In case you haven’t noticed, the marketing world has changed. You can no longer focus your efforts on “old-school” marketing. The paradigm of the “4-P’s” (produce, place, price, and promotion) is over. The new definition of marketing, as you have heard us say before, is the study and management of “exchange relationships.” Most of those relationships start online. So, if you don’t have an online marketing plan, you are failing to connect with over 80% of your potential clients.
Online Marketing – By the Numbers
The numbers speak for themselves. According to the United States Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, the total online sales for e-commerce in just the 4th quarter of 2016 alone was over $102 billion. Adweek reports that over 81% of all shoppers conduct online research before buying. Of that number, over 60% start their research by using a search engine. In fact, according to Forbes Magazine, over 85% of all purchases start online.
In addition, according to multiple sources, total online retail sales will reach over $370 billion by the end of 2017. Bottom line: when it comes to your business you must go to where your potential customer or client is looking for you… online.
Reasons to Improve Your Online Marketing Plan
Reason #1: You Follow The Money
You simply can’t ignore the monumental amount of money that is changing hands every single day online. You must create an effective online marketing plan that gets you a piece of the action. Let me repeat myself here: online retail sales will reach over $370 billion by the end of 2017. It’s simple folks. If you want your business to survive, you have to go where the money is. And that is where the clients are; online. In fact, according to multiple sources, including Forrester Research, the world wide web will account for over 11% of all retail sales.
Reason #2: You Follow Your Customer
Your business simply will not survive if it isn’t online. Don’t kid yourself, this reality holds true even if you’re an established business with loyal customers. Having customers simply isn’t enough these days. You need to continually attract (and retain) new customers. You have to follow your customer… to where other potential customers are – online.
So ignore your online marketing plan at your own peril. Case in point: Sears.
In case you didn’t know, Sears was a monumental player in retail (brick-and-mortar) sales. They had an established business and very loyal customers. But Sears is now closing down over 150 stores in order to slash overhead and prevent a bankruptcy. Why? Because they ignored the online marketplace and the changing marketing paradigm for far too long. They continued to believe in the brick-and-mortar business model and their “loyal” customers. Sure they had an online presence, but their focus was NOT on a successful online marketing plan.
According to the Motley Fool in April 2017:
Falling mall traffic, the steady shift of retail toward e-commerce, and a growing preference for spending on experiences rather than “things” have combined to undermine profitability at many retailers… These trends have already forced nearly a dozen retailers to file for bankruptcy this year — and it’s only April. Among the most troubled retailers, Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD) stands out as by far the largest.
So again, you absolutely must go where your clients are.
Reason #3: If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying
Your business is either growing or it’s dying. Just take a look at your plants. You constantly need to feed, water, and nurture, your plants. If you don’t they will wither and die. The same is true for your business.
In fact, this is similar to step three of our online marketing strategy. This principle can be summed up in three simple words: “always be improving.” By constantly improving, you’re constantly growing and expanding your business. Case in point (borrowed from our last blog post):
What if you could improve your landing page conversion rate by just one half of a percent? If you were at 1,000 visitors per month, with a half percent conversion rate, it means you got 50 leads. If you improved it by just another one half of a percent, you double your leads to 100.
Reason #4: You Have To Think Global
With an effective online marketing strategy you can easily (and inexpensively) increase your reach into a global market. Think about it. If you sell a widget in the United States, why not sell it in Australia, Canada, South Africa, and everywhere else? You could literally double the amount of people you can sell your product to overnight.
Let’s break it down for you. According to the United Nations, there are currently approximately 3 billion people worldwide that have access to the internet. Assume you can only market to about 1% of them. That is still 30 million people. Now assume that only 10% of them want to buy. That is 3 million sales. What could 3 million sales do for your business?
Reason #5: It’s Cheap
Hands down, dollar-for-dollar, nothing beats an effective online marketing plan in terms of ROI. This is because online marketing is the cheapest form of advertising; beating out radio, television, and print, by the proverbial country mile. Just take a look at the graph below, which details the cost of advertising it takes to reach 1,000 people.
As you can see, social media is one of the only forms of media that can expose you to over 1,000 people for less than $3 (Lyfe Marketing)
Reason #6: It’s About The Relationship
I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but sales (in the traditional sense) is dead. No one want’s to be sold. People want to research on their own, and people want to be helped. If your product or service can help a potential customer, then you need to show them. Offer advice, answer questions, and build the relationship. An effective online marketing plan allows you to do all of that.
As an added benefit, because you took that time to build a relationship instead of selling a product, your existing clients are more likely to buy from you again and again. According to LinkedIn, Huffington Post, and others, the probability of selling your services to a new lead is only between 5-20%. Selling add-on services to an existing customer increases that probability to 60-70%.
Reason #7: Data, Data, and More Data
Information is power. With an effective online marketing strategy you can harness the power of the internet with data that can tell you everything you need to know about your plan – in a split second. This instant feedback allows you to adjust your marketing plan on the fly. This ability to adapt quickly will hep give you a decided advantage over your competition. Give your customers what they are asking for and you are set up to win. Just follow the data.
Look, online marketing isn’t rocket science. But it does take a dedicated team and a lot of hard work. There is online marketing and then there is effective online marketing. Part of your job as a marketer is to find the difference. It takes time, research, and effort, to create content that will establish you as the expert in your field. This will, in turn, help build and foster relationships, and in effect turn your audience into buyers.
Any way you slice it, your marketing needs to begin with, and end with, a solid online presence.
For more information on crafting your overall marketing strategy, check out this blog post.