Online marketing has come to drive much of professional services marketing strategy in recent years as more and more small business owners looking to Internet tools to find solutions to current business challenges. The professional services branding and marketing firm Hinge recently completed a study of 500 professional service firms, looking specifically at how they used and applied online marketing tools. Their survey involved an exploration of 15 top tools and forums: SEO, blogging, webinars, company newsletters, pay per click, online videos, banner ads, web analytics, usability testing, white papers and eBooks, email marketing, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

Overall, this research study found that generating new leads online gave small businesses a distinct competitive advantage that boosted both profitability and growth. When comparing the percentage of leads generated online to a company’s median 2-year growth rate, the study found that the highest growth rate came from firms that generated 40–59 percent of their leads from online sources (with comparable numbers occurring at 60–79 percent and 80–100 percent online lead generation). In contrast, those with 20–39 percent of leads coming from online sources had a growth rate of just 33.3 percent.

The Hinge study also looked at which of these 15 marketing tools were most effective overall, surveying three different groups: high growth firms, average growth firms, and online marketing experts. Overall, search engine optimization strategies, web analytics, and blogging were rated as the top three in terms of effectiveness. Rounding out the top ten (in order of effectiveness rating) were usability testing, white papers and eBooks, email marketing, LinkedIn, webinars, and company newsletters. On the lower end of the scale was pay per click, online video, YouTube, Facebook, and banner ads. Interestingly, however, high growth firms gave Facebook and online video a much higher effectiveness rating, demonstrating the potential that lies in these tools as well.

The bottom line is, this study demonstrates that incorporating online marketing tools into a company’s marketing and business plan can yield a major impact and really give small businesses an edge. By reaching out to potential and current customers online, small businesses can help establish their presence in the community and better position themselves in those all-important local markets.

References

Frederiksen, Lee W., PhD. “Which Online Marketing Tools Lead to Substantial Growth?” Duct Tape Marketing. 4/18/13.

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