A few interesting facts you might not know about internet marketing in Australia, or, as I discovered, in some cases the lack of it:
- According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, only half of Australian businesses have an internet presence.
- Only a quarter of all businesses utilize social media in their marketing activities.
- Businesses with a web/social media presence were almost twice as likely to secure business with government organizations.
- According to Treasury, of businesses employing less than 4 people, only 30% utilized any innovative activity. This increased to only 50% for businesses employing between 5-19 people. Innovative activity refers to value adding to core business.
- Also according to Treasury, R&D expenditure across small business represented just 0.7% value added in 2010-11. R&D includes not just product development, but branding, market development and innovation in marketing.
- Only 15% of small business’ utilized a digital business strategy.
When I did this research I was stunned. So many real opportunities being missed by so many businesses out there. No doubt there are many small businesses who operate within a tight, local market better defined by walk-past or word-of-mouth traffic. Which may explain part of these statistics. But that still leaves a large portion of businesses seemingly ignoring the changes happening not only in the marketing world, but most importantly, in the ways consumers now do their shopping. Why do companies resist making the changes? What is everyone afraid of? Is it a budget question, are people unwilling to modify, or add to, their marketing budgets? Is your company one of them?
Customers are buying online more and more today, and becoming less inclined to walk through your door if they think they have a better option. And it’s so simple to google whatever they want from the comfort of home, if they find it they’re just as likely to buy it, even if you’re just around the corner!
If you don’t already have a site up, it might be a good idea to address that immediately. The annual cost of hosting small sites is very low, and you can find site-builders for free! There is more to making your site successful than just getting it online, but the point is you really can get started on almost any budget. Most important is to get your name out there as soon as possible, make it easy for people to find you, and to buy from you once they get there.
If you do have a website up, but haven’t had a noticeable return from it, the next step is to generate more traffic. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. SEO is a relatively complex beast that takes some understanding. You can learn more about it here. If it’s done well, your site will get more visitors than you’ve ever had before. The internet opens you up to visitor potential to an extent that old-school advertising just can’t match. Once you have improved traffic volume, the real work of conversion begins.
Converting visitors into customers and clients. If you ever buy online yourself you’ll be familiar with the chain of steps you follow that ends with a confirmation email thanking you for your purchase:
- Find the website that sells the product you want. This begins with you entering a search phrase (known as a keyword or keyphrase in SEO) into Google, or whatever search engine you use.
- Up come the search results. Pages of them, lots of pages of them. The ones on the front, or first few pages, have been very effective with their SEO.
- You choose the site you think will be most appropriate, and click through. You may find the first site or two don’t sell exactly what you want, or it’s so difficult to find and buy, you throw your hands up in the air and click back to the next search item. The builders of the site you clicked out of did a terrible job of holding your attention, and just lost a sale. You need to be sure your site isn’t designed like that.
- Your ideal site will show you the product you were after, give you all the relevant information you need to make your decision, and guide you smoothly and simply through to the sales page.
- You’ll hopefully have a choice of how you pay, so you can feel comfortable about the security of the transaction and your personal and financial details. Whether you prefer PayPal, credit card, or whatever, you’re much happier if it’s available to you.
- You finalize the sale. Too easy, you’re happy. Then shortly afterwards you get the confirmation email, with the receipt and an estimated shipping time.
- If their marketing is tight, it may include, or be closely followed by, information on other products they hope you might be interested in. This is the up-sell, to test and attempt to add to your value to them as a customer. It should be polite and professional, not pushy. Nothing wrong there, feels like the fast-food cashier asking if you want fries with that?
That’s how a professional website converts you into a customer. It attracts you, holds your attention while you find what you’re looking for, and makes it easy for you to get out quickly and without difficulty or confusion. If, when you receive your product in the mail and you’re happy with it, chances are you’ll consider using that company again. And there it is; they’ve converted a customer into a client.
So how do you make a website work effectively for your business? It will work at some level for you regardless of the effort you put into it’s planning, design and content. But professional web marketing can be boiled down to making constant improvement in four main areas:
- Website traffic – guiding visitors to your site. Your success here depends on a combination of strong SEO content writing, inbound and outbound links with other sites, and for some businesses, the use of Pay-Per-Click advertising.
- Strike rate – converting visitors into customers. Your strike rate relies heavily on the quality of the copywriting; your visitor needs to know within seconds that he’s in the right place, or you risk losing him. Once you have his attention you must give him everything he wants, and help him get out of there fast, and safe.
- Customer value – raising the average lifetime value of your customers. You can improve the value of your customers by turning them into clients. Streamline your site to make you an irresistible provider-of-choice.
- Tracking – measuring your marketing results. By using analytical tools you can monitor how visitors use your site, and even how they use your competitors’! This allows you to accurately refine your marketing, based directly on what your visitors/customers are doing when they surf! This function alone makes the internet a great place to do your marketing.
Improvement in these fundamentals will guarantee your internet sales success.
There are so many other options though, like the use of your mailing lists to deliver low-cost/high impact marketing material, or adding blogs and social media posting to your marketing activities (which bring a whole new generation closer to your brand). These are simple extras you can add to your website that spread your marketing net……so much wider.
Compared to other forms of marketing, the internet has changed the game radically in your favour. You can now know that when people visit your site they’re unlikely to be tyre-kickers, simply because of the keywords you’ve chosen in your SEO set-up. Which means you can guide them through your site knowing that, as long as you’re competitive, it’s highly likely they’ll buy!
The same tools can be used to track the search-words people use that are similar to yours, allowing you to modify your SEO to attract even more business! You can use landing pages to get people to give you their email addresses, another sales avenue, and using eCommerce tools, you can accurately track how effective you’ve been at converting visitors to customers, something other advertising media can’t do for you.
What are your competitors doing online? You can find out a lot about how they’re targeting their market and modify your approach through your keywords and your marketing if you think they have an edge. You can monitor how new market entrants are competing with you, and keep on top of your search engine results rankings as things change. If they’re not already capitalizing online, this could be your chance to get ahead of the game and create an advantage for yourself. Imagine finding yourself alone online, with your competitors left behind! It’s not out of the question, read those stats again; only half of Australian businesses have an online presence! Even for the smallest business the benefits of acting immediately are difficult to ignore, while the cost of making the changes are relatively low.
So there’s an overview for you. I hope you can see the opportunity there for your business. But what’s the first step? Well, get hold of us for a start; we’ll talk with you about where you are and where you want to be, and draft up a plan to get you there. There are many things you can do for yourself if you have some fundamental internet and PC skills, and we can either fill in the gaps for you, or you can leave the whole job to us.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]