Where To Begin
The first thing you should consider when starting your first online marketing campaign is your budget; this is important because if you only have a small budget to work with, you will want to be careful to ensure that you get the best bang for your buck and don't blow through your budget too quickly.
I cannot stress this enough, if you have never done any online marketing before, stick to a small budget at first just to get your feet wet and figure out what works for your business. You must walk before you run, because it is easy to spend a lot of money very quickly if you aren't careful!
PPC (Pay Per Click) Marketing
Now that you have a number in mind for your budget, you are ready to start driving traffic to your website. The fastest (and most expensive) way to start getting traffic is through pay per click marketing, or PPC for short. Google has a great service for small business owners and million-dollar corporations the same called Google AdWords; this service is how businesses get their ads in the "sponsored links" section of Google's search engine results pages (the section at the top and on the right side).
Google AdWords is a great service, but it requires a certain amount of expertise to make money with it because you are paying for every click on your ads. Before you create your first campaign in AdWords, I suggest that you study up on it a good bit. Google has all kinds of resources to help first-time advertisers understand how to effectively utilize their service. I am not going to go into any detail in this post, but you can visit their knowledge center and start educating yourself on AdWords.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Search engine optimization is a much longer process and requires time, patience, and a lot of work to achieve good rankings in the search engines; however, it is much more rewarding in the end because you will get a lot of free, "organic" traffic to your site.
The problem that many small business owners run into with SEO is the amount of time, knowledge and expertise it takes to get a site ranked on the first page of Google. The key to success is to remember that SEO is a long term project and will not happen overnight. There are a lot of companies in the world that will try to dupe you into purchasing their link-building services that "guarantee" first page rankings in a short amount of time. Be VERY wary of these companies, Google has made it a big priority to stop these spammy link-building methods. You could get your website penalized, or even completely removed from Google's search engine results if you hire the wrong person to do SEO for your company.
I hope that this first blog post has given you a better idea of where to start with online marketing. I created this blog because I have been doing internet marketing for small businesses for 5 years now, and I am always surprised at how few small business owners are actually effective with their internet marketing campaigns, or have never even tried to market their business online.
I love internet marketing, and I want to share my passion and success with others by educating and giving my advice. Be sure to follow this blog! Next week, I will be posting about how to use social media to engage your customers and gain a bigger online presence.