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Digital Marketing – Investment or Expense?

9 MINUTES TO READ
Digital Marketing – Investment or Expense?
Summary: Does your business see it's spend on Digital Marketing as an Investment or merely as a Business expense? We take a look at how Digital Marketing is an investment in your Brand.

How does your business view it’s marketing spend?

Whether you are selling a product, a service or a concept, you will have promotional techniques that help you to encourage your offer out into the world. Over the pandemic, some of those techniques have been frozen, whilst others have gathered moss and become more widely used.

The newer tactics come from digital innovations, and at WSI, we are approached every day by enquirers looking for help in deciding the right approach for them – should they throw everything at the wall and see what sticks? focus on one tactic and gradually layer on others? or select 3 or 4 tactics that compliment each other?

Most importantly, they want to know what return on investment to expect, which frustratingly, any Marketing Consultant worth their salt will answer with “it depends”. This is because no marketing activity happens in isolation – competitors are trying new things, disruptors are entering the market and apex companies like Google and Amazon are changing the rules – the old adage from the UK Industrialist Lord Leverhulme still feels as true today as ever “Half my advertising spend is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half”.

Also, in the last 24 years, the world population has gone up from 5.9 billion people to 7.9 billion – it is therefore no wonder that it’s harder than ever to get real life or digital “street shout”.

Source : David Attenborough – A Life on our Planet

(If you think that’s scary, do find out all about the impact of the increase in people on the planet in Sir David Attenborough’s awesome Netflix show and book A Life on our Planet – however, I digress).

According to ONS, there has been a 17% increase in the number of registered businesses in the UK when comparing 2019 to just 5 years earlier. The pandemic will have changed the shape of business profiles since then, but the high level picture is the same – there are more people than ever trying to persuade more people than ever to consider their products & services.

 

So should you bother with marketing at all?

It’s fair to say that the view from the early 20th century that you “open the doors and people will come” is long gone. With over 63,000 Google searches a second you simply cannot ignore the power of the Internet in helping your business to get found.

Also, Digital Marketing doesn’t need to be expensive – there are plenty of effective, affordable, yet scalable options, such as PPC or Facebook Advertising to get you going.

To get the best out of your investment, we would always advise starting with your Digital Strategy – making sure you have clear goals and customer personas, helping you to define an appropriate blend of tactics focused on specific results from a targeted audience.

Be careful about “shiny objects” – there are lots of amazing new technologies which might be game changing for you…or completely irrelevant to your customer. Always consider how relevant, useful and easy to use any new exciting tech might be through the lens of your customer.

 

Which Digital strategies are the most effective?

Content Marketing is the most important Digital Strategy – Google values relevant, authoritative and engaging content above all else. Google does this simply because people are looking for helpful, timely and accurate information – it’s giving users what they want.

Blogging, Podcasts, Video, Keyword optimization, Link-building and Lead generation are all content marketing tactics intended to improve the relevancy, authority and trust factors for your site.

Email Marketing may be considered a bit old school, but on average, it is still the most effective form of Digital Marketing. When Hubspot research says that 55% of company decision makers prefer to communicate only by email, it explains why. Also, as an example of ROI, according to Salesforce, for every dollar spent on email marketing, they see an average return of $44. The best results come from time and effort spent on curation, segmentation and personalization of your email lists. A bit of automation helps too.

We have talked about Paid search and Facebook ads in previous blogs – both are effective for a targeted audience and for quick results. Most importantly, you don’t pay if they don’t click.

Search Engine Optimisation  is the most effective long term strategy in getting you found online. Google will keep you on your toes by changing their algorithm, but given what they do is seeking the ultimate search customer experience, there is good reason to follow what they are doing. Always remember that just because you have a website, search engines don’t have to show it to people – regular attention to your technical SEO and on-page SEO (individual pieces of content) will help to address this.

Good SEO will get you higher in search rankings – whether it’s your site speed, your page naming conventions or how you describe your products – every little piece helps. The higher up the rankings you are, the more traffic you will get to your site. Most importantly, good SEO improves your user experience during search too.

If you have any doubt as to the importance of search ranking, the following chart says it all.

Social Media gets a mixed press – it can be hard to measure in financial terms because it tends to focus on top of sales funnel engagement. Also, if customers don’t allow cookies (even more likely since Apple’s recent privacy update), you can lose sight of some of the customer journey.

However, with 45 million Social Media users in the UK, and 28% of UK users saying they use Social Media to research Brands (Statista data), you ignore it at your peril.

It’s also worth knowing that social media and SEO are besties. While having social profiles with likes and follows does not impact your domain authority or position in search results, social media can affect SEO in the following ways :

  • Social posts can boost your content’s reach, which helps you earn links.
  • Millennial and Gen Z consumers are typically on 6 Social Media apps and prefer brands that share their values – Social profiles tell your company story.
  • Social media encourages engagement and conversation with customers.
  • Search engines scrape online business profiles, including social, to understand what you do and where you are located—which is huge for local SEO.

Reviews are also an important engagement tool. Testimonials and case studies are good, but a review written on an independent site is a great trust builder when managed well. We all know how tough it can be to receive a poor review, but given that people do read company responses, you have the perfect opportunity to turn issues around and make them into showcases of your excellent service.

From a technical perspective, Reviews are also sought out by Google, particularly for Local SEO (searches for places “near me”), so encourage your customers to leave reviews on sites such as Google my Business, Facebook, Yelp or Trip Advisor.

 

Measuring success

If you are investing money in marketing your business, you need to be tracking and measuring how well your marketing efforts are at delivering you leads and sales. Google Analytics and Social Media Insights offer so much data, the important thing is to ask the right questions rather than find yourself getting lost in vast quantities of information.

Digital Marketing is measurable as long as you are looking at the right metrics.

 

Summary

Marketing is an investment in your Brand – just like a gym membership is an investment in your health, and a savings account an investment in your financial future.

We’ve all seen people sign up for the gym and not go, but also we’ve seen people who have achieved incredible things by committing to the change that gym membership offers them. Similarly, we all know people who have savings accounts with hardly any money in them, whilst others have saved tens of thousands of pounds to a deposit on their first house.

Success is all about knowing who your customer is, where they spend their time and how they want to be engaged with. Mix this with keeping abreast of market changes so that you are applying the most relevant digital strategies in your marketplace. Build your strategy around these elements and you’ll be on the path to growing your digital presence and getting that sought after return on investment.

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