It’s tough to imagine our world today without internet, you can do virtually anything… You can buy flowers online and have them delivered to the location of your choice or you can also plan an entire holiday without leaving the comfort of your own home whilst getting the bookings done for hotels, flight tickets, admission tickets, tours and even car rentals.
While 30 years ago the prospect of interacting with other humans daily via a “digital forum” would have been unimaginable, today the average American spends nearly half a day staring at a screen. Last year, a report that analyzed how much time Americans spend daily using tablets, smartphones, personal computers, multimedia devices, video games, radios, DVDs, DVRs and TVs, revealed that the average person devoted 10 hours and 39 minutes each day consuming media, with the vast majority of that media sourced from the internet. And this is only growing. The time we are spending browsing the internet on mobile phones in particular is increasing at a significant rate; 69 percent year-on-year, in fact.
But let’s focus for a moment on one specific of branch of online platform: social media.
Facebook’s 1.4 billion global monthly active users spend an average of 20-plus minutes a day, every day, 365 days a year, on the network. Every month, over 500 million people use an app on Facebook or experience Facebook Platform on other websites, and statistics show that more than 50 percent of active users log on to Facebook on any given day of the year. As of September 2017, Instagram had an active membership of over 800 million, making it one of the most popular social networks worldwide. Given these statistics, together with the fact that the average Smartphone user picks up their phone around 1,500 times a week, it should come as no surprise that businesses today are routinely recommended to develop an online presence – or give up.
Nine of out 10 U.S. businesses are in fact already using social for digital marketing efforts – and with success. Ninety percent of those businesses claim they see improvements in terms of both exposure and sales as a result of social media efforts. But a mere three percent of business around the world are currently taking advantage of the potential $1.3 trillion in business value offered by social technologies.
Interestingly, some of the world’s biggest brands are still holding back from launching themselves into the social media world, and it’s highly likely they never do so. Marlboro, Trader Joe’s, Viagra – even Apple have no official account on Facebook or Instagram. But they can get away with it.
Small and medium businesses can’t, it seems.
According to the basic tenets of ‘digital availability’, the reasons for having a responsive, search optimized website and social media presence – at the very least – are as follows.
Firstly, it ensures your brand is always found when people search for their product or service needs. People need to be able to know how to contact or connect with you. Jenny Servis, Vice President of Marketing for SnapRetail, says 85 percent of searches for products and services are happening online today, so if you want to ensure you are being found – it’s a fairly simple conclusion that you need to be online also. Many small or medium business owners ignore online marketing efforts because “they don’t have enough time” to invest in them or because they are in a “traditional” industry. But the truth is, being online allows you to leverage multiple avenues so as to gain better business, leading to more results for less effort than you might have invested in offline marketing efforts. Think about it, not everyone likes talking over the phone. An online presence offers potential customers the easiest and most fuss-free method of learning about available products.
Secondly, getting online will demonstrates your company’s modernity and show that you are ahead of the times, developing products that are in sync with the changing times. Consumer expectations have evolved – and so too should businesses. Having an online presence on a live platform also allows business owners to reinvent or upgrade the brand whenever they like, sending their message to audiences loud and clear within millisecond.
Next, digital marketing efforts are extremely cost effective compared to other forms of advertising. The Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates digital marketing is five to six times more cost effective than direct mail, on a cost-per-conversion basis, or print advertising. Business owners also have greater freedom to control the amount of money they wish to spend on digital materials, and can take advantage of cheap ‘Boosts’ or ‘Paid Ads’ on Facebook – a small investment for a big result. With the help of the right digital marketing agency, business owners can set up their company’s online presence for very little money.
It goes without saying that unless a company is as big or well-established as Apple or Marlboro, it’s vital the company sees an investment in digital marketing efforts. The low costs, targeted reach and creative freedom digital advertising offers business owners is why it has been hailed one of the most effective ways of creating brand awareness and improving sales. Companies need to get online in order to get onboard.