There are so many different opinions on the best way for a business to market online. Whether it is paid search, SEO or social media, there isn’t one consensus best option. As a business owner, you probably hear the following:
- “Search engine optimization is long term strategy.”
- “Social media is a long term strategy.”
- “SEO is dead.”
- “Content is king.”
- “Paid Search is the safest way to achieve ROI.”
- “Social drives brand awareness not conversions.”
Truth is, some platforms work better alone, while other businesses are able to leverage a combination of all three. For instance, paid search may not work well for a T-shirt brand but may work wonders for a lead generation company. Added to the fact that online marketing success is all relative to how you measure success (or conversions), it can get confusing really fast.
Many small business owners have changed the way they view a success. Social media marketing has came on strong in the past couple of years and marketers are beginning to measure successful conversions in terms of engagement rather than purchase decisions.
With this approach, they are able shape their strategy to create long term relationships with customers rather than viewing them as one-and-done. According to eMarketer, “as of March 2011, 44% of respondents to the survey used social media for marketing, vs. 28% who used SEO and 21% who used paid search.” This statistic can be taken with a grain of salt because it is likely attributed to the fact that social media is a friendly, low barrier to entry marketing solution for small businesses.
Many businesses try social media and realize that it is easy to do and hard to do well; they are taking an advertising approach rather than engagement strategy. This is why many small businesses plan to invest in social media for the future. According to the same eMarketer study, 44% of small businesses currently use social media and 29% plan to add to their social media marketing tactics in the future. The growth in social media as an ad platform has made it an attractive solution for fostering engagement, where a smaller amount of SMB’s are investing in SEO and paid search, 22% and 16% respectively.
While we know where the majority of businesses are putting their advertising dollars in 2011, each industry differs in effectiveness. 57.2% of small business respondents told Ad-ology that social media was at least somewhat useful at generating leads. The MerchantCircle survey found local small businesses were more likely to say search engine marketing was an effective channel than social networks, at 40.2% vs. 36.7%.
Social media may be easier to adopt initially for most businesses, but alone it will likely not be as effective as when it is incorporated equally in the online marketing mix. To ramp up your media marketing efforts make sure your business is equally investing strategies in paid search, SEO and social media in conjunction with your website.
Guest Author – Matt Krautstrunk is an expert writer on credit card processing based in San Diego, California. He writes extensively for an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs such as business phone systems at Resource Nation.