Where to spend your marketing dollars

Advertising is everywhere you look, from the back of your grocery docket to those giant billboards on the freeway. So where are you best to spend your marketing dollars?

It’s a question most business owners battle with, not only because they don’t know where to invest their money – but they often can’t measure if their marketing is working or not.

Don’t overlook the obvious. If you open a new bar or cafe in a hidden location with low passing foot traffic, it can be a challenge to let people know where you are. Simply paying for a council permit to erect a prominent blackboard showcasing your daily specials could be enough to entice new customers through the door.

Similarly, if you’ve been in business for a while, splashing some cash to improve visibility could help the bottom line. For you, that might mean new signage, repainting a shopfront, fresh furniture, a new website, or a complete rebranding

In 2018, there is a plethora of marketing opportunities available to businesses. From traditional print advertising through to innovative digital marketing platforms and strategies.

Even with all of this choice – or perhaps because of it – many brands struggle with measuring conversions. This was evident in the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report, which revealed only 20% of medium size businesses in Australia are measuring the ROI of social media marketing. Worryingly, 95% of large businesses are measuring their success on Facebook by likes alone.

Finding the most effective marketing solutions is the biggest challenge for most brands. What works for a global cosmetics company probably won’t be the best solution for a mechanic workshop. But one key element is always the same.

Be it digital or physical – visibility is everything. If we drill down to the core of marketing, it’s the methods brands and businesses use to be seen, and ultimately make sales.

So what marketing methods are small and medium enterprises using today? And how can you measure if they’re working for you?

Radio: Radio broadcasting technology is more than a century old and the days of families sitting around the ‘wireless’ are long gone, but commercial radio advertising remains a billion dollar industry in Australia. According to recent research, 68.4% of Australians listen to live radio daily, four times the combined daily reach of Apple Music and Spotify. And more than three quarters of listeners who hear radio ads take some form of digital action within 24 hours. Brands should choose a radio station whose audience aligns with their target market, and negotiate lower fees for more airtime. An interactive radio campaign such as a giveaway or live broadcast from a business launch, open day or sale can add a degree of novelty and urgency to the marketing message. Radio can work on a subliminal level so measuring conversions can be difficult, but using a call to action such as directing listeners to a unique URL, or providing a special codeword can help measure the success rate.

Print Media: It’s no secret traditional print media has failed to keep up with the digital revolution, and Australian newspapers have experienced a 10% drop in advertising revenue year on year since 2009. Many newspapers and magazines are now combining print advertising with online marketing packages for web and mobile news sites, triggering a predicted 582% increase in mobile media advertising revenue over six years. If budget allows, consider a written advertorial with an image rather than a static display ad, and offer a reader discount code or cut-out coupon to measure the effectiveness of the print component.

Television: Conversions from TV advertising have been traditionally difficult to track – until now. Nielsen has always used program ratings as a proxy for ad watching, but smart TV technology can provide more accurate data. Each smart TV is linked to an IP address, which is allowing advertisers to track digital actions such as website visits or app downloads after viewing an advertisement. Keep in mind, brands have less control over television audience targeting than other digital mediums.

Social Media: Less than half of Australia’s small and medium businesses have a social media presence, and only one quarter of small businesses are optimising their reach with paid advertising. These figures from the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report reveal businesses are missing opportunities to connect with the 8 in 10 Australians who are active on social media, including 99% of 18 to 29 year olds and 96% of people aged 30 to 39. Social media’s advanced advertising capabilities give brands greater control of audience targeting, ad delivery times and ad spend, as well as accurate and detailed conversion rates and ROI analytics.

Online Events: Social media is an effective platform to promote free online events such as Facebook Live videos or webinars. Brands can leverage off giving away ‘something for nothing’ during an online event, like a free download, e-book or expert advice. It’s an effective way to build your mailing list while increasing social media engagement, and ultimately should channel a fraction of viewers through your sales funnel and convert them into paying customers. To increase webinar attendance, choose an attention-grabbing event title, start promoting it a few weeks in advance, be energetic and passionate on screen, and remember 92% of webinar attendees want a question and answer session.

Customer Incentives: Customer loyalty programs have grown up, and businesses can now effortlessly create and manage their own incentives with the help of digital tools. A popular method to entice return shoppers online is to offer customers store credits or ‘company dollars’ as a percentage of each purchase – so the more they spend, the more credit they receive. The temptation of ‘free money’ encourages the customer to return, and the digital technology is equipped with all the analytics you need to track its success.

Affiliates and Influencers: Let someone else do the selling for you! Online affiliate programs increase your reach by enabling influencers, other businesses and websites to promote your products, in return for a percentage of the sales. Modern digital affiliate programs are largely automated so once an affiliate is registered, their sales conversions and earnings can be managed by the software. This method of selling is popular on social media and blogs, which is why ROI from online affiliate marketing is increasing by more than 20% annually. Businesses can also engage high profile identities and influencers to promote their brand, or pay for product placement in photographs, videos or even movies.

Competitions and Promotions: Discounts and giveaways are the number one reason consumers follow brands on social media, according to the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report. But less than 30% of Australian small and medium businesses are using this marketing method. Whether online or in store, competition entry forms can be used to capture data such as email addresses so you can reconnect with possibly thousands of potential customers – all for the cost of a single prize.

Content Marketing, Blogs and SEO: If you’re not using content marketing yet, you should be. Whether it’s in the form of blogs, podcasts or video, content marketing engages the audience through storytelling, creates authority and positions you and your brand as an expert in your field. Professionally written blogs created with SEO in mind help to improve online search results as well as provide information or entertainment for the reader. And content marketing is relevant for any industry, which is why more than half of all marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. According to Hubspot, 96% of B2B buyers are looking for content with input from industry thought leaders, and 78% of local mobile keyword searches result in offline consumer purchases at nearby businesses. Online sales conversions from blogs can be measured by click-through traffic. While search engine referrals to physical businesses can be a little trickier to trace, you can always ask customers where they found you on client intake or feedback forms.

Digital Advertising: Online advertising takes many forms, including banner ads on websites, display ads on apps, and Google AdWords which allows you to target and remarket to customers who have previously visited your website or abandoned an online shopping cart. Interestingly, many internet users claim these ads are annoying, and Hubspot’s 2018 Marketing Statistics reveal 82% of consumers admit to closing a browser because of autoplaying video ads. Yet, video ads have the highest click-through rate of all digital ad formats, and 64.6% of people click on Google ads when they are looking to buy an item online. So it’s clear, digital advertising works.

Email Marketing: There is something powerful about opening an email that really ‘gets you’, which is why 81% of online consumers are likely to make a purchase after receiving a personalised email. Recent figures show that as a result of these high click-through rates, email marketing generates $38 in ROI for every $1 spent. When creating email marketing campaigns, it’s important to remember two-thirds of emails are now read on smartphones or tablets, so design should be mobile friendly. The highest click-through time occurs for emails sent at 11am, and automated email notifications about abandoned carts have a 40% open rate. Email marketing software also provides detailed analytics to help you measure the success rate of each campaign, providing a great opportunity to split test content differentials so you can see what works best for your business.

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