11:34 AM
Regardless of the size of your company, online marketing is not a luxury anymore, it's a requirement in order to remain legitimate in the current ever-changing business climate.

According to the Census Bureau, online retail spending reached 130.1 Billion in 2008, up 20 Billion from 2007, despite an economic downturn. Consumers are serious about spending on the internet, and every industry is vying for a piece of that enormous pie.
First and foremost, your main goal should be to track your customers’ "click path."  A “click path” is the sequence of hyperlinks or “clicks” that a visitor follows to a website.  This path can start anywhere on the internet and it continues as a sequence of successive web pages visited by the customer until they get to their desired destination. 
The path that a customer takes to get to a website where they make a purchase is extremely valuable information for anyone involved in internet business because it gives that company insight into how their customers are finding their website.  Once they know how people are finding them, they can use that information to generate even more website traffic and sales.
Unlike a brick and mortar location, a website is much more difficult to find.  A website doesn’t have the luxury of foot traffic, window shoppers, or a sign that can be seen from the street.  Websites typically do not get “accidental” traffic.  A website is visited by manually typing in the URL (Uniform Resource Locater aka web address e.g. http://www.google.com/), by clicking a link or advertisement on a 3rd party website (banner ads, etc), or through a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo).
If you want a successful website, you need clickthroughs.  Any time someone clicks a link to get to your website, it’s considered a “clickthrough.”  What businesses are after, is a way of tracking the success of an ad, search engine, or hyperlink by counting how many times people click on them and come to their site.   They want to know how many “clickthroughs” they’re getting and what the source is. 
The more traffic and “clickthroughs” a company gets to their site, the more they sell.  This is why name recognition, affiliate marketing, internet advertising, SEM (Search Engine Marketing, and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) become crucial to survival on the web.
Common Ways of Driving Website Traffic:

Name recognition is the first important step in creating a website that is easy to find and remember.  Companies that already have brand recognition have found a much easier transition onto the internet (e.g. www.walmart.com, www.espn.com.)  While others have made a name for themselves solely on the internet with abstract, yet catchy websites: www.google.com, www.amazon.com, www.ebay.com, www.yahoo.com, etc. 
The bottom line is that when customers know your name, they’ll come to your website.
Affiliate Marketing is a concept that rewards 3rd party websites for each visitor or customer brought to your website.  This method tends to overlap other marketing methods because it often involves the advertising of your site on a 3rd party site as well as email marketing, SEO, and SEM.  However it also includes methods such as blog posts, articles, and publishing reviews of your products on their site.
The main difference between direct advertising and affiliate marketing is that it usually involves more than just the exchange of money for ad space.  Affiliates are often referred to as an “Affiliate Network,” because they link a series of separately owned sites together in exchange for services, site traffic, as well as compensation for those visitors.
Advertising on the internet is the same concept that we’ve all come to know and love over the past century.  Advertising on the web usually involves paying other sites to place links to your site on theirs.   It is the same concept as buying ad space in a newspaper or magazine.  The higher the traffic and the larger the ad, the more your company will pay.  These types of ads are typically referred to as “banner ads.”
Just as the advent of radio and television created new outlets for marketing, so has the internet.  No two advertising channels are the same and therefore neither are the marketing methods therein.  You wouldn’t have the same ad on television that you would place on the radio.  Therefore the internet has created an entirely different medium for marketing your brand, but more importantly for driving site traffic.
Similar to the idea that an infomercial needs customers to call in an order to be a success, an ad on the web needs people to click through to the website to succeed.  If they don’t click, they don’t come to the website and buy the product or services. 
A rapidly growing form of advertising on the web is Geotargeted Advertising.  Geotargeting is the ability to market to visitors based on their geolocation (physical location).
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a method for maximizing the number of clickthroughs to your website from search engines in their free results (also called “organic,” “natural,” or “algorithmic” search results).  Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing are websites that will allow you to search the internet for other websites based on “keywords that you type into the search field.  They will then display two types of results: the free results and the paid results.
The main idea behind this marketing method is to optimize your website by editing the content or the code to get your site to appear at or near the top of the free search results.  The higher your site appears, the more traffic you will generate from that search engine.
Most types of marketing costs money while SEO is typically “free.”  The only cost is the time and effort it takes to regularly adjust your site to consistently appear at the top of the search results.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is an umbrella term that technically includes SEO as well as other forms of internet marketing such as pay per click , contextual advertising, and paid inclusion.  However, the term has become widely accepted to mean paid search results (Pay Per Click).  Companies bid on keywords for search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc) so that a link to their site appears at the top of the paid results section.  The more they pay for a particular keyword, the higher their ad (link to their site) appears in the results.
The paid search results typically appear at the top, and to the right of the free results section.  The more money you are willing to pay, the more your ad (link) will show up, and the closer to the top it will appear.
According to SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization), in 2008 alone, companies spent 13.5 billion on SEM.  88% of that was for paid search.  They estimate that in 2009, SEM spending will reach 14.7 billion. 
With that kind of money being spent on SEM, being able to track your clickthroughs, phone calls, and sales becomes essential.  If you want your site to be successful, and drive as much traffic in as possible, then you’ve got to know which keywords result in clickthroughs and which ones don’t.  Not only that, but you need to know which clickthroughs resulted in sales and phone calls into your company.  Simple clickthrough data can be acquired easily through Google Analytics, but tracking clickthroughs to phone calls is the difficult part.  There are multiple companies now that offer solutions to this problem:
You’ll have to comparison shop to find a solution that works best for you.  ClickPath was the first, but they’re also the most expensive.  Key Metric was formed by former employees of ClickPath, so both companies offer similar solutions, but for different prices.  Mongoose Metrics and Voicestar are newer to the market, but are closing the gap between themselves and the competition.

In the next article we will discuss one of the most critical ways to drive website traffic Social Network Marketing.  It's not just enough to have a website anymore.  Companies HAVE to create a presence on the major social networks, like Twitter and Facebook, if they want to continue to be relevant and drive new customers to their products.
Newer Post
This is the last post.