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Are You Ready for Internet Marketing Your Business?

8/12/2014 Anant Goel

The Internet plays a huge part in our daily lives. When looking for goods or services, our first instinct now is to go online, whereas previously we may have scoured the Main Street or used a yellow page directory. So making best use of the internet could be vital to the success of your small business; if you don’t, you could lose out to competitors who are more tech-savvy.

To ensure your company’s success, you must continually evaluate and evolve how you do business to grow revenue and profits in the coming year. Online marketing represents a tremendous opportunity for growth of your company, as more business is conducted online now more than ever before.

What the Statistics Say!!!

Statistics can tell a lot about our world...

According to eMarketer’s latest forecasts, worldwide business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce sales this year will reach $1.5 trillion. This year alone, B2C e-commerce sales are expected to reach $525 billion in the Asia Pacific region, compared with $482 billion in North America.

Market stats show that as much as 37 percent of visits to e-commerce sites in America are streaming-in from smartphones and tablets.  By the end of 2014, mobile e-commerce will have hit $50 billion. And, last year, Internet advertising expenditures outdid newspaper Ad spending for the first time.

So what does all this tell us? As a small business owner, if you’re not on the online marketing bandwagon, then you better hop on.  Traditional marketing methods− direct mail, Radio, Television, and Yellow Pages− are yesterday’s news in a rapidly changing world and you could be wasting thousands of marketing dollars.

However, before jumping on the Internet bandwagon consider this…

Is It Really Worth It?

Before you fully embrace Internet marketing though, think carefully about whether you expect to benefit from it.  It may be your natural instinct to embrace the latest technology, but if no one ever visits your website, the money you have spent on design, content writing, and hosting will be wasted.

Carefully consider the following factors…

  • Do you have an older client base, or are your clients drawn from another group who are less likely to use technology?  
  • Or do you operate in a business sector where it is unusual to make use of online marketing?  
  • Look at what your competitors are doing in Internet marketing. If none of them are making use of the Internet, there is probably a good reason for this.

Now Face the Reality

Research shows that most small business owners who shy away from online marketing fear the cost and complexity of Internet marketing.  Opus Research survey; in which 25 percent of respondents said online advertising would break their budget. Additionally, 20 percent said they believe Internet marketing is too complex, and 15 percent said they don't think they have the manpower to handle it.

The survey also showed a need for educating small business owners about the realities of Internet marketing, said Opus Analyst Greg Sterling. This online survey drew nearly 1,200 responses, and out of this total, 653 were from North America.

In essence, there's huge potential for selling online marketing and advertising products and services to small businesses, but companies offering these services should be prepared for hand-holding and education.

Current State of Small Business Internet Marketing

"The Internet is now front-and-center for these businesses in terms of it being a serious marketing medium."

"The principal reasons the respondents said they weren't doing any [Internet advertising or marketing] was lack of budget, lack of time and personnel, and confusion; which indicates a need for education and support."

Aside from concerns about cost and difficulty, some small business owner voice general disinterest in online advertising.  Some felt the Internet wasn't relevant to their businesses, and others expressed doubts about Web marketing's effectiveness.  Nevertheless, majority said they would likely change their mind if shown "evidence or case studies.”

Most people surveyed realize a Web presence, at the very least, is a necessity these days and majority said they have Web sites. This is hardly cutting-edge, but the report says social networking may play a big role in the near future. That's because about 58 percent of the respondents say at least half their business is being generated by word-of-mouth... well, isn't that a form of social media networking at a relatively smaller scale.

As Internet marketers at LeRumba, we see: "There's a clear relationship between ‘word-of-mouth’ and the Internet; in the form of online customer reviews and social media sites like Facebook. The Internet amplifies and extends offline word-of-mouth onto a much larger online social media networking."

Unlike the findings of similar studies conducted only several years ago, small business operators no longer feel the Internet is a novelty and unnecessary.

In fact, most of those who responded seem to be "generally online savvy." In our view, maintaining a Web Site ranks as high as advertising in local newspapers for local marketing of goods and services.

The study found; while less than 30 percent of the small businesses have produced videos for cable, local broadcast, or Internet distribution, a third are evaluating doing so in the next 12 months. It also determined e-mail marketing is a popular tool, and over 10 percent of the respondents are using blogs and social network sites like Facebook to spread their company's word.

Search engine marketing, while not the most commonly used strategy, is more popular than traditional print yellow pages.

"I think they've reached a certain level of conceptual sophistication, but by and large they haven't acted on it," said Sterling. "What's happening is these businesses now understand very well the Internet is very important. But this notion of conceptual awareness versus the ability to execute and successfully market online, that's the chasm that has to be crossed."

[Based on excerpts from posts, blogs, media articles, and sponsored research]
 
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