In the digital age we have seen such a big movement towards online advertising and marketing methods, that some businesses mistakenly view internet campaigns as the 'be all and end all'. But nothing could be further from the truth - SMEs should know that there are multiple of ways of creating interest in their brand, be it online or offline.
If anything, the huge strides taken by online advertising (such as paid advertising, pay per click, display ads, Google ads or YouTube ads) mean that offline campaigns (such as pamphlets, billboards, shop windows, groupons and direct mail) can now be even more effective when used in the right manner. To let you absorb the bigger picture, in this piece we take a close look at both online and offline advertising for SMEs, and spell out the potentials pros and cons for each method. In this article we will tackle Online Advertising, keep tuned for a follow up article about Offline Advertising.
The options now being offered on popular online advertising platforms such as Google and Facebook mean it is possible to target potential customers by specific metrics including precise locations, search terms entered, ages, sex, interest and more. All of this means that if we have a clear picture of who are potential customers are, we can take specific steps to reach them. In particular for SMEs that operate in a concentrated or niche market, or that want to target a certain demographic, online advertising can make sense.
Measuring the success of campaigns is often the bane of a marketing manager's life, as with so many methods, including print advertising, it can be tricky to assess return on investment. With tools such as Google Analytics, and the analytics functions also provided on Facebook and YouTube, tracking how campaigns perform is not only possible, but also potentially enlightening. We can now see exactly who has engaged with our brand, how long they stayed on our site, and their 'route to click'.
Following on from the last point, if you can track and measure a campaign easily, there really is no excuse for it not to be cost effective. A capable marketing professional will measure his or her campaigns and refine them until they optimise return on investment.
A hyper competitive market place
Such is the popularity of online advertising currently, depending on the market in which they reside there is a big chance that SMEs will see stiff competition. Bidding wars to advertise on Google pages for certain search term results are not uncommon, and SMEs should be wary of getting 'lost in the crowd' when it comes to planning their digital campaigns. As ever, targeting as effectively as possible can be the key.
Lack of community
savvy online campaigners will always try and engage potential customer to become part of something wider than simply reading an ad; be it reading or subscribing to a blog, watching and sharing a video, or clicking through to a home page as part of the customer journey. Where some online campaigns have the potential to fail is their lack of focus on building an active community around a brand. Online advertising that simply goes for the quick sale is often not as effective.
While online marketers might think they are grabbing the attention of potential customers, many forms on online advertising have the potential to annoy users, bringing about a negative, rather than positive effect. Failure to respect recipients in email campaigns for instance, may result in communications being marked as spam if they are too frequent or not relevant enough. Pop up ads on websites also run the risk of detracting from user experience.
In the digital era, more people are browsing the web more than ever. As information is becoming more accessible. Therefore, for, targeting your readers or potential clients this should be the best option. Make sure to build a plan and budget accordingly. The likely hood, is that you will spend more than initially planned, but you will have a much broader reach.
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