Digital marketing has been around for years. In fact, ever since the first search engines appeared and the first emails were sent, people have been using the internet to market their businesses.
But many businesses are yet to take full advantage of online marketing – and your business may be one of them. Perhaps you’ve started a blog, published a few posts and quit without anything to show for it. Maybe you’ve got a few social media accounts going stale after disappointing results. Or perhaps you’ve already decided that online marketing is not right for your business.
The truth is that online marketing is fast overtaking traditional marketing – and there are enormous benefits to enjoy for almost any business. Benefits that you really don’t want to be missing out on.
That’s probably why 71% of business owners who responded to our recent survey claimed that online marketing was ‘essential’ to the success of their business.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, many more activities have gone online. More people have become familiar with Zoom calls and using online productivity tools to connect and get work done. But even without the pandemic, the world is going increasingly digital – and marketing is becoming an increasingly online activity.
The good news is that you’re not late. There is no time like the present to switch to internet marketing, and you’ll still be well ahead of many of your competitors. The time to make the switch is now.
Key Benefits of Online Marketing
Online marketing provides many benefits to businesses of all sizes. So what advantages can you expect to enjoy when you make the switch?
Online marketing can have significant cost savings for businesses. Compare taking out an advertisement in the paper with running an online advertising campaign. You can spend just a few pounds to get potential customers visiting your website and engaging with your brand.
Most digital marketing techniques are highly targeted. Take PPC advertising, for example. When you run a Google Ads campaign, only people searching for something specific that is related to your business will see your ads.
Social advertising is even more targeted. When you run a Facebook advertising campaign, you can target people right down to their hobbies and interests.
You can quickly find out what is working and what isn’t when you run an online marketing campaign. If you run a set of ads and one of them generates much more business, you can ditch the less successful ads and optimise the one that works.
This is similar across online marketing, from email marketing to SEO. With free tools like Google Analytics, for example, you can see exactly who is visiting your website and what they are doing once they get there, helping you to make informed decisions that improve your results.
Reach a Wider Audience
If you target people across the country, or even across the world, you can reach out to them just as easily as if they were based in your local area when you use online marketing.
For example, it’s just as cheap to send an email to someone on another continent as to someone in your town, which is particularly useful for ecommerce stores with a global customer base.
A lot of online marketing can be automated these days. This does not mean you can simply invest in a tool and let it do all the work, because specialist knowledge will always be needed. But it’s possible to automate many of the less specialised, time-consuming tasks, helping to cut costs even further.
Digital marketing makes it easy to build relationships with your target audience. Take content marketing, for example. By running a blog and being active on social media, you can build relationships that grow over time, generating more leads. It’s no surprise that companies with blogs get 67% more leads than those without. You can then reach out via emails to build the relationship further.
While you probably don’t want to focus on all of them, you can experiment with different marketing techniques and find out which ones work best for you.
Why Invest in Expert Help
Online marketing is easy to get started and relatively affordable, especially compared to many traditional marketing methods. For example, you can set up a blog and start publishing expert guides with very little investment.
But it comes with challenges, and there are many reasons why it often makes sense to get expert help.
For a start, there is the time requirement. In our survey, we asked about the greatest online marketing challenges for businesses, and 48% responded: ‘I don’t have time to do it properly’.
This was by far the biggest challenge facing businesses. And this is the thing: online marketing requires a big time commitment to do it properly. It can seem so easy to jump straight in, write a few blog posts and update your social feed a few times a day. But you will quickly realise how time-consuming the activities can become.
Online marketing has quite a steep learning curve. Writing a blog? That’s easy enough. Optimising it for SEO, carrying out keyword research, getting links from authoritative sources, generating shares, and getting leads? There’s quite a lot involved, and it all takes time.
14% of the respondents in our survey said that ‘It’s too complex’ when asked about their online marketing challenges. Don’t get us wrong – online marketing can be easy to get started. But it can often be tricky to make the most out of it.
Take Google Ads, for example. Knowing how to set up campaigns and maximise results is not easy – and mistakes can be very expensive!
14% of our survey respondents also responded: ‘I can’t tell if it’s helping my business.’ It’s true – it can be tricky to find out where you are going right or wrong.
A specialist will know how to find out what you’re doing right, where sales and leads are really coming from, and what needs changing to improve your results.
Another big challenge is that online marketing changes fast, and a lot of the information you find online quickly becomes outdated. If you are using SEO techniques that worked in 2016, they might be far less effective now – or even harmful.
It’s a specialist’s job to keep up with all the latest trends, to constantly figure out what is working and what will be working in the years to come – and to prevent your online marketing activities from becoming a huge waste of time and money.
For example, years ago (before the Google Panda update), it was easy to churn out low-quality articles crammed with keywords and rank in the search results. Now, the average word length of content that ranks on the first page in Google is 1,447 words, showing the shift to longer, more authoritative content.
As a result of changing trends, it often makes sense to use an expert. When you have someone who knows exactly how to get results, you can leave it in their capable hands while you get on with doing what you know best – running your business.
The Future of Online Marketing
Because digital marketing changes so quickly, it’s hard to know where it will be in five, 10 or 20 years. What we can be sure of is that it will continue to evolve. New technologies will ensure it continues to develop all the time. However, a focus on providing value to your customers will always be important.
Looking at some trends for 2021, we can see how fast it is changing. Video marketing, for example, is an area seeing huge growth. People watch 8 billion videos a day on Facebook, and just look at how popular platforms like TikTok have become in a short period of time.
We can also expect new technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality to start having an impact. The AR market is predicted to reach over $70 billion by 2023, and many brands are already experimenting with using AR in their marketing campaigns (like Manchester City incorporating AR into its stadium tour).
Big data is sure to play a larger role too, providing more personalised marketing. And artificial intelligence is likely to become a big trend. We’ve seen this already in the growth of chatbots, but the technology is improving all the time, and AI could soon have a much bigger role to play.
As online marketing evolves, it’s important to keep up with the trends. Make sure you are the first rather than the last, and stay ahead of your competitors to take full advantage of all the benefits online marketing has to offer.
Time To Switch?
If you feel like you have missed the online marketing boat, you haven’t. Many businesses still struggle with online marketing, and there’s a good chance that you can get ahead of your competitors – and stay there – by developing a successful online marketing strategy now.
Online marketing requires consistent effort and a dedicated online marketing strategy to succeed. But if you start now, you can get ahead of the competition and start generating leads and sales for your business in a short period of time.
If you’re ready to try online marketing for yourself, contact the team at Alba SEO today to find out how we can help you.
Caroline Phillips is the owner of Alba SEO Services which offers quality SEO services to SME's. Established since 2013, Alba SEO has a track record of success.
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