In 2003 online retail sales passed $100B, marking the start of business on the World Wide Web. The success of eBay’s auction site, originally developed to showcase a Pez candy collection, demonstrated the power of the Internet to reach a global audience. eBay opened the door for big online retailers like Amazon. In 2012, total online sales were estimated at over $225B.
The Web Marketing Revolution
Business is still new to the Internet. Little research is available on the subject of Web marketing, so marketers often rely on “tried and true” advertising methods. Chris Anderson, founder and editor of Wired magazine, wrote “The Long Tail,” which discusses niche marketing. His book, “Free” describes the history and benefits of fremium advertising. (Anderson released “Free” as a free digital download before the print version.) Both books provide interesting insights into use of the Web for traditional marketing.
Guerrilla Marketing is a low-cost advertising strategy popularized by Jay Levinson in the 1980s. Levinson extended his ideas to the Web in his valuable book, “Guerrilla Marketing On The Internet.” Some of the best Web-specific advice for marketers comes from Jan Zimmerman, author of “Web Marketing For Dummies” and “Social Media Marketing All-in-One For Dummies.”
The Power Of The Internet
The power of the Internet for Web marketers lies in its ability to reach a very large number of customers at a low cost. This levels the playing field among competitors. (It gives you an advantage over big companies.) Email is just one way costs are lowered. Mailing lists, color catalogs and product videos can all be produced and distributed cheaply on the Web. Entrepreneurs can sell products 24/7 with a shopping cart and a verified PayPal account.
Social Media Marketing
Social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, where users gather for socializing, present new opportunities for marketers. Social networking sites can be used effectively as an extension of your business. They allow you to reach a large audience through word-of-mouth advertising (recommendations, groups, likes, tweets).
Social media can be thought of as a two-way communication, in which customers have the opportunity to respond directly to your business via the Web. That is especially true for review websites like Yelp. Social media presents both challenges and opportunities for small business, so include it in your Web marketing plan.