The power of digital and social media marketing

January brings cold weather, dark mornings, post-Christmas lulls and, for organisations that appreciate the importance of planning, an opportunity to consider the previous year and – harnessing what they’ve learnt – develop new strategies to enable further growth and improvement.

Marketing plans will inevitably be placed under significant scrutiny as part of this process. It is generally accepted that companies that wish to merely maintain their existing presence should dedicate 5% of their revenue to marketing. For the more ambitious seeking growth, they should assign 10% of revenue to their marketing budget.1 In either case, the amount they invest will be far from insubstantial.

It’s fair to say that, if an organisation wishes to increase its market share, a significant portion of its marketing budget will need to be spent on advertising. This, though, poses a significant problem: how can you ensure that you’re spending your budget in the right places? Places where your honed and powerful creatives are likely to be seen by people who will be interested in your goods or services?

Leveraging paid search and targeted digital advertising

The answer to this question is to harness a tool that people looking to make purchases use every single day: search engines. A study from PR and marketing firm Fleishmann Hillard revealed that an astonishing 89% of online purchases start with a search engine.2 Just consider that for a moment: nine out of every ten people that buy something online use search engines to find the goods and services they’re looking for. Just imagine how powerful – how transformational – it would be if your organisation could harness this.

You may now be thinking that you already know about the benefits of ranking highly on sites such as Google for a variety of search terms. You may not have been aware of just how important until now, but you’ve looked into it and, having discovered that getting to the top of the organic rankings can take time, decided that it wasn’t an immediate priority – but there is an instantaneous way to use the power of search to your advantage: paid search.

Top 5 goals for online advertising

Simple to set up, free from contractual obligation and with a variety of features designed to curtail excessive spending, paid search allows organisations to target users that are entering specific terms into search engines, showing them fully-customisable text-based creatives that can be used to grow consumers’ awareness of your offerings, develop or reinforce your brand’s message, generate leads or sell to searchers directly.

Highly targeted and capable of reaching users that are likely to be interested in your company, paid search tools can be blended with other digital marketing channels to provide even more powerful and effective routes to market.


By installing pixels across various pages of your website (this is a lot more straightforward than you might think) you can opt to display what is colloquially known as remarketing or re-targeting adverts to users across a variety of websites. Say, for example, a user adds products to their online shopping basket but then abandons it – you can show them an ad offering them a discount on their purchase.

If they left on a page displaying a variety of products, you can show them ads displaying similar goods. These types of adverts are a powerful means of transforming would-be purchasers into customers and, on average, are clicked on ten times more frequently than traditional display adverts.3

Social media platforms such as Facebook take remarketing ads to the next level by not only showing adverts to users that have previously visited your website but by doing so across their various devices. The pixels we’ve mentioned previously are typically stored on the device used to visit the website but, with social media, the pixel is instead installed on the user’s account.

As a result, whenever they are logged into their Facebook or Instagram account, your ads can be displayed regardless of whether they are using a desktop, mobile, tablet or any other kind of device.

Granular social media advertising

Social media has one other ace up its sleeve: the ability to target users by interest.

When people sign up for social media accounts, they willingly provide these organisations with a wealth of information about themselves. Furthermore, their actions on these platforms provide further insights into their interests, activities, behaviours and more. These websites use this information to develop audience segments that advertisers can directly target.

Whilst less precise than paid search in that it does not provide advertisers with the opportunity to reach users at the precise moment they’re looking for a product or service, granular advertising on social media is an excellent and highly-efficient means of driving awareness amongst individuals likely to be interested in your company and its offerings. Furthermore, as digital advertisers improve their algorithms ability to analyse data, performance will increase accordingly. 

Top 3 online advertising channels for business


Paid search, remarketing and granular advertising on social media are all powerful ways of increasing awareness of your products and improving their uptake. Budgets can be pre-determined and will not be exceeded, plus their interfaces are relatively easy to use, though some of their more advanced features will require effort to master.

Getting the most out of these tools will be directly affected by the amount of time and research your organisation is able to dedicate to researching and fully understanding their capabilities. All campaigns set up on these online advertising platforms can be automatically optimised by algorithms if required, but this will yield only a microcosm of the benefit they are capable of providing.

Fortunately, all providers – keen to drive increased use – offer online training at no cost.

  1. In Touch Marketing (2019) What should my marketing budget be?
  2. Fleishman Hillard (2012) Digital Influence Index Shows Internet as Leading Influence in Consumer Purchasing Choice
  3. Khalid Saleh, Invesp (2019) Ad Retargeting in Numbers – Statistics and Trends​​​​


Artificial intelligence and machine learning for SMEs

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