By simply accessing the Internet frequently and observing different Web site designs, marketing techniques, and the increasing number of e-commerce sites, you can gain an insight into the field. Contact advertising and marketing workers, computer consultants, or Web site designers in your area and set up an information interview. During the interview, ask them questions about their educational background, what they like about the work, how they market their business, what important skills someone wanting to enter the field should have, and any other things you are interested in knowing about this work.
Obtain experience in advertising and marketing by working on your school newspaper or yearbook or by finding a part-time or summer job at an advertising or marketing firm (especially one that specializes in Internet marketing/advertising). You can also create an online advertising or marketing campaign for a real or imaginary product or service.
Pursue a degree in marketing, and make sure Internet marketing or e-marketing is part of the curriculum offered at the universities you consider. You can also gain valuable experience by volunteering to work for clubs or organizations you belong to, helping to market them using their Web sites.
While the work of Internet marketing and advertising consultants can vary depending on their place of employment and the project at hand, they all work toward the same goal: to drive more traffic to a company's Web site and sell more products or services.
The first step for many Internet marketing projects is revising or creating a company's Web site. If the Web site already exists, Internet marketing and advertising consultants study it to ensure that it is an effective marketing tool for the company's products or services. They might ask the following questions: Is the site attractive to potential customers? Is it is easy to navigate? Is there enough information available about the products or services? Is purchasing a product easy? Are there any features that may deter customers from completing a purchase? How does the site compare to those of competitors? Once these questions are answered, the consultants revise and revamp the Web site to make it a more effective marketing tool.
Internet marketing and advertising consultants may also be tasked with creating a brand-new Web site for a company that is new to the Web. To do this, they need to consider the company's marketing goals, design elements, user interface, purchasing interface, and the actual products or services that will be marketed. Internet consultants may collaborate with a team of artists, art directors, photographers, graphic and digital designers, stylists, and copywriters to gather images and create merchandise presentations and product descriptions that stay true to the retail's brand.
In addition, marketing and advertising consultants are responsible for implementing an e-commerce strategy that addresses concerns such as retail competition, special promotions, and the overall performance of the site. They must identify the company's potential market (teens, Hispanic males, seniors, etc.), customer expectations regarding a Web site (state-of-the-art graphics and vivid colors, quick-loading pages, a straightforward, conservative look, etc.), and customers' buying habits. Customers who shop online typically have very different buying habits than those who purchase products in brick-and-mortar stores. For example, a customer who shops online might like the immediacy of being able to shop at home, but may also be seeking quick delivery options or a large selection of products from which to choose. Others may use the Web site to conduct research, but follow up by purchasing the product on the telephone or by visiting a brick-and-mortar store.
Many Internet marketing and advertising consultants specialize in different areas of the industry. For example, search engine marketers (SEMs) are responsible for the day-to-day management of clients' Web sites. They research a client's products or services, and develop advertisements using concise descriptions and keywords that will place their company's Web site high in search rankings. SEMs optimize ad campaigns with the most effective keywords so potential consumers are directed to the client's Web site during a search—the ultimate goal is to be listed as high as possible in a search engine's top 10 results.
Others work as pay per click specialists (PPCSs). PPCSs place, or embed, a client's advertisement on an existing Web site, often in the form of an image or banner. PPCSs research sites, or content providers, that have an interest or relation to their client's business. For example, a PPCS representing clients who sell vitamin supplements, health club memberships, or energy drinks may contact the online manager of an exercise Web site to convince him or her to place banner ads or sponsored links at the site. Clicking on these banners or links will direct the user to the advertiser's Web site. PPCSs regularly monitor logfiles to determine the number of visits or "clicks," and then pay the content provider accordingly.