The survey, carried out by Sheffield-based web developers Arkom, asked clients to rank which of a variety of marketing tools offered the best value for money. Websites came out top, followed closely by trade shows and then brochures.

Of the 24 companies that responded half put websites top of a variety of marketing methods (12 out of 24, or 50 per cent), with a quarter (25 per cent, or six out of 24) saying trade shows were best value. Other marketing strategies used include networking, mailshots and social media.

The results came as no surprise to Alan Easter, director at Arkom, which specialises in web-based sales and marketing solutions for manufacturers.

“A website acts as a shop window, not just for trade in this country but also across the world. It has to look good and be easy to navigate, but getting the Search Engine Optimisation right is vital too.
“Some people will search for a specific product, but others will put in something more general; so SEO needs to be designed to be both product specific and generic.”

Getting the web design just right worked for Alpha 3 Manufacturing Limited, which saw business worth about £500,000 generated and a near six-fold increase in enquiries, as a result of the new websites designed by Arkom.

Alpha 3, which has its headquarters in Scunthorpe, makes everything from industrial filters and electronic components to wiring and audio and video cabling within its five business units – all based in the UK.

Sales enquiries rocketed after the Alpha 3 main website, the five business unit websites and five micro-sites were rebuilt from scratch by Arkom, who are also experts in scalable websites. Marketing executive Diane Kilminster said the effect was immediate.

“I jokingly asked the team at Arkom to switch off the sites, because we were getting so many enquiries. It was amazing how it increased,” said Diane.

“Nowadays if you want to buy something you Google it. Trade fairs are still necessary, but they are not the top of the list. The website is the top of the list.”