The face of marketing has changed drastically over the last several years. Traditionally, business owners have relied on off-line print and radio advertising to gain new customers, and, although expense, was decently effective. Today, this is no longer the case. Not only is it more expensive than ever to conduct a traditional marketing campaign, it’s highly ineffective, due to it’s inherent ‘shotgun’ nature. The majority of large companies have begun the switch to online advertising to compliment their off-line efforts. Sad to say, most small and local businesses have not yet begun following this trend, due to many preconceived notions and lack of understanding.
The truth is that targeted online marketing allows small businesses to increase their profits and expand their customer base while spending less than traditional off-line marketing methods. Although there are many false online marketing myths, it is neither as complex nor as expensive as you may have heard, and it is a much more effective and efficient use of marketing dollars.
Online Marketing Myths
The following are six of the top online marketing myths surrounding advertising online, and their actual reality.
1. Online Advertising is not for Local Businesses
Research has shown that 89% of people in the US search online for products and services before they buy – even when the purchase will be made at a business in their local area. What most business owners don’t know is that when marketing online, you can set your ads to show only to people searching in your area, whether that’s your city, state, or zip code.
2. If a Business has a Website, Advertising Online Won’t Help
Sure, your business may already be online. But does your website appear on the first page of search results? How about the 2rd, or 3rd? Does it come up for all possible search terms that potential customers may be using when they are searching for what you have to offer? The answer to both questions should be “yes,” but studies have proven that search engine marketing can still increase traffic to your site. In fact, appearing both on the left side of the page (organic results) and on the right side of the page (paid results) at the same time increases the perceived relevance of your business, and as a result increases the number of free clicks to your website.
3. Social Media is for Friends to Keep in Touch, not a Business Tool
Although originally started as a way to keep in touch and share information between friends, social media (social networking) is one of the most powerful ways for your business to gain new customers and stay in contact with old ones. Facebook gets more weekly traffic then Google. YouTube is the 2nd most utilized search engine. Twitter has instant access to what people are talking about right now. Local businesses without a social media presence are missing out on the largest shift of possible traffic there is.
4. Search Engine Optimization is Better than Paid Search
Google strongly encourages you to optimize your site for search engines by applying their webmaster best practices. However, paid search such as Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, and MSN Ad Center have a few key advantages: they are easier and quicker to setup, they offer much more control over when and where your ads appear, and the impact is easier to measure. Business owners should do both; apply good SEO practices to their website, and advertise online using Pay-Per-Click.
5. Advertising Online Costs too Much
Long time internet advertisers consider marketing online an investment, not a cost. Your results are much more targeted, and if you’re only paying per click, there is a direct return on how much or how little you spend. The amount you spend is entirely up to you. There’s no minimum requirement and you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. You can even set a maximum price that you are willing to bid per click, and you can start and stop your advertising at any time.
6. You Need to be an Expert to Market Online
You don’t have to be an expert, but some technological skill and marketing knowledge is required. Don’t wait until you have the perfect set of keywords or ad copy. Testing the market is the best way to see what works and what doesn’t. From there, it’s easy to adjust and fine tune your campaigns based on results.
The Reality of Advertising Online: I am too Busy to do this Myself
If you are like most business owners, you are extremely busy, after all, you do have a business to run! Thankfully, you don’t have to do it yourself. There are many tools and resources now available which can help, and which will hopefully put these online marketing myths to rest for good.