Individual industries and the most effective online marketing strategies

Few if any businesses can survive, let alone prosper, without some form of marketing. In fact, Google’s April 2017 Car Purchasing UK Report showed that £115.9 million was invested in online display and direct mail by car dealers in the UK throughout 2016!

With often large budgets, motoring firms have the ability to invest and gain a lot from online marketing. But with increased interest in online platforms across the board, can greater digital visibility be an advantage for other major sectors?

Marketing in the utilities industry  

Comparison websites play major roles in how a utilities consumer interacts with and chooses a company. 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.

Firstly, it’s worth knowing which comparison sites have the most influence in the UK. The four main comparison websites are: Go Compare, Compare the Market, MoneySupermarket and In fact, these are among the top 100 highest spending advertisers in the UK. However, does this marketing investment reflect on utility suppliers? Comparison sites have the potential to significantly affect the rate of customer retention and customer acquisition. If you don’t beat your competitors, then what is to stop your existing and potential new customers choosing them over you?

But which consumer does a utilities firm concentrate its efforts on when marketing? British Gas has shifted its marketing 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.

Apparently, focusing on making existing customers happy and marketing to them is a shrewd strategy for this sector. However, digital marketing is another major part of advertising. 40% 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 too (according to Google’s Public Utilities Report in December 2017). As mobile usage continues to soar, utilities companies need to consider content created specifically for mobile users, as they now account for a large proportion of the market.

Marketing in the automotive industry

Are certain consumers more engaged with online marketing than others? According to Google’s Drive To Decide Report (which was in association with TNS) the modern car consumer is very digitally aware. 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.

Before any big purchase, consumers typically spend some time researching — and it appears that car consumers are more likely than many others to engage in this activity before buying a car. 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.

So, how does the auto industry compare to others with regard to online marketing? The automotive industry 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.

While researching may take place online, the actual buying process is often reserved for the forecourt. So, how can digital platforms influence buying? 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.

Marketing in the healthcare industry

In the UK, marketing within healthcare is quite heavily regulated and monitored. The same ROI methods that have been adopted by other sectors simply don’t work for the healthcare market. 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.

So, which online platforms offer opportunity for health firms? Around 2.5 million people use email as the main way of communicating — a figure which has risen over the past few years. This means email marketing is targeting a large audience. 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.

Data suggests that marketing spend for online advertising accounts for over a third of the overall budget. Apparently, 5% of Google searches are for health-related information, which could be attributed to the fact that many people turn to a search engine for medical answer before calling their GP. 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?

Platforms such as Facebook can also affect the success of marketing for health firms. While the healthcare industry is restricted to how it markets its services and products, that doesn’t mean social media should be neglected. In fact, an effective social media campaign could be a crucial investment for 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.

Marketing in the fashion industry

With regard to fashion, online marketing is a lucrative strategy. Investments in digital platforms are critical to the success of fashion retailers — with online sales in the fashion industry reaching £16.2 billion in 2017 and expected to grow 79% by 2022. Ecommerce made up around 25% of all fashion purchases at the end of 2017, according to the British Retail Consortium. Today, brands including ASOS and Boohoo continue to embrace the online shopping phenomenon.

Perhaps it’s worth looking at brands that have made a success of online marketing in more depth. 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.

Social media is also a great way to advertise clothing and new trends for those in fashion. 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 2017, over 33% of marketers claimed that influencer marketing is better than traditional methods — perhaps because around 22% of customers are said to be attained through influencer marketing!

Different marketing campaigns for different sectors

Fashion and automobile firms can apparently benefit from online marketing, with a clear increase in online demand in both sectors that is changing the purchase process — but how about the others? 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.

What lies ahead for 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.

Are you up-to-date with the latest in online marketing? 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 created by Vindis, a leading car firm offering VW services.