Almost everyone has received unsolicited offers in the mail. These are what many call "junk mail", and more often than not, end up in the "circular file", more commonly known as the trash can. But anyone who is considering Internet marketing as either a part-time or full-time business may want to at least give a moment's pause before the big toss. Better still would be to study and reflect on the material you've received, and in some cases, store it in a real file for future use. The reason is because Internet marketing today is, in reality and when done properly, a high-tech enhancement and expansion of old-fashioned direct mail.
Those sales letters that arrive in your mailbox aren't randomly sent there, nor are they sent to everyone in your country or state. Instead, successful direct mail operators rent carefully selected mailing lists. These lists may be buyers of a particular product, people who've expressed interest in topics and products through surveys and registration forms, magazine subscribers, people who live in a certain postal code, and so on. The underlying principle is that the direct mailers target a select audience to receive their offer, and a certain percentage of the recipients, known as the response rate, will then accept that offer. Then through continual testing and refinement of the sales letter, pricing, terms, colors, and other variables, direct marketers work to improve their response rates over time.
Marketing on the Internet is much the same. The bottom line is that marketers need to find a "group" of people with similar tastes and interests, find out what they want, then sell it to them, just as the direct mail marketers do.
In direct mail, as on the Internet, it's certainly possible, and in fact probable, that some marketing campaigns will fail. But, once you've sent out direct mail pieces, that postage is lost forever. On the Internet however, you can quickly assess and halt losing campaigns until you make adjustments. Or, as Robert G. Allen puts it, "On the Internet, you can fail fast for free!"
Internet technology has now made it possible to reach a new, worldwide audience, at much lower costs than direct mail postage allows. Your prospects are online, surfing, searching, reading, and hopefully shopping, around the clock. And the Internet itself has created new markets, such as the need for broadband connections, networking equipment, instructional material, and yes, even Internet marketing information products!
Perhaps the most important new capability the Internet offers marketers is the sheer speed at which marketing campaigns can be launched, tested, revised, and tested again, until maximum response rate is achieved. Web sites can be very fast and easy to set up, and through pay-per-click search engines, visitors (known as traffic) can be directed towards your marketing site literally within minutes. Software allows for instantaneous tracking of clicks, visitor "paths" through a web site, time spent on each page, and hundreds of other factors. Software can help marketers follow up with their leads (through autoresponders), and can, through email lists and RSS syndication, also foster relationship marketing, much more so than mailed catalogs and letters in the past.
For marketers, the Internet is the still-new frontier where high-tech, old fashioned marketing, low costs, and a worldwide audience converge to create new opportunities for those willing to look for them.