Marketing online was initially just an alternative platform for companies to market their products, opening up for new and innovative ways to engage with their audience. However, as time passes, the need for connectivity and staying online has become an essential part of everybody’s life. Online connectivity has been ingrained into our lives and the statistics tell us just that. As seen in Hootsuite’s 2019 report, users spend 27% of their year online. This increased usage of the internet over the years shows the need for an emphasis on online marketing, not just as an alternative platform, but as a necessity for businesses to stay competitive and thrive.

Gone are the days where it is just sufficient for your company to have a retail store and an online website that isn’t up to date and unoptimized. Online marketing is more important now than ever. Consumers nowadays look to search for products that they are interested in before they purchase them, with an astonishing 87% of purchases beginning with an online search. In order to capture these consumers, your products have to be visible to them in the first place. Without tools like Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC) or Search Engine Optimization (SEO), your company would find itself hard-pressed against competitors in terms of staying visible to the target customers.

Our article today will help you understand what online marketing really is. It isn’t just about creating a website and having a social media page, there is more to online marketing than that. We will also let you in on some of the reasons why certain aspects of online marketing is crucial to your business success. Before we get into the reasons let’s start with what online marketing is about.

What is Online Marketing?

Online marketing is the marketing of your products through an online medium. It could be through social media sites such as Facebook, LINE, Youtube and Instagram or through platforms that allow you to pay for display advertising space such as Google. The main objective of online marketing isn’t much different from traditional marketing, which is to help your business gain awareness, sales, new customers, target new audience and more. There are various methods to sell and market your product or services online, but they are usually categorized into three categories.

They are:

Search Engine Marketing

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Search Engine Marketing is a component of online marketing whose techniques businesses must excel at in order to market online successfully. Recall that we mentioned earlier that 87% of consumer journeys start with an online product search. Search engine marketing refers to using techniques like SEO (helping your site to gain organic traffic in Google’s search engine rankings) or PPC (purchasing paid ad space) to get your product and website more easily visible to the right target audience.

Social Media Marketing

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Social Media Marketing is a form of marketing that is done through the multiple social networking platforms. The main purpose of engaging in this type of online marketing is to connect better and engage your audience, creating loyalty and awareness for your company. This is a very popular form of marketing for businesses as the usage of this medium is high with a projected 2.96 billion users to be on these platforms by the end of 2020.

Email Marketing

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This is the online version of the traditional “snail mail”. Email marketing is marketing through the sending of emails to target customers. It is known to be the lowest cost form of marketing compared to search engine and social media marketing. Not only is it cost effective, email marketing also allows for direct engagement with your customers.

Now that we’ve covered the three different forms of online marketing, here are 5 reasons why online marketing is more important now than ever before.

Reason #1: Personalization

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Image Source: IMPACT Marketing

When it comes to marketing for businesses, every business would specifically try to convey and shape their message according to their target audience’s preference and needs. With traditional marketing, you are able to do that by crafting a message in your advertisement that is based on your target audience’s pain points to resonate with them. Marketers are said to have seen an increase of 20% in sales when they used some form of personalization in their marketing campaigns. Additionally, 71% of consumers in a DynamicYield research expressed that they believe that personalized emails will influence their decision to engage with the email.

MailChimp - G Suite Marketplace
MailChimp’s Email Marketing Software (Source: G Suite)

However, if you were to use online marketing, you can not only just target specific market segments. Your targeting can go down to even the personal level through the use of email marketing. With email marketing tools like MailChimp out there that offers personalization, businesses can look to go down into the specifics in their message when speaking to consumers. MailChimp’s software enables businesses to personalize everything about their email marketing campaign, from addressing customers on a first name basis, to recommending only the products that they’d be interested in. It is this form of personalization that is only available through an online medium, giving you more reasons to engage in Online Marketing.

Using a marketing personalization software may be difficult for some companies that have to focus on their core competencies and don’t have the time to churn out quality content for themselves. It is also essential to learn how to effectively use these software in order to maximize its potential. Therefore, for smaller to medium sized businesses, a use of a digital marketing agency specializing in online marketing could help to alleviate these concerns.

Reason #2: Act as a Contingency Plan and Alternative Platform for Your Business

The current retail situation in the world is dire due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Online marketing will definitely serve as an essential platform to reach out and connect with consumers to help retain your company’s brand recall and even become the main source of sales during this period.

With countries around the world such as China, Italy and Spain going into lockdown and shopping malls being cited as the third most likely to be shunned places, brick and mortar retail stores are going to suffer majorly if they do not have an online sales channel.  Such unforeseen circumstances also highlights the importance of having an online presence in terms of marketing and sales.

Social media marketing serves as one of the best ways to communicate with customers. In this period where people aren’t leaving their house, retail brands without an online marketing strategy may be forgotten by customers. It is no surprise as these lockdowns are going to last for quite some time and as the customers consume more media online about other retail competitor’s brands, it is very likely that those without online marketing would have a diminishing presence in the consumers’ minds. This is the reason why we are seeing many retail stores going on to social media to communicate with their customers. Updates on business delivery means and social responsibility campaigns can be run in order to continually engage with your customers in the case of such unexpected times.

If you haven’t already had your online store set up as a retailer to give your customers an alternate purchasing outlet, there are plenty of great websites out there. Sites like Shopify, Wix and WordPress are user-friendly and not difficult to use at all. They are great for helping retailers without an online store to build one, without having to hire a web developer which usually would cost way more than using these programs.

This COVID-19 emergency does serve as a reminder to retailers that there is a need for an alternative retailing and communications channel to their target audience. Online marketing is needed more than ever to help cushion some of the losses incurred during this period and help businesses push forward.

Reason #3: Increases Your Business’s Legitimacy in the Eyes of Your Customers

Imagine that you’re interested in running and one day decided to search for the best running shoes to purchase on Google. The first page results show the store pages of Nike, Adidas, Under Armor among others. Seeing these results, it is highly likely that you would think that these are definitely the best brands for running shoes since they are ranked so highly on Google.

Using pay per click advertisements and search engine optimization, you will be able to bring your brand to the top of Google’s search engine rankings for keywords pertinent to your industry.

Legitimacy in online marketing is a matter of honing your business’s perception in the eyes of the consumers. This is without a doubt, one of the greatest benefits to online marketing, especially in a time where businesses in general aren’t doing too well. Getting in the front page of Google will give your brand and its products the respect they deserve.

Reason #4: Drives Quality Traffic

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Image Source: GraceThemes

Traditional marketing when done right can help you to reach out to your target audience. You can craft a message that your target audience likes and place the advertisement at a prime location for targeting them, yet not have your marketing campaign succeed.

The problem with traditional advertising is that while you can get the geography and message right, you aren’t necessarily going to be guaranteed quality leads. Your advertisements can also appear in front of uninterested people – a form of low quality traffic for your company.

This is the edge that online marketing has over traditional marketing. A successful online marketing campaign should outperform that of a traditional marketing campaign’s in terms of quality lead. This is so because in online marketing, you are able to be more specific when targeting leads.

For example, when running Pay Per Click campaigns on Facebook or Google, you are guaranteed to be targeting certain interest demographics. You are given the freedom to choose the keywords to target as well as the keywords to not appear on. This allows for more focused and precise targeting. Furthermore, other demographics such as income, age group, and location are also available for you to choose. The increased precision available in online marketing helps you to drive more qualified leads, resulting in higher quality traffic as opposed to traditional marketing.

Reason #5 Scalability Compared to Traditional Advertising

If you think that Online Marketing is going to cost a bomb like how traditional billboard ads or video ads are when placed in prime locations, think again. Online advertising and marketing are the most cost-efficient in terms of helping smaller companies that are trying to scale.

Unlike traditional marketing where companies are expected to pay extravagant amounts of money to get that prime television spot to show their ads to potentially uninterested audiences, online marketing allows for flexibility.

To run online advertisements on platforms such as Youtube, Google or Facebook, all you would require is a daily budget. Paid advertising on the aforementioned 3 platforms allow for businesses to allocate a budget for campaigns. Once that budget is expended the campaign would then end. You can then decide based on that ad’s performance whether or not to extend the campaign, increase your budget for the particular ad or re-design the advertisement if it runs poorly.  This allows for easy scalability, especially for small businesses.

Additionally, the ease of just popping into your ads account to top up the advertising budget or edit the campaign helps give more flexibility to businesses. In a way, online paid advertisements empower businesses to make their own decisions with regards to their advertising. Gone are the days where you have to negotiate a display advertisement campaign’s duration and commit strictly to it based on the signed contract. You are given the flexibility to run your campaigns as you wish!

Are You Ready to Take Your Business Online?

After reading this article, you should know some of the reasons why online marketing is definitely important right now. It is not just a contingency plan for businesses in case of any unexpected circumstances, but it also is a highly effective and efficient marketing method.

We’ve presented you with some tools earlier in the article to help you get started with building your online marketing strategy. You could also pick up some tips from some of our other articles that will help you with the social media and search engine optimization aspect of your online marketing journey. For some businesses, online marketing may not be their core competency, which is why digital marketing agencies are out there to help people with their marketing. Either way, we hope that this article at least helps you to understand the need for an online marketing strategy!