Advantages & (Potential) Disadvantages of Online Marketing in 2016

With 80% (or more) of adults in the United States having at least one social media profile, the exposure advantages of online marketing may be self-evident.  However, if you are just now considering internet marketing for your business, you are likely one of the few who has also taken note of the inherent disadvantages of internet marketing.

Yes, disadvantages.  You may be asking, “What is this wizardry you speak of?”.

If that’s the case, you may be surprised to find out that, even in 2016, there are still some situations which may potentially deem online marketing as a disadvantage practice. If these situations apply to you, they should likely be equally considered as you evaluate the pros and cons of marketing your business on the internet.

social networking usage over years

Among American adults, the percentage who use social networking sites, by age. Courtesy of Pew Research Center.

Advantages of Online Marketing

  1. One of the greatest advantages is in regards to the sheer population of internet users in the United States.  With approximately 86.5% of the US population (or 286,942,362 people) using the internet, it’s wise to consider the possible ways to get your business in front these folks.
  2. The internet provides a considerably more cost-effective means of reaching out to potential customers than direct mail campaigns, going door-to-door, or outsourced telemarketing.  Postage is expensive, even with a mail permit.  And even if you take care of telemarketing and door knocking upon yourself (or your sales department), your contact may be unwelcome – or even illegal – in some cases.  Most social media profiles are free to create.  Web sites can be (relatively) very inexpensive.
  3. Your ability to reach out to an interested audience is dramatically improved online.  Social media, search engine optimization and utilizing an effective web design are all means in which you can reach out to an audience specifically interested in your products or services.
  4. An effective internet presence will provide your brand with geographic flexibility, allowing you to reach more of your local market or expand your products or services to a wider, national or international audience (whichever floats your goat).  Social media marketing, online advertising, and geotargeted marketing are all means in which the internet will allow you to target audiences in specific areas of the world.
  5. Your ability to quickly deliver information to potential or existing customers is greatly improved online.  No more flipping through hard copies of the Yellowpages or waiting for brochures to arrive in the mail.  By marketing on the internet, you are able to deliver information to your customers whenever they want it, wherever they are, regardless of the mobile device, tablet, or laptop they may be using.
  6. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.  The internet allows companies to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns very quickly, allowing them to eliminate or optimize ineffective marketing without draining their bank accounts.  Direct mail, offline advertising, and most kinds of offline marketing in general, can all be very difficult to analyze without spending significant amounts of money.
  7. Small businesses and large corporations are essentially reduced to an even playing field online. As a result, the number of competitors is naturally much greater.  Increased competition always benefits the consumer.  In addition to the fact we all want the world to be a better place, we are also all consumers in one regard or another.  Plus, a very small portion of the population are owners of large corporations.  More than likely, a level playing field is an advantage to you.

(Potential) Disadvantages of Online Marketing

Although there are many advantages to online marketing, there are some situations where it might be a less attractive consideration.

BTW, the examples provided are strictly hypothetical examples- not suggestions.  I highly discourage taking advantage of people or pursuing illegal activities and, therefore, am not responsible for your life decisions.

That said, internet marketing might be disadvantageous if:

  1. You’re Amish, a member of The Exclusive Brethren, or any other community or religion which might shun you for using the internet.  I previously managed Amish construction crews in Northeast Ohio and am quite familiar with the situation there.  Although many Amish communities have accepted the use of mobile devices (hidden out in the woods) for the members of the community which rely on the devices to maintain an operable business, online marketing is likely to be a different story (as of yet, anyway).   It’s unlikely that this applies to you if you’re reading this, however.
  2. Your business only works if you go door-to-door or hold ‘parties’ to sell your products on the spot.  If this is the case, allowing your prospective customers to do online research (or shop) is likely a great disadvantage to your sales strategy.
  3. You sell Facebook profiles, Gmail accounts, or any other online services which would otherwise be easy and free to establish if your customers only knew. Maybe your target market is recently-released convicts.
  4. You resell copies of the Yellowpages or other hard copy directories which would be free if your customers only knew where to find them (and happen to be in the 13.5% of the US population which does not use the internet, of course).
  5. You make money by taking advantage of people or by prowling on their lack of knowledge or ability to access it.
  6. You operate a black market business.
  7. Your business is top secret, classified, or does not exist.

Summary

There are many reasons to establish an effective internet presence for your business online and only a small fraction of the population which this may not be applicable.

As a general rule of thumb, internet marketing is a great investment of your time and resources to maximize your exposure.

As a small to medium size business owner, exposure is everything.   If you are going to capture the attention of the millions of people in the US who live their daily lives with their eyes glued to the front of their mobile devices, you have to catch their attention where it counts.

If you need help establishing an effective, mobile-friendly internet presence for your business, feel free to contact us anytime.

TTFN

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