For most in business, marketing is essential. In fact, Google’s April 2017 Car Purchasing UK Report showed that £115.9 million was invested in online display and direct mail by car dealers in the UK throughout 2016!
Clearly, those in the motoring industry have much to gain from marketing — and typically large budgets to fund campaigns. But with increased interest in online platforms, digital visibility doesn’t come cheap — so, is it worth the cost? Vindis, a leading motoring firm offering VW services, investigates…
The Fashion Industry
Online marketing is generally believed to have significantly boosted the fashion industry. Investments in digital platforms are critical to the success of fashion retailers — with online sales in the fashion industry reaching £16.2 billion in 2017 and expected to grow 79% by 2022.
Ecommerce made up around 25% of all fashion purchases at the end of 2017, according to the British Retail Consortium.
Today, brands including ASOS and Boohoo continue to embrace the online shopping phenomenon. ASOS experienced an 18% UK sales growth in the final four months of 2017, while Boohoo saw a 31% increase in sales throughout the same period. Many big names — such as Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and Next — have invested a lot of money into their digital operations to capture the online shopper and drive sales. In fact, John Lewis announced that 40% of its Christmas sales came from online shoppers, and whilst Next struggled to keep up with the sales growth of its competitors, it has announced it will invest £10 million into its online marketing and operations.
Buying from smartphones, laptops and iPads appears to be the purchasing style-of-choice for many fashion consumers. According to PMYB Influencer Marketing Agency, 59% of fashion marketers increased their budget for ‘influencer marketing’ last year — an essential marketing tactic in the fashion industry. In fact, three quarters of global fashion brands collaborate with social media influencers as part of their marketing strategy.
In 2017, over 33% of marketers claimed that influencer marketing is better than traditional methods — perhaps because around 22% of customers are said to be attained through influencer marketing!
The Utilities Industry
An apparent trend within the utilities sector relates to comparison websites. Reportedly, a growing number of consumers use these types of sites to choose the right utilities supplier. With comparison websites spending millions on TV marketing campaigns that are watched by the masses, it has become vital for many utility suppliers to be listed on comparison websites and offer a very competitive price in order to stay in the game.
But what are these comparison sites? The four main comparison websites are: Go Compare, Compare the Market, MoneySupermarket and Confused.com. In fact, these are among the top 100 highest spending advertisers in the UK. However, does this marketing investment reflect on utility suppliers?
Many believe that comparison sites can significantly affect the rate of customer retention for one supplier and the rate of customer acquisition for another. If you don’t beat your competitors, then what is to stop your existing and potential new customers choosing your competitors over you?
Within the sector, we can see examples of utility companies opting to focus on a particular type of customer when marketing. For example, British Gas has shifted its marketing aims toward customer retention, as opposed to customer acquisition. Whilst the company recognises that this approach to marketing will be a slower process to yield measurable results, it believes that retention will in turn lead to acquisition. The gas company hopes that by marketing a wider range of tailored products and services to existing customers, it will be able to improve customer retention. An investment of £100 million is to be invested in a loyalty scheme to offer discounted energy and services, which focuses on the value of a customer and their behaviour and spending habits over time to discover what they are looking for in the company.
The harsh competition in the utilities industry makes it vital that companies invest in existing customers before looking for new ones. However, digital marketing is another major part of advertising. 40% of all searches in Q3 2017 in the utilities sector were carried out on mobile, and a further 45% of all ad impressions were via mobile too (according to Google’s Public Utilities Report in December 2017). As mobile usage continues to soar, utilities companies need to consider content created specifically for mobile users, as they now account for a large proportion of the market.
The Automotive Industry
Google’s Drive To Decide Report (which was in association with TNS) suggested that the modern car consumer is digitally savvy. Apparently, over 82% of the UK population aged 18 and over have access to the internet for personal reasons, 85% are using smartphones and 65% choose a smartphone as their preferred device to access the internet. These figures show that, for car dealers to keep their head in the game, a digital transition is vital.
Did you know that this report also discovered that 90% of car shoppers conduct research online? 51% of buyers start their auto research online and 41% of those use a search engine. To capture these shoppers, car dealers must think in terms of the customer’s micro moments of influence, which could include online display ads. This is one marketing method that currently occupies a significant proportion of car dealers’ marketing budgets.
But how lucrative is this sector? The automotive industry made up 11% of the total UK digital ad spending growth in 2017, according to eMarketer, falling just behind the retail sector. Plus, the automotive industry is forecast to see a further 9.5% increase in ad spending in 2018.
For many consumers, the final purchasing decision takes place on the forecourt. So, how can digital platforms influence buying? 41% of shoppers who research online find their smartphone research ‘very valuable’, while 60% said they were influenced by what they saw in the media. Of this 60%, 22% were influenced by marketing promotions. Perhaps online investment is worth the investment, even though traditional methods — such as TV and radio — remain the most invested forms of marketing for the automotive sector. Reportedly, in the past five years, digital has made the biggest jump from fifth most popular method of marketing to third — an increase of 10.6% in expenditure.
The healthcare industry
The healthcare industry is heavily regulated, which means its marketing methods differ slightly from the others in this article. The same ROI methods that have been adopted by other sectors simply don’t work for the healthcare market. Despite nearly 74% of all healthcare marketing emails remaining unopened, you’ll be surprised to learn that email marketing is essential for the healthcare industry’s marketing strategy.
A major trend in healthcare communications and marketing is email. Around 2.5 million people use email as the main way of communicating — a figure which has risen over the past few years. This means email marketing is targeting a large audience. For this reason, 62% of physicians and other healthcare providers prefer communication via email. Now that smartphone devices allow users to check their emails on their device, email marketing puts companies at the fingertips of their audiences.
Health companies have much to gain from online marketing and statistics estimate that marketing spend for online marketing accounts for 35% of the overall budget. Apparently, 5% of Google searches are for health-related information, which could be attributed to the fact that many people turn to a search engine for medical answer before calling their GP. In fact, the Pew Research Center data discovered that 77% of all health enquiries begin at a search engine — and 72% of total internet users say they’ve looked online for health information within the past year. But what about which device we use to search for such information? More than 50% of smartphone users have used their device to look up the medical information they require — should health companies be turning their attention to mobile users?
Social media also plays a large part in marketing healthcare information and products. While the healthcare industry is restricted to how it markets its services and products, that doesn’t mean social media should be neglected. In fact, an effective social media campaign could be a crucial investment for organisations, with 41% of people choosing a healthcare provider based on their social media reputation! Why? The success of social campaigns is often attributed to the fact audiences can engage with the content on familiar platforms.
Is it worth investing?
For companies specialising in the latest fashion and newest cars, online marketing is vital! With a clear increase in online demand in both sectors that is changing the purchase process, some game players could find themselves out of the game before it has even begun if they neglect digital. In the utilities sector, the marketing future looks less focused. Clearly, TV and digital appear to remain the main sales driving forces, however, the authority of comparison sites must also be considered to formulate an effective marketing campaign. Without the correct marketing, advertising or listing on comparison sites, companies may fall behind.
But what do experts say about how online marketing will develop? According to webstrategies.com, the average business is expected to assign at least 41% of its marketing budget to online campaigns in 2018 — a figure that will expand to 45% by 2020. Social media advertising investments are expected to represent a quarter of total online spending, and search engine banner ads are also expected to grow significantly — presumably because of more mobile and online use.
What you must think about, is whether online marketing is beneficial for you and your company. If mobile and online usage continues to grow year on year at the rate it has recently, we forecast the investment to be not only worthwhile but critical!