How different UK sectors market their products online

Technology is constantly evolving and impacting on almost every aspect of our lives — but how has the digital world affected online marketing for various industries?

With increased interest in online platforms, digital visibility is becoming critical to business, and this article looks to explore the online marketing trends involved with various UK industries…

Online marketing and the automotive industry

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. Evidently, this industry is taking the digital world seriously.

Some of us are more tech-savvy and dependent than others. According to the Google Drive To Decide Report (which was in association with TNS), 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.

Research is key before buying any expensive product — so it’s no surprise that 90% of car buyers research products before buying. Over half 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. Clearly, the sector is doing something right. The automotive industry made up more than one tenth of the total UK digital ad spending growth in 2017, according to eMarketer, just behind retail. Plus, the automotive industry is forecast to see a further 9.5% increase in ad spending in 2018.

After the research process, it’s standard that customers head to the forecourt for the final purchase — unlike with fashion or other sectors where buying online with just a few clicks is the norm. But online marketing is still vital to the automotive industry. 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.

Online marketing and the utilities industry.

One of the most interesting trends in the utilities sector is the type of audience it often markets to. For example, 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.

Online advertising is a crucial aspect of marketing for firms in the utilities sector. 40% of all searches in Q3 2017 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). As mobile usage soars, utilities companies need to consider content created specifically for mobile users, as they now account for a large proportion of the market.

However, utilities businesses must also be aware of the influence of comparison sites — or risk damaging their strategies! 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.

A lot of people think that sites like these — such as Go Compare, Compare the Market, MoneySupermarket and — can 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 your competitors over you?

Online marketing and the fashion industry

It’s tough to think how fashion brands would survive without the help of online marketing — with online sales in the fashion industry reaching £16.2 billion in 2017 and expected to grow 79% by 2022.

A notable trend in online marketing for fashion firms is ‘social influencing’. 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 and around 22% of customers are said to be attained through influencer marketing!

Here’s how online marketing is affecting the UK’s biggest clothing brands:

  • ASOS experienced an 18% UK sales growth in the final quarter of 2017.
  • Boohoo saw a 31% increase in sales throughout the final quarter of 2017.
  • John Lewis announced that 40% of its Christmas sales came from online shoppers.
  • Next has announced it will invest £10 million into its online marketing and operations.

Evidently, the future looks bright for fashion companies and their online marketing strategies.

Online marketing and the healthcare industry

Online marketing in healthcare is not so simple, with stricter regulations and closer monitoring to contend with. 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.

But can email marketing truly be advantageous for healthcare companies? 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.

If current research is to be trusted, there is a healthcare audience already waiting online. 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?

Surprising to some, social media may be another beneficial avenue healthcare companies could go down. 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.

The future of online marketing

Clearly, every sector handles and benefits from online marketing differently. In the utilities sector, 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. For companies specialising in the latest fashion and newest cars, online marketing is clearly something to be heavily invested in. With a clear increase in online demand in both sectors that is changing the purchase process for the better.

As we’ve mentioned, it’s predicted that online marketing is only going to grow in importance and influence across various industries. 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.

Generally, online marketing is something to be harnessed and capitalised on. 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 provider of Audi servicing.



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Ive been blogging now for 5 years on various sites for the love of knowledge share. I decided to start my own blog a few years back to share everything from tech to business news. Follow me on twitter for more.