Risk vs Effort in Online Marketing: What You Need to Know

Risk vs. Effort in Online Marketing: What You Need to Know

By Alex Morrison, Guest Author

Risk Vs Effort - digital marketing blog

Whether you are running a small business or international conglomerate, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about online marketing. There are email marketing strategies, SEO techniques, social media channels, and countless other tools that can help you connect with your customers like never before.

This article compares the risks and effort that come with the most common types of online marketing and gives you tips on choosing the best option for your business.

What is Online Marketing?

Online marketing, which is also known as digital marketing, focuses on promoting products and services through web-capable devices. These include smartphones, computers, tablets, apps, and other new gadgets.

Thanks to the nature of digital marketing, you can build valuable connections with your potential customers and earn a reputation for delivering quality support, without completely depleting your resources or spending a small fortune.

Online Marketing: Comparing Risks and Effort

Most small business owners are starting to consider digital marketing as part of their advertising strategy — and for good reason. That said, it’s important to understand the risks as well as effort that come with online advertising.

Risk Vs Effort - Digital marketing guest blog


While it may not be as high-risk as other forms of advertising, there’s still some risk in online marketing. Below, we’ll go over the individual risks of social media, email, display media, SEM and SEO marketing.

Social Media

The main risk factors in social marketing are chasing vanity metrics, competition, earned media, and creating the wrong image for your brand. Even though social media platforms are great tools, also remember that their users are demanding. You need to make sure you can match your competition’s effort (and expectation of your audiences) and that you don’t make any costly brand image mistakes.

Social’s primary risk is that you can lose control of your branded activity through sharing and comments from your audience. The social web means your audiences become your advocates or your opposition.

Chasing vanity metrics is what catches most people. Chasing large numbers of followers or fans can make you feel good, but they likely won’t generate the business you’re looking for. Focus on quality, not quantity.

Email Marketing

Risks in email marketing are much easier to control, as it’s the oldest digital marketing channel available. Email continues to return the highest ROI in digital. The main problem here, is marketers tend to ‘batch and blast’ their audience with broad communications rather than personalised messages. The moment your email communications are too generic, your audience feels underwhelmed and like you don’t know them at all. Cue: the unsubscribe button. The content has to be valuable to your audience or they’ll drop off in a heartbeat.

Banner and Display Ads

Display ads (or as many call them, banner ads) are amongst the cheaper forms of digital advertising available. The purpose of display ads is what gets confused by many. Display ads are NOT a direct messaging medium. They are a reinforcement medium that helps users recognise your brand and content with frequency. Measuring the performance of your display ads needs to align with your objectives, or you’ll simply mark them off as a spend that didn’t work.

Back in the early 2000s, display ads were thought to contain viruses, which is untrue. Ditching the stigma is difficult, but it’s happening. The best quality creative will fail if the placement and its context aren’t matched. Imagine seeing an ad for a discounted mortgage rate on the NRL’s website on the night of State of Origin Game 3. The audience is not in a mortgage mindset for this message to resonate.

If you’re expecting the click, then you need to assess your audience’s behaviour with display ads. Do they click? Is that a decision they’ll make based on a display ad? These questions will help determine if this ad format is useful in your marketing mix.


Search engine marketing, also known as SEM or PPC or CPC, is a form of paid marketing that allows you to place your ads on search engine results pages. The good thing about SEM is that you only pay when your ad generates a click.

The risk in SEM is that there are dozens of different metrics that directly measure valuable aspects of your campaigns, but it is up to you to hone down on the most relevant metrics that align with your specific goals. You could easily end up overspending on your budget, and yet still be short on reaching your business targets. For example, your strategy in SEM could be varied depending on whether you want more impressions (exposure to your target audience) or whether you want your site visitors to do a specific action on your website like a purchase or form submit.


SEO, which stands for search engine optimisation, has become the preferred marketing method for modern companies. In simple terms, SEO allows search engines like Google to find your website and show it to consumers whenever there is a relevant search, free of charge.

The main risk with SEO is failing to meet Google’s algorithm, which means your website won’t show up on the search results. There are potentially hundreds of different elements that Google takes into account before ranking your site and a lot of these strategies take time to show results. You also have to ensure you stay up to date as Google makes updates that can directly affect your ranking, so you’ll have to adjust your site and its content if you want to stay competitive.

Risk vs Effort - Digital Media


The truth is that online marketing is widely understood, accessible to everyone, and effective — but it does require effort, consistency and skill.

Social Media

Managing your social profiles can be a full-time job, especially if you manage multiple profiles and want to see noticeable results. Having a plan to create content with purpose and build campaigns that work can be learned. Banter delivers a range of digital marketing training solutions such as 1:1 coaching, group training, practical learning and online learning options. The quickest tips to get your social media humming include:

  • Have a content strategy that delivers on your marketing and business objectives
  • Understand your purpose and what’s valuable about you to your audience
  • Define your tone of voice and stay true to your unique personality
  • Engage. Social is a two-way conversation, not a broadcast channel.

Email Marketing

Creating an email campaign that delivers value takes some time, but it’s not particularly complicated. This is especially true if you can recycle the content you used for your website or social campaigns. Create an email plan that looks at the delivery frequency, with a focus on the subject line. Emails are read based on subject lines. It won’t matter if the content is awesome if your reader never progresses past their Inbox-Decision-Making process. It’s only then that the content of your email has the chance to shine and attract customers into making a conversion. With attention grabbing subject lines combined with valuable content, email marketing can become a useful tool to create an audience who are eager and receptive to your business’s promotions or messages. With email marketing, it’s all about pulling in your audience and establishing your business as a top choice for a particular product or service.

Banner and Display Ads

Display ads work. BUT. And there is a but. Three things need to come together for display ads to be effective:

  • the creative
  • the placement
  • the media

Your greatest risk with display ads is two-fold.

  1. There are so many websites where your ads could be placed. Make sure you’re aware of your placements and their alignment with your brand. You wouldn’t want to spend money placing display ads on websites that are irrelevant or unnecessary.
  2. The plethora of display ads when compared to the audience numbers, means that you’re fighting for a Share of Voice (SOV). Share of voice is a measure of the market your brand owns compared to your competitors. You might find that a reasonably small media buy of display ads places you like a needle in a haystack. If that’s not your understanding, you’re at risk of spending valuable dollars which would be more effective in other placements.


Search engine marketing is among the most effective form of online marketing because it can start producing leads and generating traffic from day one. That said, you need to find the perfect balance between creative ads, make sure your website is PPC-friendly, and learn how to use your budget wisely.

There are many different factors that will affect the performance of a PPC campaign. But, your bidding and targeting settings will determine your daily budget, the number of clicks you get, and the amount of money you spend. So, if you want to get the most out of your SEM campaign, make sure you learn how to set the right bids and target relevant areas quickly.


SEO is an excellent form of online marketing that delivers awesome results, for free. However, SEO isn’t ‘set and forget’. Building a great SEO strategy takes time and effort, so it’s easy to lose momentum or give up after a few months, especially if you feel like you ticked that box in your marketing plan. A good place to start is with link building, and continuing to build these connections over time. The link building process is time consuming and challenging, partnering with a dedicated link building service could be the quickest way to get results here.

Need Help?

Like technology, online marketing is constantly evolving. Staying up to date is difficult. If you need a hand to navigate through these muddy online marketing waters, get in touch with us today and let us clear up the path forward for you.

Alex Morrison, Guest Author

Alex Morrison, Guest Author

Owner of Integral Media

Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in depth understanding of many different industries including home improvement, business consultant and managed IT services. As the owner of Integral Media, he is now utilising his knowledge and experience with his rapidly increasing client portfolio to help them achieve their business goals.