Digital Marketing and Small Business

Marketing is essential for any business, but it can be costly for small businesses on a budget. Digital marketing, however, needn’t cost a fortune if you do it right. What’s more, it puts small companies on an even playing field with larger businesses. In many cases it’s an advantage being small; you can be more agile and adapt swiftly to change or make adjustments more quickly if your strategy isn’t producing the results you need. If you use the right digital marketing strategy, you can increase traffic and grow your customer base.

Millions of people are looking online for what they want, so it is essential for any small business to have a visible online presence. There are three strategic areas where small businesses can invest in digital marketing to achieve results – Website, SEO and Social Media.

Website

Your website is your storefront window, where your customers come to browse before making a purchase. If your real storefront window wasn’t attractive and appealing, then potential buyers would give it a wide berth. It’s the same with your website. You must make it attractive and inviting, user-friendly, informative, easy to navigate, and full of interesting and relevant content.

When consumers visit your website, they want to be able to find out about your company, your trustworthiness and success, and if you fit their needs; they want to read customer reviews and learn about exclusive discounts alongside having an opportunity to participate in a customer loyalty programme. And when they buy, they want their purchase to be seamless with a click payment system.

Customers want to quickly consume content in blogs and articles as well as content delivered in an interesting way such as via video, podcasts and infographics. There is also an increasing number of consumers using mobile devices to shop online. Your website should be updated to cater for these mobile users with content that be adjusted to fit various sized screens. If you can sync content across mobile devices and desktops so much the better.

Social Media

Social media is a great platform for increasing your online presence (although it doesn’t happen overnight). It’s another way for your customers to get to know you, and for you to learn who your customers are and what they are looking for. Be careful, though, because as well as viewing customer recommendations they will also find customer complaints!

You can engage more fully with your customers online by entering chat rooms and community forums. Portray yourself as a leader in your field by setting up a Q & A section on your business page to answer queries speedily while providing current product or service information. If you’re a local company, you can provide a wealth of local information faster than bigger businesses that can help to keep you ahead of the game.

However, be careful of diving into every online channel to promote your small business. Monitoring online engagement and updating content can be immensely time-consuming. Instead, concentrate on one or two social media sites; choose the ones that your customers are more likely to engage with and start talking to them. If you’re a B2B provider, LinkedIn is a good bet as it’s there you’re more liable to find other businesses. If you’re a B2C provider, you might want to concentrate on Facebook or Google Plus. You should be wherever your customers are.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Wherever you have an online presence, ensure you’re driving traffic to your website, as once there, your potential customer may become a buyer and loyal customer. Optimise local listings such as Google my Business and Yelp to make the most from your digital marketing efforts.

Also, optimise your website to ensure you’re easily found in search engines. Use keywords that consumers are likely to look for when they search for products or services that you offer. Then make navigation to your landing page seamless to make it quick and easy for consumers to review your products and make a purchase.

SEO is a long term marketing strategy, and it can take a while to climb the search engines’ rankings and get noticed. You could consider using Pay-Per-Click ads as they can help push you up the rankings faster resulting in greater exposure. But, PPC can prove to be very expensive for small businesses with a tight budget and there isn’t a guaranteed outcome. In fact, according to Ken Braun of Lounge Lizard, “There is more value eventually… on organic search listings. Potential customers are more likely to click on a natural search result vs. a paid one.”

For digital marketing to pay dividends, you have to ensure every aspect of your online content points consumers to the relevant landing pages on your website. And, there’s no point in creating a fantastic online presence via social media and SEO only for your potential buyers to be directed to a broken down and outdated website. Update your website with relevant and exciting content and make sure its fit for the growing number of mobile device users. Make it easy for your customers to find and engage with you – keep your customers happy.