Small businesses may be far more flexible and responsive than their larger rivals, but they regularly find themselves fighting an uphill battle when it comes to budgets.
Whether it’s through struggling to pay their best employees enough to keep them, having less in the kitty to treat important clients to dinner, or having to limit the ambition of marketing campaigns, a small budget can often feel like an anchor preventing a hard-working company from truly thriving.
But while it may not be able to do anything about wages or entertainment expenses, the internet, and specifically multi-channel online marketing, offers a cost-effective way to compete in the marketing stakes.
The internet is the mainstream
The internet is now arguably the biggest marketing channel of them all. According to Internet World Stats, 84% of the UK population (and 75% of Americans) go online.
The availability of up-to-date (and generally free) news and comment has seen the internet eat into newspapers’ popularity. The number of newspapers sold per day is dropping steadily, and is reckoned to be around 15million in the UK. The Daily Mail’s website is not far off receiving half that figure alone; it gets 6.25million different visitors a day.
While television remains popular – the Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board estimated 97% of UK households own a TV – the advent of streaming (as seen on the BBC’s online iPlayer service) has seen a steady rise in the number of people doing their viewing over the internet.
Anyone who has used BT’s Vision+ hard drive will know the pleasures of watching television while being able to fast forward through intrusive commercial breaks.
People watch TV for the entertainment, not to be bombarded with ads. If they want to engage with companies or research products and services, they do so online.
In addition to the accessibility of a massive cross-section of the public, the fact the internet is the forum users are most happy to receive and respond to commercial messages on is online marketing’s biggest strength.
Again, the numbers back this up: 71% of American B2B purchases start with online research through search engines.
The term ‘online’ is a catch-all for a very broad variety of marketing channels, from e-mail campaigns to PPC Services to SEO to Social Media, and beyond.
Multi-channel campaigns offer the best chance of success. The means of conveying the marketing message and engendering the response can be adapted to suit the platform, while consistency can be maintained.
Interaction with prospective and existing customers is increased, and if the campaign is executed correctly, brand authority and customer loyalty can be grown exponentially.
A key difference between online marketing channels and their alternatives is the affordability and measurability of their impact. Click throughs, bounce rates, search engine rankings, likes, follows and, above all, concomitant sales can all be easily monitored.
Bridging the expertise gap
But isn’t overseeing any sort of online marketing campaign complicated?
Truth is it’s as complicated as a company wants it to be, but for those firms looking for a coordinated, expert service without having to take someone on full-time, there are plenty of services that can be outsourced.
The BT Websites PPC service takes on the management of PPC activity, while media and online marketing agencies will conceive, coordinate and execute campaigns.