How to Apply Marketing Principles to the Internet Environment

Instructor: Alexis Rhodes

With nearly a decade of experience at agencies and in tech, Alexis Rhodes is a native of digital marketing. As the owner of her consultancy, Understudy Marketing, Alexis seeks to educate marketers on the pros and cons of ever-more granular data and tracking in a digitally-driven world.

The principles of marketing are not limited to traditional tools. The Internet is progressively becoming a dream resource for cost-effective, highly trackable marketing and leverages the same basics as any other marketing plan.

Translating a Traditional Marketing Roadmap Into an Online Plan

In the marketing world, what do we mean when we talk about targeting within an Internet environment? Usually, this means translating the same marketing principles used in traditional marketing into the online world. Imagine yourself in a boardroom with a client representing a high-end women's clothing store. This client has leveraged your agency for traditional marketing in the past but is now asking you to translate his plan to be used online. Where should you start?

Creating a marketing plan for the Internet typically involves a funnel-based strategy, just like traditional marketing does. First, you must decide where each tactic lies in your marketing approach.

At the top of the funnel are your brand awareness-focused tactics, intended to drive a broad awareness of the product or service you're offering, and the bottom of the funnel is highly targeted to a specific, relevant audience.

Internet Marketing Funnel
internet marketing funnel

Top-of-the-Funnel Targeting

The broadest and largest audience is reached at the top of the funnel. Examples of top-funnel tactics on the Internet include content generation. This could include writing blog posts or adding links on discussion forums to help with search engine results, for example, which is part of a search engine optimization strategy. The goal of search engine optimization is to increase visibility and ranking of your website in Internet searches, ultimately leading to more visitors and higher sales. Other tactics at the top of the funnel might include running broadly targeted display banners or running non-targeted video ads on YouTube.

Because the audience is broad at the top of the funnel, it is easy to find these people, but it can be cost-prohibitive. For example, a women's clothing store may start by targeting all women between a certain age range and income bracket. Tactics like native advertising, essentially branded content similar to a print advertorial (a paid hybrid of editorial and advertising), work well here. However, they are expensive due to the breadth of the audience and value of the content.

Middle-of-the-Funnel Targeting

Moving toward the middle of the funnel, the audience size shrinks as it becomes more targeted: for example, working professional women. The Internet marketing strategy in the middle of the funnel becomes more tailored, perhaps with more targeted display ads on relevant content-focused sites like style blogs.

Programmatic advertising may also fall into the middle of the funnel. Programmatic advertising focuses primarily on the customer being reached rather than the content surrounding the inventory. It is a tool used by marketers as a bidding system so their ads appear on remnant display inventory on sites across the Web. In our example, programmatic advertising would mean targeting women with previous online shopping habits at other major clothing retailers.

Another tactic used toward the middle of the funnel might be geo-location targeting. Geo-location targeting finds potential customers usually based on the GPS coordinates of their phones to serve ads when they are in a location in close proximity to the advertiser. Typically, geo-location ads will serve coupons or offers to entice a customer to go out of their way to go into the store.

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