What Is Internet Marketing? Definition, Tips, and Examples

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Internet marketing refers to any marketing activity that happens online.

The ultimate goal of internet marketing is to grow your business. 

You can do this through a variety of digital channels, including: 

  • Organic search
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) ads
  • Social media
  • Online communities 
  • Email 

You can create engaging content and share it on these channels. Which allows you to educate prospects about the value of your product, gain trust, and earn leads who become paying customers.

Let’s start by covering why internet marketing matters.

Why Is Internet Marketing Important?

Internet marketing—sometimes referred to as online marketing or e-marketing—allows you to reach your audience through various channels. 

And no one channel is “right.” It will depend on which channels your audience prefers.

Plus, these channels are best when used together.

Internet marketing is important for five main reasons. It allows you to:

  1. Reach ideal buyers without breaking the bank
  2. Establish authority
  3. Drive traffic
  4. Generate leads
  5. Drive more sales

Let’s explore each one in more detail.

why is internet marketing important

Reach Ideal Buyers Without Breaking the Bank

Internet marketing is a cost-effective way to reach your target audience.

As of June 2022, 5.5 billion people use the internet. That’s almost 70% of the entire world population.

Internet marketing is meant to make your business discoverable without a huge advertising budget. 

For example, the keyword “men’s shoes” is searched around 1 million times per month around the world:

Semrush keyword tool shows the organic and paid search metrics for the keyword “men’s shoes

Most of these searchers have an informational or transactional search intent. Meaning users either want to learn more about men’s shoes or buy some. 

If your website shows up for relevant searches like this, your business is in a prime position to grow. 

Internet marketing helps your business do exactly that: grow.

Regardless of the products you sell, you can find many opportunities this way.

Creating content that addresses what people are already looking for is a great way to boost visibility and move them further down the marketing funnel until they’re ready to buy. 

Establish Brand Authority

Internet marketing also positions your brand as the expert in the eyes of ideal buyers. 

The more valuable content you create at different stages of your ideal customer journey, the more these people will see you as a reliable guide. In turn, you gain more attention and market share

NerdWallet is an example of a brand that established authority via internet marketing. 

Educating ideal buyers at different stages of their journey helps more people rely on NerdWallet for financial advice. That’s partly how they attract over 20 million monthly organic visitors.

NerdWallet’s organic and paid search metrics

They also have a good number of backlinks that count as votes of confidence to NerdWallet’s authority in their niche. All of which boosts their authority (not to mention rankings in search engines).

number of backlinks

Drive Quality Traffic

Internet marketing and website promotion can bring you more traffic. Especially when you create relevant content around your niche. 

Driving more traffic to your website allows you to connect with your target audience, show how your product solves their problem, and, ultimately, drive action.

The action could be downloading an ebook or report they found valuable, consuming additional content, signing up for your newsletter, or even buying a product on the spot. 

Generate Leads

The ultimate goal of internet marketing campaigns is to generate new leads with high buying intent. These are called qualified leads. 

These leads are more likely to become customers when you consistently reach them with content that’s relevant to them. 

Effective lead generation methods include landing pages, blogs, email, ads, retargeting, social media, free trials, and referrals.

Drive More Sales 

Internet marketing benefits businesses by helping them sell more products. 

By reaching your audience through various internet marketing channels, you can make it easy for customers to find your pricing and buy products.

For example, the toy brand VTech promotes their latest toy deals and product launches using social media. People who follow their account on channels like Instagram will sometimes buy their products after seeing promotional posts go live:

VTechToys uses Instagram to drive sales

VTech makes it easy for customers to purchase products by including a link in their bio. Which sends potential customers to an ecommerce site where they can complete the purchase: 

VTechToys sends customers to product sales pages 

This simple technique allows them to use internet marketing to drive sales.

Now, let’s go over nine inbound internet marketing strategies to grow your business. 

9 Types of Internet Marketing Strategies

There are many different types of internet marketing strategies you can explore. And different marketing tactics for each one. 

Keep in mind that your internet marketing channels should complement each other. You may be missing out on new leads if you ignore certain channels or pour all your efforts into just one.

Do some research and experiment to see which channels work best for your business.

Let’s dive in by covering nine key internet marketing channels and examples:

  1. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  2. Content marketing
  3. Social media marketing
  4. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
  5. Email marketing
  6. Affiliate marketing
  7. Influencer marketing
  8. Video marketing
  9. Podcasting

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is an internet marketing strategy that boosts your brand’s visibility in search engines. Which can bring more visitors to your site.

Let’s say you run a blog specializing in French patisserie. But the traffic to your “macarons” blog post is low. You can take steps to optimize your relevant blog post for the keyword “how to make macarons” to work your way to Google’s top search results.

search engine optimization

When you provide the best possible answers to ideal buyers’ questions and optimize for search, you are better positioned to outrank competitors and boost traffic at almost zero cost (other than time or any SEO tasks you outsource). 

Although SEO takes time, effort, and resources, it can be an effective channel in the long-term. And if your content appears in the first organic search result, you’re looking at an average 27.6% click-through rate

To kickstart your SEO strategy, target topics your audience wants to know more about. That means researching keywords related to your product or service.

An easy way to conduct keyword research is to use a tool like Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool

To get started, go to the Keyword Magic Tool and enter a keyword related to your niche or product offerings. 

For example, say you sell running shoes. 

You can enter the term into the tool and sort by country to see how many people search for the term in your target location (shown as a measure of average number of monthly searches). Let’s assume the location is the U.S.:

Keyword overview tool showing organic and paid metrics for the search term, “running shoes.”

From the results, you can see:

  1. How many people search for the keyword on average every month 
  2. How hard it is to rank for the keyword in organic search results on Google
  3. The intent behind this keyword
keyword magic tool results

Pro tip: Read our guide to keyword research to learn more about choosing the best keywords for your content.

After choosing keywords, create and publish content that satisfies your user’s search intent—or what they were trying to learn from a particular search.

For example, someone searching for “running shoes” probably wants to compare different brands. So you should create a page that does that.

Content is a big part of on-page SEO, which refers to optimizing your own webpages. 

Be sure to pay attention to off-page SEO, as well. Which includes earning backlinks and posting on social media channels.

2. Content Marketing

The goal of content marketing is to plan, create, repurpose, and distribute relevant content that inspires buyer trust and drives sales and loyalty. Which can ultimately grow your business.

Creating blogs and social media posts at random is not enough to drive profitable customer action. You need an integrated content marketing strategy that:

  • Maps out who your audience is
  • Positions your solution in a way that resonates with them
  • Details how you plan to reach them

To build an effective strategy, you should answer these five questions:

  • Who are you creating content for?
  • What makes your solution unique?
  • Why should readers choose your content over others?
  • How will content marketing bring you closer to achieving business goals?
  • Which content formats and channels will you explore?

Each piece of content should serve a specific purpose. Whether that’s to educate your existing audience or bring in new potential customers. 

And keep in mind that “content” is a broad term that spans many categories—not just written blog posts. Content marketing also includes video content, social posts, ebooks, studies, and much more.

content types

Once you have identified the types of content that you’re going to create, the next step is organizing everything. You will want to know when you’re going to publish content and launch campaigns, as well as how each fits into your marketing calendar at large.

A marketing calendar is a great way to keep track of everything you have going on with your marketing strategy. The Semrush Marketing Calendar makes it easy to manage your various tasks and to visualize your marketing plans to maintain control of everything going on.

Semrush Marketing Calendar

3. Social Media Marketing 

Social media marketing is the process of increasing exposure and sales through social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.

Posting regularly on social platforms helps you build a stronger bond with your current audience. Plus get the attention of potential new followers—who may turn into customers.

Take this local coffee shop’s Instagram:

local coffee shop on instagram

They use social media to relay their business hours and seasonal products to stay top of mind for their followers.

There are two types of social media marketing:

  • Organic social media marketing: Share content on your account and interact with users
  • Paid social media marketing: Pay to promote existing posts or create ads that appear on social platforms

Paid social ads can help if you have a target objective. But don’t discount organic social media marketing. There are plenty of ways to grab customers’ attention.

For example, the language learning app Duolingo uses TikTok to share viral videos related to their brand.

duolingo on tiktok

Engaging content that resonates with your audience is a way to build a strong online presence that brings your business more visibility and generates revenue long-term. 

But keep in mind that research, strategy, planning, creation, scheduling, and tracking performance are also a part of the process. 

Semrush’s Social Media Toolkit has a variety of data and creative tools to help manage these different parts. 

For example, with Social Media Poster you can create and schedule posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Business Profile, and LinkedIn. 

Start by creating a new post in the tool.

start a new post

Then, create your post’s content by adding text and images.

add text and image to the post

And finally, schedule your post.

schedule the post

With the Social Media Toolkit, you can 

  • Shorten links (so they’re not so long on social platform posts) and schedule images
  • Track engagement and other relevant social metrics

You can even monitor competitor social platforms to learn from their strategy.

4. Influencer Marketing 

Influencer marketing refers to paid partnerships between a business and popular online personalities. The business pays an influencer to promote a product to their online following.

As long as you choose an influencer who’s relevant to your target audience, this is a great way to grow your audience.

Influencers’ followers already trust them. So potential customers may be more likely to purchase your product if the influencer vouches for it.

Take this example from pet food brand Purina:

Purina influencer marketing

Purina paid this influencer to post a relevant ad to her social media following.

And influencer marketing can be a pretty good investment, as brands earn an average of $5.78 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.

Start your influencer marketing strategy by choosing which types of influencers you want to work with. Although these categories may vary, overall, there are a few main types of influencers:

  • Nano influencers: Niche experts with 1,000 to 10,000 engaged followers 
  • Micro influencers: Smaller accounts with 10,000-100,000 engaged followers. Investing in this type can be a win-win, as they have a higher-engaged audience who value their authenticity. 
  • Macro influencers: Popular industry experts with hundreds of thousands to millions of followers. You can reach more people, but the cost will be significant. 
  • Mega influencers/celebrities: Traditional celebrities can certainly bring attention to your brand. But these partnerships are usually only feasible for larger brands with extensive budgets.

An easy way to gather audience insights and identify the right influencers is to use third-party research tools. 

For example, you can use the app BuzzGuru Influencer Analytics to identify rising and existing influential YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, and TikTok accounts and channels your audience may engage with the most. 

When choosing influencers, consider engagement rate over number of followers. 

An account with many followers but little engagement might be a red flag. And might not achieve the results you want.

Once you’ve made a list of those you want to collaborate with, define what they’ll get out of the partnership and reach out to make the request. 

5. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is when businesses pay commission to external individuals for referral sales.

This strategy works by sharing a unique link an affiliate can use to promote your business. This way, you can track sales generated and pay them a commission based on the data. 

Here’s an example of Amazon Associates, Amazon’s affiliate program:

Amazon’s affiliate program

Affiliate marketing is closely tied to social media marketing, content marketing, and influencer marketing. Because influencers often share affiliate links in social posts or on their profiles.

6. Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a marketing strategy where brands run ads and pay a fee every time someone clicks on their ads. 

Google Ads is the most popular platform for PPC advertising. 

Do a quick Google search for most keywords. You’ll see ads at the top of the SERPs:

Google Ads search results for project management software

PPC can be a great marketing tool for your business to drive immediate inquiries, traffic, and sales. Just be sure to set a budget so you can stick to your goals without overspending.

Beyond search ads, social media advertising is also a great way to get your product and services in front of your target audience. Especially on the platforms they use most. 

To get started with PPC, choose platforms your audience uses often. 

Say you sell project management software for businesses. Ads on the professional network LinkedIn would likely yield better return on investment (ROI) for your efforts than Instagram ads would. 

A sure way to succeed with this type of advertising is to do keyword research to ensure you’re targeting the right search terms. 

That also helps you determine how much you’ll pay for ad clicks in Google on average. Which you can see in the cost-per-click (CPC) metric in Keyword Overview.

Estimated cost per click for the keyword “project management software”

You can also do paid keyword research with the Keyword Magic Tool. Enter your keyword for a list of related keywords with their CPC.

CPC in Keyword Magic Tool

You may even find that related keywords cost less. Doing keyword research before placing your PPC ads online can help you reach your target audience more effectively and within budget.

Also, ensure your marketing copy, visuals, and CTA hit the mark with prospects. Experiment with different content formats, headlines, and body copy to see which pulls in the most results.

To learn more, read our introduction to PPC marketing.

7. Email Marketing 

Email marketing is the process of retaining current customers and gaining new ones by sending direct email messages, email newsletters, etc.

And it’s the channel with the highest potential ROI—email marketing returns $36 for every dollar spent.

Effective email marketing starts with building an email list. 

That means using lead-generation tools and tactics to collect email addresses from website visitors in exchange for something valuable. It could be free or trial access to your tool, a downloadable template or ebook, a webinar, or a video course. 

Like this email capture pop-up from the popular recipe blog Half Baked Harvest in exchange for holiday recipes.

Half Baked Harvest email marketing

Once you have email addresses, segment your subscribers. This way, you can create personalized messaging for each segment.

Personalization goes beyond “Hello [first name].” You should know each segment’s pain points so you can create campaigns and share content that resonates with them. 

With segmentation, you can:

  • Reach out to new subscribers
  • Ask existing customers for reviews
  • Get feedback from existing customers
  • Reach out to inactive subscribers
  • Follow up on abandoned carts
  • And more

Regardless of who you’re reaching out to, ensure you’re sending compelling, helpful content. 

Ready to start your email marketing journey? Read our six steps to getting started.

8. Video Marketing

Video marketing is another internet marketing strategy that’s on the rise. 

Many marketers claim video may even have better ROI than Google Ads.

It involves businesses using videos to educate customers about products and services. 

Like this quick explainer video about Semrush.

enplainer video

There are different types of video marketing: short-form and long-form videos. 

Short-form videos thrive more on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. 

Because people tend to scroll quickly. And might pass over longer videos.

Also, the algorithm and content discovery sections of these apps prioritize keeping users within the app itself. There’s a higher chance your content will be discovered if it’s relevant and interesting. That’s why you should also add these channels to your channel mix.

For example, Morning Brew creates short-form informative and educational videos on TikTok. And they’ve generated over 24 million views since the company’s launch:

Morning Brew creates short-form informative and educational videos on TikTok that have generated over 24 million views

The secret to driving more traffic on these platforms is to embrace authenticity and share real content in a fun, relatable way. 

Long-form videos can be just as effective. Especially if you’re trying to educate viewers or teach them how to do something.

These types of videos work best on platforms like YouTube.

Conduct keyword research to see what questions people are asking on the platform. Or topics they want to learn more about. Then, get creative. 

Once you’re ready to track your videos’ YouTube rankings, you can use an app like Video Rank Tracker to help you see video position changes in search results in relation to your target keywords.

9. Podcasting  

Creating a podcast can be a great way to reach a niche audience.

About 28% of people in the US listen to podcasts on a weekly basis.

Podcasting allows you to use your personality to grow an audience. Plus, you can collaborate with other industry experts to reach an even wider audience. 

For example, podcasts like “The Simple and Smart SEO Show” and “SEO Podcast—Unknown Secrets of Internet Marketing” target the SEO niche. The hosts and the guests provide valuable information to that community.

Podcasts can be mutually beneficial, too. Both you and your guest will get exposure if you promote the podcast on social platforms.

Start by identifying niche industry experts who are frequent podcast guests. You might already follow some on socials. Then, Google “[industry expert name] podcast.”

Google search to find opportunities to appear as a guest on other podcasts

Go through the results to identify relevant podcasts you would like to be on and make a list. 

Next, put together a pitch. It’s best to provide as much information as possible upfront. 

Include what you want to discuss, what the time commitment will be, etc. Make it as easy as possible on your potential guest.

Grow Your Business with Internet Marketing

People are spending more time online than ever, and internet marketing allows you to meet your audience where they are.

The best part is that you can get started on many internet marketing strategies without paying a cent.

Start posting on social media, repurpose your existing content, optimizing current copy for SEO, and so on.

Be sure to experiment with different types of internet marketing to see which ones bring the most success. 

After all, these strategies complement each other. So you can see amazing results when you use them in tandem.

Ready to get started? Sign up for a free trial of Semrush today so you can perform research and track your results.



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