The Internet marketing toolbox

For those not mechanically inclined, looking through a toolbox can be overwhelming. It is frustrating when something is broken, and when you’re not sure which tool to use.

For those not mechanically inclined, looking through a toolbox can be overwhelming. It is frustrating when something is broken, and when you’re not sure which tool to use.

The same problem exists for many online business’ when looking at the vast array of tools available for Internet marketing. As with any tool, Internet marketing tactics are best used for their intended purpose. Despite what any expert says, there is no single web marketing tactic that works for everyone in all situations. Below is a guide to help you choose the proper tools for your unique marketing needs.

Search Engine Optimization

When to use it:

  • When you have time, and can patiently wait for results.
  • When people are already searching for your product/service.
  • When you serve a local market — competition is much less.

When not to use it:

  • When you need results fast.
  • When people don’t know they need your product —more often than not, extremely innovate products with little competition fair poorly with SEO, because no one is searching for them.

Pay Per Click

When to use it:

  • When you need a quick burst in traffic.
  • When testing what keywords to do natural search engine optimization for.
  • In combination with search engine optimization — studies show both used together are synergistic.

When not to use it:

  • In an extremely competitive market. Bid prices are high and click fraud risk is higher.
  • When targeting customer early in the buying cycle. Search users are less likely to click on a paid ad when they are still just looking for information.

Social Media Marketing

When to use it:

  • When you are genuinely interested in contributing value to your customers, not just pushing out messages.
  • When customers are already talking about your product/service on social media.
  • When your product/service is truly buzzworthy; let’s face it, some products, while valuable, aren’t worth talking about.

When not to use it:

  • When your products are, well…. boring. There’s nothing wrong with having a boring product, we all need them. We just rarely talk about them on Twitter and Facebook.
  • If you’re a brand control freak. A certain openness is required for social media to work. If you can’t open up a discussion about your brand, SMM isn’t for you.

Email Marketing

When to use it:

  • When customer retention is your goal. Email is permission marketing at its core, therefore its best used with a list of existing customers.
  • As a lower cost substitute for direct mail. Most businesses find email marketing to provide much better ROI traditional mailings

When not to use it:

  • When attempting to acquire new customers. Email is a terrible customer acquisition mechanism because you typically have to buy or rent a list of emails, which is bad news all around.

A/B Testing and Conversion Optimization

When to use it:

  • When marketing or designers disagree about which version of a page is best. A/B testing is the ultimate equalizer.
  • When you have the resources: Creating multiple version of pages or emails can double a designers work load. Remember to count this cost as well.

When not to use it:

  • If your site is barely getting any traffic. You’ll be spinning your wheels trying to a/b test a page that gets 5 visitors a month. Focus on getting critical mass first.
  • When you’re focused on the small stuff. You may have heard stories of Amazon testing the colors of their buttons, but unless you have millions of visitors a day, don’t test the small stuff. There is much lower hanging fruit.

The tactics above are by no means exhaustive, but are probably the most widely used — and abused — methods in Internet marketing today.

What has been your experience? When have the tools above worked and not worked for you?