Can you afford not marketing your business online?

8 benefits of online digital marketing explaining why you can't!

That title may sound a bit harsh, but marketing is all about reaching out to and being where your customers are. Today, that place is internet, and you and I both know that we’re all spending increasingly more time online.

But don’t just take my word for it, here are the latest stats on internet usage and time spent online globally:

There are 4.66 billion internet users in 2021,
which makes 59.5% of the global population

Breakdown by regions shows that the highest levels of usage are in Europe and North America, with average adoption being over 80 and 90%:

Global Internet usage shown as percentage of total populationSource:

Average time spent online by an internet user
across devices is almost 7 hours per day

Based on these statistics, our number one reason for marketing your business online is:

1. People are online

Some might still say “that’s all nice, but my customers aren’t online”. This is a fair point, you should always adapt your marketing strategy to your targeted audience.

However, we have seen that internet usage is not decreasing, so while your customers might not be online today, will you be able to state the same in 5 years?

Even saying that your targeted audience fits into a mature age segment of the population isn’t an excuse anymore.

Interestingly enough, the age distribution of internet users from 2019 shows that 17% of internet users are in the age group of 55+ and above, while 18% are in the age group between 18 and 24 years (Statista, 2021).

Now, before digging deeper into other reasons you should use online digital channels, let’s make sure we’re on the same page when we speak about digital & online marketing.

Digital marketing includes all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet. It is often used as a synonym for online/internet marketing. 

However, online marketing is actually a subset of digital marketing that conveys communication messages exclusively via the internet.

So, what else is part of digital marketing that isn’t relying on the internet?

Many find it surprising, but radio and TV are also part of digital marketing as they use electronic devices. Additionally, E-books, electronic billboards, offline in-game ads, etc. You get the idea, anything delivered on an electronic device that does not depend on an internet connection is an offline digital channel.

Now that we’re on the same page with marketing classification theory, let’s back to why else it matters for your business to be marketed online.

2. Be easily found and build trust

Let me ask you a question – when you look for a business or a product/service, what do you usually do?

I’d take a guess and say with pretty high certainty that the answer would be “I google it” or “search for it online”.

It is just convenient, the information we look for is in our own pockets, organized by search engines and their algorithms to provide us with the most relevant answers.

Be it simply adding your business to search engines, creating social media accounts, or your own business website you’ll have your business placed on the internet map and will pop up when your customers look for you.

It is not only about being found. What is your reaction when you search for a business, and it does not show up in Google results?

You’ll check your spelling, try some iterations of the name, but finally, most of us will assume the business does not exist. Especially now after the global pandemic when a lot of companies went out of business abruptly.

Even if you knew that the business exists, it having no online presence will surely raise some red flags and distrust.


3. Interactions with customers and lasting relationships

Big change that the online digital channels have brought is the 2-way communication. Unlike with newspapers, radio, or TV commercials where the communication is one-sided from the company to customers.

Online channels provided the opportunity to consumers to communicate with businesses and share opinions among themselves.

This provides a great opportunity for businesses, you’re able to acquire direct feedback from your customers and build relationships through communication with them.

Listening closely will enable you to improve your product & services and have a clearer idea of what it is that your customers need. You might even find out that there is a customer base that you have not considered initially.

At the same time through rating apps and portals you’ll be openly criticized if your products and services do not deliver up to your promises. But this information would be shared no matter if you were online or not, so at least by being where your customers are, you’ll be able to recognize the shortcomings and be able to act on them.


4. Your competition is online

Competition analysis is one of the cornerstones of every marketing strategy. It is important to understand what your competition is doing and what their strengths & weaknesses are, no matter what your company size might be. 

Do this exercise – search online for your closest 5 competitors.

How many of them come up in searches with their websites, online shops, social media pages?

I’d assume most of them will have some type of online presence. Of course, you need to conduct your own research, but if most of your competition can be found on a specific marketing channel, it is a good indication that there are potentialbenefits to marketing your business there as well.


5. Equal opportunities with big players

Building upon the topic of competition, you might say “yes, all my big competitors have an online presence, but they have dedicated marketing teams and budgets”.

A valid point again, it will be difficult to compete with your small business against a market leader. But guess what, you don’t have to.

It comes down to that powerful and cliche saying that “you’re special because there is no one else like you”. What is important is to find what differentiation from your competition resonates with your customers. You might carve a niche of customers who prefer your way of delivering services and products, compared to the big market leaders.

All of these seeming disadvantages may work in your favor on online channels where communication and consumer relationships are essential.


6. Easily reach global marketplace

Another way of equalizing your opportunities through online channels is providing a way to access global market way sooner than it was possible before. It is such a big benefit that we must distinguish it.

Unlike before internet where the usual way for company to go international was to grow and establish themselves in the local market, followed by the country level and then eventually internationally. 

Small businesses today can sell their products all over the globe simply through online channels. Even small one person craft business owners, who create products in their own homes can setup online shops and have their products delivered world-wide.

How great is that?


7. Cost effectiveness & higher ROI

If your business is operating on a tight budget, you want to make it as cost effective as possible. This is where online marketing channels excel, offering a higher return on investment compared with “traditional” channels like tv commercials or print.

Why is this the case? Simply put, the advantage of targeted audience.

Advertising online enables you to put your add in front of people who show clear interest or even intention to buy your products and services.

Let’s say you are running a small local flower shop, you’ll be able to setup your online add to be shown to people who are typing in terms like “buy flowers, flower shop near me, flowers gift” – clearly showing the interest and intent to buy products you offer.

What’s even better, you’ll pay for the add only once someone clicks on it and goes to your website to check your products.

On the other hand, if you put your flower shop ad in the newspaper, you’ll probably reach a wide variety of people, but how many of them would be interested in buying flowers at that moment?


8. Track marketing metrics

Lastly, next to being able to target your audience, you’ll also be able to track all kinds of metrics that can help you fine tune your online marketing efforts.

Let’s use the same example of a flower shop.
You can pay for the add on the local newspaper, knowing how many people read them on average and some of their general demographic information. You’ll probably have some increase in visitors and might question how did they find about your shop – and that way assessing the profitability of your ad.

On the other hand, if you put an online ad on a search engine like google for example, you’ll be able to define many more relevant details. For example, where do you want your ad to be shown geographically, for which keywords (“buy flowers”), to which demographics, at what time.

During your campaign, you’ll have insight in real-time data on how many people have seen your ad, how many clicked on it, when have they done it, what they searched for, and even who ended up buying your products, if you offer them online. All this data enables you to fine-tune your ads and continue making them more effective and cost-efficient.

It is important to state that highlighting these benefits of digital marketing channels does not mean that the “traditional” channels have lost their value. As mentioned, a combination of channels that will work best for you will depend on your customers, industry, competition, and other market factors.

However, we do find that given the relatively low cost and therefore higher return on investment of online digital channels would be a great place for SME’s to start implementing their marketing strategies.

In the next blog, we’ll get into more actionable steps and compare some of the starting options you have as a business owner when it comes to digital marketing. 

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