The Role of Digital Advertising and Marketing in Creating Brand Awareness for SMEs in the United Kingdom Retail Industry
Name: Charles C. Offor
Table of Contents
The chapter shall seek to give an in-depth review into the importance of brand awareness, and consequentially seek to establish the role of digital advertising and marketing in creating brand awareness for the SMEs in the UK. In addition, an evaluation based on the extant literature shall be conducted to identify the most effective segment in creating and increasing brand awareness in the UK markets.
According to Chan (2015), digital advertising and marketing has rapidly gained root in the world of business due to its high efficiency. The authors underscore that digital advertising and marketing has allowed businesses to profile their potential client allowing from an optimized marketing experience. Adomavicius et al. (2015) record that employment of digital analytic has allowed businesses saves cost given firms target customers that have already shown interest in the product. For instance, it becomes easier to make a sale through sending clients personalized messages that lure them into buying. The finding is a significant to the SMEs in the UK that have remained reluctant towards embracing the induction of digital advertising and market in their workspace. Chan (2015) highlights that in a market study conducted in China involving 195 brands the results revealed that digital marketing plays a key role in key role in creating a brand’s awareness. However, the study established that digital advertising and marketing cannot replace the traditional marketing methods due to a variety of factors. The factors include; a considerable number of people may not have constant access to the internet thus shifting to digital marketing in entirety would be counterproductive.
In essence, digital advertising and marketing lower the cost of creating brand awareness. Retailers can optimize their marketing to the target groups through geo-targeting. Hanafizadeh and Behboudi (2012) recognize that geo-targeting allows a marketer to optimize their advertisement to a specific location that they believe the targeted market segments will be able to view them. For instance, a company places its websites and social media page that they expect the targeted market segment shall visit. In the long run, this ends up increasing the cost efficiency in advertising. Digital adverts can be viewed by multiple persons at the same time countering the cost associated with the production of, for instance, brochures that can only be issued to one person at a time.
Similarly, digital advertising and marketing offer an opportunity for the investors in the UK’s retail industry to lower their operation costs further allowing them to offer competitive prices to the consumers. Tech savvy consumers are in a constant search for information finding deals that offer them maxim utility on their income. In turn, this creates a level playing ground for the retail traders alongside the established players in the market. The reduction in the marketing cost allows the traders to lower their prices simultaneous increasing their overall cost. A blend of the traditional methods of marketing and digital advertising and marketing tool would ensure that a firm break even much earlier compared to if it relied on the traditional means of advertisement.
Faris (2016) notes, digital marketing, has re-written the rules of advertising through driving a spirited revolution in the consumer behavior. Digital advertising and marketing has been noted to modify the consumers’ behavior significantly influencing where and the nature of the product they choose to buy. In the recent past, the author indicates consumers are opting to visit online sites to compare products’ prices and specification before making any decision. Arguably, digital advertising and marketing are developing increasing digital touch points for the sales and marketing executives. Any firm that chooses to ignore the digital advertising and marketing segment stands to lose out a significant size of potential buyers that will not interact with their products prior to making the purchases’ decisions. Potentially, the revelation opens up an important aspect that investors engaging in the retail business in the UK should consider. The loss of digital touch points amounts to a loss of revenue to an enterprise given they can be said to be missing opportunities to make pitches to potential buyers.
According to Kotler and Armstrong (2014), the choice of mode of marketing should be based meeting the consumers’ needs, giving a competitive price, offering convenience and creating an open channel for communication. Digital advertising and marketing offers the four important aspects of marketing. Digital market creates an opportunity to create the brand awareness to the consumers. Through advertising in the social media, email market and internet marketing; a marketer can inform potential clients about the products availability. The SMEs traders in the UK require informing their potential on the products availability to boost their chance s of expansion. SMEs suffer are unable to expand their markets despite having unique products due to poor market approach. However, digital advertising and marketing offer a suitable route to break from this down pulling trend. In the UK, only a small percentage of the citizenry do not consistently access the internet due to a variety of reasons. In turn, this implies that a significant number of the populace is tech savvy and is constantly engaging the internet in search for information. Jian and Rashad (2015) suggest that a tech-savvy population represents an untapped market to any entrepreneurs. In essence, the consumers are open to buying into deals that improve their utility, a finding that would be expected to encourage the retail traders in the UK to find it easier to break even with ease in the market. The move is expected to be marked with improved earnings.
Kotler and Armstrong (2014) further note that business should be able to offer convenience to its existing and potential customers. Digital advertising and marketing allows customers to enjoy service at their convenience. In essence, human movement has significantly increased making them have some trusted sellers of a given commodity across the country. For instance, a person from Newcastle may require having a trusted seller of a particular product in Chester when they pay visits. Digital advertising allows SMEs to leverage on such movement through creating an online presence that gives consumer reasons why they should buy from a given retailer. Consumers thus enjoy the convenience of accessing goods and services without having to walk around and window shop to identify a suitable deal. In line with this, digital advertising and marketing allow consumers to buy goods and services from the comfort of their homes. Arguably, in the last few decades, the world is increasing becoming faster forcing persons to reduce time spent on travel to concentrate on their core business. Resultantly, this has created a niche for the SMEs in the UK that adopt digital advertising into their marketing mix.
From a different perspective, Karjaluoto et al. (2015) note that digital marketing offers an improved customer experience. The authors suggest that ability to create an open communication plan allows a business to establish a long-term relationship. Digital advertising and marketing facilitates the creation of an open communication platform between a given seller and the potential buyers. A given seller can provide clarifications on various questions about a given aspects of a product. The free flow of communication wins consumers’ goodwill creating a predictable revenue stream for the business. In essence, SMEs have for had a long issue with financial due to unpredictable financial streams. Consequently, this inhibits the number of financial institutions willing to extend credit to them; negatively affecting business expansion. Fortunately, digital advertising and marketing offer a suitable strategy to reverse the trend. A satisfactory customer service right from the first contact, sealing the sale and handling any issues that arise afterward creates a suitable ground to grow a customer base that will result to increase sales in the long run (Karjaluoto, Mustonen, & Ulkuniemi, 2015). Currently, consumers are demanding a personalized marketing service that seeks to fulfill their needs in their uniqueness. For instance, email marketing allows SMEs to address based on specific web analytics that enables a business to identify accurately their needs. The strategy works in creating a brand’s desire in the customers’ minds and heart.
Creation of strong brand awareness necessitates the right choice of the digital segment to use in advertising and marketing at large. In existence, they are various digital segments that can be used in digital marketing. The segments include email marketing, affiliate marketing, pay per click advertising (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO), social media advertising, content marketing and display advertising. However, the choice is dependent on the targeted market segment, nature of products, competitors’ choice and the available funds aided by a well-guided evaluation on the intended results. To make well guided decision it is important to understand the intrinsic details entailed in each of the digital advertising and marketing technique.
Firstly, email marketing encompasses delivery of emails to potential customers that have been positively earner marked to be likely product’s consumers. Backed with the requisite accreditation, email marketing offers one of the most effective mode of marketing to businesses. However, firms should avoid falling into the trap of sending emails to potential customers without their permission given it may lead to serious legal violations. In the long run, the bad reputation emanating from such cases end up eating up the good reputation had created. The revenue streams also end up suffering given court cases may end up eating part of the attained profits. On a positive note, email marketing helps save on cost given cheaper only targets the identified market segment.
Alternatively, a business may opine to use Internet Ads that manifest in display advertisements. Internet Ads focus on wide target population. The messages are not personalized but deliver general informative messages to the potential clients. Jian and Rashad (2015) highlight that an Internet user is exposed to 1,700 advertisements per months, however, only close to half that number are engaged. The statistic indicates a loophole in the internet marketing cycle. Evidently, Internet Ads create a loophole for business to lose fund to non-productive means of digital advertising and marketing. Resultantly, it would be advisable for the SMEs in the UK to cautiously approach such form of advertising that may end up draining up their resources without meaningful results. Jian and Rashad (2015) further record that Google admits that only 8 in a group of 100 internet users engage 85% advertisement banners their browsers. The advent of browser’s extensions aimed at blocking advertisements from appearing on browsers has hampered the results attained by employing this mechanism.
2.2.3 Search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, social media marketing, affiliate marketing and content marketing
However, SEO, PPC, affiliate marketing and content marketing offer a safer and effective strategy for the SMEs to employ. The highlighted modes of digital advertisement and marketing channels are cost effective and allow SMEs owners to control their operational cost. For instance, the pay per click model allows an SME operator only to pay for the effective marketing efforts. Arnold et al., (2012) reaffirm that a PPC model allows a firm also to evaluate the benefits accrued from bringing such a service on board. In essence, over a given period a business may be able to calculate the rate of conversion over a specified period. A low conversion rate may aid the businesses’ decision maker to stop search services and employ other methods of digital advertisement and marketing. Arguably, such trends make up the requisite operational mix that SMEs requires. In the UK despite over 5.2 million people SMEs, capital remains to be a key hindrance to the business growth (UK Government, 2014). In turn, the introduction of methods of marketing over which a firm has direct control in the short run offers the business a suitable mode of operation that allows cost optimization subject to the returns. Affiliate marketing also allows business to control their advertisement and marketing cost given firm only pays for traffic directed towards their website (Arnold et al., 2012). Conversely, content marketing and SEO provides a cheaper option to make digital advertisements and marketing given they involve a one-off cost to the firm. Retailers should seek services from reputable agencies to ensure that they are best to derive the best out of the two options. In essence, the two are considered to be a long-term investment to the marketing arm of an SME given they can always be updated.
Likewise, the social media has experienced exponential growth over the last one decade. The increase in the number of people with constant internet connectivity has further commensurated the social media reach. Social media is nondiscriminatory and connects people from all walks of life. In essence, this offers a perfect recipe for a business to create brand awareness about their product. At first, Social Media Marketing (SSM) can be engaged by businesses that have launched in the recent past to announce their entry into the market. According to Statista (2016), the number of active Facebook users has risen t more than 1.5 billion globally points to increasing conglomeration of global populations on social media site. Rose McGrory Social Media Management (2016) notes that in the UK there are an estimated 30 million people that are actively using Facebook to gain information and connect with friends. Arguably, it is evident that the social media presents one of the most potent channels to create brand awareness. For instance, the creation of Facebook page is sufficient to have thousand know about a given product without the business incurring a cost. The SMEs in the retail business the UK should, therefore, seek to enhance the use of SMM to enhance their sales through increased brand awareness in the market. Twitter also offers a similar platform that SMEs can seek to leverage to increase the brand awareness. The use of hashtags to enhance visibility could work out for local SMEs seeking to promote their goods. However, to enhance a product visibility, an SME may seek to engage the services of a celebrity on Twitter with many followers to boost a product’s visibility. In addition, the product enjoys a celebrity advertisement further gaining probability of being ordered by the consumers.
Firms seeking to engage in social media marketing should consider some factors that include; if their product would suit an SMM model, the target population, and the urgency. Social media marketing takes some time to gain traction thus would not amount to a quick fix to low brand awareness. A social media site gains followers exponentially, but may experience a slow start. Neti, (2011) notes that social media is tool that SMEs should use to grow their business. The researcher expresses concerns that SMEs continue to engage in expensive means marketing neglecting SMM that has a potential to create a strong brand with minimal cost. Neti(2011) warns SMEs from using exaggerated product specifications on the social media sites to attract customers. The author highlights that firms stand to suffer reputational damage accruing from negative feedback. SMEs aiming to expand their business cannot to make such mistakes, and should, therefore, embrace transparency as they seek to grow their products brand awareness.
In the light of the highlighted literature, it is evident that digital advertising and marketing offer an opportunity for the SMEs in the UK to enhance their brand awareness. However, to succeed in this; a raft of strategies requires to be used. Green (2016) notes that company do not need to just engage in digital marketing, but should have elaborate strategies to help them stand out amongst their competitors.
Firstly, dependent on the mode of marketing chosen a retail firm should be able to main high visibility. In essence, digital marketing should not be a one-off affair, but should be a consistent to ensure that clients recognize the presence of product in the market. Regular posting of content can help to ensure that a retail firm’s products remain visible in the in a market, and the competitors’ products do not suppress their presence.
Similarly, for retail firms using digital marketing, high-quality content should be posted on the websites to ensure that potential consumers are sufficiently convinced to read or watch the digital marketing package (Green, 2016). Content should focus on the key product’s specification to wordiness that may get potential clients bored to either watch or read a given marketing material. For instance, for retailers using SMM posting quality pictures with attractive and informative graphics can aid in increasing brand awareness whereas the brand loyalty increases. A retailer in the UK seeking to use social media marketing should embrace posting unique content, and avoid recycling content that already exist on other sites.
Similarly, a retail firm should develop a user-friendly website. The website should be easy to navigate for the potential buyers. The website should also contain all the requisite information that client may need regarding a particular product. Important to note, poorly designed websites may turn off potential customers due to being unattractive. Retailers should choose attractive layouts with that entice the visitors to navigate throughout a given website to learn about various products (Niedermeier & Corey, 2016). Similarly, the website should be updated regularly to ensure that it facilitates efficient communication. In previous instances, firms have suffered bad reputation occasioned by communication breakdown emanating from their websites. Therefore, the SMEs retailer in the UK should take requisite measures to avoid suffering the same fate.
In sum, it evident that digital marketing provides an efficient way for the SMEs in the UK’s retail sector to breakeven in shorter periods through enhanced brand awareness. Digital marketing lowers operational cost allowing a firm to offer competitive prices to their client. However, digital marketing strategies should be used as highlighted to ensure that any given firm achieves the desired results. For instance, Facebook with more than 1.5 billion users globally provides an opportunity to SMEs that may be aiming to expand their business to the international platform (Schaffmeister, 2015). Besides, firms should identify the most effective digital marketing model that suits a given product and optimizes cost and output.
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