5 Things Small-Business Owners Need to Know About Digital Marketing
Digital marketing can provide significant value to small businesses looking to improve their social media presence, expand their customer base, and increase revenue. However, due to limited marketing budgets and a potentially overwhelming number of digital platform choices, deciding on the right mix can also present challenges.
Even before the current COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers used digital channels to learn about and purchase new products and services. However, by forcing many of us to stay home, the pandemic has changed online and offline consumer behavior in unprecedented ways.
With so many storefronts shuttered, consumers have turned to online shopping like never before, making a strong online presence a must for small businesses. By shifting some of their marketing budgets from traditional to digital spending, many small businesses have stayed alive during this crisis. Some have even grown stronger.
These five digital marketing tips for small businesses can help shed some light on the best digital marketing strategies for small businesses and the numerous benefits this marketing type can provide.
1. Digital Marketing Doesn’t Have to be Expensive
In most cases, small businesses have a limited marketing budget and can’t afford sizable digital marketing programs. Fortunately, there are ways to develop a robust digital marketing strategy without breaking the bank.
Search Engine Optimization tools
Small businesses used to rely heavily on local customers loyal to their traditional storefronts or the local business community. To capitalize on their customers’ shopping habits and to gain new customers, small businesses can use a group of low-cost and essential online marketing tools called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
SEO refers to processes that increase website traffic using the organic—non-paid—search results on search engines for both general and local information. Search engines like Google or Yahoo are the most common ways people find local business information. Nearly half of all Google searches answer a question that implies ‘near me,’ and almost 80% of all local searches on Google result in a sale.
The use of specific local SEO techniques is essential to ensuring your company’s inclusion in those search engine results. They can also boost your online presence and help you gain new customers through conversions and leads. Strategic SEO can also help your small business rank high in voice search, an increasingly popular search method amongst digital consumers.
Here are six of the most crucial local SEO techniques that can positively affect your sales:
- Create your Google My Business profile.
- Optimize your website for mobile platforms.
- Regularly ask satisfied customers for reviews.
- List your site with local directories.
- Write high-quality content based on local events using local keywords.
- Secure quality backlinks or references to your website from external sites.
Email Marketing Campaigns
Email marketing can be a very effective and low-cost way to facilitate personal connections with your customers. By analyzing data captured through your email subscribers—such as what they open, click on, and buy—manual analysis or AI-powered automation tools can help you personalize email messaging and deliver the right message at the right time.
Since many people read emails on mobile devices, it is crucial to keep emails short, include a clear call to action (CTA), design using a mobile-friendly format, and include white space, so it’s easy for readers to click on links or buttons in the email.
2. Some Digital Marketing Channels are More Relevant Than Others
Besides SEO and email marketing, another vital digital marketing channel is social media. Social Media Marketing (SMM) allows small businesses to connect with acutely targeted potential customers through direct, person-to-person engagement.
At this time, the average internet user has five active social media accounts. According to Statista.com, the most popular social networks as of January 2021 ranked by the number of active users were:
- Facebook Messenger
However, just because a site has the most users does not mean it is the best site for your small business to use. Your customer base, marketing budget, and marketing goals will help you determine which social media platforms will optimize your marketing budget and provide the best bang for your investment.
For example, Facebook’s primary purpose is to build and maintain brand recognition and loyalty, so it’s an excellent platform for sharing informational posts, social campaigns, and running contests. On the other hand, Twitter is great for providing quick business updates, generating fast brand awareness, and posting new product promotions.
Instagram can be ideal for photo-sharing, advertising, and video content, while LinkedIn can generate a high visitor-to-lead conversion rate.
Whether posting organically or buying paid ads, targeting the right demographics through these sites will be critical to your marketing success.
3. Relevant Content Creation Should be a Top Priority
Many marketers consider mobile-friendly content for a small business’s website as the most important area in which a company can spend time and money. High-quality, relative, and informative content can generate considerable inbound traffic from highly targeted audiences.
Small businesses need to determine their content requirements and use someone who can create that content at an affordable price.
Strategic online content can include:
- educational blog posts
- social media copy
- white papers
- new product descriptions
- contesting rules
- how-to tutorials
The goal of strategic content is to attract users to view the content and take the desired action.
4. Stay Up With Digital Marketing Trends
As the digital landscape continues to evolve exponentially, and with the many tasks that keep small business owners extremely busy, it can be challenging to stay on top of the latest digital marketing trends.
However, with so much online competition, and limited marketing budgets, small businesses must know the best digital tools available to help them stand out from the crowd and gain new paying customers.
One way to do this is to make time weekly to read industry leaders’ posts or search Twitter hashtags to find current trends. Relevant digital marketing blogs can also be a valuable source of targeted information.
5. Digital Marketing Analytics is Key to Ongoing Marketing Success
The analysis of customer data gathered during digital campaigns is essential to understanding how your target audience thinks, their needs, habits, likes, dislikes, ages, and locations. This knowledge can give your business valuable leverage in targeting your audience.
Analyses of your marketing campaigns’ results are also essential. Analyzing campaign metrics can reveal which marketing programs provide the best return on investment (ROI) by generating the most leads and conversions per dollar spent.
The insights gained from these analyses will provide your business with strategic know-how to invest your marketing budget in successful campaigns and end those that aren’t working. These insights can help you determine how often and where to post marketing content based on which campaigns receive the most engagement.
Data analysis of your marketing campaigns can also allow for predictive analysis to help your company know when a specific product may be most in-demand and provide visibility to future trends.
While small businesses face unique digital marketing challenges, there are many valuable and effective digital marketing strategies that small businesses can explore to increase their customer base and market presence.
Using in-house resources to manage digital marketing and focus on proven marketing efforts are ways small businesses can invest in their own stability and growth.
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