Big News for Small Business — Internet Marketing Comes of Age.

Written By: Neil Street

For everyone who believed in the power of the internet, the dot com bust of 2000 was always a short-term phenomenon. Over the last few years, the internet has matured into the most amazing economic and social engine since the dawn of television. In this past holiday season alone, U. S. online sales in November and December registered more than $15 billion a whopping 30% increase over a year ago.

Savvy marketers are already taking advantage of the unique power of the internet as an advertising medium. Online advertising is now siphoning money away from traditional media, including local media such as newspaper advertising and yellow pages. And according to advertising analysts, online advertising as a whole is poised to overtake total magazine advertising by 2007. Its a long way from the dotcom bust of a few years ago.

Internet marketing options for small businesses are plentiful and this is true whether their market is local, regional, or national. Local businesses, in particular, have opportunities that are frequently overlooked. Because they have a local focus, these businesses can make sure that their website is optimized for search at the local level which simply means having their website set up properly, and maintained, so as to take advantage of the fact that Google, Yahoo, MSN Search, AOL, and other search engines make it fairly easy for local businesses to be found on the internet. The pay-per-click opportunities from Google and Overture are also an important tool both for local and national advertisers. A local business in Norwalk, CT, for example, can tailor their Google ads to be seen only by customers in their local region and they can track precisely which ad (and which keyword) led a visitor to click through to their website. Want to take it a step further? The advertiser can now track where on their website this visitor goes and even what they click on. Its a powerful way to monitor spending and ad dollars ROI (Return on Investment). You cant do that with an ad in your local newspaper.

A good internet marketing plan is now essential for any small business. The plan will be unique to that business, because the choice of internet marketing options virtually demands that the plan be customized. This is a good thing, because a unique internet marketing plan will help the business stand out from the competition. Our internet marketing company has clients who are successful using one or more of the available tools, including Google Adwords and Overture pay-per-click, online publicity, search engine optimization, email marketing, internet yellow pages, vertical directories, regional directories, and so on.

The most important thing for the small business to recognize is that internet marketing is an ongoing process. The internet is a dynamic medium. It is constantly changing. Sites come and go. Links (which are crucial to search engine success) disappear. Search engines change the way they rank websites. The list goes on. In order to be succcessful, an internet marketing plan must embrace this dynamic nature of the internet, and be ready to switch tools as the situation demands. The thing to keep in mind is that internet marketing, while it need not involve a huge budget, must involve an ongoing budget, if it is to succeed. The days of if you build it, they will come, are long gone, if they ever existed.

The great news for small businesses is that it does not have to cost a fortune to get involved in internet marketing. We have clients in several businesses who are spending $100 a month on Adwords, and seeing big ROI. Whats important is to find a good internet marketing consultant, and get started. Internet marketing is unique in its ability to be tracked, monitored, measured, and tweaked. This means that even with a modest budget, a business can keep track of where the dollars are going, and whether they are well spent. There is an old saying attributed to an exasperated business owner: I know half of my advertising works. I just dont know which half. With the exciting options on the internet today, that saying need no longer hold true. You can find out exactly what works, and what doesnt. For small businesses everywhere, thats really big news.

About the Author

Neil Street is co-founder of Small Business Online, an internet marketing and web design company, based in Norwalk, CT. Email Neil at Small Business Online or call him at 203.299.0889

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