Despite online marketing being around for a good number of years now, there are stills some companies that have yet to really get to grips with it. For businesses who are not yet actively marketing online, they could be missing out on a huge amount of revenue.

For many companies, the first thing they do when it comes to online marketing is have a website created. This can be used as a portfolio to showcase your products and services or an e-commerce site to sell online. If you are a little worried about ploughing that much money straight in to web development then you may want to explore the social media marketing platform first. You can advertise on here in several ways and do not need a website.

Setting up an account on the social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be a great way to communicate with people regardless of their location. Make sure that you update your profile regularly to ensure that the information is up to date and post content that is useful and interesting for your followers to read.  Be careful to get the balance right though as too many updates in a short space of time can become annoying and be seen as spamming, which will lose followers.

When it comes to online marketing it is important to understand the different types of visitors you can have. This will allow you to see what marketing avenues are working and which are not.

In internet marketing you may have heard the term traffic sources, this relates to how a visitor has come to find your website. There are many different forms of traffic but the main ones are referrals, direct, organic and paid for. Below is a quick overview of what they all mean:

Organic – An organic visit is counted when someone finds you via one of the search engine search results such as Bing, Google or Yahoo.

Referrals – this is the number of visits to your website that have come through another site. This may be a link that you have on another site to yours, this may or may not include social visits.

Social – This is referrals from Facebook, Twitter, Linked In for example. These may also be included in the referral figure.

Direct – this is the number of people that have come to your site by typing your address directly in to the address bar. Often these are repeat visitors or ones that have got your address off a business card, signage or maybe by calling you first.

Paid or PPC – Paid for traffic is when someone has clicked on a link and the business gets charged a fee for this.

If you have a website for your business, then it is important for you to be able to easily track the performance of it. This data can be invaluable when it comes to marketing and knowing how and where to spend your budget.

There are many programs that offer statistic tracking the most used on being Google Analytics. Although Google Analytics is very user friendly and free, it is not always the most accurate in terms of real visitors.

Web server stats are usually bolted on to every hosting package, but these are often quite limited in terms of data and sometimes record visits from spiders that crawl your site.  They are also often not very user friendly and only give you very limited information. Ideally you should use several stats packages to try and get a true picture of how your website is performing.

Once you have this data, put aside some time each month to analyse it in detail and find out what marketing avenue is giving you the best return on your investment. If you find for example, that you are investing a lot of money in Google Adwords but hardly getting any qualified traffic then you may want to think about stopping your adverts and investing the money elsewhere.

Pay per click advertising has been around for a number of years now and many businesses spend a large proportion of their marketing budget on this.

Google Adwords is the most popular Pay per Click programme and it allows you to create tailored ads to show on Google’s search engine results pages along with other affiliate sites. You can create adverts and keywords and organise them into groups setting certain parameters such as location to show the ads, times to display it, page to redirect visitor to and the cost per click limit.

When the ad is clicked by a visitor, the website owner will be charged a specific amount for that click. The visitor will then be taken to the page you have specified for that advert.

Google Adwords can be a little costly, especially if you are targeting generic high competition keywords but can work really well. If you have a new product or service that you are launching and want to get instant traffic to your website, Pay per Click is a great place to start as you can literally have people finding your page as soon as the ad goes live. Also if your website has recently gone live and not yet been indexed by the search engines, then Pay per Click can start pulling in the traffic.

The way you design your website is vital and can make a huge difference to the number of visitors and importantly returning visitors you get. A website that is too complex, too busy or hard to navigate will instantly put people off and may lose you a sale or enquiry.

You may not know exactly what will and what won’t work on your website until it is all up and running and you can track the progress. Analytics are vitally important to the success of your website and you should find a reliable statistics package to allow you to get the most from the results.

Google offer a great free analytics program called Google Analytics which will allow you to track a a number of different stats such as number of visitors to your site, how they found your site (e.g. Google, referral from another site or social media sites etc.). Having this information is very important and you can then analyse it full to understand what your visitors behaviour is. If for example a huge number of your customers are leaving at the checkout process then it could mean that it is too complicated.