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Do your online marketing strategies need a health check?

Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

Marketing is a fundamental ingredient in the recipe book for success in businesses. But as technology continues to create new ways of talking to your audience, we look at what the best in Australia’s business community are doing.

Every year – as part of the entry process – the Telstra Business Awards entrants complete a free health check. It’s designed to give them a holistic overview of where their business is sitting, where the gaps are and where can be improved. Essentially, it encourages owners to work on the business, instead of in the business.

The answers they gave are a great insight into what the best in Aussie business are doing. As nominations for the Telstra Business Awards launch, we look at the NSW Business Chamber’s analysis of last year’s entrants, breaking down what Aussie businesses are doing from a marketing perspective.

And while the fundamentals are the same – be relevant, be engaging and capture peoples’ attention – online marketing strategies and the role of digital commerce are changing the way businesses interact with their customers.

A person typing on a laptop with chalk symbols flying out from it.

Have a plan

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying that “by failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail”, and so goes the first fundamental of business marketing: make sure you have a long term goal that sets out the marketing mix, what you want to achieve and clear measurements of what success looks like. In the analysis, 70 per cent of 2015’s award entries had a formal marketing strategy.

Mix it up

What was of particular note was the vast number of ways businesses can market their business. The online environment has drastically increased the number of avenues that can be explored, while decreasing barriers to entry significantly.And the analysis shows that it’s important to have a good spread: of the 15 ways that were presented, just three marketing tools had a third of businesses using them. Those three were outdoor marketing, telemarketing and “other” methods.When asked what performed best when it comes to marketing themselves, the general consensus was that lower cost activities performed best and the cost per lead was lower. Referral marketing, a good website, social media and face-to-face all ranked highly.

Measure, measure, measure

Of critical importance when it comes to executing marketing campaigns that drive businesses forward is the ability and foresight to determine what success looks like. Most entrants last year measured the effectiveness of their campaigns with rigor, with much of the measurement focused on increases in revenue, repeat business, online engagement and profitability.

However, returns and costs per lead vary wildly across industries, products and mediums, so it’s important to do your research and talk to people within the industry to get an idea of what a good return looks like and set a marketing objectives benchmark.

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Invest in your online presence

The role of online marketing strategies, unsurprisingly, was highlighted as a critical and inexpensive way to generate business and present their business’ marketing face to the world. Social media, email and search engine optimisation all had a key role.While 21 per cent said their website is static (as an online brochure or business overview), more than a third said they have an interactive site that facilitates two-way discussion. One in four said their website marketing strategy is fully integrated with business processes such as CRM, and one in five are investing in digital commerce.

Communication is key

Public relations also played a key role when it comes to engaging customers in a considered, proactive way – particularly when your industry is in the news. Of the Telstra Business Award entrants in 2015, half take the opportunity to proactively communicate with their clients, prospects, suppliers and external stakeholders when the media is covering issues within their industry.

By putting the front foot forward – particularly in times of trouble for your industry – it’s possible to distance yourself from controversy and assuage the fears of your clients or customers.

Know your enemy

Of the businesses entering into the 2015 Awards, all knew who their main competitors were, with 98 per cent able to differentiate themselves from their competitors (and communicate their USP).It may seem like a given, but the more you know about your competitors, the more you’re able to find new gaps in the market and grow your own business. And while many businesses were able to identify their competitors, less than half were able to identify how much market share their competitors had or their business strategies.

Are you looking to get your business into the online space?

Read about how successful Aussie businesses made their mark online.

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