Running your own business is hard work. And for those of us that are not ‘digital natives’ the thought of spending time learning, understanding and then activating a strong digital marketing strategy is pretty daunting. But, your business mentor says you have to do it, the bank advisor says you have to do it, your competitors are doing it and you know it makes sense right?
Why do digital marketing?
There’s no question that investing in digital marketing is a vital part of growing your business. Why? More people are online – there are now 4.1b internet users worldwide (that’s almost half the world’s population), and we are spending a LOT more time connected to the internet – the average person spends 6 hours a day!
Not only are we spending more time ‘connected’ but how we are accessing the internet is changing rapidly. Your brand is now more likely to be found via a mobile phone than a laptop, desktop or even tablet and your customer will be more attracted by video content than by text.
And guess what, the noise is loud and the competition for eyeballs with a short attention span is intense. To get noticed by your customer, you will need to be doing more than just having a website and a few flyers.
So, what is digital marketing?
This is a huge topic and we won’t do it justice in this article so let’s just put it simply.
Digital marketing is the term used to describe all your marketing efforts that are online as opposed to offline (traditional marketing).
Connecting with your customer, at the right time, in the right place means by default that you must be engaging with them online.
A quick comparison of some digital marketing versus traditional marketing examples are shown below. What we do know is that both online and offline marketing efforts are interlinked and support each other. One does not exist without the other – simply because, as consumers, we are living in both worlds.
Digital Marketing Avenues
• Your website
• Social Media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat, LinkedIn)
• Blog posts
• Online PR/Influencer marketing
• Affiliate Marketing
• Online advertising
Traditional Marketing Avenues
• Your shop/showroom
• Print media
• Direct Mail
• Event Marketing
For more information on all marketing channels and their metrics see our article ‘Marketing Toolbox and Measures’.
SMEs and Digital Marketing – too hard basket?
For small businesses, engaging in a digital marketing strategy is a different ball game than for large corporates.
Firstly, it’s likely that there is no-one in the business who has the digital marketing expertise to own the process and to do it well. The lack of digital marketing know-how, like, which tactics to employ, how much budget to allocate, what results to expect, and how to measure them, is complicated for the untrained.
Secondly, so many of the day to day tasks of getting your product or service to the customer means that allocating time to any marketing efforts is often the last thing to get done.
Third, digital marketing costs money, granted it can be lower and more effectively measured than traditional marketing, however a budget commitment is required nonetheless.
6 Basic Principles
In our experience, there are some basic digital marketing principles to learn that, without becoming the expert yourself, will really increase the overall chance of long term success.
1. Be customer centric
Put your customer front and centre. Make sure that everything you are doing has their best interests in mind. For example, don’t run a Facebook campaign if your target audience doesn’t use Facebook. Sounds simple but its amazing how many businesses think they should be on Facebook because everyone else is, or someone advised them to be.
Consider the touch points (where consumers are finding you) – most people move online and offline seamlessly and are often on both platforms simultaneously. This means that you need to make sure your messages are consistent across the platforms and that you are reaching your target consumer.
2. Goal setting, stay focused
Be very clear on what you want to achieve with your digital marketing strategy. This will also change over time.
Driving traffic to your website, gaining social media followers, building brand awareness, receiving reviews, sales conversion… each of these will require a different set of digital marketing strategies and not all can be done effectively at the same time.
3. Avoid oversimplification
The devil is most certainly in the detail and the detail needs attention. Digital marketing is not a ‘set and forget’ process and this is a good thing. Results can be measured, analysed and adapted to make sure the investment goes further and you can kick some goals. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, that if we have a good looking website, leads and sales will follow.
For example, if the goal is to drive website conversion, make sure that the conversion path in your website is optimised. Large companies have programmatic buying to optimise their ROI on digital advertising. Smaller companies need to learn from this and may need support from a digital marketer to manually optimise the campaigns. Also, different artwork, for example, is required for different media channels and different stages of the buying process (eg re-marketing).
4. Ask the tough questions
Death by acronym is still a serious illness. Ever seen a report with CPC, CPM, PPC, CPT, bounce rates, conversion stats that makes you feel uneasy? Too often digital reports are overlooked by business owners simply because they don’t understand what they are reading. Ask the hard questions like ‘so what’, ‘what does that mean’, ‘is this helping me achieve my goal’, ‘what should we change or do next’?
5. Be aware of the complexity and the speed of change
Online platforms are changing rapidly. AdWords costs are increasing, Google changes the way it works regularly and is becoming increasingly splintered – Google Review for example is more important now to improve rankings. This means that your digital marketing efforts need to adapt quickly to be effective.
The digital marketer needs to be on the ball with digital channel developments that will impact the effectiveness of the marketing activities in the future.
6. Choosing the right help
The number of digital marketing agencies to choose from is now many. Take the time to review your options, get recommendations, understand how they work, their overall marketing expertise (not just media buying or technical/IT) and the fit with your company goals and ambitions. It is common that some agencies only report on selected metrics that make them ‘look good’. Knowing what metrics to ask for will alleviate this. Objectivity is critical.
Putting it all together
So, our advice is – make the commitment to digital marketing but be smart about it.
- Don’t ignore or avoid it – the benefits outweigh the potential pitfalls.
- Get the right team around you – internal (company-wide commitment to digital marketing will be key) and external (a good fit, objectivity, and expertise).
- Set goals, be customer centric.
- Be aware of the detail and complexity – the ‘set and forget’ method won’t work.
- Pulse check – how are we going, what’s working, what needs to change – in plain language
Enter: The Digital Marketing Agency
If this all sounds a little overwhelming, recruiting experts to help develop the right strategy for your business could be the way to go. With a commitment to investing in digital marketing, and the support of a good digital marketing agency, you will be on the right track.