The Internet Is Changing Part 2: You should get what you pay for.

It’s sometimes hard not to engage in a one-way rant about the state of internet marketing. This here is evidence of as much, and a follow up to my ‘The Internet Is Changing Part 1’ which focussed on the creation of content for content’s sake. Worth a read if your organisation is mindlessly pumping out blog content in the hope of achieving online-traffic utopia.

The Internet Is Changing: And you should get what you pay for.

In this rant I’ll attribute how and where you should set your expectations for online marketing campaigns. This covers many of the opportunities small businesses look to take advantage of, how they work, what the trends are, and how you can make better online business decisions.

The Costs Of Online Marketing:

One of the biggest traps for small businesses, or any business ramping up their digital marketing spend is to focus purely on Cost-Per-Click (CPC) or Cost-Per-Thousand-Impressions (CPM). It’s a trap. It’s a very dangerous trap. And here’s why: These metrics and values exist only as the incremental minimal amount you can spend in a given advertising platform. It’s more important to ascertain, and focus on what you’re spending to acquire a single customer.

All online marketing channels typically have a cost associated with them. That cost will drive clicks. Those clicks become visitors. But only some of those visitors will ever become customers. When you accept that you will never convert 100% of your online traffic you are a step closer to comprehending Cost-Per-Acquisition. Understanding CPA, and being able to measure your CPA puts you in the best possible position to spend wisely.

SEO / Search Engine Optimisation:

There are many cliche’s regarding SEO. By way of example: “Rome wasn’t built in a day – that’s why your SEO contract is 12-months…” The industry is tainted with hacks, unfortunately. There are also very proficient experts that focus on a limited scope of opportunities to implement complete SEO plans. For all online businesses, being front and centre on search engines is a must. But getting there is more difficult than ever. There is no point focussing on your-website alone. SEO is not just title tags & meta data. As I detail in my review of the state of SEO services in Ireland – “…The reality for online businesses looking for an SEO provider is to ascertain with confidence that the agency or freelancer understands the bigger picture. Avoid one-trick ponies, because Google is far more complicated and smart (for a robot) to rely on single minded tactics.”

The potential benefit for 1st page rankings on search engines like Google is click-through-rates of up to (and around) 18%. The only cost associated with organic search traffic is that of your website development as well as ongoing on-page and off-page search optimisation work.

You get what you pay for: Cheap website + Cheaper SEO = Disappointment.
There is simply no point investing in a B-grade web development project and C-grade SEO provider when your budget is based on minimising cost alone. Better still would be setting goals pertaining to the value of online sales, and creating a budgets and expectations based on those online revenue evaluations. Additionally the cost of SEO should be scrutinised based on the competition of your keyword space. “Car Insurance” vs. “Bedroom Furniture” are chalk and cheese in terms of competition and the cost you should expect for search engine optimisation services.

Online Marketing - SEO costs & prices Ireland

AdWords Advertising:

AdWords is still a great advertising platform for promoting your online wares and gaining online traffic. Unfortunately AdWords has an advertising cost associated with it that many small businesses don’t accept or comprehend. Where 1 in 10 organic search visitors may convert, 1 in 10 AdWords advertising clicks may convert into sales. The pay-per-click cost associated with AdWords should attract similar expectations as other advertising channels such as newspapers. Yes, the advertising channel has your potential customers. No, not everyone that clicks on your AdWords advert is going to buy. There is a tendency for small businesses to balk at the costs associated with AdWords when they already spend more monthly on tired mediums that offer less transparency over return on investment.

You get what you pay for: Don’t fall into the trap of believing your €400 investment in AdWords failed because of AdWords, and not your AdWords service provider (or how you managed your own AdWords campaign). AdWords is a comprehensive advertising platform and with an expertly optimised campaign, AdWords can yield greatly positive results and return on investment.

  • Almost half of people (45.5%) can’t tell the difference between organic and paid search results.
  • For high commercial intent search queries, the top three advertising spots take about 40% of the clicks on the search results page. 
  • The average click-through-rate for a Google ad is 3.16%.

Social Media Marketing:

Social Media Networking sites such as facebook and twitter are still maturing (or expanding) how they monetize your networking behaviour. That said, competent online marketers worth their salt have already evaluated social networking sites in terms of advertising performance, and audience exposure. Some might say the jury is still out on that one, others, mostly small businesses aren’t reporting positive return on investment from social media. This generalisation isn’t exempt from the business model type, and specific online goals that match perfectly with leveraging social networking audiences, but to use the same examples “Car Insurance” or “Bedroom Furniture” – the investment in social media will yield branding campaign results (brand exposure) mostly – and not direct conversions.

You get what you pay for: If brand equity is a major component of your complete marketing plan, get in there. Otherwise, your money is best invested elsewhere.

Email Marketing:

Email Marketing - Online MarketingEmail is still providing great return on investment. Those that have sidelined driving email subscription for social media are now in a less advantageous position. And, this is especially the case since organic reach of facebook business page posts have been decimated in favour or promoted posts. But I’ve already ranted about social media above. Building up an email database from customers that buy, or consider buying (physically in store or online) is a great way to market, and promote sales opportunities to people who already know your business. Additionally, these people may not have unrestricted access to the internet during business hours, where email can still break-through.

You get what you pay for: The costs associated with email marketing platforms and services are so small, email marketing should always make up a part of your online marketing strategy.

  • Typical open-rates for email marketing campaigns can be in excess of 20%.
  • Click-through-rates can go over and above 3%.
  • Mobile device email open rates are on the increase, while desktop open-rates have long plateaued.

Online Display Advertising:

The Google AdWords display network has the largest online display advertising reach available. It is a great medium for branding campaigns, remarking campaigns or seasonal special offers that have an especially strong call to action. The reason for the later is that display advertising attracts the poorest click-through-rate performance of all channels discussed in this article. The Google AdWords display network can operate on a cost per click (CPC), or cost per thousand impressions basis (CPM), and also provides targeting options from audiences to defining target websites upon which you want your banner adverts to appear. Be aware that ‘new media’ display advertising on the prime real estate of the internet’s most popular websites is typically not through the Google display network, and only available on a very expensive cost per thousand impressions (CPM) basis. That can add up to a huge investment for your advertising to be seen and not clicked.

You get what you pay for: With display advertising expect click-through-rates below 1%. Through the AdWords display network you have more control over your audience targeting & banner placements than you might assume. Through ‘new media’ display advertising channels on specific popular websites expect high cost, and low online engagement.

The Bottom Line:

As a small business going online, don’t make the mistake of thinking small. Aside from picking your niche, online marketing will never be a small affair, and can require as much attention as a physical retail premises. But armed with the right expectations, the right budget and the right help – your online marketing can open up entirely new revenue streams for your business online.