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Social Media Advertising. Is it worth the money for SMEs?

2013 was the year that online advertising finally overtook newspaper advertising expenditure for the first time. According to Ad Age, internet advertising now accounts for 20.6% of the global ad spend, only coming second to television, which still holds 40% of the market.

But is online advertising worth investing your precious marketing budget in? Does anybody click on these ads? Will the investment bring a measurable return?

The answer is yes, it can be, with the right campaign aimed at the right market.

For example

One of our clients, a bridal boutique, recently spent £108 on a Facebook advertising campaign. The two week campaign resulted in 1,200 click throughs to the sales page of their website. 

At even a 1% conversion rate anyone would consider this a wise investment.

There are multiple examples of successful social media campaigns across the internet, but most of these examples feature the world’s biggest brands (and their seemingly bottomless marketing budgets). Even the ones that don’t are examples of one off, inspired campaigns that attracted worldwide interest and acclaim. Documented examples of targeted campaigns that directly translate into a strong push in sales are less plentiful, although the recent success of a Facebook campaign by Visit Dorset in attracting 2,000 new ‘likes’ over six weeks (http://www.westerngazette.co.uk/Thousands-sign-Dorset-social-media-campaign/story-22972473-detail/story.html) underlines the power of a targeted campaign. Whilst figures aren’t yet available for how these converted to sales, strong campaigns, targeted at a specific and preferably researched audience are a better example to follow for most business looking for a return on investment (ROI).

Brand-Building or ROI?

According to the 2014 State of Digital Marketing report (by Webmarketing123 http://www.stanventures.com/infographics/2014-state-of-digital-marketing-infography.php), improving awareness of business or brand is no longer the top priority for wither B2B or B2C’s using social media. In listing their top objective for their social media activity this year, 41% of B2Bs said lead generation, and 40% of B2Cs said to drive sales, while 25% of B2Cs admitted that measuring return on investment is the biggest challenge regarding social media, as businesses seem to decide that it is time for direct results where social media is concerned.

However brand-building does remain an important function of social media, with 17% of B2Bs and 27% of B2Cs revealing improving awareness of their business as their top social media objective for 2014.

It is important to distinguish the expectations and demands of each social media campaign, whether through regular (unpaid) posting, or paid advertising. Both are extremely valuable when done right, but spending money on advertising to build your brand may not be the right option for your business right now. Most SMEs require a near immediate return on advertising investment, especially when such tasks can be operated (relatively) free using social media. However adding in a paid social media advertising campaign to an online presence which has been building can provide an incredible return.

The client we mentioned whose campaign performed so well have steadily been building their brand to the extent that they have over 2,700 Facebook likes – which makes the prospect of a paid campaign more effective and such a remarkable opportunity for ROI.

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