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Internet Marketing - Advantages and Disadvantages

Everyone seems to be jumping on the internet marketing bandwagon lately. In the race to get their business online, many successful businesses forget to ask themselves some tough questions about what they are doing, what their expectations are and what their plan is to meet those expectations.

The internet can be a powerful tool that can put you on solid footing with bigger companies. On the other hand, the other companies may have more money to pay for advertising. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you analyze your internet marketing strategy.

Advantage of Internet Marketing

- your store is open, 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. Further, your customers are worldwide in reach, and can shop anytime that they want to

- the cost of spreading your message is next to nothing. Emailing your subscription base is more oftne cheaper than sending a letter through the mail

- updating your subscribers can be done almost instantly through email. Visitors to your website can get up to the minute information on each visit. If you are having a sale, your customers can start shopping at the discounted prices literally as soon as they open their email

- if you have an information sensitive business, such as a law firm, newspaper or online magazine, you can deliver your products directly to your customers without having to use a courier

Disadvantages of Internet Marketing

- online marketing is not free. The cost of software, hardware, wed site design, maintenance of your site, online distribution costs and of course, time, all must be factored into the cost of providing your service or product.

- slightly over 50% of households shop online. While that number will continue to grow, you are reaching less than two out of three households.

- the internet is still regarded as a source of information gathering for the majority of your customers. Of the number of visitors to your site, the vast majority of visitors who are motivated to buy will do so in person. Many people prefer the live interaction when they buy. If you have a small business with one location, this may deter customers from buying.

- easier to have outdated information on your site, thus timing of updates is critical

- there is no replacement for good old fashioned customer service. The majority of internet marketers lack customer service and inquiry response programs. As a result, many online visitors to your site will already have painted your site as poor service before they have even contacted you. The majority of websites also have poor navigation, which makes it difficult for your visitor to find what they are looking for. Many sites were created with a marketing view, not a customer service point of view.

- is your site secure? Does your customer know this? There are many incorrect stereotypes about the security of the internet out there. As a result, many of your visitors will not want to use their credit card to make a purchase. The fear of having their credit card info stolen is a clear and present danger in the minds of your visitors

- there is a lot of competition for your product already out there. By the time your visitor finds you, they have already been clicking many links. Unless they can find what they are looking for quickly, they are gone.

- many web visitors expect something for free. What do you have to offer them?

There are many other pros and cons of internet marketing. Its important for you to consider each when creating your internet marketing strategy. Each of the disadvantages can be overcome, but only if you view the customer experience from the eyes of your customer, not as an internet marketer.

Northern Source offers web design services for small businesses. You'll find more helpful hints at http://www.northernsource.com

Christopher Smith has been creating web sites for small businesses for over 7 years. In addition to providing deisgn and consultation services, Christopher also provides tips on search engine optimization, internet marketing and traffic generation.

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