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It doesn’t matter what type of business you run, you have to increase your customer exposure to gain more customers, and, in turn, produce more profit. It’s no secret that the more customers you have, the better your business will do. It still takes hard work and strategy to make your business run the way you envision and having a pipeline of new customers is a foundational key to success.
Today, customers gain access to information from so many sources that it can be hard to focus on how best to market your business. There’s one umbrella of marketing, called digital marketing, that is sure to reach customers from all over if done right.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is a broad term used to describe an industry of services. , but it is a way to use digital tools such as the internet and social media to reach customers, advertise your business, and grow your customer base. Digital marketing goes even further to include phone messaging, email marketing, search engine marketing, and more.
This broad range can make digital marketing seem more confusing than more traditional marketing methods, especially if you’re new to testing the waters in the digital world. Whether you’re a digital pro or a newbie who wants to learn more, let us break down digital marketing so you can begin harnessing its power as soon as possible.
Why is Digital Marketing Important?
The physical world connects to the digital world through the internet. Digital marketing can help businesses reach a much larger audience than they could without it. If you tried to reach the same number of people through traditional marketing methods that you can with digital approaches, it would be a lot more costly and less effective. Digital marketing has become a great equalizer in the business world; it enables small businesses to reach new customers across the globe in a streamlined and efficient way. Here are some of the top benefits of digital marketing for small businesses:
It creates a natural feedback loop. Instead of sending a mailer to someone’s house and never hearing from them again, digital approaches can receive comments and feedback from the customers directly.
You can learn more about your customers and what they want. The feedback loop mentioned above gives you the opportunity to better understand your customers’ needs and wants.
Digital marketing reaches a global audience. Small businesses don’t have the marketing budgets that massive corporations do, so business owners always have to be thinking about affordable growth strategies. Through the online universe, you can reach people who never would have heard of you otherwise.
Your audience can get to know your brand and your company more. With digital marketing methods, your business will start to build a brand that people can connect with and understand, which will lead to long-term brand loyalty if done correctly.
It’s easier to track the impact of digital marketing than say TV ads or Billboards! If you put up a billboard it’s hard to know how many people saw it, and even harder to know how many people purchased something from you because of it. With digital methods, you can see how many people click on your online advertisement and how many of those people went on to buy something. Analytics are so important for small businesses, and digital marketing gives you a very organic data set that’s built into the process.
RDigital marketing can go mobile. Over 85% of adults in the United States own a smartphone and anything that can be found online will be found through their phone. (Pew research) They don’t have to be at work or home on their desktop computer to learn about you; you can reach potential customers while they’re on the go, anywhere in the world.
Digital marketing works with your goals whether they're local, regional, national, or international.
Digital Marketing Strategies
The broad umbrella of digital marketing can feel very ambiguous or too big to tackle. It’s much simpler to look at the different digital marketing approaches available to decide which ones will work best for what you need. Here are the top digital marketing strategies today:
Search Engine Optimizations (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization refers to how likely your business or website is to pop up when a potential customer searches for something related on the internet. For instance, when you search “best French fries in Seattle,” the businesses that pop up on the first page of the results have good SEO.
Pros: SEO is free in that you could try to do it yourself and get decent results. This is an unpaid method of digital marketing that is incredibly powerful. Keep in mind though your competitors are working with trained and seasoned veterans who get results. People use the internet and in particular search engines to look for things every day, so utilizing SEO is essential.
Cons: SEO can be confusing, time-consuming, and complicated to understand and get better at. There are entire companies that specialize in increasing SEO for their clients. While hiring an SEO specialist has a price tag on it, it could be a very worthwhile investment so you don’t have to learn all the ins and outs of Search Engine Optimization.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
This approach is somewhat different than SEO but still centers around your business showing up as a search result for potential customers. With Pay-Per-Click Advertising, small businesses can pay advertising platforms like Google Ads, Bing, or Yahoo to feature your business above the search results. The ad will have a small notice in the corner that it is an ad, but many people still interact with these advertisements and it’s a great way to grow your customer base.
Pros: This is a paid digital marketing approach that you’ll have to have a budget for, but you only pay for the number of clicks that your ad gets when it’s shown. If your ad doesn’t receive any clicks, meaning your business doesn't benefit from this effort, you won’t have to pay.
Cons: Many businesses pay for advertisements using the PPC approach, and the advertising platforms have to have a method for how and when they show different ads. How often your ad is shown usually depends on how much you’re willing to pay per click and the score your ad receives from the advertising platform. You’ll need a wonderful, well-polished ad to get the most bang for your buck here.
Social Media Marketing
Internet users spend almost a third of their online time on social media, so knowing how to navigate social media marketing is important in this ever-changing environment. You want to reach places that your customers are likely to be, and their social accounts are at the top of that list. There are various social media platforms, but some of the most popular are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Tik Tok.
Pros: The potential with social media marketing is off the charts! You can reach a ton of people and those who really love your business can share your products or services easily on their own platform. If your business has social media accounts that you use for marketing, these platforms also deliver great insights as to how many people your business is reaching.
Cons: The social media game can be hard to gain traction in. The world of social media is all about viral advertisements, catchy approaches, and creativity. It’s a competitive market that you’ll need to master. Like SEO, there are social media marketing professionals that can help you get started. You can even outsource this part of your business if you feel your time is best spent elsewhere.
No matter which digital marketing approaches you choose, you need a home base to lead customers to, which is your business website! Your website is where people will officially convert to a customer and buy your products or services, so it’s important that your business has a strong website. Effective website design has a lot of factors, including ease of use, page load time, catchy visuals, and more. You’ll also want strong keywords on your website to help with SEO. The internet is vast, but this is a good example of how interconnected the digital world is, too!
Pros: You own this digital marketing approach. Your website is yours and yours only; you don’t have to deal with advertising platforms or third parties to strengthen your approach.
Cons: Like most digital marketing approaches, building a website can be complex, especially if you want to build a really high-quality site. There are also overhead fees that go along with maintaining a website, but they are generally pretty low compared to the cost of other methods.
Most businesses utilize email marketing regularly. If you check your inbox now you probably have an advertisement about a sale or new product from any number of businesses. Use email marketing for targeted advertisements and as a way to bring back customers that have purchased one or more times before. Most customers check their email inbox on their mobile device, so be sure to keep email marketing mobile-friendly.
Pros: You can send emails to the masses. All the people on your email list can be reached at once, with the click of a button.
Cons: Anecdotally, how often do you open up the emails with advertisements? It’s probably not a lot. Many of these emails get deleted or ignored without a second thought. However, since you can reach many people at once, it’s a valuable method that converts customers, or businesses wouldn’t still be using email marketing regularly.
Content Marketing leans on content sources such as articles, blogs, e-books, videos, or infographics to catch the attention of potential customers and leave them with a call to action. Maybe you have a blog on “Health Benefits of Olive Oil” that encourages readers to buy your organic olive oil to access those health benefits.
Pros: Content marketing is a great way to be creative and provide even more value to your customers. Not only are they learning about your olive oil, but they’re learning about its health benefits overall. Use this method as a way to deliver additional value and keep your customers coming back.
Cons: Content creation is time-consuming and can be difficult! Being creative and weaving your product with some sort of content can become frustrating if you’re feeling uninspired. It also requires a skill set that isn’t always easy to master. If you’re a horrible writer, posting a blog may seem insurmountable. Don’t be afraid to outsource when needed!
Let's create a Marketing Budget
With the variety of digital marketing methods and the varying impact they each have, it is common for small businesses to have no idea how much money to throw into the world of digital. As with any marketing effort, you need to develop budgets and campaigns to analyze the returns and reconfigure your investment approach.
When first starting out with digital marketing, analyze how much your competitors are spending in the space by looking at industry averages. You can also lean on the market of your business and what the digital marketing landscape looks like, as well as the age of your business. Your investment amounts will change over time and with growth, so base your marketing budget off of your revenue as a percentage.
Digital Marketing: A Quiet but Mighty Tool
Digital marketing packs a punch. It offers great value and growth opportunities to small businesses all over the world. Through the digital world, you can build a relationship with your customer base that you can’t build through any other methodology. Creating a feedback loop, brand recognition, and creative content are some major benefits to digital marketing. It’s also very versatile, so no matter what your business is offering potential customers, there is a space for that in the world of digital marketing.
Most of the approaches we shared are things you can start now. If your business doesn’t have an online presence, you are leaving SO MUCH money on the table. Our whole world today centers around the internet, and marketing is no different. 20 years ago, it was nearly impossible to reach customers that were far away unless you were a major corporation. Digital marketing is a business equalizer. Yes, marketing budgets still have something to do with it, but small businesses are no longer locked in their local market. Harnessing digital marketing will transform your business, no matter which method or combination of methods you choose. If you have further questions and need help marketing your business let's chat this week.