What were 2006’s Top Internet Marketing Strategies?

eMarketer released the results from its end of the year survey and confirmed everything we already knew. Search engine optimization works, blogs and social networks are an emerging online marketing tactic, and pay per click has the highest ROI. Don’t they read our blog?

The study was based on a survey given to Ad:Tech attendees and asked them identify what worked and what didn’t work for them online in 2006. According to conference goers, the three Internet marketing techniques that worked the best were pay per click, email house lists and search engine optimization, with 52 percent, 47 percent and 33 percent respectively.

The study found that search engine optimization grew from 33 percent in 2005 to 45 percent in 2006, making it the best performing online advertising tactic. Take that, pay per click! Advertisers said next year they will increase their ad spend toward search marketing, email and SEO, in that order.

It’s interesting to me that advertisers will allocate more money to pay per click than search engine optimization, given that SEO was found to work the best. I wonder if that has anything to do with all the press PPC has gotten lately with Google and Yahoo fighting it out for top placement. Or maybe marketers are still scared of the higher startup cost. Pay per click may come with a high ROI, but if you learn how to optimize your site correctly and establish it as an expert to visitors and the engines, you’re setting yourself up to make more profit at a lower cost. Perhaps not initially, but over the long term.

Another interesting stat: 40 percent of the online marketers polled will increase their percentage of ad spend on social networking sites this year. I guess that means they don’t expect MySpace to die a horrible death this year.

The worse dressed performers of 2006 were rented email lists, rich media ads, affiliate marketing and pop up ads. Again, no surprise there. Those areas have all been so heavily hit by spammers, customers have learned to turn a blind eye. And as marketers realize the benefits of optimization and PPC, those spam-o-licious tactics aren’t as attractive as they used to be.

It’s probably worth reiterating that this survey isn’t reflective of the all online marketers – since the more "traditional" folk probably aren’t signing up to attend conferences like Ad:Tech. However, it does give a good indication of where things are going and what tactics kept online marketers smiling in 2006.

What worked the best for you in 2006?

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

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