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Online marketing is crucial for small firms

When it comes to online marketing, the dilemma for small businesses is whether or not it is worth the time and money.

According to research carried out by market analyst, website development is the most popular online marketing strategy adopted by US businesses, followed by search engine optimisation (SEO). Search engine marketing (SEM) is next on the list, while social media is in last place.

These results may surprise small business owners which have heard so much recently about the power of social media. Many believe they will miss out if they don’t run campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
or all three. However, the findings are no surprise to experienced practitioners in online marketing.


No Immediate return

While social media sites are available to use free of charge, they rarely offer any great immediate return. This is particularly true in the case of inexperienced users.

Most owner managers will need to invest a significant amount of time in social media marketing campaigns, building know how and learning from experience, before platforms like Facebook or Twitter really start to work for them. This does not mean that social media campaigns are not worthwhile. It does mean, however, that online marketing should be treated as a long term investment.

To get anything tangible out of online marketing including SEO, SEM or social media you must be prepared to devote significant time or money to it. The good news is that it usually pays off in the end.
Which approach you take is down to your company’s life- cycle.

Online marketing strategy

During the start-up stage, time is often more readily available than money and it may be worthwhile familiarising yourself with the various online marketing strategies available to you. As the business grows, and you move from a ‘doing’ to a ‘managing’ role, the time you spent researching in the early days will start to payoff.

It is not a good idea to hand responsibility for your online marketing over to a colleague or an external partner, unless you have a clear understanding of how it works yourself.

Take, for example, a company that does not understand that a 44 percent bounce rate on its Google AdWords campaign means it is wasting 44 per cent of its spend and that 44 per cent of all visitors are leaving, unhappy and frustrated. In this instance, not understanding how the process works could quite possibly kill a brand and business.

For small business owners, therefore, you can take it that learning about online marketing, at the outset, can save money further down the road.

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