Why Digital Marketing is Essential for Small Business Success
I’ve spent over 12 years pursuing small business owners as potential clients for my marketing agency and can tell you undoubtedly, I’ve heard many variations of the following statement: “I know we need to be found online but I don't know how to get there.” Most of these business owners have at least made the concession of attaining a website. When it comes to search engine optimization, blogging or engaging on social media it’s a challenge to convince these owners that digital marketing is the right path for success.
To the “traditional” business owner, digital marketing is viewed as a waste of time. They will use their own “personal experience” to influence their business decision. “I don’t use social media so why would my clients?” As a professional marketer, the benefits seem obvious. To an owner who has followed traditional methods of marketing such as passing around their business cards at networking events or cold calling, the benefits can seem very foreign. Do these comments sound familiar?
My customers would prefer to be called. This is the usual complaint of businesses that find customers through existing partnerships and networking. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s a representation of biased thinking—of course you’ll only attract customers offline if you’re only marketing offline! There are 5 billion Google searches every day and over 1 billion active Facebook users; don’t you think at least some of those users might be interested in your business?
Social media doesn’t work for our company. If you’ve tried social media before and have seen little to no success, that doesn’t mean social marketing is inherently flawed—it means there was a flaw in your social media plan. It happens, even to the industry’s best but the corrective action is to make improvements by finding the right social channels where your clients “hang out”, engage more with your followers, analyze your social data, and be consistent with posting. If you haven’t heard, even many of your favorite social media platforms are now prioritizing posts based solely on high engagement. If you aren’t engaging with your followers, your posts will get lost in the cloud.
I don’t have time to commit. Committing to a schedule can be hard for some and consistency is key especially when it comes to adhering to search engine optimization. There are many resources available to help small business owners. Besides, you can always hire a contractor or agency like First Wave Marketing to design, execute, and manage your marketing strategy for you.
Now I’d like to highlight three areas where digital marketing is making a significant impact for small business.
Customer Expectations. Almost every person has access to and regularly uses the Internet. When we hear of a business for the first time, most of us immediately look for a website or social media profile where we can learn more. We don’t stop in for a visit. We don’t look you up in the yellow pages or a rolodex. People expect you to have a website, and more importantly one that is up to date - they may doubt your legitimacy or discard you as a potential option altogether.
Your Competitors. Perhaps you’ve been reluctant to adopt an online marketing strategy but that doesn’t mean your competitors haven’t. They could be conquering the digital landscape, poaching your potential customers and offering a better first impression to anyone searching for businesses like yours. To make matters worse, every day they continue to follow these strategies – the further ahead they will be from you.
Technology. With the increase usage of mobile devices, we are finding that customers are relying more on their devices to search, engage, and purchase. This means that acquiring a digital marketing strategy with mobile optimization is imperative for survival.
If you are not following a digital marketing strategy it may be time to adopt one. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “Change is the only constant in life.” And so it is in business.
Like anything in life, digital marketing won’t be perfect the first time. It will take time to learn what works for your business, how much budget you should carve out each year, and how to measure its success. The most important key is to start somewhere – start small and grow bigger over time. Capture the success stories and learn from what doesn’t work. If you don’t take the first step, you’ll always be in the same place.