Online marketing: how different sectors benefit from investing in digital advertising

Anyone in business knows how critical good marketing is to the profit health of a company. But have you considered the advantages of online marketing and how it can be adapted to various sectors?

From motoring to fashion, every sector plays the marketing game differently and with varied success. According to Google’s April 2017 Car Purchasing UK Report, £115.9 million was invested in online display and direct mail by car dealers in the UK throughout 2016.

This shows that those in the motoring industry have much to gain from marketing — and typically large budgets to fund campaigns. But how do other sectors compare?

The utilities sector

In the utilities sector, comparison websites are something to be focused on and definitely not to be ignored within marketing. Reportedly, a growing number of consumers use these types of sites to choose the right utilities supplier. With comparison websites spending millions on TV marketing campaigns that are watched by the masses, it has become vital for many utility suppliers to be listed on comparison websites and offer a very competitive price in order to stay in the game.

From Go Compare to MoneySupermarket, there are many sites to be aware of if you’re marketing a utilities firm, and many believe that comparison sites can significantly affect the rate of customer retention for one supplier and the rate of customer acquisition for another. If you don’t beat your competitors, then what is to stop your existing and potential new customers choosing your competitors over you?

Aside from digital platforms, who do utilities companies focus much of their marketing efforts on?  British Gas has shifted its advertising aims toward customer retention, as opposed to customer acquisition. Whilst the company recognises that this approach to marketing will be a slower process to yield measurable results, it believes that retention will in turn lead to acquisition. The gas company hopes that by marketing a wider range of tailored products and services to existing customers, it will be able to improve customer retention. An investment of £100 million is to be invested in a loyalty scheme to offer discounted energy and services, which focuses on the value of a customer and their behaviour and spending habits over time to discover what they are looking for in the company.

Two fifths of all searches in Q3 2017 in the utilities sector were carried out on mobile, and a further 45% of all ad impressions were via mobile (according to Google’s Public Utilities Report in December 2017). Clearly, concentrating on mobile users is an important aspect of online marketing for utilities marketers…

The automotive sector

Generally, motoring consumers are relatively up-to-date when it comes to gadgets, tech and online platforms. Apparently, over 82% of the UK population aged 18 and over have access to the internet for personal reasons, 85% are using smartphones and 65% choose a smartphone as their preferred device to access the internet. These figures show that, for car dealers to keep their head in the game, a digital transition is vital.

Did you know that the Drive To Decide Report by Google also discovered that nine tenths of car consumers do their own research online? 51% of buyers start their auto research online and 41% of those use a search engine. To capture these shoppers, car dealers must think in terms of the customer’s micro moments of influence, which could include online display ads. This is one marketing method that currently occupies a significant proportion of car dealers’ marketing budgets.

Online marketing and the automotive industry work very well together. The car sector made up 11% of the total UK digital ad spending growth in 2017, according to eMarketer, falling just behind the retail sector. Plus, the automotive industry is forecast to see a further 9.5% increase in ad spending in 2018.

Other stats also support the idea that online platforms can help when choosing to buy a car. 41% of shoppers who research online find their smartphone research ‘very valuable’, while 60% said they were influenced by what they saw in the media. Of this 60%, 22% were influenced by marketing promotions. Perhaps online investment is worth the investment, even though traditional methods — such as TV and radio — remain the most invested forms of marketing for the automotive sector. Reportedly, in the past five years, digital has made the biggest jump from fifth most popular method of marketing to third — an increase of 10.6% in expenditure.

The healthcare sector

Marketing is not as easy for healthcare marketers, due to stricter regulations and monitoring. However, that doesn’t mean the situation is impossible. Despite nearly 74% of all healthcare marketing emails remaining unopened, you’ll be surprised to learn that email marketing is essential for the healthcare industry’s marketing strategy. Around 2.5 million people use email as the main way of communicating — a figure which has risen over the past few years. For this reason, 62% of physicians and other healthcare providers prefer communication via email. Now that smartphone devices allow users to check their emails on their device, email marketing puts companies at the fingertips of their audiences.

Online marketing in healthcare apparently accounts for 35% of the overall budget, and healthcare queries are also very popular on Google. In fact, the Pew Research Center data discovered that 77% of all health enquiries begin at a search engine — and 72% of total internet users say they’ve looked online for health information within the past year. But what about which device we use to search for such information? More than 50% of smartphone users have used their device to look up the medical information they require — should health companies be turning their attention to mobile users?

But the opportunities don’t end there. An effective social media campaign could also be a crucial investment for health organisations, with 41% of people choosing a healthcare provider based on their social media reputation! Why? The success of social campaigns is often attributed to the fact audiences can engage with the content on familiar platforms.

The fashion sector

It’s hard to picture how the fashion industry would now survive without online marketing.  Investments in digital platforms are critical to the success of fashion retailers — with online sales in the fashion industry expected to grow 79% by 2022 and ecommerce making up around 25% of all fashion purchases at the end of 2017 (according to the British Retail Consortium).

So, how are popular clothing brands reaping the rewards of digital? ASOS experienced an 18% UK sales growth in the final four months of 2017, while Boohoo saw a 31% increase in sales throughout the same period. Many big names — such as Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and Next — have invested a lot of money into their digital operations to capture the online shopper and drive sales. In fact, John Lewis announced that 40% of its Christmas sales came from online shoppers, and whilst Next struggled to keep up with the sales growth of its competitors, it has announced it will invest £10 million into its online marketing and operations.

What’s more, influencer marketing has proven to be massively advantageous for fashion marketers looking to spread a new trend and capture a fresh audience. According to PMYB Influencer Marketing Agency, 59% of fashion marketers increased their budget for ‘influencer marketing’ last year — an essential marketing tactic in the fashion industry. In fact, three quarters of global fashion brands collaborate with social media influencers as part of their marketing strategy. In fact, over 33% of marketers claimed that influencer marketing is better than traditional methods.

The future of online marketing

Every industry and company is different and has varied success when it comes to advertising. Looking through the statistics detailed in this article, it’s apparent that fashion and motoring firms benefit greatly from online platforms — and it’s important to make sure you’re one step ahead at all times. In the utilities sector, the marketing future looks less focused. Clearly, TV and digital appear to remain the main sales driving forces, however, the authority of comparison sites must also be considered to formulate an effective marketing campaign. Without the correct marketing, advertising or listing on comparison sites, companies may fall behind.

In the near future, expect to see an even greater reliance on digital platforms and online marketing.  According to, the average business is expected to assign at least 41% of its marketing budget to online campaigns in 2018 — a figure that will expand to 45% by 2020. Social media advertising investments are expected to represent a quarter of total online spending, and search engine banner ads are also expected to grow significantly — presumably because of more mobile and online use.

You have a lot to gain by streamlining your online marketing strategies. If mobile and online usage continues to grow year on year at the rate it has recently, we forecast the investment to be not only worthwhile but critical!

This article was researched and created by Vindis, a chief motoring firm offering Audi servicing.



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