According to studies done by major market research companies, over 90 percent of consumers go online first to look for products or services that they need. They go to a search engine and type in a string of keywords that are relevant to what they are interest in. They click on the top results to do a comparison, then make a purchase decision. Nowadays, it is not enough for a business to just have a web presence. If it does not market itself online effectively, it will miss out on lucrative opportunities to gain more business. For a small business, this can prove detrimental. Here are the 10 top reasons why online marketing should be at the center of the marketing plan of any small business.
1) Brand Building
One of the biggest challenges faced by a small business is how to get its name out to the public and earn the consumers’ trust in the brand. Traditionally, it can take years for a small business to build up a reputation as a trusted company because word traveled slowly. However, with online marketing driven by social media, a company’s reputation can grow much faster. With the right kind of online promotions and consistently good reviews from customers, a small business can quickly earn the confidence of prospects, thus improving the likelihood that they will be converted into paying customers.
2) Target the Niche Market With Precision
With online marketing, a small business has the ability to zero in on a more precise target market where advertising dollars can be focused. If the business serves only a local geographic region, it can utilize local search engine optimization techniques to enable its target audience to find it. In social media, the business can narrow its campaign to just users who live in a specific city looking for the kind of service that it provides, then deliver targeted ads that are relevant. Web analytical tools provide additional data on the search patterns of the target audience, enabling the business to fine-tune its online campaign even more.
3) Effective Way To Build Customer Relationship and Loyalty
The digital world took away geographical barriers. A small business can effectively reach an audience around the world and build customer relationships through its virtual presence on the web. Online marketing allows it to get instant feedback from its customers. If the company has a new product or service that it would like to launch, it can connect with the audience through social media and test its concept. It can solicit input on improving the concept so that it would be a better match in filling their needs. When a company shows that customer opinions are valued, it will gain the respect of its customers. Their loyalty to the brand will improve.
4) A Customer’s Experience Can Be Personalized
Online marketing lets a business compile a profile of the customer. Every time a customer makes a purchase, a little more information is gathered and used in building this profile. By using the customer’s purchase history and other information in his profile, a business can personalize his browsing experience to make it more meaningful to him. For instance, a business can cross-sell related products based on what was purchased. By tracking the webpages that the customers visited on the company website, targeted offers can be made that are based on the individual’s interest. Customers will find their web visits more rewarding and will be more likely become repeat customers.
5) Best Return On Marketing Dollars
Online marketing is perhaps the most cost efficient way for a small business to market and promote. Traditional marketing through print and media is very expensive. If the business wants to reach a wider audience, the cost goes up significantly. A typical small business often runs on a shoestring budget. It must watch every dollar that it spends on marketing and promotion. It typically will not have thousands of dollars to spend on a print and media campaign, but it can afford spending a few hundred on digital marketing by purchasing Google AdWords, placing ads in social media, and expanding its web presence through blogging and video marketing. Investing in SEO is another aspect of online marketing that will give back more than the original investment.
6) Online Marketing Evens Out The Playing Field
Just because a business is small, that does not mean that its web presence has to be small. In the online world, a small company can look like a big player in the way that it promotes its business online and by the quality of its digital content. Consumers look first at the reliability of the source. If a small company can provide highly valuable content that is optimized, it will stand out from the crowd despite its small size. A small company can reach a global audience just as effectively as a large corporation if it knows how to approach online marketing the right way.
7) Competitors Are Online
The digital world is very competitive. Consumers have more options than ever on where they can make their purchases. A small company cannot ignore the fact that its competitors are online and promoting aggressively. It cannot afford to be a passive player. In order remain competitive, it must develop an effective digital marketing plan that will set it apart from its competitors.
8) Get Fast Results On the Campaign’s Effectiveness
With traditional ways of marketing through print and media, a business has to wait a long time before it gets a sense of whether the campaign was effective or not. However, with online marketing, the results can be almost instantaneous. Thanks to social media, a business can see how the public received a particular promotion by how its audience shared it with their social networks. Popular promotions will gain tweets and retweets on Twitter. They will get instant comments from followers on Facebook. From web analytics, the business can see if the campaign brought in more traffic and whether the conversion rate has gone up. There are services that help businesses track their campaigns and get instant data. Another big advantage is that if there was negative reception on the campaign, the business can quickly make adjustments to improve results.
9) It Is An Easier And More Flexible Way To Market
Compared to traditional marketing campaigns, an online campaign is much easier to create and implement. If a blog post needs to be edited, it can be done easily and quickly without additional cost, as long as the small business owner can edit it himself. Campaigns using Facebook Ads or Google AdWords can be launched and stopped at any time. It can be updated and relaunched with minimal effort. Such flexibility is not available in print and media advertising.
10) Consumer Reliance On Online Searching Will Continue To Increase
This is the trend today, and it is what consumers want. The web offers them unlimited possibilities to find what they need, and they have hundreds of choices at their finger tips. A search for a local restaurant begins on the web. Online reviews influence purchase decisions. Poor online promotions can have major negative impact on the viability of a business. A company must promote itself online or risk being ignored and left behind.
The reasons above show that online marketing plays a critical role in a small company’s marketing strategy. It can complement the other traditional marketing methods that are still effective approaches. Consumers are immersing themselves into the digital world. For a small business to be successful, it must learn how to maximize the potentials that online marketing can bring.