My interest in internet marketing really sparked at the age of fourteen. At the time, I knew something was different about me, mentally, but I really didn’t know what. I pretty much only knew that I was different and that whatever was going on would most likely interfere with my ability to live a “normal” lifestyle – which is how I ended up finding internet marketing.
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What is internet marketing?
Internet marketing has a ton of definitions but put quite simply, it’s marketing that involves the internet. There is literally a plethora of ways for an internet marketer or a digital marketer to reach people using their tools. This is a notion that is probably most apparent if you think about Facebook, and some of the ad campaigns we’ve all seen on there over the years: targeting customers by location, by name, by profession, by interests, etc.
If you want to know what internet marketing is, you need to understand that everything you do on the internet: browser email, web browsing, video viewing, social media, even shopping – All of this connects back to Google in their attempt to be a more efficient middle-man between business and consumer.
So, how’d you get into it, Jon?
I actually got into digital marketing because of the potential that it had for me to make money without ever physically having gone anywhere. I realized at an early age, that this was a market anybody could get into, a market that was growing, a market that didn’t necessarily have a salary cap, and a market that had a learning curve but also had an affordable way to enter & get started (PPC Campaigns can cost as little as 5 cents per click). I fell in love with the idea of traveling and being able to make my living by turning on the computer and connecting to the internet.
I fell in love with the idea of traveling and being able to make my living by turning on the computer and connecting to the internet. Click To Tweet
What should I know about internet marketing right now?
The first thing you need to know about are affiliates. The internet is literally flooded with affiliates. Any time you see the word “brand ambassador” – that’s just a fancy way of saying they’re an affiliate. Affiliates make money by selling someone else’s product. That’s why they’re so popular – because a lot of people don’t have a product or service to sell. A lot of times people who “review” things are just trying to come off as credible so that they can promote the product that they’re supposed to be giving an honest review of.
Second, the internet revolves around Google. Being a digital marketer means that you have to work hand-in-hand with Google’s tools and learn what is and isn’t good for the algorithm – but more on that later.
Okay, so what do you do?
I’ll be addressing some of the ways that people can get into their own internet business ventures further on this part of the blog, but today I want to highlight some of the different internet marketing methods I’ve tried.
At 14, I didn’t have a job – nor was I able to get one – but what I did have was a small amount of allowance money. I found a marketing program that worked by purchasing a website, and then giving a marketing company access to that site. The site was then loaded up with a template that they had on file (that they used for almost all their sites) and the company added the ability to purchase a product through my site. In this manner, any time somebody purchased this product, I would make a commission on the sale. My only responsibility was to maintain the monthly cost of the site ($9 / month) and bring the site traffic.
The problem was that this is what’s known as a “black-hat” method in the digital marketing world. Essentially, black-hat just means it’s kind of a sneaky tactic that Google might not approve of. By loading up a cookie-cutter template across thousands of websites, this marketing agency was just creating an absurd amount of duplicate content on the web. The real problem, though, was that I knew next to nothing about traffic generation methods. I didn’t have the money to pay for traffic, and I didn’t have the experience to find free traffic to drive sales.
Micro Site / Sniper Sites
My next venture was really where I got into the behind-the-scenes work of internet marketing: I learned about the algorithm, I learned about coding, I learned about advertising. I was still an affiliate, but I was doing things differently.
I was now choosing the product that was going to be sold, and I was designing and implementing the strategy. Essentially, I was creating small one-page sites that talked about an affiliate product that I was selling. Should someone choose to purchase through my link, I would make a commission on the sale.
This strategy worked a little better, though it was essentially still a black-hat method aimed at manipulating Google’s search algorithm. What we would do is find an Exact Match Domain (EMD) because back in the day, the algorithm almost automatically saw this as quality content.
For example, if you did a Google search for “Lose 20 pounds in 10 days,” I would find a weight loss product and buy the domain name matching the keywords “lose 20 pounds in 10 days,” and sell someone else’s product from my micro site. Back in the day, EMD’s used to get you to the top page of Google search results for that keyword rather easily.
While this approach was more successful for me, I was only able to set up about two micro sites before Google started shutting down my advertising campaigns – which was my only traffic source. At this point I was about 16, working at a shoe store and using that money to send paid traffic to these sites. The problem, however, is that Google doesn’t allow a marketer to send traffic to their site specifically to purchase a product if it is not their own, there has to be something of value there. Which meant really, the only loop-hole for me was going to be to purchase every single product I intended to sell and then do a review on it – that way there would be actual content for the traffic. This is a very common method that is still in use today.
Search Engine Marketing Specialist
My first agency job at 19, I was providing all of the necessary information for businesses to optimize their site. Essentially, I was the guy that said: “here’s what you need to do in order to get found on the internet.”
This was a great job, loved it, learned all of the ins-and-outs from an advertising & optimization perspective, which was my exact goal. I had realized that if I kept buying those stupid “BECOME A MILLIONAIRE IN 3 DAYS” programs, I wasn’t going to learn anything new. Everything about internet marketing is readily available on the internet – you just have to actually do the research, learn, and teach yourself. But I wanted the experience inside of an agency, to learn the tricks and see how the pros do this.
If you want to know the answer to the question “What is internet marketing?” Search Engine Optimization (SEO) encompasses a very large majority of the space. SEO is all about exposure – ranking organically and getting found on the internet.
Everything about internet marketing is readily available on the internet – you just have to actually do the research, learn, and teach yourself. Click To Tweet
A Digital Agency?
At 21, I had registered a Doing-Business-As (DBA) name for my freelance operation. It was a small operation targeted at bringing affordable digital solutions to small businesses. I was offering social media management (SMM), a wealth of advertising options, website designing & building, email marketing, some offline promotions (such as direct mail) and of course, SEO.
There was nothing inherently wrong with the business or its model, I was actually running it quite well. The reality however, was that I learned I didn’t like the actual part of going out and seeking business. Following up, connecting, networking, etc. I just wanted to do the work and collect my check, not deal with people who didn’t understand the business. In today’s day and age, a lot of the business owners who have been late to adopt to the internet are trying to catch up. The problem is that these services aren’t cheap. Furthermore, while I believe that educating clients is an important part of running any business, I was continuously having to justify why my services were even important. Having seen what I had done for the marketing efforts of big names in the healthcare field, I really wasn’t too fond of spending my time trying to convince business owners of my worth.
At this point I was 22 or 23, and I had scrapped my business to work at a start-up company with a former colleague. I was going to be managing paid campaigns and SEO. This was a great opportunity, great energy, and amazing people. The work environment was so cool to be a part of. This was really my first step toward a career in digital marketing and building something with a group of like-minded people. Unfortunately, I had ultimately decided that I needed to leave and focus on my mental health, which really opened a lot of other doors for me.
On the topic of today’s technology, you might enjoy my Remarkable Tablet Review.
New Moon Strategy
24 and turning 25 in just 10 days, I launched my first real marketing agency. I found two other individuals in the marketing field who will work with clients and handle the aspects of a business that I didn’t care for. Meanwhile, I have the opportunity to work behind-the-scenes and really put my skills to work creating stunning websites, optimizing them for search engines, building advertising strategy & campaigns, and much more. We named the business “New Moon Strategy” – welcoming a new chapter and new beginnings. We’re bringing the quality of a large marketing agency to small business owners and making those services actually affordable for the little guy.
The goal of my marketing agency was to bring the quality of a large marketing agency to small business owners and make those services affordable for the little guy. Click To Tweet
Did you ever start paying more attention to traffic generation methods?
I did! So, with traffic generation you have what’s called organic & paid traffic. Organic traffic happens naturally, as a result of your search engine optimization efforts. Paid traffic obviously, you pay for it and you have to pick different settings and build an audience. Here’s an overview of some traffic generation methods I have experience with:
Probably the most obvious traffic generation method. I actually wasn’t interested in social media when I began or even many of the years following because I wanted to remain anonymous. I didn’t like that if I tried to promote through social media, it could be traced back to me – my name was attached to it. This is obviously something that I grew out of, but it was a huge milestone in my mental development. I decided it was okay to promote with my name behind it, but I wanted to be ethical in the way that I went about it. It’s already strange for me to attract attention to myself, so if I’m going to do that I want to make sure that I do it in an ethical and meaningful way.
Social Media has always been one of the easiest and most successful traffic generation methods. This is something that’s particularly obvious if you take a look at YouTube – the video giant. I knew being on YouTube and promoting affiliate products on Youtube I’d have success – but my anxiety kept me from it for years.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
This one I could talk about for hours simply because of how complex you can make it when you actually know what you’re doing. PPC advertising works by creating an ad and selecting a set of keywords for that ad to show up for. Keywords are simply just the search terms that people type into Google. There are quite a few networks that offer PPC advertising, but the only ones I’ve found to be worthwhile are Google and Facebook, because they have the highest quality traffic. In short, these are the ads you see on the search engine results page (SERPs) when you use Google to search for something. What is internet marketing? It’s Google. It really is.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is all about getting found on the web. For the longest time, people were manipulating Google’s algorithm and cashing out because of it. This eventually leads to today, where we have a “generic guideline” of information that Google wants to have about a website. The specialists know what this information is, how to properly gather it, and how to provide it to Google. When this is all done successfully, everyone is happy: Google, the marketers, the businesses, and the consumers.
For example, if you go to Google and type in “restaurants in Hollywood California” – You’ll find three primary maps listings from Google and a bunch of other results on the search page. Behind the scenes, all of these websites are competing for the keyword “restaurants in Hollywood California” (as well as other variations of that keyword). Specifically, they’re competing for the highest position, as studies show people only click the first few results.
A Search Engine Marketing Specialist knows what information Google needs, how to properly gather it, and how to provide it to Google. When done correctly, everyone is happy: Google, marketers, the business, and the consumers. Click To Tweet
When I got into micro sites I started to really question if paid traffic was worth it. You’re paying for people to visit your site. If they decide they don’t want the product, then what? They just leave. With email newsletters, you’re creating an opportunity to reach these people later. You’re saying “hey, maybe you don’t want to buy right now, and that’s fine, but put in your email and I’ll give you some more information – eventually, you might change your mind.” This approach works incredibly well, and forgive me if I’m wrong but the statistic used to be something like $1 to $41 – Meaning for every dollar invested in email marketing the marketer was, on average, able to generate $41.
As with anything else, email newsletters proposed new hurdles. You have to have a catchy sign-up form, you have to encourage people to sign up with incentives (such as an e-book), and you have to have an engaging content strategy.
The kicker? Subject lines. Two of the biggest challenges in sending out an email newsletter are coming up with a subject line that actually makes people click the email and sending the email at the right time (something that usually requires split-testing).
So, you’re a traffic generation, SEO, & PPC pro, now what?
I definitely lived, learned, and experienced the answer to the question: What is Internet Marketing?
I went through all of the courses and educational seminars and received my certifications, only to realize that the part of internet marketing that I enjoyed – Search Engine Optimization – was an area that was terribly misunderstood by the rest of the world. A lot of clients don’t actually know what it is that they’re buying when they invest in SEO. So, we have to go through this whole ordeal where I explain what’s actually happening to their website and why they need it. To each their own, this song and dance just wasn’t my cup of tea.
So, I had a thought: how can I implement everything I’ve learned, ethically, in a way that empowers me but also benefits others?
And here we are.