Businesses increasingly identify digital marketing as the best way to reach consumers, tell their company’s story, and their brand a voice. According to a new survey by Clutch, today, most businesses rely on a variety of digital marketing channels to drive sales and revenue.
- The top 3 digital marketing channels businesses use are social media marketing (81%), a website (78%), and email marketing (69%).
- The least popular digital marketing channel businesses invest in is SEO (44%).
- Businesses’ main goal for digital marketing in 2018 is to increase sales and revenue (28%).
- Larger companies are more likely to use digital marketing to stand out from competitors (21%), while smaller companies are more likely to use digital marketing to improve brand awareness (21%).
- Eighty-three percent (83%) of businesses think their digital marketing efforts are effective in helping them achieve their goal.
Businesses Invest in a Combination of Digital Marketing Channels to Achieve Goals
Businesses recognize the importance of using several digital marketing channels.
The most commonly used digital marketing channels are social media marketing (81%), a website (78%), and email marketing (69%) because they are the most popular among consumers.
One of the main reasons why businesses value social media marketing, websites, and email marketing is because it provides the opportunity to tell a story about their products or brand.
“Those three avenues are so common for businesses to use because you can highlight what your company is all about,” said Jeremy Greenberg, founder of web design and digital marketing agency 97 Switch. “People are responsive when you have the ability to tell your brand story, whether it’s on social media, your website, or email. With other mediums, there’s not as much ability to tell your story.”
“People are responsive when you have the ability to tell your brand story, whether it’s on social media, your website, or email.” — Jeremy Greenberg, 97 Switch
“The digital world moves faster and changes quicker than traditional marketing efforts. YouTube is only a decade old, and it’s unseating media conglomerates that have been around for decades,” said Flynn Zaiger, CEO of Online Optimism. “If you’re putting all your eggs in one basket, you’re at the whim of an organization that can change its algorithms whenever it feels like it with no recourse for you. It was dangerous in traditional media, but an all-in strategy on digital is just asking to throw yourself off a marketing cliff.”
“If you’re putting all your eggs in one basket, you’re at the whim of an organization that can change its algorithms whenever it feels like it with no recourse for you.” —Flynn Zaiger, Online Optimism.
Businesses can reach their customers directly through social media, a website, and email marketing, so it makes sense that these are the most commonly used forms of digital marketing.
For example, B2B content management software company IntelliChief uses the top three digital marketing channels, among others.
“Digital.marketing is like a complex recipe,” said IntelliChief Content Marketing Manager Faith Kubicki. “If you have one ingredient out, you’re not going to completely ruin the entire dish, but it will pretty evident that something’s missing from the final product.”
SEO Is the Least Popular Digital Marketing Channel
The study reveals that relatively few businesses currently invest in SEO. In fact, 56% of businesses do not invest in SEO in 2018. This means less than half of businesses (44%) of businesses incorporate SEO into their digital marketing strategy.
Experts say that one of the main reasons SEO isn’t popular among businesses is because it takes more effort than other channels.
SEO may not have the immediate results that social media marketing, a website, and email marketing have, but experts agree it is still an essential digital marketing channel.
Why SEO is Unpopular for Businesses
There are two reasons why SEO is less popular than other digital marketing channels:
- Businesses lack awareness about how SEO functions.
- SEO results are not immediately obvious.
1. Businesses Misunderstand SEO
Businesses may not think they actively use SEO, but other channels go hand-in-hand with it. This reveals a knowledge gap between the number of digital marketing channels businesses invest in versus the ones they actually use.
Greenberg notices that many businesses don’t fully understand how SEO works alongside other digital marketing channels.
“They’re saying they’re not investing in SEO, but if they’re investing in and telling their story on social media and they’re doing email marketing, that’s part of it,” Greenberg said. “If they’re creating shareable content online and they’re investing in their website, that’s SEO.”
Businesses likely participate in more digital marketing channels than they think, even if they don’t actively invest in these channels.
2. SEO Doesn’t Produce Immediate Results
One reason SEO isn’t as popular as other digital marketing channels is that the results aren’t as obvious or immediate as other channels.
“Businesses have a harder time with SEO,” said Jon Borg-Breen, co-founder and head of sales at B2B lead generation agency Symbiont Group. “It’s not as immediately impactful as having a brand-new design on your website that people can say, ‘Wow, that looks cool.”
Although the results aren’t as obvious, businesses should reconsider their lack of investment in SEO because many find success with that channel. Failure to invest in SEO can also undermine the success of other digital marketing channels.
IntelliChief, for example, spent several months on SEO before the channel delivered measurable results.
SEO is hard work, but businesses shouldn’t count it out. “The way that you continue to keep relevant is looking and seeing what the search term results are,” said Jon Borg-Breen, co-founder and head of sales at Symbiont Group. “It takes a while to get the magic right.
“The way you continue to keep relevant is looking and seeing what the search term results are.” — Jon borg-breen, symbiont group.
Businesses’ main goal for digital marketing is to make more money.
Nearly one-third (28%) of businesses’ top goal for digital marketing is increasing their sales and revenue.
Every digital marketing strategy should ultimately lead to a sale.
“We call it digital marketing, but I really think it’s digital sales,” Borg-Breen said. “You’re trying to convert and actually get people to buy something.”
Digital marketing’s value is its ability to influence purchasing.
For example, Pupford, a website that sells dog nutrition products and provides training resources, uses several digital marketing channels to help increase its revenue: content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and SEO.
Pupford would struggle to make a sale without digital marketing.
Digital marketing helps e-commerce companies like Pupford increase its revenue.
In an increasingly digital-focused world, digital marketing can help businesses achieve their ultimate goal of earning more money.
Digital Marketing Goals Vary by Business Size
The size of a business determines their digital marketing goals.
Businesses with more than 5,000 employees are more likely to use digital marketing to stand out from competitors (21%).
Businesses with fewer than 5,000 employees are more likely to use digital marketing to improve brand awareness (21%).
Large Businesses Use Digital Marketing to Stand Out From the Competition
Large businesses aim to use digital marketing to differentiate themselves from the competition because they have already established brand awareness and want to encourage potential customers to convert.
“For larger organizations, your efforts to grow your company are based on longer sales funnels,” said Flynn Zaiger, CEO of Online Optimism. “Using your digital marketing to help differentiate yourself will get you more leads and increase your close rate, an essential growth strategy for larger companies.”
Digital marketing helps businesses differentiate themselves from the competition.
For example, HealthLabs.com, a website offering online lab testing, uses digital marketing to humanize its brand.
Businesses such as HealthLabs.com can use digital marketing to show off their unique voice, which helps them stand out from the competition.
Small Businesses Use Digital Marketing to Increase Brand Awareness
Small businesses use digital marketing to improve brand awareness to break into competitive markets.
“Smaller companies aren’t known,” Barg-Breen said. “If you don’t get awareness, you’re never going to get someone to buy from you. Getting a big enough base of people who know who you are is critical.”
A business can’t make a sale if consumers don’t know what it is in the first place.
For example, Hope & Harmony Farms, a peanut farm in Drewryville, Va., uses digital marketing to spread the word about its brand.
Companies like Hope & Harmony Farms use digital marketing to increase website visitors and brand knowledge.
Businesses Believe They are Effective in Achieving Marketing Goals
Eighty-three percent (83%) of businesses think their digital marketing efforts are effective in reaching their goals because it is much easier to reach consumers with digital marketing than more traditional forms.
“That number is high because digital marketing is where customers are,” Zaiger said. “Walking down the street, people aren’t looking at billboards or checking newspapers – they’re staring at their phones.”
Compared to traditional marketing and advertising, businesses feel they more effectively increase sales and revenue with digital marketing because it allows them to appeal to customers where they spend time: online.
Digital Marketing Is Essential for Driving Revenue
As more consumers use technology to shop, businesses must use digital marketing to reach consumers and stand out from the competition. It is essential for businesses to have a digital presence, whether it uses social media marketing, SEO, email marketing, a website, or ideally, a combination of channels.
Most businesses believe they effectively use digital marketing to increase sales and revenue, which is ultimately the goal of any business.
About the Survey
Clutch survey 501 digital marketers from companiesacross the U.S. with more than 100 employees. Most survey responds are managers (36%), associates (15%), C-level executives (13%), senior managers (12%), and directors (12%).
Nearly three-fourths (73%) of respondents are from B2C companies; 27% are from B2B companies.
About 29% of renspeondants’ companies had a 2017 revenue of less than $50 million; 32% $50 million to $500 million; 39% more than $500 million.