Facebook Ads: How does it work?

Image Credit: Wishpond.com
Image Credit: Wishpond.com

Facebook Advertising: Do it right, make it big. Do it wrong? Well, you may end up losing a considerable amount of money. Tedeschi et al., (2009) argued that individuals act in such a manner to maximise their benefits gained from social interactions. As you already likely know, Facebook is a platform that can be accessed from almost anywhere in the world, satisfying the social needs of people. This is a double edged sword, as companies can exploit this to advertise their products and/or services and maintain engagement and connection with their consumers. According to Statista, (2016) Facebook is currently the leading social network ranked by number of active users – 1.59 billion monthly active users. As such, it provides a substantial podium for a business to showcase their goods. According to last years numbers, mobile advertising attributed to 76% of its total ad revenue – quantified to $2.9 billion, (Kokalitcheva, 2015). With numbers as impressive as these, there must be a reason why companies continue to use Facebook as part of their advertising. Let’s look into this further…

How does Facebook advertising work?

Image Source: Facebook.com
Image Source: Facebook.com

When creating an advertisement on Facebook, there are a number of variables the user must take into account. For the ad to become visible to the consumer, Facebook uses an algorithm to determine whether or not they have shown an interest in the ‘key-words’ that the creator of the ad uses to define their target audience. The key-words, similar to that of Google SEO, will be words that relate to what the product or service is, the market it is in or possibly even a competitor. As a result, the ad campaign will be highly concentrated towards those who would be potential purchasers (if implemented correctly). The minimum budget in the United Kingdom that can be set is £5.00 daily and Facebook will aim to use up the daily budget in it’s entirety.

Image Source: Facebook.com
Image Source: Facebook.com

The target audience is defined through a number of criteria; for instance target demographic which encompasses current location and X amount of radius, and also that of target age range. In more detail, the number of targeting options one can use is quite vast:

  • Custom Audiences
  • Location
  • Educational Demographic
  • Age & Gender
  • Interests
  • Behaviours
  • Connections

Upon definition of the audience and incorporation of your daily budget, Facebook will calculate the estimate daily reach of your advertisement. As an example, the image above shows a minimum of 1000 people daily on Facebook and Instagram, taking into account the demographic that was selected along with a daily budget of £5.00. Facebook also shows the potential reach; this is the number of people in the entire stated demographic that the advertisement could be shown to.

Image Source: Facebook.com
Image Source: Facebook.com

For arguments sake, let’s assume we have an ad in place which is estimated to reach a minimum of 2000 people daily on a budget of £5.00. The user will essentially be paying Facebook £5 to show the advertisement throughout the day and over the set period to the defined audience, regardless of whether or not they click through to the actual link or promotion etc, (Facebook, 2016). Facebook offers two methods of delivery for such advertisements; Standard Delivery and Accelerated Delivery. Standard Delivery entails that the advertisement will be distributed to someone in the defined target audience evenly over the course of the campaign. Accelerated Delivery is intended for spending your daily budget as soon as possible, removing the pacing element of Standard Delivery. This is often used as arguably a ‘blitz’ style method, perhaps for a soon ending sale or promotion. Resultantly, Standard Delivery is the most used method.

What are the other considerations?

As previously mentioned, just because an advertisement is visible to a consumer it doesn’t mean that they will actually click through to it. Stats from last year showed that in the UK, only 1.15% of consumers clicked through to a visible advertisement, (Reiss-Davis, 2015). This is called the ‘Click-through Rate’ or CTR for short.

Image Source: Salesforce
Image Source: Salesforce

CTR is specifically the ratio of users who click onto a specific link or advertisement, relative to the number of users who viewed it. Using this as a basis for calculation with the aforementioned example reach of 2000 people daily, this would equate to an approximate amount of 23 people accessing the link daily; from the budget of £5.00. It is important to take this into account – especially when numbers of such grandeur are presented to a business. It would be easy to become misled by such figures when the ‘reach’ is so high, but this doesn’t necessarily equate to greater profitability and a return on investment. The correct targeting of an advert and CTR are largely contributing factors as to whether or not an advertisement will be deemed successful, along with the implementation of a suitable budget appropriated to what a business can afford – or more importantly – afford to lose.


Facebook.com. (2016). Help Center. [online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/214319341922580?helpref=topq [Accessed 8 May 2016].

Kokalitcheva, K. (2015). Facebook’s Mobile Ad Revenue Is On A Tear. [online] Fortune. Available at: http://fortune.com/2015/07/29/facebook-mobile-ad-revenue/ [Accessed 6 May 2016].

Lukka, V. & Paul T J James, (2014), “Attitudes toward Facebook advertising”, Journal of Management and Marketing Research, vol. 14, pp. 1.

Reiss-Davis, Z. (2015). Salesforce Ads Benchmark: Key Trends Across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. [online] Salesforce Blog. Available at: https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2015/07/salesforce-ads-benchmark-key-trends-across-facebook-twitter.html [Accessed 5 May 2016].

Statista. (2016). Leading global social networks 2016 | Statistic. [online] Available at: http://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/ [Accessed 5 May 2016].

Tedeschi, J.T., Schlenker, B.R. and Bonoma, T.V., (2011). Conflict, power, and games: The experimental study of interpersonal relations. Transaction Publishers.

Gamification for Digital Marketing: What’s the score?

Image Credit: JIB.ca
Image Credit: JIB.ca

Gamification: using elements of game-playing (i.e. point scoring, competition etc.) to other areas, like online marketing, as a technique to increase engagement with the consumer.

So, what’s it all about? Palmer et al. (2012) stated that Gamification merges the activities of marketing and the thinking of a business manager with tools and creativity possessed by a game designer. Gamification is different to that of actual commercial gaming, as it offers an end-to-end customer service experience for the consumer whilst engaging on a company’s website and/or app.

How is this achieved?

The Gamification of a product or service is not only clever but appealing towards consumers. Gamification takes the core aspects of games; fun, play and challenge. This is then harnessed towards business objectives as oppose to providing pure entertainment value. If executed successfully, a company can develop unique customer loyalty through the use of a game design which changes a customers experience and behaviour with a product and/or service. The appeal however, is exactly that. The game design and offering needs to provide novelty and creativity, sparking interest and engagement. The aim is essentially not to lose the consumers’ interest over time, (Conaway & Garay, 2014). Moreover, consumers can be sustained through effective engagement of products and services, along with receiving forms of rewards or discounts for example. In the UK, Thorntons did just that, offering a gamified version of their chocolate factory and a chance to win a free tour.

How is it sustained?

Palmer et al, (2012) outlined the four key elements of Gamification, in order for it to be successful. These four elements encompass a range of different theories, such as game mechanics, behavioural aspects and the overall user experience, as demonstrated below:

  1. Progress Paths – this involves using challenging and evolving scenarios in the completion of a task. More often than not, the complexity of a challenge will increase over time, with rewards correlating to such complexity and completion. This is an effective way of keeping a user engaged with the game, offering options for novices but also the ability to become a more advanced user.
  2. Rewards and Feedback – this can be by way of virtual rewards (i.e. vouchers or coupons etc) or in-fact monetary rewards (i.e. £5 off your first shop). Part of the challenge is selecting and designing the right reward appropriated to the business. For example, different users will vary in motivation, some more concerned with more traditional monetary based rewards or vouchers, whilst others will be more engaged with the game; looking to be able to increase their ability or be able to master a level for example.
  3. Social Connection –  gamification provides the opportunity to network with friends. In turn, this creates competition and a platform for sharing support. Especially over an Internet connection, users can now instigate a dialog with one another instantly, whether that be desktop, mobile or tablet device. Resultantly, the levels of interaction and engagement will increase.
  4. User Experience and Aesthetics – following significant advancements in video game graphics and design, along with the possibility of cross-platform integration, users today are increasingly demanding with their expectation with technology services. This presents challenges for businesses with limited resources, but also allows for the opportunity to provide competent gamification of a product or service that will appeal to consumers. A perfect example of gamification is the creation of Doritos Crash Course for Xbox Live, found in this article.

Successful Implementation

Following on from the Doritos Crash Course example and trailer above, let’s dig a little deeper. Doritos Crash Course was (as now a new Xbox console has been released) a side-scrolling platform advertising game that was released on Xbox 360’s Live Arcade service. Not only was this example of gamification launched on Xbox as a free download, the development of the game was part of a competition for amateur game designers whereby the winner was awarded $50,000 and tasked with designing the game. Furthermore, the game covers all the elements needed in successful gamification. There was a single-player mode, online multiplayer to play against friends live and a leader-board for each circuit which showed those with the best recorded times of completion. Not only did this promote engagement and social competitiveness amongst users, but there was no actual form of monetary reward, whether that be a voucher or otherwise. In spite of this, the game had around 1 million downloads on Xbox Live, (Fahey, 2010).

Concluding Statements

As seen with Doritos Crash Course, if executed correctly, gamification can provide a unique way of engaging with consumers and sustaining interaction with a brand for prolonged periods of time. Moreover, it can be incorporated in a manner which allows a brand to connect with other communities and stakeholders, for instance that of the amateur game designers. With such reach and cohesion, if the resources are available to a firm for gamification, it is hard to argue against.



Conaway, R. & Garay, M.C. (2014), “Gamification and service marketing”, SpringerPlus, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 1-11.

Fahey, M. (2010). This Is The Best Doritos-Themed Xbox Live Arcade Game Of 2010. [online] Kotaku.com. Available at: http://kotaku.com/5720504/this-is-the-best-doritos-themed-xbox-live-arcade-game-of-2010 [Accessed 6 May 2016].

McCarthy, J. (2016). Thorntons accelerates its digital marketing with gamified Ultimate Guide to Easter Eggs hub. [online] The Drum. Available at: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2016/03/01/thorntons-accelerates-its-digital-marketing-gamified-ultimate-guide-easter-eggs-hub [Accessed 27 Apr. 2016].

Palmer, D., Lunceford, S. and Patton, A. (2012). The engagement economy: How gamification is reshaping businesses. [online] Deloitte University Press. Available at: http://dupress.com/articles/the-engagement-economy-how-gamification-is-reshaping-businesses/ [Accessed 27 Apr. 2016].

Blogging for Business: What’s the fuss?

Image credit: Keystonecopy.co.uk
Image Credit: Keystonecopy.co.uk

Blogging can be a fantastic marketing opportunity for businesses, but small businesses especially often lack the time and/or skill-set to generate high-quality content for publication. Moreover, even if one could publish such content, what would be the benefits to their business? Would the extra hassle be worth the reward?

What’s the fuss?

Branscombe, (2007) argued that blogs are a suitable resource for sharing information and collaborating, due to the simplicity in setting up a blog and then publishing it. Blogs are adaptable, they can be created (and removed) relatively quickly, whilst also being matched to the way a business works as the business evolves. You should take a look at these 10 reasons to start blogging…

A strong social media presence derives from unique content and regular activity. This can be achieved by sharing interesting content by others online (for instance articles, journals etc.). However, by generating your own industry topical content, further benefits can be recognised. Not only can these blog posts be shared on and effectively integrated with other social media platforms, as aforementioned this will lead to an increase of traffic to the business website. Additionally, you will have already generated content which can be used in mass communication to a focused audience, for example an email newsletter. The content from the blog can be compiled into a snippet of topical, relevant industry information and distributed accordingly.

Blogging also provides another interesting angle for a business; skill and expertise. If utilised correctly, a blog is brilliant way to establish a business as an expert in the industry. By providing unique and contemporary content, knowledge and know-how within that industry can be demonstrated to the reader. This will lead to not only the creation of a trustworthy rapport with the reader, but also will increase the likeliness of generating new, relevant business leads. This interesting video details some of other aspects of business blogging:

Moreover, the info-graphic below also highlights some of the key points mentioned above. Although specifically addressing the US, it serves to demonstrate the core benefits of a blog for a business from market research:

Image Credit: Ignite Spot
Image Credit: Ignite Spot

What are the finer points?

It is clear that if one was to blog on their own company website, search engine traffic to that site will increase. The more content that is added to the site will result in a greater number of pages from the domain which are indexed in search engines. Consequently, organic search visibility will improve whilst overall website traffic will increase.

‘Inbound links’ are links which come from another website to your website, (Kolowich, 2014). This is important for SEO. A blog can create high-quality inbound links which accumulate through others, such as journalists, bloggers or authors, when these contributors cite your blog content in articles of their own. This in turn can generate referral traffic back to your own company, (DeMers, 2015).

A blog also increases the chances of ranking for long-tail keywords, another important aspect of SEO. By having more content (in the form of a blog), the more chances you will have to rank for less common phrases, but those phrases often come with a higher chance of conversion for business. Long-tail keywords are more niche per se, and often less competitive than generic keywords such as “sports trainers”. An example of a long-tail keyword would be; “How to become an Estate Agent”; a quick google search of this example shows some interesting results:

Photo Credit: Own Source
Photo Credit: Own Source

The links in the above image are Ranks 1, 2 and 3 respectively for the search term “How to become an Estate Agent”. Divulging further, Rank 1 – “Reed”, is Alexa ranked as the 143rd top site in the whole of the UK and the No.1 UK employment agency website. Conversely, Rank 2 – “National Careers Service”, is an official government site. Most noticeably, Rank 3 – “Property Personnel”, is an SME. Despite being an SME however, for the mentioned long-tailed keyword search they rank astonishingly high; just below two organisations which would have substantially more resources than an SME.

But why does this matter?

The above example illustrates that offering uniquely generated content in the form of blogging, specifically catered towards a relevant and appropriate audience, can organically enhance a business’ SEO. This can prove invaluable, as it enables an SME for example, to gain exposure and reach against (sometimes at the cost) of larger organisations whom have substantially greater resources; particularly with regards to finances and time.

If utilised and adhered to correctly, blogging can be a powerful marketing tool for a business!



Branscombe, M. (2007). FT.com site : ONLY ON FT.COM: The power of business blogging. FT.Com, , 1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.brighton.ac.uk/docview/229088960?accountid=9727

DeMers, J. (2015). The Top 10 Benefits Of Blogging On Your Website. [online] Forbes.com. Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2015/05/28/the-top-10-benefits-of-blogging-on-your-website/3/#35e3a5997793 [Accessed 25 Apr. 2016].

Fishbein, M. (2014). 10 Reasons You Should Start Blogging. [online] The Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-b-fishbein/10-reasons-you-should-sta_b_5326353.html [Accessed 24 Apr. 2016].

Kolowich, L. (2014). What Is an Inbound Link? [FAQs]. [online] Blog.hubspot.com. Available at: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/inbound-links-faqs [Accessed 23 Apr. 2016].

Mastering the Art of Social Media: Why does it matter?

Photo Credit: Marccx.com
Photo Credit: Marccx.com

Social Media is essentially a modern day phenomenon. The ease of inter-connectivity and reach it provides is nothing short of astounding. Now, a person or business can go viral online within hours; for all the right reasons or more dangerously, the wrong ones. Take British Airways for example, whom were on the receiving end of a ‘promoted’ tweet seen by thousands, outlining their alleged poor customer service.

For an SME, it is arguably very important to effectively manage and harness the available Social Media platforms, for instance Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. But why? Why should one invest limited time and resources into such thing when other aspects of a business could be focused on? Social Media can be an extremely powerful tool if used correctly…

Why does it matter?

Inevitably the resources available to an SME compared to a multi-national are significantly lower. However, one of the main attractions with Social Media is it’s availability. Essentially free to use (when not promoting content or sponsoring posts), anyone can set up an account almost instantly and start broadcasting their goods and/or services. Moreover, this can be harnessed in a way whereby a business, whether that be an SME or in fact a multi-national, can adopt their Social Media platforms for a great number of things; such as marketing, gaining publicity or managing customer relations.

Evans (2011), defined Social Media Marketing as a practice in which businesses seek to engage consumers in the online social locations which they naturally spend time. The accessibility of amalgamating a Social Media platform into such a tool is an attractive proposition for an SME with limited resources, allowing the business to increase not only levels of engagement, interaction and connection with customers, but also overall traffic to the platform used and/or company website. The Guardian have written an interesting article, providing examples of how small businesses have used social media to enhance their growth.

What do you need to take into account?

Despite the benefits of an effectively managed Social Media presence, there are a number of important factors to take into account. To begin with, it is important to note ‘relevance’. Does an SME whom specialises in recruiting really need to be active on Instagram? Would this not be deemed as essentially a waste of time? Likewise, it could be unlikely that a small restaurant needs to focus the majority of its efforts on the LinkedIn platform. As aforementioned, the somewhat limited resources possessed by an SME need to be used efficiently. Resultantly, a lack of experience, expertise, time and focus can contribute to inappropriate or ineffectively managed social media accounts, with sometimes damaging results; demonstrated in this article (Warning: contains some strong language). A good example of relevant and also effective engagement with a correct audience however, can be seen below:

Photo Credit: Own Source
Photo Credit: Own Source (from LinkedIn)

The above example illustrates an SME which specialises in recruitment. They have used the LinkedIn platform as a means of communicating and reaching potential clients. Notwithstanding, the topic is in the relevant field and interest of the business’ target audience. The views, likes and comments may not seem substantial compared to say that which can be found on some Facebook articles, but the engagement is highly relevant to what the SME is offering. Prompting discussion and interest surrounding a certain topic (or issue) provides a unique two-way communication with the consumer, whereby they can offer their own personal views and opinions about the subject. This can be highly beneficial; especially if it can enhance or improve the business in anyway – (not to forget that this is all at relatively low cost if not outsourced).

How is it actually used?

Evidently however, it is important not to focus one’s efforts on social media platforms which will offer little reward or benefit to their organisation. The video below explains how SME’s can use Social Media in their Marketing Strategies, highlighting the purpose of such a strategy, combined with the benefits and drawbacks it brings:

Social Media, when used appropriately and effectively, can be a wonderful tool for substantially raising brand awareness and reaching out to consumers; especially for an SME. It goes without saying though that this is easier said than done and is unlikely to happen overnight. Some barriers of mastering Social Media platforms are as simple as lack of understanding of the platform (for instance the correct use of Twitter hashtags) or even an overall lack of ability whilst using ever-changing technology. It is important to remember however, that there are many resources available freely online, combined with different avenues to take such as outsourcing; if necessary. This insightful article covers the top 10 reasons why SME’s fail at Social Media – a vital read on your path to Social Media Mastery!

References and Sources:

Curtis, S. (2013). Twitter user buys promoted tweet to complain about British Airways. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/10283117/Twitter-user-buys-promoted-tweet-to-complain-about-British-Airways.html [Accessed 16 Apr. 2016].

Evans, D., (2010). Social media marketing: the next generation of business engagement. John Wiley & Sons.

Goldfield, A. (2012). Why Many Small Businesses Fail at Social Media. [online] Social Media Today. Available at: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/why-many-small-businesses-fail-social-media [Accessed 18 Apr. 2016].

Moth, D. (2013). The top 16 social media fails of 2013. [online] Econsultancy. Available at: https://econsultancy.com/blog/63901-the-top-16-social-media-fails-of-2013/ [Accessed 16 Apr. 2016].

Niven, R. (2014). How small businesses are making the most of social media to grow. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2014/apr/16/social-media-smes-growth [Accessed 14 Apr. 2016].

Can small businesses ultimately benefit from the use of Google AdWords for Digital Marketing?

(Photo credit: Clipart
(Photo credit: Clipart)

When it comes to marketing strategy Crowley, (2014) suggested that hard numbers will help make educated decisions, especially when tracking marketing metrics. Following on from the previous blog concerning SMEs and their online presence, this article aims to cover the impact that Google AdWords has upon a small business for digital marketing; whether that be positive or negative. A quick search on the web sees that it’s benefits are up for debate, some siding for its implementation, others stating that is nor a practical nor very good option for small business.

Google AdWords uses a pay-per-click (PPC) model of advertising for businesses. This allows the business in question to create their own simple ad-listings and pay for relevant keywords concerning their product and/or service; in turn the ad is shown to users searching for those terms. Moreover, the business will set a maximum budget (the minimum is £5 per day) and pay every time a user clicks on their ad until the budget is reached. An example of how this is presented in Google search results can be seen below:

(Photo credit: Google Search Engine)
(Photo credit: Google Search Engine)

AdWords does need to be optimised in order to be used effectively. For instance, the user can define 3 different types of phrase match to cater the ad to appearing in a potential consumer’s search:

  • Broad Match:  this is where the keyword(s) are present anywhere in a search query.
  • Phrase Match: this is where the keyword(s) are in order anywhere in a search query.
  • Exact Match: this is where the keyword(s) are in order and are the only word(s) in a search query.

How these matches are catered will affect a business’ visibility to the audience along with the rate of conversion. For example, a broad match will appear to a greater number of people but they are less likely to be interested/searching for what you are explicitly offering. As such, with incorrect optimisation financial resources can be wasted by a business using AdWords; relevance being key. Evidently, if the optimisation is poor or not sufficient then negating results will occur additionally to the financial aspect. This is something a business should bear in mind, as the optimisation may not always be an easy process. A useful video below however, demonstrates the most common mistakes by businesses using Google AdWords:

One of the benefits of using Google AdWords is the vast amount of metric reporting data they provide; relating to my earlier quote of “hard numbers will help make educated decisions”. The robust analytic nature it provides allows a small business to monitor return on investment real-time in a manner which would not be possible with methods of offline marketing. From this data provided, ads can be tweaked and monitored in an efficient manner to get better results, better visibility and ultimately improve profits. One online blog spoke of 12 reasons as to why a business can benefit from Google AdWords, along with tips for succeeding in its implementation.

An example of Google AdWords analytical features (Photo credit: Google PPC)
An example of Google AdWords analytical features (Photo credit: Google PPC)

One big issue relating to Google AdWords is the incorrect use of Negative Keywords. Negative Keywords remove a business’ ad listing from specific broad matches. For example, if one were to have an ad for “womens dress shoes” the Negative Keywords would be similar to “womens running shoes” – in order for the ad to not needlessly appear in that search. Negative Keywords attribute to a significant waste in a PPC budget, which can be solved if properly addressed. It does however serve to show that AdWords can in fact inhibit a small business if rendered incorrectly. Conversely, one website touched on the details involving such AdWord implementation failures.

Another aspect to consider is that of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and its role of enhancing a small business. It could be argued that SEO can be more cost-efficient to that of AdWords, with a business focusing on it’s website’s organic search listing without a sometimes costly daily spend associated with ads. This can work particularly well with local businesses whereby searches are more targeted, e.g. “cleaner in Brighton” as oppose to just “cleaner”. Resultantly, conversion rates would be higher for such businesses and a high organic listing may grow; sometimes providing credibility and trust to the consumer as they know it has not been bought. Another interesting article found delves into this in further detail.

Concluding, it seems as though that if correct implemented, monitored and optimised, Google AdWords can provide positive benefits for a small business in the form of visibility, conversion and enhanced profitability. One must ultimately take into account however that if poorly maintained, AdWords can serve to inhibit a small business’ financial resources which could have severe consequences in the long-term. Having said this, there are also other factors such as SEO to take into account, which may in some circumstances be a more effective solution depending on the type of business in question.


References and Sources

Crowley, M. (2014), “Optimize Keywords to Improve SEO”, Journal of Financial Planning, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 17.

Gardella, A. (2014). Business Owners Compare Notes on AdWords and Staying Competitive. [Blog] The Art of Running A Small Business. Available at: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/13/business-owners-compare-notes-on-adwords-and-staying-competitive/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1 [Accessed 30 Jan. 2016].

Wishpond, (2013). Why Does My Small Business Need Google AdWords? [Ultimate Guide]. [online] Available at: http://blog.wishpond.com/post/77711920097/why-does-my-small-business-need-google-adwords#a [Accessed 30 Jan. 2016].

Kim, L. (2014). The Real Reason AdWords Isn’t Working For Many Small Businesses. [online] Search Engine Land. Available at: http://searchengineland.com/the-real-reason-adwords-isnt-working-for-many-small-businesses-185379 [Accessed 30 Jan. 2016].

BusinessZone, (2014). Is AdWords a waste of money for small businesses?. [online] Available at: http://www.businesszone.co.uk/community-voice/blogs/bonline/is-adwords-a-waste-of-money-for-small-businesses [Accessed 30 Jan. 2016].

How important is an online presence for SMEs?

(Photo credit: NPA Consultant)

Jenkins et al, (2013) outlined that “consumers play an active role in spreading content” through the use of social media. A substantial number of SMEs (Small-to-medium enterprises) often place their digital marketing focus solely on social media; for instance Facebook or Twitter. This is commonly attributed to the simple template that these platforms offer; whereby content just needs to be generated from posts and/or media (such as pictures or video). Resultantly however, businesses are increasingly neglecting defining an online presence (for example through a website domain) as they do not understand the true value of doing so. This blogging post aims to explore and outline why a solid online presence is valuable towards helping an SME to grow their business. An interesting place to start is Forbes’ article on How Much Is Online Presence Helping Small Business.

A study conducted by Verisign in 2013; namely “Benefits And Barriers Of Bringing A Small Business Online: Perspectives From Global Small Businesses“, demonstrated how smaller businesses can leverage their position with relatively minimal effort. If the effort is relatively minimal, the question is; why are some small businesses still falling behind and not maximizing the benefit of having an online presence? Let’s look into the facts. In the UK, for example, Verisign discovered that 28% of SME respondents stated that they were not looking to eventually invest in a website for their company. This is despite the fact that Weebly (the online comprehensive website builder), stated that from research in 2013, 56% of consumers opted not to trust a business which does not have a website. Combined with Google Consumer Surveys, Weebly outlined important reasons as to why websites matter; from both consumer and business perspective:

(Picture source: Weebly)
(Photo credit: Weebly)

So why do some still opt not to define their online presence through a website domain? This could be attributed to a variety of aspects, as outlined by Weebly’s research:

  • 75% of consumers surveyed stated that they believed they could not create a website of high quality on their own; evidently preventing them from setting up a website
  • 50% of consumers stated that they struggled to finish their website, due to not having a plan or structure in place to do so
  • 20% of entrepreneurs who were questioned outlined that their hardest challenge was trying to stay up-to-date with technology

It seems as though businesses which lack a website domain have an incorrect perception of the difficultly in creating one. Even areas which would seem even more daunting to those with little website design experience, for example cross-platform optimisation (PC to Mobile) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), have now been incorporated into new technologies allowing the small business entrepreneur to get up and running without existing constraints; outlined in an article concerning Weebly’s new planner and mobile editor.

Organisations such as Weebly and Wix offer amalgamated platforms for the aforementioned, whereby users can create a functioning website (sometimes for free or at little cost) using an integrated planning tool; including ‘drag and drop’ systems, allowing those with limited website creation knowledge to get started at lightning speeds. Despite the importance of social media, it is also important to note that the website domain is essentially the online foundation of any business. It is important to note also, that domain name registration can cost as little as 99p. Even if one chooses not to add content and simply use it as a redirection tool to their social media pages, the domain still adds credibility and professionalism in pointing potential consumers towards the business; whether that be a service and/or goods. Additionally, a website combines with the use of branded email (for instance admin@brightonbarbers.com), a hallmark of communication decorum which one does not get with Facebook or Twitter.

These aspects mentioned outline the utter importance of having a website or at the very least a website domain for redirection, and with the emergence of affordable and effective solutions which are widely available it can be argued that there are now no excuses for implementation.

The video below highlights the essential benefits a website brings to a business:


References and Sources:

Jenkins, H., Ford, S. and Green, J. (2013). Spreadable media. New York: New York University Press.

The Small Business Authority, N. (2013). How Much Is Online Presence Helping Small Business?. [online] Forbes.com. Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/thesba/2013/11/25/how-much-is-online-presence-helping-small-business/#336794082278 [Accessed 28 Jan. 2016].

BENEFITS AND BARRIERS OF BRINGING A SMALL BUSINESS ONLINE: PERSPECTIVES FROM GLOBAL SMALL BUSINESSES. (2013). 1st ed. [ebook] Verisign, pp.4-9. Available at: https://www.verisign.com/assets/Research-small-business-september2013.pdf [Accessed 29 Jan. 2016].

Weebly.com, (2013). Weebly – The Power of Sites. [online] Available at: http://www.weebly.com/power-of-sites/# [Accessed 30 Jan. 2016].

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