We wouldn’t be writing this article if a majority of small businesses were effectively utilizing digital marketing. Unfortunately, they aren’t.
Studies show that 37% of small businesses aren’t using any type of digital marketing and 54% of all small business owners haven’t set up a single social media account. Yet, there’s a 100% chance that every small business could benefit immensely from developing a digital marketing plan.
[source: Simon Tech Way] If your small business isn’t involved in digital marketing, then you may want to seriously reconsider your marketing strategy. In 2013, Internet ad revenues surpassed that of broadcast television for the first time in history, soaring to $42.8 billion. That’s not to say traditional advertising isn’t effective. However, the Internet has changed consumer behavior as the search for products and services now typically begins online. In fact, 80% of consumers use the Internet to make their search for products and services more convenient. With a majority of consumers connected to the Web, implementing a digital marketing strategy is a must. Contrary to what some small business owners think, digital marketing is not as complicated as it may appear and the effort is well worth it. Studies have proven that employing a digital strategy can increase marketing ROI by up to 300%. Still not sold on digital marketing? Maybe reading about the top benefits of digital marketing will have you convinced.
DIGITAL MARKETING CONNECTS YOU TO YOUR CUSTOMERS
As we previously mentioned, consumers are no longer pulling out their Yellow Pages books to search for businesses. The search now begins online and creating a Website allows you to be seen by the customers that matter most to you. Of course, creating a Website isn’t enough to bring in business. You’ll also have to perform some SEO work to rank your Website higher in Google search results. If you’re looking to understand more about SEO, we’ve created an in depth beginner’s guide to SEO. Pay-per-click is also incredibly beneficial. By implementing pay-per-click advertising into your digital strategy, you can ensure that your Website is the first site your customers see in relevant search results across Bing and Google. To learn more about pay-per-click advertising, you can read our beginner’s guide to PPC as well. Digital marketing will not only put you in front of your customers, it will also help you interact with them. By utilizing Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter, you allow customers to give you feedback on your business. They’ll send you messages and reviews about the things they believe you’re doing well and the areas where they think your business could use some improvement. Social channels allow you to respond to customers’ questions, comments, and reviews with more speed and frequency than ever before.
DIGITAL MARKETING GENERATES HIGHER REVENUES
Marketing touchpoints are any methods or modes of contact between a company and the consumer. Before making a purchase, consumers normally evaluate at least 6 different touchpoints. Those touchpoints include discovery platforms (Pinterest, Wanelo, Houzz, etc.,) blogs, email, direct mail, social networks, social media platforms, consumer reviews (Yelp, Foursquare, Google Business Reviews,) and Google searches. Studies show that if consumers receive 6 different touch points from your brand, then they are likely to spend 4 times as much as any other type of customer. That’s good news for small businesses and yet another reason why your small business should be implementing a digital marketing strategy. By marketing across several digital channels, small businesses are able to effectively promote their messages with more frequency to a wider audience.
DIGITAL MARKETING PRODUCES HIGHER CONVERSION RATES
Digital Marketing allows for more precisely targeted advertising. Facebook users input a whole slew of different information (relationship status, age, job title, education level, interests, hobbies, etc.) that marketers can use to their advantage. Even outside of social media, cookies are used to track the browser history of Web surfers so that they can be fed advertisements based on the Websites they visit. More targeted advertising results in more leads and an increased conversion rate. A small business utilizing a digital strategy could see conversion rates increase as much as 24%.
DIGITAL MARKETING GIVES YOU BETTER RESULTS ON A SMALLER BUDGET
Small businesses are reaping the benefits of digital marketing with improved conversion rates and more leads. What’s even better is that these benefits don’t come coupled with larger advertising costs. In fact, 40% of small businesses are reporting considerable savings after switching more of their marketing efforts to the digital world. For this reason, digital marketing holds incredible value for small business owners as they’re able to stretch their marketing dollars to get better results with a significantly smaller budget.
DIGITAL MARKETING LEVELS THE PLAYING FIELD
In the time before the Internet, small retailers would struggle to compete with the buying power of larger chains. Small businesses didn’t have the money to match the fancy brick and mortar stores or the big budget commercials of larger corporations. The digital world has changed the game. Now the key to success entails creating a crisp, well designed Website with a smooth customer journey. It doesn’t take a huge budget to craft a killer Website. It also doesn’t cost much to create or promote a successful Facebook Ad. You can achieve decent social media results by allotting an hour a day to conduct social listening and create posts. You can also effectively promote your posts by spending just $10 a week on social media advertising. That’s correct, 5 hours and $10 a week can garner results for your business. That’s not a large commitment at all and if done properly, you can craft a digital brand image that compares, or exceeds that of your larger competitors.
DIGITAL MARKETING LETS YOU MONITOR YOUR COMPETITORS
Are you familiar with social listening? Social listening is the art of keeping up with your competitors via watching their social channels. Social listening will allow you to see what people are saying about your competitors, as well as what your competitors are posting and what kind of social media success they’re seeing. You can conduct social listening using tools like Google Alerts or Social Mention. We cover social listening with more depth in our post on maintaining a positive online brand image.
DIGITAL MARKETING IS SIMPLE TO MEASURE
It can be difficult to track ROI with a traditional advertising campaign. How many customer’s did your new television, print, or radio commercial bring in? Unless the ad contained an exclusive discount, it’s hard to estimate. On the flip side, there are all kinds of tools marketers can use to measure their digital return on investment. If you’re running an email campaign, you can assess your success using several key metrics from your email service provider. You can track your click-through rate, bounce rate, and conversion rate in order to calculate your revenue per email sent. If you’re running social media ads, you can view the post interactions as well as the click-throughs to any Website links that you’re posting. The ultimate goal is to drive traffic from your social accounts to your Website. Once you’ve analyzed how many users are clicking your post to your Website, you can then track their movement through your Website with the user flowchart tool in Google Analytics. With Google Analytics, you can measure your conversion rate based on the number of new visitors that reach your desired conversion goal, whatever that may be. We’ll cover the basics of Google Analytics in the weeks to come.
DIGITAL MARKETING ALLOWS YOU TO REFINE YOUR STRATEGY IN REAL TIME
If you wanted to modify a television or radio campaign, it would take days or weeks to do so. With digital marketing, you have the ability to track your results in real time. If you find that a campaign is under or over performing, you can adjust accordingly by modifying the budget or the ads. Any changes that you feel need to be made to your campaign can all be performed within the time frame of a day.
DIGITAL ADVERTISEMENTS ARE NOT INTRUSIVE
People generally don’t like receiving sales mail shots or phone calls at inconvenient times of the day regarding things they have little to no interest in. Online, people have the choice to opt in or out of communications and they’re often very relevant because the user was either directly targeted or was the one searching for the brand in the first place. Data collected by the Pew Research Center found that 81% of online users don’t mind online advertisements at all. If you want to convert potential customers, it would certainly be beneficial to avoid annoying them.
DIGITAL MARKETING HELPS PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS FOR THE INTERNET OF THINGS
The Internet of things is the proposed development of the Internet in which every normal everyday object with an on and off switch would be transformed to have Internet connectivity. Things could include washing machines, coffee makers, watches, lamps, and more. All of these items could be modified so that they are able to send and receive data. The analyst firm, Gartner, predicts that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion devices connected to the Internet. The real world is becoming increasingly attached to the digital world and it’s important that every business adapt by developing a digital presence.