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Once upon a time, customers used to do something called “logging on” to the internet. They would have a certain task – “check emails”, perhaps, or “find a piece of information” – and they would log on, perform that task, then log back out again. It was all very simple and straightforward.
Those days are long gone!
Now we’re connected 24/7. We live our entire lives online. Whether we’re looking for a new shirt or wondering how to spell a word, online is the first place we look. Often, it’s the only place we look.
Hold up — don’t worry, this isn’t one of those blog posts where we complain about kids these days. It’s one of those blog posts where we break down what these technological and sociological changes mean for business in the late 2010s.
And in short:
A Customer’s first instinct is to look at a screen
It’s not about flyers anymore, or billboards, or signs in the window of a shopfront (who even goes to a brick-and-mortar shop without checking out them out online first?)
What that means is that if you want to get the attention of potential customers, devoting some time and money to online marketing isn’t just sensible – it’s essential.
Unfortunately, while most small to medium enterprises know this, they struggle to understand the specific areas of focus that will bring the most benefit to their business.
Google ads, Facebook ads, site-specific ads: which is best?
Part of the problem is the dizzying array of online marketing options. Of course, there’s no rulebook when it comes to a successful campaign; one company might pursue a Google Ads (formerly called “AdWords”) campaign to great success, while another might find that setting ads on specific, industry-appropriate websites works better for them.
It’s all good. Each form of online marketing has its own strengths, and learning the intricacies of each will help you work out where your advertising budget (and efforts) can be best spent:
1. Google Ads
A strong choice for most businesses, a lot of people think of Google as the “front page” of the internet (technically, that dubious honour goes to another website, but Google is the first thing a lot of people see when they open up their web browser).
Competition here can be strong but using locally-targeted ads can be a good strategy, as discussed below.
2. Facebook Ads
Facebook can be a great option when you have good data on your target customers. A well-designed Facebook Ad homes in on a very specific target group, leveraging FB’s data on users’ likes and dislikes to get your content in front of the right people.
Even better: Facebook Ads can be worked into a broader social media strategy too, which means that any advertising budget can be supported with your Facebook Page and Events.
3. Advertising on target sites
Much like advertising with Facebook, choosing to place ads on specific sites works best when you have solid data on your target market. Like the magazines of old, this option is most suitable for businesses that have very specific, contained consumer bases.
If you don’t already know which sites are the “hubs” of your industry, it’s time to get researching!
Search marketing isn’t just for online stores
You might be thinking “I’m just a brick and mortar store; I just want foot traffic. What’s search marketing going to do for me?”
A lot, actually. Search marketing is super-effective for local businesses.
Google recently conducted a study which showed that four out of five people preferred advertisements that targeted their local area in search results. Another study showed that up to 50% of people searching for a local business were likely to visit it within a day.
You know what that means?
That means that getting local ads in front of local people directly translates into more visits to (your) local business.
Sure, that sounds obvious – more ads = more visitors – but the keyword here is local. If you’re running a designer handbag shop in Prahran (for example), you should be spending a good portion of your marketing budget on making sure your ads appear when people in Prahran search for designer handbags. After all, that’s a lot better than wasting money on handbag-aficionados in Sydney, right?
If you don’t have a search marketer that is laser-focussed on getting you front-and-centre in local searches, get another search marketer.
Diving even deeper: customer micro-movements
The first step in planning your online marketing is to look at the movements of your customers. Every marketer knows that target audience is the first place to start when planning a marketing campaign. Your targeted customers have unique behaviours, likes and dislikes. Your online marketing decisions have to be based on these attributes.
When creating your digital marketing strategy, consider:
- How are your customers looking for information?
Is their first stop Google – or do they look for referrals from Facebook groups?
- What are your customers’ preferred devices?
Are they comfy shopping from their mobile, or are they still dedicated to desktop?
- When are your customers’ “I want to commit” moments?
Time can make a big difference in a customer’s decision to buy your product or visit your brick-and-mortar store. When planning your marketing efforts, consider when your target market makes its move.
Once you have these patterns of behaviour down, you’re in a good position to build your strategy and invest in the areas of marketing right for you.
Want professional assistance planning and rolling out online marketing for your business? Look no further than Technology Matters – contact us here.