By Sudheer Kiran.
The number of customers going online to search products and services is more than ever. If you are a small business owner who still believes that your local business need not go online, maybe you should think again!
Is a small or medium business destined to be small all its life? Absolutely No! An SMB can change its fortunes if it makes conscious efforts to expand into newer horizons and markets its offerings efficiently on a larger scale.
The traditional marketing channels have a limited scope compared to the Internet which gives SMBs the freedom to reach millions of people who spend significant hours exploring the World Wide Web every day.
There are about 28 million small businesses in America that account for about 54 percent of the total sales in the US. Given that, 6 out of 10 very small businesses are yet to establish an online presence and get a website. Also, a large segment of SMBs has still not been able to utilize digital marketing to its full potential.
1. Increased Brand Visibility
Content marketing, search engine optimization, and social media are inarguably the three most important ingredients of digital marketing. Among the three, if the content is the king, SEO is the kingmaker.
If an SME can keep its website optimized, share relevant and helpful content with users, and build a positive brand image on social media, they can easily draw the attention of the intended audience and discover newer business opportunities.
Around 70-80% people research a business online before making a visit to them for purchase. People these days seem to follow a doctrine which says – ‘if a company cannot be found on Google, probably it doesn’t exist’.
The online medium allows SMBs to interact with a much wider market which is otherwise difficult to reach out to using the traditional marketing channels. With over three billion people having access to the Internet today, there exist myriad opportunities that small businesses can tap into and grow bigger than they can imagine.
2. Interact With Your Target Audience
The digital media allows start-ups, small and medium businesses to interact with potential customers on multiple online platforms. About 77.6 percent of SMBs assert that they use social media in their marketing strategy while only 32 percent seriously invest into the same. This could be the biggest opportunity that an SME can tap into before the use of social media becomes a mainstream in their particular industry.
Sharing relevant content that educates the target customers and helps them make better decisions can significantly enhance your brand authority.
As per the Content Marketing Institute, 90% of B2C businesses report that social media has become their most popular content marketing tactic, followed by illustrations and photos (87%), eNewsletters (83%), videos (82%) and website articles (81%). Using social media as a customer service tool can increase brand engagement by leaps and bounds and help businesses win new customers.
3. Greater Returns on Marketing Spend
The best thing about the digital medium is that it doesn’t require much marketing spend but delivers tremendous returns. The traditional marketing media such as television, newspapers, and radio involves a higher development, production and publishing cost and the effectiveness of these channels cannot be easily measured.
The digital media on the other side does not require long standing commitments and the investment model is quite flexible. The web traffic channels such as PPC and email marketing can be updated or modified on a regular basis.
According to Business Insider, most small businesses emphasize on increasing revenue (72%), but they also see an abundant value in building new customer relationships (60%), and marketing and advertising (46%).
The online media provides businesses with an all-encompassing platform to achieve multidimensional marketing objectives. While search engine optimization and the search engine marketing enables a brand to be found, content marketing and social media allow a business to engage with current and potential customers and establish a strong brand presence.
Easy To Track Campaigns and Take Corrective Measures
Unlike the offline marketing strategies which cannot be altered easily after implementation, digital media gives marketers the liberty to constantly track campaign progress through various metrics and take corrective measures as and when required. Marketers may analyze their digital media campaigns using various free and paid analytical tools such as Brandwatch, Buffer, BuzzSumo, Crowdbooster, Edgar, Google Analytics, Hootsuite, and others.
About 71% of small business owners do their own digital marketing, instead of taking help from the experts. Reasoned to the same, they usually do not make use of automation tools to manage their digital media campaigns.
While there is no harm in managing your own digital campaigns, using advanced tools to analyze and manage your digital media campaigns can significantly add to the efficiency of your promotional campaigns.
5. Gain Significant Competitive Advantage
The majority of small and medium enterprises see digital marketing as one of the most effective tactics yet only a small percentage of businesses include the same in their core marketing strategy. With increasing number of people relying on online platforms for information, SMEs cannot afford to ignore a promising medium which can bring them more customers and higher ROI.
The sooner a business starts making investments into digital marketing, the better are its chances to succeed. Having a strong online presence would help them build a healthy brand reputation and gain a competitive advantage in their location and industry of focus.
A Word of Advice
A lot of SMEs who think they do not need a digital strategy may miss out on the opportunities that can transform them into bigger organizations. Marshall Goldsmith rightly mentions, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” To simply put, what worked for you till now may not work for you always.
An enterprise needs to stay nimble with the current trends in marketing and adapt to the changing needs of its target customers. A well-planned digital media strategy can help a local business go global. And if there’s a better time for a small business to go online, it’s now!