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Online for Success when the Economy is Depressed

10th October 2008

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Friday 10th October, 2008

Mark Hanson, Ultraframe Marketing Manager and Chairman of the Conservatory Association discusses online marketing……………..

The doom and gloom mongers have been talking the country into a recession for months now, with the phrase ‘credit crunch’ now part of the English language and likely to feature in the next edition of the Collins Dictionary…. However we got here, it’s certain that times are tough right now, with installation companies having to work harder than ever before for every sale. Whilst the downturn in the housing market has meant that many homeowners are now choosing to improve rather than move, high interest rates mean that loans are not as readily available as they once were to pay for high ticket home improvements such as conservatories and so every effort must be made, through clever use of marketing to secure sales.

On a more positive note, the credit crunch may have some positive impact on those businesses that are reviewing their operations, as every pound spent on marketing is likely to be analysed more now than ever, with tactics which reap few rewards likely to be cut, leaving the way clear for marketing managers to hone those activities which provide true, measurable results.

In times past, such reviews of marketing activity would have meant press ads vs. inserts, or brochures vs. outdoor, but the burning question in the present day when marketing budgets are at risk is online vs. offline?

Whilst offline still without doubt has a place to play, there are many benefits to online, particularly when marketing needs to work harder and generate real results for a company:

• Online marketing is agile – marketing teams can quickly react to changes in the environment by changing key messages on their website or featuring tactical offers to quickly stimulate sales. Ultra Installers have the opportunity to have their page within the Ultraframe website updated as frequently as required.

• Consumers place trust (especially important during uncertain economic times) in companies with a strong online presence.

• Online spend is highly measurable – it is the frustration of marketing managers across the land that as soon as times are tough, marketing budgets are a classic area of the business to suffer, as results can be difficult or impossible to measure. However, online marketing is highly measurable – every visitor to a website can be tracked using specific addresses tailored to campaigns and every lead accounted for and costed easily.

• After the initial set up, many forms of online marketing such as Pay Per Click (PPC) require little intervention, effectively running themselves and freeing up time for staff to concentrate on other areas of the business that may require extra attention. Whilst it is true that such campaigns should not be left to stand still and should be monitored and refined according to results gained, it is also true that because limits can be set on daily spend etc, it is easier for busy marketers to leave such campaigns ‘ticking away’ until the time presents itself to review and modify. Ultraframe invest heavily in PPC and refine the campaign constantly to ensure quality traffic visits the Ultraframe consumer website, which can then be turned into leads for Ultra Installers.

• No time restrictions – another benefit of online, particularly for busy companies where proprietors may be responsible for selling/installing/marketing etc is that the ability to work on campaigns does not stop at 5.30pm. Online marketing campaigns can be accessed at anytime and from anywhere using a laptop.

• Convenience – as we all lead busier lives with little ‘me time’, anything that provides a way for consumers to save time is a plus point. Searching online is convenient and fits into consumers lifestyles at a time which is suitable for them.

So, with the plus points above being just a few of the benefits of online marketing does this mean that offline will be disappearing to be replaced wholly by websites, PPC and online banners?

The answer right now seems to be no. Whilst online has its benefits, there is still room for offline advertising, there is still a place for traditional press adverts and the like. In fact, Jupiter Research recently found that 2/3 of people who have seen an offline advert now go online to reassure themselves of the company’s credentials before making contact, proving that the two do work in tandem. Clever marketers know that there is a time and place for both online and offline, but the cleverest marketers are those that adapt this mix to suit the environment, and for the foreseeable future, considering the benefits listed above, the smart money is online.

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