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(ARA) – There was a time when the phrase “Internet marketing” meant nothing more than having a website and changing it periodically. You either hired someone to do it for you, or produced it in-house, but either way it was pretty straightforward.

Fast forward to 2010, and Internet marketing can be downright mystifying for many small business owners, even ones who are otherwise tech savvy and fully modernized. Now you need to know about social media, display advertising, paid search, blogging, e-mail marketing – the list may seem never-ending and infinitely complicated.

The good news, however, is that all these new ways to advertise online mean you have access to better ways to build your business. And they’re the exact same vehicles that big corporations — not to mention your competitors — use, so your marketing message has the ability to be at least as powerful as theirs.

You can find success building your business online if you learn to use these online marketing tactics:

Social media

So you’re on Facebook and LinkedIn, and you’ve even tweeted once or twice. That’s great – but be sure you’re using social media to build relationships with current and potential customers, and not just as another way to post an advertisement online. For example, instead of tweeting “Buy my widgets” and a link back to your home page, a better message would be “Six ways widgets can save you money” with a link to a blog posting that expands on the tweet idea. The first tweet is an ad, and consumers are ad savvy and skeptical. The second tweet is an offer of useful information, and will help consumers see you and your product as a resource, rather than an advertiser.

Blogging

Use social media, but don’t let your message end there, because you have no control over or access to the marketing data social networking sites generate. Use social media to drive potential business back to a site you can control, such as a blog. You can customize your message and control customer perceptions better on a site you fully control. While your website is a source of information for customers, your blog is an opportunity to dialogue with them. And conversations build relationships.

SEO and SEM

Search engine optimization and search engine marketing are ways to make major search engines like Google work for you when they recognize and rank your web pages. Search engines produce two types of results when a user performs a search: organic (results returned because of their relevance to the search terms) and paid. The advantage of paid search is that it allows you to better control when and where your ad appears, and who will see it. You could try to organize all your paid search efforts on your own, but a better way would be to get some help in managing your paid search campaigns.

SearchManager by American Express is specifically designed to help small business owners simplify search engine marketing. The service provides one access point through which you can view and manage campaigns on major search engines, including Google Adwords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, Microsoft AdCenter and Facebook Ads. A single, customizable dashboard eliminates the need to remember multiple logins and to learn how to use different interfaces. You can track results and easily make changes to ensure that your advertising yields measurable results and increased business.

SearchManager’s set of straightforward tools helps take the complexities out of pay per click (PPC) advertising and provides small businesses easy management across ad networks. To learn more about SearchManager and how it can help you advertise online, visit www.searchmanager.com.

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Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
Known globally as a willing source for tech news and views, Andy takes great pride in consultation and education.

Should his schedule permit, Andy is available to help you with your SEO and Web Analytics needs.