Thanks to digital marketing small businesses now have a ready platform and the tools to compete with the big boys. This is because digital marketing can be very cost-effective and far-reaching, giving better returns than investment in traditional marketing. While traditional print advertising can be useful it can be expensive too. Even if you are a small company with limited resources it is worth exploring digital marketing to increase sales through customer awareness, engagement and brand loyalty. After all, businesses need to be where their customers are – online!
Digital marketing is simply a way of describing the marketing of your products or services using digital technologies such as the internet, mobile phones, digital displays and so on. The UK Advertising Association has reported that digital spending in the UK now tops £8billion – the UK is in fact the largest internet advertising market in Europe, third only behind the USA and China.
Whatever the size of your company, the digital world can be a crowded place – your digital marketing has got to be appealing and hit the right buttons. These days it is not enough to put out content which reads like a press release or TV-ad like videos: you need to give customers quality, engaging information. So how can you make you voice heard and which platforms do you choose?
Here are our tips:
- Make yourself visible
First and foremost, have an up-to-date and well-functioning website. Once engaged customers arrive at your website make it easy for them to navigate with clear landing pages and signposts. Given the rapid growth in online retailing, it’s vital you give your customers an easy and secure experience if you’re using your website for ecommerce.
A good tip for a small business is to include a blog on the website which gives short pieces of non-sales, quality information from your area of expertise. If the advice is useful you’ll find people will link to it from other websites and Google may start to rank your site higher in search listings too. Adding fresh content through regular blogging will also help increase your website’s digital visibility.
There are lots of DIY cloud-based website services available such as WordPress and Wix, or choose a local web agency or freelancer if you need help with copy or Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Pixlr is a useful free online photo editing app and TinyPNG is handy if you need to reduce image sizes for your website to ensure speedy image download.
- Engage on social media
Social media is now crucial to businesses everywhere. In fact, social media is said to produce more marketing leads for some types of business than trade shows, telemarketing or direct mail. The most popular social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Each has their own focus and typical audience. You can post exciting company news, updates about services and products, share industry related content and visually-appealing images. A great advantage for small businesses is that you can reach your local area directly by connecting with other local social media users. Don’t just broadcast sales messages – share interesting information which will engage your customers; it will drive people to share your content and ultimately to your website to clinch that sale!
There are free online tools like Hootsuite that make it easier to manage and update multiple social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.
- Commission a video to promote your business – Video is fast becoming a vital part of every business’s digital marketing strategy and is on-trend at the moment. Depending on the type of products you sell, customers can be much more likely to click on a video rather than read text. So consider making or commissioning your own short videos to highlight product and service features or show useful hints and tips. Not only can you share videos on your own website and YouTube, other channels could include Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.
- Email marketing
If you already have an email database, use it get your message across. Videos and Facebook may be trendy but using a ‘warm’ and direct email address list has the advantage of putting you directly into customer inboxes without worrying about your brand getting lost on the internet. Cloud-based online services such as Mailchimp (there’s a free starter account available), are easy to use to design your newsletters and manage your database – a godsend for small businesses. Auto emails can also be set up to engage prospects when they are considering your product or service.
- Measure your campaign
Before implementing your digital marketing plan, it’s also important to have in place a way of assessing whether it is working. You can measure your performance using ’analytics’ – a behind-the-scenes way of seeing the ‘who, what and when’ of how your online content is being accessed. These results let you see what’s working and whether any tweaks are needed to your online strategy. Traffic sent to your website from various social campaigns can be tracked in Google Analytics. Email marketing tools will tell you who has clicked on links in your email.
While there’s a whole lot more that you can do, these initial steps will be an excellent start for smaller businesses to see how digital marketing can promote your business and increase sales. When the vast majority of your customers are online, you can’t afford to ignore digital marketing!