realizing it was also – when I was watching it – at that very moment the anniversary of his death.  That and Lewis’s performance were almost ghostly.

What I liked about the screenplay and the man himself was his ability to tell a story to introduce an idea to the table, and his wise, fatherly way of doing it: strong yet quiet, and wise as hell.

Well, I knew this blog needed a good intro so, inspired by Old Abe, I just thought I'd say that (laughing).

How to Decide What Kind of Internet Marketing Is For Me

There are 5 main types of internet marketing (see my blog about it): SEO, PPC, social media marketing, email marketing, and banner ads.  We will group banner ads with Pay Per Clicks since they are more or less like PPC (pay per click advertising) and focus on deciding between those four.

When choosing a type of internet marketing I usually recommend them all because they all produce a different means to achieving your end (getting business out of your website) and thereby gain more traffic for you than if you had chosen only one.  Many times, though, I will get the question, if I can only afford one right now, which should I choose?  Which would be most effective for my business?  This blog is to help people make that decision and understand what makes one type of internet marketing stand out from all the others.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is often downplayed as the runt of the IM (internet marketing) litter.  However, stats are still there to support it.  And personal experience.  Chances are, you subscribed to something where you get regular emails from some company and at some point, you valued that and did not unsubscribe and continue to get emailed ads from them.

@The rough stats run to about a 10% healthy open rate, obviously increasing if the person receiving the emails opted-in in the first place, as opposed to someone buying that list from someone else and spamming away (a common practice, I’m sure you’ve experienced it).

A healthy 10% open rate is hopefully accompanied by an also healthy 1% open rate (when you click the link going to the website they want you to buy something from).  Website conversion rates vary around a healthy 2-5%; so if you crunch all the numbers: send an email to 10,000 people, 100 open it, 2-5 people buy your crap – voila!  Success!  But don’t count your chickens!  Emails (with sending fees) can cost about10 cents each and 20 for businesses.  So you are paying $100-$200 to get 2-5 sales, if everything goes smoothly.  So you better not just be selling candy bars by the bar or you’ve got the worst business model on the planet!

Some try to cut the cost of getting emails by creating lists of their own.  This is tedious.  However, done well, and you can get a solid list of opt-ins.

The magic of email marketing lies in this: everybody has an email nowadays (okay, almost everybody) and – though there’s nothing like getting a regular (now special) old-fashioned, hand-written paper, colored envelope letter these days – an email is still personally delivered to you!  Stats say that people get more excited about getting Facebook notifications than [edit] many other things that would blow your mind.  Email marketing is less as provocative, but similar.

Downsides?  It often takes repetition to create traction with customers: i.e. getting those emails three to ten times before being interested enough to open them.  So you’re looking at a possible rise in cost by anywhere from 300-1,000% and counting.

Not easy to stomach for most, but hey, the advantage is you know you are getting to people (You got in their inbox! That’s like getting to first base.  Okay, that’s creepy.); whereas the other methods are really, boiled down, stabs at getting to people.

In short, if you try it, and the numbers pan out for you; keep it up.  Things work that work.  Don’t you love tautologies?


Search engine optimization is by far the most effective means of internet marketing, all things considered.  Getting your website high on search engine results pages (SERPs) is extremely effective online advertising.

In case you didn’t know or haven’t read my previous blogs on the subject (read the What, Why, & How of SEO here), let me recap the stats real quick.  97% of the population looks for stuff online these days before going anywhere else (consider your own experience).  45% of those people will Google what they are looking for and click the first choice Google provides; 75% will choose between the top 3 choices; and no more than 5% will click to view to second page of search results.  Google will tell you how many people look for certain keywords and you can search and select the ones that will be most effective for your business to rank for.  It's really is the best thing since sliced bread.

However, SEO takes time. Optimizing a website and getting backlinks takes a little time, strategy, and effort; and then, it takes time for Google to notice.  And you have to keep it up.  It’s like a popularity contest and the winner isn’t chosen because they did one cool thing, but because they consistently create relevant information web users need to see.

Overall, it’s the best investment if you can handle the time aspect.  Once you crunch the numbers of how many people you can consistently drive to your website to get conversions, you will fall in love with SEO.  Because it means success.

PPC (Pay Per Click) Advertising

Pay Per Click advertising is huge.  And everyone’s a victim of it.  You can’t go online without seeing ads everywhere and the targeting tools are becoming sharper and more effective.  I can sell a spring sweater to Aunt May’s friend whose daughter bought an ugly one for her last Christmas because she mentioned she liked it on Facebook.  Yeah.  Scary, but it works.  It’s called targeting software.

The beauty of PPC is its immediate (by the way, if you need a recap, I blogged about it here): you can get people to your website now no matter how shabby your SEO situation is: i.e. you are not in the top 1,000 for any of your targeted keywords.  You bid competitively (should) so calculating ROI is what it’s all about based on what you’re selling on your site.

The most classic combination of internet marketing is PPC and SEO.  Since SEO takes time, do both and get immediate traffic from PPC ads while your SEO takes root.  As you begin to see results from SEO, you can turn down the PPC budget.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Social Media Marketing

Anybody who’s anybody is on social media.  You can talk about how you like it or don’t but it’s essential to have a professional face out there where people can feel at home connecting with you in the world they are in all the time – social online networks.  (I’ve written a lot about it here.)

The question this blog is trying to answer is when to use it and when not to.  I recommend it to everyone but if you need to refine your marketing budget, think about if you really need it.  I can tell you an online store needs it more than a law firm, and a coffee shop needs it way more than accountants.  Why?  It’s the nature of the beast.  Think about what you “like” on Facebook and why; or take it out of the web context and think about what you would small talk about on a Sunday afternoon with friends.  If your business could be in there in a positive way, you need to be on social media.  It means there are potential fans out there you can be interacting with.  Having a fan means you get to talk to them for free everyday (unless you [irritate them]).


Think about it.

Social media goes hand in hand with SEO though, so if you are looking for SEO as part of your essential strategy, you will most likely need some sort of SMO (social media optimization) as well to get your links out there.  As the great Montel Jordan once said: “This is how we do it!”

Making the Final Choices

You may be more confused now just because you are more aware of all the great stuff internet marketing has to offer.  Never fear.  You just need to ask yourself these two big questions: what fits my company’s marketing goals and what fits my company’s marketing budget?  If I say it once, I’ll say it a thousand times: calculate your ROI.  Nothing is definite in putting advertising out there, but you can make some really good estimates and shoot for those.

In short, use these questions to determine which products are right for you:

  • Do I need immediate traffic to my website? (PPC)
  • Do I have the time to produce the best return on investment? (SEO)
  • Are there potential fans I can interact with? (Social Media Marketing)
  • Can I predict a positive ROI from the cost of email marketing? (I’m not going to tell you what that refers to.)

Again, the very best is to do it all.  Professionals (clearing throat for effect) come up with strategies to help you weave together the best internet marketing package for your business, targeting the best and driving the most people to your website to create the best ROI (ROI, ROI!) - not always easily calculable in advertising but ever important.

Because “that’s what it’s all about.” – Billy Joel

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