What is Internet Marketing?

The term “internet marketing” has become associated with a broad range of topics in recent years. For many, it literally means only what it says: “marketing on the internet”, in which case it is seen as synonymous with “digital marketing” and “online marketing”. For others, however, it has come to be associated more specifically with the worlds of affiliate marketing, information products, and the “make money online” niche. For our purposes, we’ll lean more towards the former and will settle on the following definition:


Internet marketing is the use of internet properties and traffic to generate leads, sales, or brand awareness. This is typically done via search engine visibility, social media marketing, email marketing, and various forms of paid advertising.


One of the best ways to begin understanding internet marketing is to break down the various goals a business can seek to accomplish with it. The ultimate end goal of marketing is, of course, revenue. With that in mind, we can certainly classify sales as a primary goal of internet marketing and many businesses do focus on sending traffic directly to paid offers, whether digital product sales pages or physical product pages in an eCommerce store. However, for many businesses, sales remain a distant, long term goal. A more common immediate or short-term goal of internet marketing, however, is lead generation. By using the internet to affordably collect leads rather than make individual sales, a business can then use their lead list to continue marketing for free (or close to free) to potential customers from that point forward with the expectation that multiple future sales will increase the average lifetime value of each lead and result in a greater long-term ROI from each dollar spent on marketing.


Lead generation for an online business might consist simply of building an email list, perhaps with customer names associated as well. Lead generation for an eCommerce business or local “offline” business might also include physical mailing addresses and phone numbers so they can follow up in other ways such as telemarketing or mailing out catalogues and special offers. Other businesses might pursue even more robust lead data such as business information like industry categories or number of employees in the case of B2B marketing, or income ranges and family size in the case of higher-ticket B2C models like insurance sales or real-estate. Since lead generation is often seen as the most common and multi-faceted immediate goal of internet marketing, the entirety of chapter three will be devoted to the various methods and forms of lead generation.


Finally, another immediate goal of internet marketing is growing brand awareness and familiarity. For many businesses, this might consist of spending large amounts on banner advertisements or video ads primarily for the purpose of getting their brand name, logo, or unique selling proposition (USP) in front of as many eyes as possible as many times as possible. The idea here is to increase top-of-mind awareness so that the potential customer will think of the brand in future situations when they need that specific need fulfilled. For example, when a fast food chain airs ads on television, it’s not because they expect people to immediately hop in the car and go buy a burger because of it. It’s because they want you to think of their restaurant next time you clock-out for your lunch break and are deciding what to eat. The internet marketing equivalent of this might be an online tax service heavily investing in banner ads and video ads in December and January, not because they think people will suddenly start doing their taxes early, but because in April when 90% of Americans do their taxes at the last minute, their brand will be the first one they remember. Other forms of brand awareness might simply consist of frequent social media posting. Companies know that constantly seeing their brand image in their followers’ newsfeeds or Twitter feeds accomplishes that same top-of-mind awareness as well as other emotional associations with their brand such as loyalty, pride, good will, and humor (covered in more detail in Chapter two).

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