Here is why small businesses are choosing online marketing over offline

By Kunal Shah| Director | Rank My Business

Running a small business comes with big challenges.

Whether is it finding customers or investors, managing workflow with limited resources, setting up a team, building a brand, bringing in operational efficiencies with limited capital, and tackling unexpected hurdles each day – it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that small business owner usually have their hands full. Amidst all of this, we cannot blame them for relegating marketing efforts to the backseat. There just wouldn’t be enough bandwidth, and we totally understand that.

But we are witnessing a welcome shift happening, as a growing group of entrepreneurs is realizing the importance of marketing right from the onset, and not as an afterthought. As a digital marketer, it is even more heartening that most of them are choosing online marketing channels over traditional offline channels. Now, this is not to say that the offline modes don’t work.

After all, traditional marketing, be it a TV commercial, a radio spot, a large hoarding in a prominent location or even POS posters can definitely create an impact. But it is also a fact that all of these require a huge marketing investment to even create such material, and an equally huge, if not higher, investment to distribute it and have it seen – with no guaranteed return on investment. This can be a tall order and a tricky situation, especially for a small business. It isn’t surprising then, that digital marketing is finding a lot of takers among SMEs today. If you are a small business owner who hasn’t yet explored the online marketing realm or is hesitant to try it, I’m sure that you’d be eager to know what is it about digital that makes it tick for others like you.

Here are my top 6 reasons why a lot of startups and SMEs prefer online marketing over offline.

  1. A bigger marketplace

Let’s be honest. You could have the largest hoarding in the middle of the city square, or a well-done TVC that airs on prime-time television. Despite all this, there is no surety that it would really be seen by all who matter, as there will be physical restrictions of time and space. Thankfully, the digital realm allows you to transcend these limitations to a large extend, and your communication can be seen by a much wider audience, no matter where they are or what time they log on. And given that most people stay logged on all day, it is easy to make the whole world your playground, if you so wish.

  1. Precision Targeting

This, in my opinion, is what makes digital marketing really score over traditional, and continues to delight marketers even today. The ability to target, reach and connect with a very specific audience is exclusive to digital. Be it on search, social, in-app advertising, or even display, you will have the power and ability to target people who are more likely to be your potential customers – by demographic, psychographic, and intent filters. You can then avoid wasting time, money, and effort on reaching your audience. If I were to use a metaphor, you need not cast a very wide net and wait in the indistinct hope of catching the type of fish you want.

  1. Measurability

 This is my second most favorite aspect of digital marketing. Almost everything on digital is accurately measurable, giving it a superior edge over any other form of large-scale, above-the-line marketing. Is your creative hitting the right notes? You can check. Are your social media efforts engaging enough? It is easy to check. Are your ads driving prospects to your landing page? You can check. Is your campaign giving you leads? You can check. I could really go on and on here, but I’m sure you get the picture. The biggest advantage of being measurable is the fact that you can tweak and evolve your campaign as you go along, without having to second guess the results. You don’t even need to spend too much money either to calculate your RoI, as there are many tools available that can do the same.

  1. Higher Conversions

Unlike traditional channels, digital marketing channels have proven to provide better conversion rates. Conversion rate basically refers to the percentage of your target audience that performs the intended action. For instance, if the objective of your campaign is to collect leads, and 10 out of every 100 people who visit your landing page fill up your lead form, then that is a conversion rate of 10%. This is possible as online marketing allows you to precisely target even niche audiences, and even tweak your communication and run different campaigns for different target groups, increasing the likelihood of them wanting to engage with your business. And you don’t need to wait till your campaign runs its course to really figure out if it has worked for you or not. You can get almost real-time results, giving you strategic insights to change your campaign mid-way if need be.

  1. Accessibility & Customer Relationship Building

In today’s super-competitive landscape, it is very easy to lose customers to other businesses. In such a scenario, building and retaining customer relationships plays an important role in giving your business a competitive edge. Most online marketing channels offer instant feedback and real-time insights, and some even allow the opportunity to directly interact with your target audience and understand their needs better, even after you complete a sale. Using online means, you can not only gain a better understanding of your customers, but can also engage with them regularly, and give them reasons to come back for more. You could also use digital to amplify one-to-one marketing, at scale, to offer a customized experience to each customer. Moreover, retargeting and remarketing tactics allow you to continue being on the radar of your customers and potential audiences.

  1. Cost-Effectiveness

Cost is one of the key factors that influence the choice of marketing channel, especially for start-ups and small businesses. Online marketing offers many ways to drive growth and profit at a relatively low cost. In fact, there are so many tactics with minimal or no cost barriers to get started, where you can easily engage with your audiences without having to spend anything. Social media is a case in point, wherewith creatively engaging and regular updates, you can build a thriving community interested in what you have to offer. SEO and PPC are other tactics that can be extremely cost-effective if used well. You would thus be able to make judicious use of your marketing monies.

To sum this up, online marketing definitely offers a lot of very evident advantages over traditional channels. However, the best marketing mix for you would really be dependent on the nature of your business, product, and service as well as the preferences of your target audience. It would be best to try out different channels to ascertain what works best for you, without dismissing any medium. A lot of businesses even use a mix of online and offline, and it works well for them. But online means are a good starting point for many businesses, and as a small business owner, you should definitely explore that. If you have any questions or wish to have a discussion on how to get started on digital, feel free to reach out to us.

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