So why should a small business either develop or strengthen its presence online?
Clearly the world of technology, digital marketing and social media is having a significant impact on how we behave socially, act as consumers and how we do business so it could be fair to say that any business that does not adapt to the new era of marketing and communications is in danger of losing out. However, whilst I am passionate about all things digital I suggest you don’t blinker your vision and miss out on any traditional media that your customers and prospects use and what currently works. It could be that a blended strategy of traditional and digital marketing can still yield returns for your business.
Here is how I see the 10 benefits of Digital Marketing v. Traditional Marketing:
1. Level playing field: Any business can compete with any competitor regardless of size with a solid digital marketing strategy. Traditionally a smaller retailer would struggle to match the finesse of the fixtures and fittings of its larger competitors. Online, a crisp well thought out site with a smooth customer journey and fantastic service is king – not size.
2. Reduced cost: Your business can develop its online marketing strategy for very little cost and can potentially replace costly advertising channels such as Yellow Pages, television, radio and magazine.
3. Simple to measure: Unlike traditional methods you can see in real time what is or is not working for your business online and you can adapt very quickly to improve your results. For measuring traffic to your site you can use Google Analytics to measure specific goals you want to achieve for your website or blog and most packaged email marketing solutions provide good insight into how many people are opening, reading and converting from your emails.
4. Real time results: you don’t have to wait weeks for a boost to your business like you would have to waiting for a fax or form to be returned. You can see the numbers of visitors to your site and its subscribers increase, peak trading times, conversion rates and much more at the touch of a button.
5. Refinement of your strategy: Basically anything that you capture in your customer journey can be reported on and honed for greater success at the fraction of the cost of traditional marketing. After all, how annoying is it to get a couple of forms returned from a mailshot. Marketing online enables you to refine your strategy at any point in time and see any improvements or opportunities for further refinement almost instantaneously.
6. Brand Development: A well maintained website with quality content targeting the needs and adding value to your target audience can provide significant value and lead generation opportunities. The same can be said for utilising social media channels and personalized email marketing.
7. Far greater exposure: your business can be seen anywhere in the world from one marketing campaign, the cost to do this using traditional methods would be considerable. Plus once you have optimised the key word search content in your website you should see a long-term return on your investment and will be fairly low cost to maintain your ranking.
8. Viral: how often do your sales flyers get passed around instantly by your customers and prospects? Online, using social media share buttons on your website, email and social media channels enables your message to be shared incredibly quickly, just look how effective it is for sharing breaking news. If you consider the average facebook user has 190 friends of which an average of 12% see their liked posts – your one message has actually been seen by 15 new prospects, now imagine a number of them also like and share your message and their friends do the same? Mind blowing isn’t it. However a word of caution, bad news can travel much quicker so make sure you have a risk management strategy to tackle negative press as soon as it is circulated.
9. Not Intrusive: I know most people hate receiving sales mailshots or phone calls at inconvenient times on stuff that they have little interest in. Online people get the choice to opt in or out of communications and often it is relevant because they were the ones searching for it in the first place. Also, have you ever got frustrated receiving a regular email on a topic that interests and adds value to you? Nor me so don’t underestimate the power of market segmentation and tailored marketing.
10. Greater engagement: With digital marketing you can encourage your prospects, clients and followers to take action, visit your website, read about your products and services, rate them, buy them and provide feedback which is visible to your market. So it doesn’t take long for good publicity to enhance the prospects of your business.