Ten years ago, internet marketing was relatively new territory, and most businesses approached it the same way they have approached terrestrial marketing for generations: build a storefront and start advertising. During these early days, the standard online presence was a brochure website, and the main method of attracting customers was through banner ads and listings with the major portals like Yahoo, Lycos, and AOL.
But by the beginning of the new millennium, savvy online consumers had begun to reject anything that seemed like advertising, while at the same time flocking to the internet as a source of information and a platform for socializing. Marketers started to realize that to attract customers they would have to offer something different.
Realizing the promise of the internet as a superior marketing tool
By using electronic tracking combined with direct customer feedback, businesses have been able to fine-tune their marketing efforts to reach customers with targeted offers based on their demonstrated preferences (think Amazon.com “If you liked X, you may like A, B, C, D and F too”). This shift to more targeted messaging resulted in more effective and relevant customer interactions, and was the beginning of realizing the promise of the internet as a granular marketing machine. It also served as the opening lines of a two-way conversation between customers and companies.
Welcome to the Web 2.0 community- time to jump right in
Today that two-party conversation has evolved into a dynamic community discussion. Instead of shouting out advertising slogans from ivory towers, smart marketers have begun listening and participating on the ground level. Banner ads have been replaced by Facebook, Twitter, and Digg. Merchant sites all feature areas for customers to rate products and services. The old portals have been replaced by Google, and mastering search engine otimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) in order to rank high on the search results is a key skill for internet marketers to master.
For businesses to remain competitive online, they will have to be ready to surf the rising Web 2.0 tide and transform their marketing strategies as the community conversation evolves.
If you’re feeling behind the times when it comes to Web 2.0, not to worry. There are plenty of professionals who specialize in various aspects of online marketing and can get you up to speed in no time. Need a blog? Hire a professional blogger to keep your corporate blog fresh and interesting. Web site not ranking high on the engines? There are hundreds of companies and individuals who can help you implement an SEO strategy to get you to the top of the list. The key is to jump in and get started. And there’s no time like the present.
About the author: Kate Headen Waddell is a strategic copywriter specializing in web copy, white papers, case studies, solution briefs and other B2B marketing tools. You can visit her website at www.smartb2bmarcom.com.