How Internet Marketing Gives Small Businesses an Edge

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

business-advantageIn some ways, businesses are like organisms that grow and evolve based on their ability to adapt to their environment. The 50 years since the creation of the internet have, and continue to, dramatically change the environment many businesses operate in by changing the way that people look for information and that sellers around the world seek to find and serve customers. This has led to a situation where businesses that can’t adapt to these changes are doomed to be overtaken by their rivals. This post will show a few of the reasons why internet marketing is essential for businesses in an ever-changing business world.

For starters, the internet and search engines have changed the way that people look for information. According to one study, 89 percent of consumers start with a search engine when looking for information on products, business, or professionals. Since many of these searchers will find the information they need online, a business without an online presence will only get a small percentage of the inquiry-based business (people coming to ask a question and then staying to buy).

To illustrate, an auto parts store receives a significant amount of business from people who have questions about their cars. Once they know the part they need, they buy it at the store they came to ask the question. However, if the person can find the answer in an online forum or on a YouTube video, the auto parts store is going to see less foot traffic. Worse still, since many of the places where the answer can be found online also link to places where parts can be bought and shipped, there would be fewer people who found out the part they needed online and then go to the store to buy it. All of this means that businesses that are online have an advantage over their offline competitors.

A mobile-optimized website is necessary for businesses who are competing in the massive global marketplace created by the internet. In days past, a business’s main competition was the store across the street with a second thought to any store within a reasonably drivable location. With the internet, however, businesses are now competing with any seller around the world who can ship to a particular area. Suddenly, a business owner went from having a handful of local competitors to competing against a small nation’s worth of sellers all around the world.

Since these sellers have websites already, just being online isn’t enough to give business owners a significant edge. According to a survey based on 2013 data from the UK and the US, 55 percent of small businesses are online,  At this point, companies without a website need one just to play catch up with the majority of businesses. Interestingly, according to the same study, having a mobile-optimized site is significant advantage since only 6 percent of small business had one.

An advantage of internet marketing that is often overlooked is that it a cost effective way to raise profits. Since the website serves as the storefront, the point of purchase, and shipping costs are paid by the consumer, every item sold online has a higher profit margin because of the lower overhead costs. For businesses that are already paying for retail space and employees, adding an ecommerce solution to their website gives them the chance to increase their profits with little increase to the cost to sell each item.

As the business environment inevitably changes, businesses need to adapt and evolve to make the most of the new landscape. Getting a website is a start but it takes more than that. In order to gain strategic advantages from a website, It takes a complete internet marketing strategy with search engine optimization, social media marketing, mobile optimization, and advertising. To think of it another way, a website is the seed, but it’s effective internet marketing that makes it grow.

 


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