The 5 S’s: What is internet marketing?
Ian Lurie May 20 2009
Ask ‘What is internet marketing?’ and you get a lot of answers. Most center around search engines. And that’s not accurate.
SEO is part of internet marketing. So is pay per click marketing. So is web design, copywriting, blah blah etc. etc..
I’ve struggled with one definition of internet marketing for years. I think I’ve reached a conclusion (until next week):
Internet marketing is comprised of the 5 S’s
The 5 S’s are five kinds of optimization that make up internet marketing:
Marketing is storytelling. Seth Godin said it best in All Marketers Are Liars. I’m not talking about lying. I’m talking about making your product compelling by breathing life and context into your message.
I’m not some internet marketing guy. I’m Ian Lurie, the grumpy internet marketing curmudgeon. Coca Cola isn’t soda. It’s The Real Thing.
The first and most important part of internet marketing is story optimization: Telling that story in a way that really works for your online audience.
Video or podcast? Should we blog? Is e-mail in our marketing future? How should our site look? Should we rely solely on SEO (no!)?
You must have a strategy. Must. MUST MUST MUST.
You don’t need a 1-year strategic plan. That’s not what I mean. A ‘strategy’ means you have an overarching goal, and guidelines for what you will or will not do to attain that goal.
“I will build a $1 million marketing agency” could be a goal. “I will do so by building my online reputation and making customers happy” could be the general guidelines.
Then, as time passes, you change and adjust that strategy, narrowing your focus and adjusting your guidelines. For example, “Making customers happy” may become “Win industry-wide customer satisfaction surveys”.
Strategy optimization is a big chunk of internet marketing.
Search Engine Optimization
I’ve said it before, I’ll keep saying it: If you ignore SEO, you’re a fool. 75% of everything that happens online starts at a search engine. You need to be there.
But remember, SEO is a tactic, not a strategy. It won’t stand on its own. If your web site sucks, or you blow your budget on PPC, or you alienate customers with a bad story, all the SEO in the world won’t save you.
Regardless, search engine optimization is the 3rd component of smart internet marketing.
One way or another, most businesses buy clicks. Usually they’re using pay per click marketing (PPC). The more aggressive marketers may look at display ads, e-mail list sponsorships, site sponsorships and other paid ads.
You need to optimize that spend by measuring results. Then you adjust what you’re buying according to performance.
Spend optimization – where you ensure you’re spending your money wisely – is essential to internet marketing.
You’re bringing people to your web site. Are you giving them what they want?
You need to measure everything: How many people click that ‘buy now’ button on your home page, shopping cart bailout rates, etc..
You must constantly tweak your copy, your design and your site features to make your site the best possible response to your customers’ questions.
That’s site optimization. It requires design, copywriting and development skills. And it’s the final, essential piece of the internet marketing puzzle.
What about social media?
That’s story optimization. Plus there’s no such thing as ‘social’ media. It’s just media. Saying ‘social media’ will no longer get you instant VC money, so give it up, OK?
Why I wrote this
When I go to parties, which isn’t very often because for whatever reason, a room full of partying people reduces my social skills to 0, folks ask me what I do.
“Internet marketing”, I answer.
That gets a blank look. Then I get a few responses:
“Oh, you sell pornography?” or
“Cool” and then they walk away; or
“So you work on the Googles? Do you know someone there I can talk to?”
Now, I’m going to print this and hand it out, instead.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More