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How Online Marketing is Changing Business in 2018

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Online Marketing and and the world of e-commerce have totally changed the way we do business in 2018.  Before the advent of the internet, starting a business required significant financial overhead, both to get a brick and mortar store up-and-running, as well as to make the necessary investment in  costly advertising campaigns to promote your goods or service.  Today, nobody needs a physical storefront to start a successful business and there is more opportunity than ever for small businesses to compete in the marketplace with the big brands, because garnering online attention is determined more by digital marketing knowledge, skill, and innovative strategies, rather than simply a company’s advertising budget.

In the late 1980’s, I was working at a large Toronto advertising agency; in those days advertising was divided into three main categories – print, radio and tv.  The less costly print and radio campaigns were reserved for the junior writers, generally younger and lower in the pecking order, while the big brand clients with their big budget television campaigns were serviced by the company’s  so-called creative ‘superstars’.  I wrote print and radio copy for a large automobile manufacturer, while the company’s dream team, (the Creative Director & Senior Copywriter), stole my taglines for their national television campaigns…   (but I digress).  In traditional advertising, small businesses, with their small advertising budgets, were usually relegated to print media marketing, like newspapers, magazines, and billboards, or radio advertising, (if they could afford it).  Budgetary limitations made it impossible for small businesses to compete on the same playing field as big brand corporations with their big television budgets.  Naturally, even today having a larger budget is an advantage in marketing, but in the Digital Age, ‘everyone can play’.   The Digital Age has completely revolutionized the reach of small business.

With traditional marketing campaigns, it was difficult to know whether the campaign was achieving their desired results – for the most part, it was impossible to calculate the actual return on investment  (for example, how can a business know how many people noticed their billboard, or whether their late-night radio ad is actually resulting in increased sales).  A store might seem ‘busier’ following a direct mail campaign, but the challenge with traditional advertising, was to specifically quantify the impact of the marketing.  Sure companies could implement various strategies to capture the results – customers might be asked to complete surveys regarding what brought them to their store, etc. – but it was impossible to calculate sufficient data for traditional marketing with any degree of accuracy.

Today, with online marketing, small businesses have digital marketing tools that give them access to a wide array of key performance indicators, and online analytics that enable them to track how well a campaign is working and whether they’re realizing a good return on their investment.  Business owners now can gather all kinds of data and information, such as ‘how’ their visitors found their website, or ‘who’ their customer is.  Talented marketers can use their tools and data to direct their ads so they’ll reach their specific target audience.  By reviewing campaign data on a daily basis, a skilled marketer is able to optimize campaigns real-time to maximize performance and results. This increased access to information afforded by digital marketing allows small business owners to take control of their own success and compete with the ‘big brands’ in a way never before possible.

The worldwide web has resulted in so many mind-boggling changes in the way we do business in 2018.  Some of us can still remember the days when brick and mortar stores were all closed on Sundays – it was the Law!!  Except for the neighbourhood convenience stores and restaurants, there were literally no stores open on Sundays.  It seems hard to believe today, but people survived with little difficulty, because every week we knew and expected the stores (and banks!) would be closed on Sunday, so we prepared in advance.  Today we have gone to the opposite extreme…  with 24/7 access to online business sites, customers now expect that retailers and business owners will be available at all times to help them or answer their queries.  One study showed that 89% of business owners viewed ‘Customer Service’ as their major point of competition in the marketplace.  While it’s not necessary that businesses make themselves available to customers at all times of the day, it is critical that they respond to customers in a timely manner – with so many online business options available, customers won’t tolerate poor service.  Also consider that in the past with traditional advertising, businesses basically told customers what they wanted them to know, via a billboard, or radio, for example.  But today, marketing has evolved from ‘monologue to dialogue’.  Online marketing often involves two-way communication between company and customer; customers will ask questions or make suggestions directly to businesses, and they expect a response.  If your marketing campaign involves personal interaction with your customers, you’d best ensure that you always engage with the highest level of customer care if you want to achieve marketing success.

Even if small businesses had the budget to invest in traditional advertising channels, it would no longer be in their best interests to do so – after all, when was the last time you sat in front of your television and watched a whole series of commercials?  Personally, I never watch television anymore unless it’s PVR’d (pre-recorded), and I fast-forward past every commercial (everyone I know does the same thing).  And if I’m not watching my commercial-free television, the rest of my entertainment viewing consists of online streaming.  Any company investing in costly tv commercials is wasting their time if I’m part of their target audience.

The skill-set of your digital marketing team is the most important factor that determines the success or failure of your company’s campaign.  If you’re a business owner who’s highly motivated to manage your own marketing, there are many excellent online resources and training programs that can help you begin to acquire the tools you’ll need.  But, with so many day-to-day business responsibilities, staying current with digital marketing trends can be a daunting challenge, especially in such a competitive marketplace with so many messages vying for attention.  Digital marketing is constantly evolving and it requires a significant time commitment to stay current on ever-changing algorithms and the latest tools and technology, so many entrepreneurs do find it’s easier, more cost-effective, and that they get better results when they employ a professional digital marketing agency (which also enables them to focus the bulk of their energies toward growing their business).  After all, updating website copy isn’t usually the top priority for most business owners.  Plus, today’s online viewers are inundated with information and they’ve become super-savvy data consumers – it’s no longer good enough to simply create traditional sales advertisements.  If you want your message to get noticed by your target audience, your campaign needs to be creative and it must give your online visitor something of value.  Enlisting the services of marketing professionals can help.

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Remember that traditional advertising is basically dead.  Gone are the days when budget alone determined the efficacy of a marketing campaign and buying ads during the Superbowl was the advertising Holy Grail.  And gone are the days when the best forms of advertising, like tv and full-page print ads, were out-of-reach for anyone but the big brands.  Online Marketing has transformed the marketing landscape – it is a necessary option for every business that wants to be successful in 2018.  A recent study showed that 75% of local searches resulted in an in-store purchase – with that kind of power to drive buying decisions, online marketing is unrivaled in its ability to drive your desired business results.  To stay updated regarding future posts, please subscribe to our newsletter.  Also, If you have any suggestions or if you have a story you’d like to share, please contact us.