Why You Need to Implement These Essential Digital Marketing Strategies
It’s 2017, and if you are a consumer you most likely do all of your pre-purchase research online. Many of you may have never opened a piece of direct mail or the Yellow Pages. Yet especially smaller and older businesses still feel more comfortable with traditional marketing. This new fangled digital bit isn’t quite for them. We talk to a lot of small business owners just like that. And with them in mind we came up with these essential digital marketing strategies.
In most cases digital marketing is replacing more traditional marketing strategies such as Yellow Page ads, print advertising, and direct mail advertising. The reason for this is very simple; more and more consumers are digital and mobile, and they expect small businesses to be as well. If your small business is not doing digital marketing you are missing valuable opportunities for customer engagement. Our essential digital marketing strategies will show you how.
In a recent post we outlined the “Big Problem with Small Business Websites.” Today we will focus on on digital marketing for small business owners, and what the small business owner can do to up their digital game. Especially older small business owners or those not entirely comfortable with the digital age are having a hard time translating traditional marketing efforts into an effective digital strategy. This is where our essential digital marketing strategies come in handy!
Small Business Owners: Time To Up Your Digital Game!
Digital marketing for small business owners is an absolute must if you want to succeed online! Most small business owners already know that they need to have an online presence in order to market their business. But exactly what kind of online presence and how to maintain it is very confusing to most SBOs. At the very least an effective online presence for a small business needs to include all of the following:
- A mobile-first basic website
- A presence on the Big Five Social Platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube)
- Local listings such as Yelp, Google Places, Bing, Foursquare and Angie’s List (depending on your industry or business)
The approach to digital marketing for small business owners can take many different forms. Depending on the location and nature of your business there may be other online opportunities for engagement that you may want to consider. And this is only the beginning. Having a big digital footprint is only part of the digital game. In order for our essential digital marketing strategies to be really effective they need to have active engagement on all of their digital channels!
“Seventy percent of small to medium sized businesses polled said they will increase their digital/web-based marketing budgets in 2017.” (Source: GetResponse)
When connecting with customers, small business owners (SBOs) have long understood the power of “word of mouth.” Though most SBOs have the basic components for an online footprint, they are not always doing enough to transform their different online and social media tools into a unified and powerful customer connection platform. Consequently, small business owners should consider moving beyond a passive online customer engagement approach and implement a more aggressive plan that can help grow their client base and improve their bottom line.
According to a survey from Research Now small business owners list the following as their most important customer engagement methods:
- Word of Mouth – 73%
- Business Cards – 40%
- Email Marketing – 28%
- Social Media – 21%
While all of these are effective to a certain degree the first three on the list take a lot of control out of the hands of the small business owner, and only the last one allows for real time online customer interaction. And that is not a good thing. A much more effective way to reach customers in the digital age is for small business owners to do digital marketing. And that means expanding and optimizing your digital footprint.
What is Your Digital Footprint?
About two thirds of the small business owners surveyed report having a dedicated website for their business. But it needs to be more than just a static online presence. In order to be truly effective for digital marketing for small business owners a small business website needs to be “tricked out” a bit. Here are some recommended features and the percentage of small business websites that actually have them:
- Photos or videos – 49%
- Search engine optimization (SEO) – 32%
- Reviews or customer feedback – 28%
- Social media share and follow buttons – 28%
And while a small business website is a key element of your digital footprint it is only the beginning. To facilitate effective digital marketing for small business owners you must expand your digital footprint.And that includes being on the social media platforms that your customers are using, blogging and commenting on blogs that your customers are reading, and in general actively engaging with your clients and potential customers online. If your potential customers engage on social networks you need to do the same, or they will find a brand that does!
It really is that simply, but many small business owners just don’t get it. Here are some alarming statistics for you:
- A staggering 51% of SBOs report posting to social media once a month or less
- Only 45% have a business Facebook page
- Only 33% have a company LinkedIn page
- And only 29% of small business owners found social media to be very or extremely important for customer interaction and promoting new products
In other words, potential customers are looking to engage with your brand online. By not having a big enough digital footprint many SBOs are preventing them from doing so. And that very effectively kills the benefits from our essential digital marketing strategies. So why is this happening?
Why Many SBOs Don’t Engage Online
The main obstacle to implementing our essential digital marketing strategies is that many small business owners don’t engage their audience online. There are many different reasons why SBOs are not engaging online. Here are some of the most common:
Don’t See Value
Many SBOs simply don’t see any value in engaging with their customers online. And this trend increases with age; 41% of small business owners under the age of 55 believe social media is important, but that percentage drops to 23% for the over 55 age group. 57% of younger SBOs see value in having a Facebook page compared to 41% of older SBOs. It gets even worse when it comes to actually posting on social media; only 17% of under 55 small business owners report posting once a week, and that percentage drops to 9% for the over 55 crowd.
“Without active engagement, just being online isn’t enough”
Don’t Have Time
An effective digital footprint needs to be maintained, and that takes time. Yet 70% of all small business owners spend less than one hour a week on website maintenance, and only 10% spend more than 4 hours. This relates to perceived value; only 10% of small business owners who put a low level of importance on a web presence spend more than one hour a week maintaining it compared to 56% who put a high level of importance on their web presence.
It’s a Gender Thing
A total of 53% of small business owners reported that they have sold a product on Facebook. But while almost two thirds of female small business owners report doing so that percentage drops to less than half of their male counterparts.
Not Tech Savvy
Only 30% of small business owners think they are proficient or extremely proficient at maintaining their business website. In many cases this is caused by not understanding the basics of an effective business website, or simply not knowing the best options.
Essential Digital Marketing Strategies
There are a number of ways for small business owners to up their digital game. The first thing you need to do is to determine your digital footprint and that of your competitors:
Google yourself and your business!
Do a Google Search for your business name, your name, and the names of your key partners and employees. Take note of where you are mentioned in the digital world, and what people are saying about you. Deal with any negative comments first as they do you the most harm. But don’t forget to thank people for compliments, and respond to any questions or inquiries.
Google your competitors!
Do a Google Search for each of your biggest competitors and find out where they show up online. If they show up on social or professional networks or online business directories you need to be there as well. And take a look at what people say about them online and see if you can use that to your advantage.
Compare your website to your competitors sites!
Do they have a “WOW Factor” that is missing on your site, such as a mobile app, custom contact forms, full-screen images or video, or an irresistible call to action (CTA)? If you answer yes to any of those you should consider adding this to your own site as well.
“71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.” (Source: Ambassador)
Check your social status!
This is the digital version of keeping up with the Joneses. Check every social profile for your business. Evaluate the importance of each for your business. Remember that you need to be everywhere your competitors are! Googling your competitors gives you insights into where your brand needs to be on social media! Update incomplete or outdated profiles, add new posts and images, and be sure to check for unanswered comments or messages. Delete profiles that are no longer essential or useful for your brand.
Check your online listings!
If your business is listed on local directories such as Yelp, Angie’s List, or any others check to make sure that your info is current and complete. Are you using the latest product images and service descriptions? Be sure to update as necessary. Are there other directories or listings that will benefit your business? Claim and optimize your listing on them as well. Remember that you need to be everywhere your competitors are.
Ask for feedback!
Reach out to family, friends, business associates and existing customers and ask them for some honest feedback regarding your digital footprint. You may be surprised at the amount of valuable information you can get this way. Make a list of all the recommendations and start implementing them in order of importance.
Work smarter, not harder!
Developing and implementing an effective organic social media strategy takes time and effort. But there are a number of free or very cost-effective online resources available to small business owners. Tools like AddThis, Commun.It, Klout, Buffer, Sprout Social, Parllay, Filament, and Hootsuite help small business owners define goals, source content, and maintain a regular posting schedule. And if you are just starting out these simple social media tips will get you started.
Ask for professional help!
Digital marketing for small business owners takes time and skill, and many small business owners lack one or both. If that describes you it may be time to ask for professional help. Professional digital marketing consultants and agencies can provide you with an in-depth analysis of your digital footprint and digital marketing strategy. And based on that they can help you develop and implement an effective digital marketing strategy. If you really don’t have the time to do it yourself you may be better off to have a professional do all the work so that you can focus on your business!
How We Implement Essential Digital Marketing Strategies!
Our team has worked with many small business owners to help them make sense of the digital world and become expert players of the digital game. As a result we have come up with a number of resources to help small business owners get started with their digital marketing, including our essential digital marketing strategies. The first thing is to determine exactly where a small business is with their digital marketing. To help us help you we offer the following:
Free Website Audit
For a comprehensive, in-depth analysis of your current small business website we can perform a free website audit. If you have not checked it we will take a look at your small business website to make sure it’s mobile-friendly, current and serving your business like it should. We will provide you with a website audit report within 5 business days detailing our recommendations, or giving you a thumbs up!
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Free Social Audit
Knowing how many “Likes” and “Followers” you have is only the tip of the iceberg in social media. Our experts drill down deep into your social media presence and determine exactly who you are reaching, how they engage with you, and where there is room for improvement. Simply provide us with the links to your existing social media profiles and we will get back to you within 5 business days with a complete analysis and recommendations.
Schedule a Consultation
And if you are still not sure what you need to or should do to become more effective at digital marketing for small business owners don’t worry! We’ve helped dozens of small businesses develop and execute digital marketing campaigns that drive targeted traffic to their sites – increasing online revenue and reinforcing our client’s brands. And we would be more than happy to meet with you to discuss your digital marketing challenges and how we can help you overcome them.
Simply reach out to us and we will schedule a consultation based on your business needs and vision. Our expert team will listen to you, answer your questions, and determine the best way to remove the obstacles in the way of your small business success and continued growth. It is one of our specialties, after all! We can consult with you in person or via phone or Skype, and we are even available in the evening and on weekends!
Based on our initial consultation and evaluation of your current digital footprint you can count on our expert creatives to give your business website a make-over or new look, take some eye-catching new product or location images, create engaging and informative content, get your small business found online, and connect you to your social audience as needed.
And if you are still not sure about our essential digital marketing strategies for small business owners, don’t worry! Simply reach out and contact us. Our expert team will listen to you, answer your questions, and determine the best way for your business to get up to speed with digital marketing in the most time and cost effective way. That is one of our specialties, after all!