Let’s start this with a statistic that should by itself be enough to have any small business owner invest in digital marketing. According to RetailDive, 87% of buyers start searching for products to buy online. Eighty-seven. It’s a massive market size to not be a part of, and definitely, the biggest reason why you should invest in digital marketing. Nevertheless, here are 7 more reasons along with tips on how exactly to do it.
1. Digital marketing helps small businesses build lasting customer relationships
Over 1,190 US-based small business respondents told Keap that their third biggest challenge in 2019 was retaining and re-engaging customers. It’s safe to assume that most of them are online and using the internet on a daily basis, so increasing digital marketing efforts in 2020 will definitely help.
Graphic source: Keap report
There are over half a million new businesses started every month in the US, so “losing” customers is a lot easier today than it might have been 20 or 30 years ago. But, if you know your target customers well, and your product even better, digital marketing is a fantastic tool to keep them coming for more and push your competition away.
Unlike many in-store buying experiences, digital marketing doesn’t stop at checkout. It goes beyond to ensure a buying customer becomes the brand’s ambassador.
Some ways digital marketing improves the “traditional” methods of keeping loyal customers are:
- Using digital testimonials from happy customers instead of the old “word of mouth”. These testimonials should be posted on your website and used in social media campaigns as well.
- Automated but personalized thank you and follow up email campaigns instead of the physical letters or pamphlets. You can reach larger audiences for a lot less money, and send an email in the right moment to the right people.
- Engaging customers on social media once they leave your store or buy your product online, to keep your product on their minds and have them come back next time.
- Remarketing and retargeting to have them try out “this other product” that compliments what they already bought.
2. You’ll learn more about your customers’ needs so you can profitably fulfill them
Another challenge for small businesses (also seen on the graphic above) has been to attract, capture, and convert leads into customers. To successfully do that, a small business needs to identify what its target customer needs so it can fulfill those demands.
Effective digital marketing helps small businesses learn the online habits of customers so they can better target ideal customers. It relies on solid market research to inform the next course of action.
Smart small businesses do not make assumptions. They use digital tools to learn what their target customers search for and need.
Digital tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMRush, and SurveyMonkey can help you identify what your ideal customers’ interests are, what keeps them up at night, and how you can approach them with a highly-personalized, warm proposal and, eventually, convert them into buying customers. Don’t forget to also use social media and your existing audience there to see what they like, what kind of posts do they react to the most and what questions they had in the past.
Once you do the research, the best you can do next is to create one or several customer personas. They will allow you to create personalized and very targeted marketing campaigns for specific types of people and, eventually, turn them into buying customers.
3. Digital marketing offers a multichannel approach to boost conversions
Your potential customers could be anywhere online.
- 41% of U.S. buyers search and buy on Amazon while 28% search on Google then buy on Amazon, so small business SEO is still crucial
- 3.2 billion people or 42% of the world population uses social media today (Emersys, 2019)
- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, and LinkedIn are the market leaders. LinkedIn offers 80% of social media B2B leads, for example
- On average, these people spend 2 hours and 22 minutes on social media networks per day, 80% of the time is on mobile
- 54% of consumers browse social media for product research purposes
- 73% of marketers believe their social media marketing efforts are somewhat working for their business
- 83% of marketers used video marketing in 2019 and 87% said video was earning them “a good ROI”
- Delaying a customer response by even 10 minutes can decrease the chance of a sale by 400%, so consider using chatbots to boost your digital customer service
Email marketing. Facebook and Google ads. Social media marketing. SEO. And so on. There are many digital marketing channels a small business can use to reach their audience and, in the end, get them to buy their product or service. Each of the channels asks for a different approach, of course, but once a strategy is created and preparations are made in general, it’s easy to adjust the messages to different audiences and boost conversions.
Some potential customers are more receptive to personalized email marketing campaigns while others prefer blogs and a combination of targeted ads to feel engaged enough to convert to buying customers.
Using digital marketing’s multichannel approach can help you find and engage potential customers wherever they are online and using whichever favorite platform they prefer.
4. With digital marketing, small businesses can compete competitively with large businesses—and actually win
Digital marketing doesn’t demand that small businesses have an arsenal of expensive tools and huge budgets to get noticed, make sales, and grow. Sure, some tools will be needed but a lot of the things depend on the knowledge and experience of the owners. Knowing your target audience and your product “in-depth” usually means more than any fancy tools – especially with the help of digital marketing.
Ann Smarty, one of the biggest names in digital marketing, said this in her article for Digital Marketer:
“The great thing about digital marketing is that ingenuity and creativity can always win over big marketing budgets.”
..and there’s no bigger truth than that. Sometimes even the fact that you are “small business” can do more for your campaigns than investing millions of dollars into video production. Example? A viral Christmas ad done by a small hardware store in Wales, which was filmed by the owner and recent one stars his son. It gathered over 2 million views on YouTube, and many of the comments were in the same tone – “I want to buy from this small business after seeing this ad.”
5. Digital marketing is more affordable than traditional marketing
Many small businesses can’t afford a radio, TV or billboard ad campaign. But many can afford digital marketing techniques to reach out and engage with ideal audiences.
How affordable is digital marketing compared to traditional marketing methods?
Take email and social media marketing as examples. In 2015, email only asked you to invest $1 to gain back $38. In 2018, email marketing’s average Cost Per Lead (CPL) was $53. That’s only second to online retargeting ($31). Compare that to events/tradeshows ($811) and TV/radio advertising ($611) and it’s a no-brainer.
Moving forward – free, organic search still dominates web traffic, ahead of traffic driven by paid campaigns. Take claiming and optimizing a free Google My Business Profile, for example. That’ll:
- Boost your local SEO search visibility
- Increase foot traffic if you are a local business, especially from smartphone users
- Positive GMB reviews help improve a business’ online reputation free-of-charge
And yes, that’s free (well, for now) – all you need is internet access and a computer or smartphone.
Facebook ads, on the other hand, are a bit more “dangerous” field to play in because it’s very easy to lose track of how much you’re spending. But, you can start with just $1 per day, and build from there.
6. Digital marketing offers measurable ROI
Unlike traditional marketing techniques, digital marketing is not only targeted, but it also offers credible ways to measure what’s working, what’s not, and how so.
That means a small business can easily invest small in online marketing, and see results first, before going all-out and becoming more invested.
Having trouble associating your digital marketing spend to revenue? TrackMaven found many SMBs are.
Start with setting up a dedicated landing page. The goal is to capture a specific campaign’s inbound traffic.
From there, monitor how many people are landing on the landing page. You can also see how many bounced (and at which point on the page), how many engaged with the entire page, and see how many converted to buyers – all of these are ROI metrics that can be tracked in Google Analytics.
You can also use A/B tests to identify the most converting online marketing techniques, copy, calls-to-action, and page layouts based on real, customer interactions online.
The tests can help you understand if you need to be more targeted. Or if it’s better to shorten your landing page content to get more conversions. Or whether adding more above-fold call-to-action buttons can help boost conversions.
7. Your competition is already using digital marketing to spur ahead
About half of the small business owners that responded to the already mentioned survey said they were planning to use online marketing strategies to win more business in 2019 and beyond – many already are. A logical conclusion would be that most of your competitors are as well.
How to make sure what kind of digital marketing strategies are they using? Start simply by checking their website and social media. Do they have regularly updated blog on their site? Do they publish updates on Facebook or share images on Instagram? Facebook also allows you to see what kind of (if any) ads are your competitors running. Simply click on page info and check their ad library.
After that, do a Google search for their brand name and see if they are mentioned on other sites or if they are linking to them. You can also use tools like Ahrefs site explorer to see which sites link to your competitors. Using another tool, SimilarWeb, you can see the sources of traffic towards your competitors and if they are using paid search ads (and on which keywords). Find more on the ads tracking and which tools you can use here.
The key thing to remember here is to write all your findings down, from the number of social media followers to keywords you find they are targeting. All that data will be useful in any type of digital marketing campaign you start – SEO, paid search, social media ads, all up to creating content and email outreach. There are different templates and tools out there for competitor research, but most of the times good old Excel sheets will do the best job.
So, what are you waiting for? 2020 is probably the last digital marketing train you can catch. Luckily, these days there are thousands of tools available either for free or for affordable prices for any small business. A small fraction of traditional advertising budget, some free time and a lot of will for learning is all you need to start seeing some positive results.