The Internet has led to a more and more linked environment, and the evolution of Internet usage has resulted in the decreasing distribution of old-style media. Marketing in this linked environment and using that connectivity to market is online marketing.

Online marketing embraces lots of strategies, but what underpins successful online marketing is a user-oriented and consistent approach to these strategies.

1.1 Internet, URL, IP, domain

In its simplest form, the Internet is a group of linked documents or objects. Hyperlinks are what link these documents.

A hyperlink is a link from one page (document) on the World Wide Web to another one. It comprises the uniform resource locator (URL) of the linked-to document, which defines where on the Internet a document is. It is what you write in the address bar of the browser because it is the address of that document on the Internet.


Figure 1: The uniform resource locator

A URL provides information to both web browsers and users. URLs contain domain names, which translate to Internet protocol (IP) addresses. All web sites correspond to an Internet protocol (IP) address, which is a structured series of dots and numbers indicating where it is physically situated. When you write a URL into the address bar of a browser, the DNS record shows where the document is that you are connected to. Lots of domains can translate to the same IP address.

An example from SME 2.0 project:

Domain name: http://smepro.eu

IP address: 87.229.26.238

A domain name looks like this:

http://www.domainname.com

But much more information can be included in that. Domain names carry the following information:

subdomain.domain.tld/directory

Domain: The registered domain name of the website.

Subdomain: A domain that is part of a bigger domain.

TLD: The top-level domain, top in the hierarchy of domain names, also known as the domain extension.

Directory: A folder in order to organize content.

The TLD can show the country in which a domain is registered and give information about the nature of the domain:

.com: The most frequent TLD.

.hu, .co.uk, .uk, .ie, .it: These TLDs show country information.

.org: Used by NGOs.

.gov: Used by governments.

.ac, .edu: Used by academic institutions.

Domain names must be registered, and usually there is a fee for doing so.

1.2 Access the Internet

Users connect to the Internet and access content in many different ways. When it comes to the physical connection to the Internet, there are a number of options:

  • Dial-up
  • 3G (third-generation mobile and wireless connection)
  • Wi-Fi and WiMAX
  • Broadband
  • ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line)

And that list will continue.  The devices that consumers use vary from mobile phones and small handheld devices to notebooks and desktop computers.

For some users, Internet is mainly a communication channel, and their online activity is concentrated on their emails, while for others it may be a research network, with search engines playing a large role in their online experience. Having such a varied audience means that there are many methods available to marketers when it comes to online marketing.