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04/02/2022 | Drew Whitehouse

Auction Guides.
An Introduction to Digital Marketing for Auctioneers

"What can digital marketing do for us?"

This is one of the most common questions we get asked, usually by auctioneers whose marketing activities and channels have gone largely unchanged for years.

In our upcoming series of guides, our auction marketing experts will help you to understand how digital can benefit your business, including:

  • Insight into the different types of digital marketing
  • How it can support traditional marketing campaigns
  • Debunking some of the myths and misconceptions you may have

But before all of that, let's take a look at what we mean by digital advertising, and why it matters.

What is digital advertising?

There are two big differences between digital and traditional advertising:

  1. Where it's seen
  2. How people interact with it
Online or offline

Both digital and traditional adverts aim to promote or sell a product or service. But they do it in different places.

Traditional channels such as print, radio, billboards and television are commonly referred to as offline. They are seen in the 'real world'.

All digital advertising takes place online. It includes social media, emails, banner ads, YouTube - basically anything that can be seen on an electronic device.

Auction houses often rely heavily on offline advertising. But while these methods can still be effective, they miss out on some of digital's superpowers!

Active or inactive

A key difference between traditional and digital is what happens when people see an advert.

Offline adverts tend to be inactive. When someone sees your ad they may like it, but they can't act on it instantly. They have to pick up the phone or visit your premises to take the next step.

By contrast, digital adverts are active. When a potential customer sees your ad online, they can simply click on it to visit your website, find out more and take action. Their next step is easy and instant.

Because people can interact with digital ads, they are a more direct way to attract customers. This advantage means many auctioneers are allocating more of their marketing budget towards digital after seeing the results it delivers.

Why does digital matter?

Analysis shows that since 2018, people spend more time on their mobiles, tablets and computers than they do reading newspapers and watching television.

Simply put, digital matters because people spend most of their time there. It's where your customers are, and the audience continues to grow.

Not only is online advertising seen more, but it has other benefits over traditional offline channels.

6 benefits of digital vs traditional advertising

1. Know your ROI vs guesswork

While the success of adverts in magazines can be hard to gauge, digital campaigns are directly measurable in terms of actions and conversions. It's easy to know your return on investment (ROI).

2. Targeted audiences vs broad audiences

Digital channels allow you to target the people who are most likely to become your customers. They might live near your auction house, or have an interest in subjects relating to auctions or antiques. Analysing online behavioural habits can identify people who already sell online, ideal for campaigns that encourage valuations. Using well-targeted audiences gets better results as the ads are more likely to be relevant.

3. Interactive adverts vs passive adverts

Traditional channels provide little or no data on what people think of your adverts. By contrast, digital ads can measure people's interest by their engagement - for example, the number of clicks to your website or comments made on social media. Not only can we get meaningful data from the ads themselves, but by measuring key interactions on your website - for example, a valuation request - we can track exactly which adverts deliver results and make informed changes to continually evolve and improve.

4. Relevance vs generality

You don't know much about who is seeing your offline adverts. But online we can use data collected from advertising platforms and website analytics to know where customers are within your 'sales funnel'. Are they new to your business? A returning customer? Have they already made a bid? Relevant digital adverts can be shown to customers depending where they are in their journey, leading to more leads and a higher conversion rate.

5. Flexible to evolve vs static

Digital ads can be tested and optimised in real time to improve performance, whereas most traditional channels remain static for the duration of a campaign. This fine-tuning can ensure you get the most bang for your buck!

6. Broad reach through multiple channels vs single ad placements

Digital ad platforms such as Facebook and Google enable you to cost-effectively reach a broad audience in many different locations online. You're not tied to a just a few publications or locations for your ads.

How much does digital advertising cost for auction houses?

As with any business decision, cost and efficiency are important factors to consider.

Because digital ad campaigns are flexible and scalable, budgets can be set and changed whenever required. From our experience in the UK market, effective budgets can start from as low as £500 per month on media spend to run ad campaigns across multiple channels.

Bigger, more assertive budgets can grow to be £5000+ per month, based on the intended reach and scope of the campaigns.

Because you will know your ROI, you will be able to assess and set suitable budgets.

Should auction houses use digital adverts?

Yes, we think so!

Digital shouldn't be seen as a direct replacement for traditional channels. It should be considered an essential part of a well-rounded marketing strategy.

We advise that the majority of long-term goals and campaigns use a combination of online and offline advertising.

For example, brand awareness campaigns are more effective when using coordinated advertising positions and timings - referred to as multi-touch points - where a blend of online and offline maintains visibility of a brand, service or product.

So what's the next step?

Now that we've covered the basics of digital advertising, our future articles will provide guidance on which digital channels best suit your marketing strategy and how to make the most of your online campaigns.

Next time we'll be talking about all things email marketing, how effective these can be in prompting actions, and the best way to drive people to your website.

Sign up for our marketing series below to get notified when our next article is available. Or if you would like to speak to one of our marketing team about how we can support your marketing strategy, email us or call us on 01534 488888

Read next article: Email marketing for auctioneers - what is it, and why is it so important?

View all auction marketing articles ›

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