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Articles

Published June 2009

Why Online Marketing Makes More Sense than Ever

By Rick Sloboda

For more than a decade, sales strategists have been advising businesses to take their marketing online. Forward-looking companies have heeded this message.

However, many businesses still prefer traditional media such as TV, radio and newsprint. So while typical consumers might spend 25% of their media time surfing the Web, these companies might only be investing 5% or so of their marketing budgets on websites and other online promotions.

These businesses need to get with the times and accelerate their investments on the Internet, especially during the downturn. Here are a few good reasons why.

Go to your customers

It's a given in marketing that you need to be where your customers are. So where are your customers these days? More and more, they're spending their leisure time online.

North Americans are among the biggest users of the Internet, notes a recent report on eMarketer. In 2009, more than 69% of Canadians and almost 65% of Americans are Internet users.

Most of these Internet users spend at least one hour a day online for personal reasons. Yes, they're checking e-mail and managing their online profiles. But they're also checking out products and services.

Targeted and global reach

The Internet is hyped as a medium with global reach that is available around the clock. While this is true, to market online, you still need to have a good sense of your target market.

Placement or “position” is key when advertising in traditional media. The same is true online. For instance, if your customers are using popular social media such as Facebook or Twitter, you should be using them as well.

Get results cheaper and faster

There's a reason the postal service is called “snail mail.” When you factor in the environmental costs of traditional mailouts (paper, printing, fossil fuels), e-mail marketing looks very clean indeed.

Your marketing budget is only so big: where will you spend it? TV and radio spots are expensive, and these media channels are becoming increasingly fragmented. Online marketing, in contrast, is very cost-effective.

For example, radio advertising can require $3,000 to $6,000 per week. Meanwhile, you can get your website optimized for search engines and conduct online marketing campaigns for just a fraction of the cost.

Papers are yesterday's news

Will print newspapers survive the economic downturn? Several major U.S. dailies, including the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, have already ceased publishing; others are threatened.

In early March 2009, 24/7 Wall St. predicted that “eight of the 50 largest daily newspapers in the United States could cease publication in the next 18 months.” See its list of the 10 major U.S. papers that will fold or go digital next.

Even newsprint staples such as the Yellow Pages are starting to look like relics. In October 2008, TMP Directional Marketing reported that U.S. consumers searching for local businesses chose search engines (31%) over print directories (30%) for the first time ever.

The key word there is local, which applies directly to small businesses. And you can bet that your competitors are aware of this trend.

It's time to adapt

Showing some prescience, John Quelch of Harvard Business School, writing for the Financial Times of London in 2008, provided 8 tips for marketing in a recession.

The business prof concluded: “Successful companies do not abandon their marketing strategies in a recession; they adapt them.”

So the key question is, in recessionary times, how are you adapting your marketing strategies to include more marketing on the Web?

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Categories: Internet, marketing

Author Info

Rick Sloboda is a Senior Web Copywriter at Webcopyplus, which helps designers and businesses boost online traffic, leads and sales with optimized web content. Clients range from independent retailers to some of the world's largest service providers, including AT&T (formerly Cingular), Quest Diagnostics and Scotia Bank.

Rick advocates clear, concise and objective website content that promotes readability and usability, and conducts web content studies with organizations in Europe and the U.S., including Yale University. He speaks frequently at Web-related forums and seminars, including Small Business BC, Content Convergence & Integration, SUCCESS and HRMA. Rick also serves as a consultant to various organizations, such as the Web Development Advisory Committee at Vancouver, B.C.'s Langara College.

Click here to visit Rick's bio page.