Article for Indextree.com

 

Industry Insiders Speak Out: The High Cost of
Not Having an Online Marketing Strategy

B2B and industrial companies are slow to embrace online marketing. It's a curious reluctance given that online marketing is performance-driven, pays for itself, and consistently delivers new, qualified business that can mean dramatic increases in sales and growth.

So, why are some companies sometimes reticent about using online marketing when the benefits in terms of exposure and revenue are so substantial? We thought we'd seek out those with the answers.

Direct From the Source

We talked to CEOs and Marketing Managers of companies that have embraced online marketing. These industry leaders are quick to confirm that Internet marketing more than pays for itself. In addition, in a short period of time online marketing has become a critical, indispensable channel for generating customer awareness and sales directly enhancing the bottom line.

The message from industry insiders clear: The risk involved with online marketing is small. The rewards are infinite.

We asked a number of your B2B colleagues what it would have cost them to delay embracing the power of online marketing. This is what they had to say.

Lost Business

Experts agree that online search has become the primary source of information for those making B2B buying decisions. Most business consumers first turn to a search engine during the investigation phase of their buying process, and just about all of them will use the Internet at some point during the decision-making process. That's right. Nearly all of them.

That's a staggering fact, and those who have taken advantage of online marketing know this trend is some of the best news in decades for companies willing to exploit the new ways businesses do business.

The reliance on search in the buying process means your company has never had a better opportunity to reach and capture new business. But it also means that every day you wait means business lost to your competitors.

Online Marketing Pays for Itself

Industry pros understand the bottom line and the need for measurable returns on any investment, especially when it comes to spends for advertising and marketing. They also understand that online marketing is one of the few methods guaranteed to pay for itself.

Online marketing, specifically paid placement and search engine optimization, have a proven track record in giving companies the highest returns of any vehicle in their marketing mix.

In addition, online marketing is a low-risk proposition because it's based on performance. You pay only if a potential customer clicks on your ad. Utilizing that system, the cost of acquiring a customer is dramatically reduced.

Those in the know insist online marketing generates 20-50% of the qualified sales leads in industries that have traditionally relied on sales prospecting, word-of-mouth and trade shows.

The numbers don't lie. What is your company waiting for?

Competition

Everyone wants a competitive advantage, but even tried and tested methods can't keep pace with the monumental strides being made with online marketing.

With online marketing, you can fend off your competitors and dominate niche markets. The Internet creates a level playing field where businesses of all sizes can compete. Anyone can stake a position as a leader. What would it be worth to your company to be in that position?

And here's another insight we heard from B2B pros. One of the unique benefits of the Internet is that is affords smaller businesses the chance to appear bigger than they are. Online, a three-person operation can look slicker than an international conglomerate. You can turn this to your advantage with a minimal investment of time and money. Indextree can show you the way.

So, why is it important to dive into the world of online marketing now? The hard fact we hear from B2Bs is that once a company entrenches itself in a certain arena online, it's hard to dislodge it. At the moment, in most industries, search rankings and market dominance aren't set yet. They will be, and it will cost you more down the road to accomplish what you can accomplish now with far fewer resources.

As in most areas of business, in the realm of online marketing, it pays to act decisively.

Online Buyers are Ready to Buy

Those who have reaped the rewards of online marketing will attest to the fact that customers who research and compare products and services online are much more predisposed to buying. It's just the nature of the medium. Much of your job of selling is done by the time someone reaches your Web site.

In the world of online marketing, your customer is already looking for your product. They're actively looking to do business with someone. That someone should be you.

New Competitors

It's not something you like to think about, but they're out there, and they're after your business. New players are entering your market every day, and they're capturing your market share.

The tools we're talking about are a double-edged sword. If you don't capitalize on the benefits of online marketing, do you think your competitors will hesitate to do so? Aggressive, upstart companies are pulling out all the stops, exploiting economies of scale and using online marketing to extend their reach.

Don't just wait and watch while these companies erode the fiscal health of your company. Can you really afford to have these competitors encroach on what you've fought so hard to build? It's time to reclaim what's yours, and online marketing is the answer.

Commoditization

Trust us, we don't just throw around big words because it makes us feel smart. The Internet has given customers an unprecedented ability to shop and compare, often reducing the buying decision to price alone. But this "commoditization" of products doesn't do your company justice, and your bottom line may already be suffering because of it.

What's the answer to the problem of commoditization? How do you distinguish yourself? How do you communicate your differentiating qualities to potential customers?

Online marketing provides an excellent vehicle for branding and also allows you to capture potential customers earlier in the buying process.

Quality business interactions are more than just a price point. Be heard. Stand out. Reap the windfall.

Build Buyer Awareness and Drive Traffic

Here's the ugly truth. Many manufacturers and distributors don't do a great job with their Web sites. We hear this time and time again not only from the CEOs and Marketing Managers, but also from consumers.

Site visitors are often frustrated by poor online marketing practices. In fact, studies show two-thirds of B2B site visitors complain they don't find what they are looking for, and almost half never return to the site as a result. Now, we're not saying yours is one of those sites. But are you sure you're turning Web site traffic into sales consistently? What impression are you giving potential customers when they visit your site? Are your customers telling other potential customers how professional and easy-to-use your site is?

Online marketing has a lot more to do than simply having a visually appealing Web site. It's more than simply buying keywords and hoping they'll bring you more business. Buying unqualified leads from unknown sources is often like putting your money into a kiln.

Effective online marketing requires knowledge, strategy, implementation, monitoring, and follow-through. Those are the skills and qualities we pride ourselves on at Indextree.

The High Cost of Waiting on the Sidelines

As you read this, there's a good chance your competitors are working on their online marketing strategies. It's even possible they're making inroads into capturing key customer segments you may never be able to recapture.

Is business good right now? Sure. Is it great? Could be better. With an effective online marketing strategy, it could be great.

So, what's it costing you to wait?

Take it from those who have seen the benefits of online marketing firsthand. Standing on the sidelines has never been so costly.

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