Top 5 Online Marketing Channels For SMEs in 2015

Wayne Liew

How did 2014 treat your business?

Answer the questions below if you gave online marketing a try:

  • Is your website getting you a steady stream of customers?
  • Which online marketing channel is giving you a positive return on investment (ROI)?
  • Where should you spend your time, efforts and marketing budget in 2015?

If you hesitated before answering, this post is written for you. In this post, we want you to look ahead at what 2015 holds for online marketing and what it means for your business.

Content Marketing

Woman Using MacBook

Your potential customers are searching for information and entertainment on the Internet. If they like what they read, listened or watched, they are going to share it with friends, family members and colleagues. There is no need to use force or incentives to promote this behaviour. It happens naturally.

Content marketing requires your business to become a source of information or entertainment for potential customers. By putting remarkable content out there, you are positioning your business as an industry expert and thought leader.

You should invest in content marketing to:

  • Increase the level of trust that prospects have in you.
  • Educate consumers on the need of your product or solution.
  • Engage existing consumers and make sure they still remember about you.
  • Raise awareness in the search results and social media.

However, content marketing does not generate immediate results. It takes time and a lot of efforts. If you are getting somebody else to do it, then it means spending thousands of dollars every month without seeing instant results.

As a business owner, content marketing should only become your primary marketing channel when you are already enjoying a solid inflow of leads and customers online.


Guy Checking Phone

According to Google, the smartphone is the most commonly used connected device in Singapore. All of us check our smartphone multiple times a day. When we want to do a search for something, we pull out our phone and perform a search right there and then.

Advertising products offered by search engines and social networks have long offered the option to target smartphone users. Due to the lower adoption among advertisers, mobile ads are cheaper as compared to ads served on desktops.

Business owners who want to capitalize on this trend needs to make sure their website or landing page is mobile-friendly. A visitor must not need to squint their eyes or scroll horizontally while browsing through your website.

Making a mobile-friendly web page is a hassle when you don’t have an in-house technology team. To help our clients get over this, being mobile-friendly is the first thing on our mind when we design landing pages for them.

Web pages also need to have features such as larger buttons to allow visitors to click on the right buttons, navigational cues, as well as fast page load time.

Social Media

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are popular. You don’t need another person to tell you that. Everybody is using it!

This trend does not guarantee that registering a profile with these networks and posting boring pictures of your products there are going to send you customers.

With the aim to improve user experience, social networks continue to come down hard on brands and businesses in 2014. For example, Facebook will stop showing Page updates to your fans if the fans don’t show any interest in them.

In this announcement made by Facebook, the service is going to show less promotional posts in its users’ news feed starting 2015.

Here is an example of what Facebook calls a promotional post:

Bunny Puzzle Cube Facebook Promotional Post

You are lucky if your Great Singapore Sale or Limited Time Only promotions can reach more than 1% of your existing fans.

Is it still worth it to build a fan base on social networks? We ponder about the same question ourselves. We stopped doing it, and we no longer recommend our clients to do it.

Instead, we advise them to send social network users to their website, so they can have a chance to convert these users into leads.

With the incredible amount of data that social networks have about their users, social media will still be one of the top marketing channels in 2015. It is all about how your business can milk the most out of it.

Paid Advertising

Unlike traditional media, you don’t need a huge budget to get started with online advertising. A budget around $2,000 per month is more than enough to see significant results.

Paid advertising on the Internet allows you to identify quickly what works and what doesn’t.

Take a pest control business as an example. Buying an ad spot for a set of pest control-related keywords on Google Search allows you to identify which keyword is more cost-efficient in sending you customers. The same is true when you want to compare whether a placement on a website is better in getting new customers than the other.

In Singapore and the Asia Pacific region in general, the cost to advertise on the Internet is considerably cheaper than our counterparts in the United States and Europe. Just look at the table taken out of Google’s Keyword Planner, and you will have no problem drawing a solid conclusion.

Weight Loss Program Google AdWords CPC Comparison

Side Note: When you advertise on the Internet, you are only required to pay when someone visits your website and sees your product. This model is unlike newspaper ads or magazine insertions where the publishers will ask for upfront payment just to get your ad inserted.

As more people gets online and perform more searches, we will continue to see business owners advertising alongside search results and web content to get their products and services in front of interested Internet users.

Email Marketing

Ask yourself this question. “How many social networks have you joined and abandoned?”

Compare the result with the number of email inboxes that you frequently check. For most of us, the latter is much lower.

Monetate, a cloud-based optimization, personalisation and testing software releases a quarterly research report called Ecommerce Quarterly. In the Q1 2014 International Edition, email was shown to have a higher conversion rate as compared to other marketing channels like search and social.

Ecommerce Quarterly Q1 2014 Conversion Rates by Traffic Sources

The findings imply that a visitor arriving at your website from your email newsletter is more likely to buy from you as compared to a visitor arriving from a search engine or a social network.

There are two staged to email marketing. The first stage is where you try to collect the email address of website visitors. The second stage involves following up with these visitors, nurture them into prospects and turn them into customers.

You need a landing page and a consistent inflow of highly targeted visitors in order to build up a sizable email list or lead database. You can read more about the system here.

Your Marketing Action Plan for 2015

To conclude, here is a list of things that you should do right away:

  • Set up a mobile-friendly landing page. It will act as the primary destination of all your marketing activities in 2015.
  • Focus wholeheartedly on the number of leads you get from marketing campaigns. Forget about the number of clicks and cost-per-click.
  • Try paid advertising. Start with a small budget to familiarize yourself with the different advertising platforms out there. Scale it up only when you see results.

Above all else, start taking action right away. Just like in the world of business, early adopters get rewarded because new tactics get saturated quickly.

If you hit a brick wall, feel free to ask us questions in the comment section.

Images courtesy of David Clow and Pabak Sarkar.