For many, the first online marketing campaign is a stab in the dark. They launch with little information and come out of it with little results. The best way to get it right the first time is to know all of your options in advance. Here are the seven main types of marketing you can engage in online. Search engine marketing or SEM is an umbrella term that describes two different methods of improving a website’s search engine rankings. The first method involves paying for advertisements or sponsored listings to be displayed whenever a user searches a particular keyword. The second method, called search engine optimization or SEO, is the process of organizing and focusing your site so that it naturally appears higher in search engine rankings for a given keyword. Altogether, SEM accounts for almost half of the dollars spent on Internet marketing. That’s because most new users arrive on a site through search engines, and sites that appear high on the first page of results get the vast majority of new traffic. The second biggest expenditure for online marketers is display advertising, which includes ads placed directly on webpages, interstitial ads placed between web pages, and pop up ads. Most display ads are a mix of text and images but can contain elements of video and animation. Online ads are popular with marketers because their effectiveness is easy to track. Most sites employ tracking data that tells marketers how many times an ad was viewed and how many times it was clicked. Online ads are also appealing because they can be set to appear only in specific contexts, like when a user lands on a particular web page or searches for a particular keyword. Alternatively, ads can be served to users who live in a certain area or who exhibit certain online behavior of interest to the marketer. Social media marketing is the Internet version of word of mouth promotion. By establishing a social media presence, whether through a social networking profile or a blog, a business enables users to easily share its content across their own social media channels. This distribution system is attractive to marketers because an announcement of a sale or a product update becomes a credible, peer-to-peer recommendation when shared by a user. Furthermore, the casual nature of social media can help dampen consumer cynicism about marketing and aid brand appeal. And because marketers can often target ads to people based on information in their profiles, social media sites are valuable ad spaces as well. A more direct way to reach out to potential customers is through Email marketing, the oldest, and for many companies, still the most effect form of online marketing. A legitimate email marketing campaign only targets those who have opted-in; in other words users who have provided their contact information willingly and authorized a company to send them email. Email marketing is a well-balanced form — about half of the average email marketing budget is spent on acquiring new customers, and the other half on retaining and upselling current customers. Marketing emails range from welcome messages, to newsletters, to sale alerts, and are often tailored to the recipient. Emails can also be set up as automated responses to actions taken on a website. Just as with online advertisements, marketing emails are very easy to track, and many services provide reports detailing the rates at which emails are opened and engaged with. Rather than communicating directly with a target demographic, online public relations or online PR involves communicating with the people who influence a target demographic. These can include online journalists, bloggers or microbloggers with large followings, and administrators of community message boards, among others. Online PR consists in sending press releases, digital press kits, or other promotional materials to these influencers, posting them online via a press release distribution service, or adding them to a press page on your own website. The effectiveness of an online PR campaign can be tracked with monitoring software that alerts you to when your business, products, or services are mentioned online. When influencers agree to promote or advertise products or services on behalf of businesses, they are engaging in affiliate marketing. Businesses typically pay publishers a commission from sales or leads generated by the publisher’s referrals. The publishers are called affiliates because they are associated with but not directly part of the the businesses they promote. A major appeal of affiliate marketing is that businesses can farm out marketing efforts to others and pay nothing if an affiliate fails to bring in customers. The last form of online marketing takes place directly on a business’s own website. It involves managing the way a product or service is presented on a company site.