Since the beginning of the ‘online revolution’, as we could call it, from roughly 1998 onward, the brick & mortar business community has been very cautious about embracing internet based marketing methods. Indeed from those early days many were convinced this online stuff was a fad, a fashion, a cultural anomaly that only included teenagers and young adults and the more geeky elements of society.
The ‘dotcom bubble’ occurring in the early 2000’s saw hundreds of investors getting burned badly by inflated stock prices on online businesses that had nothing behind their glossy websites. Many of these internet ventures were just ideas, domain names registered and sites hastily built, then funded by venture capital for a few months, only to completely fizzle when no customers were generated.
This event did very little to inspire solid confidence with business owners in general regarding anything ‘internet’.
However, the times have definitely moved on, the fifteen years since this blip on the digital radar has seen Amazon, Google, eBay, Yahoo, and others, plus a massive number of smaller online ventures grow enormously. e-Commerce has become a real threat to high street shops and malls all over the western world have been closing down as consumers discover the convenience of ordering products and services from online vendors. The overheads of running a purely online merchant business are very much less, and those savings are passed to online customers.
In addition to these aspects of the incursions of internet-based enterprise on traditional commerce, there is the blatant fact of three and a half billion people being daily online users, and these numbers being swelled by a further two billion over the next twelve-to-eighteen months. This number when viewed in simple market terms represents an inescapable reality, the vast majority of human-kind are daily internet users.
The advent of all kinds of social media platforms, especially Facebook and YouTube, means that a significant number of these daily users are also present on these platforms. For the business person with an eye to marketing this is an irresistible opportunity; by placing content, and messages congruent with different demographic groups the needle of sales can be made to really move!
If the marketers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries considered print and television media as being fertile advertising grounds, the twenty-first century marketer is presented with a medium that eclipses all of the mass-media consumption of previous times put together, and a lot more.
The social media juggernaut Facebook recently tabled having one billion users on its servers in one day. What T.V station or newspaper ever had those kinds of figures? None.
The monthly consumption numbers for online video on YouTube are astronomical, six billion hours of video are taken in per month, with three hundred hours of fresh video being uploaded per minute! Just consider those numbers for one second, if a business can gain even tiny fractions of that viewing time for its promotional videos (high quality of course) then this will blow any television, or cinema promotions well and truly out of the water. You can check those statistics up for yourself quite easily.
With the numbers possible for online marketing, it simply makes good business sense to participate, a casual study of what is possible to achieve reveals that any type of business can gain an advantage, an increase, an advertising boost from being able to use the digital tools and resources currently available.
For those business owners who have kept up with developments there has been a remarkable return on their investments in digital marketing. I think the message is getting across to the business community, but it still has a long way to go before the average business owner in regional areas of the world understands that they can gain a massive boost to their business by focusing on their internet marketing as an investment for their overall success.
Michael Gorman is an online specialist, he works with clients to improve their bottom line through implementing digital marketing methods. Michael is a writer and commentator on internet development, he is a father, husband and seasoned IT professional.