Being a small business owner is a great and scary thing simultaneously. It’s terrifying as there’s always a threat to survival, and it’s great because it gives you the freedom to do experiment things. But things become quite perplexing if you are supposed to do something you’ve not done or learned; digital marketing is one of the primary examples. In my experience, most business owners are either too overconfident or underconfident when it comes to digital marketing for a small business. Both ends are bound to fail, and wisdom lies in being a learner.
Achieving success in digital marketing is difficult, but it’s not rocket science. You, as a small business owner, can turn it into one of the most effective weapons in your arsenal. To get started, you need basic knowledge, a bit of courage, and a lot of effort. Mastering digital marketing will happen on the job, but this blog will provide you with enough fuel to get you started. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get into it.
First Things First: What is Digital Marketing? Why is it important?
Digital Marketing works in the same way as any other marketing. It is a way for you to interact with and influence potential customers. Unlike conventional marketing, it is done online through various digital marketing channels.
A business employing digital growth marketing uses Google search, social networks, email, website, etc., to connect to their potential and current customers. A good digital marketer has a sound understanding of these channels and utilizes them to boost business.
“Go where people are” is one of the most fundamental marketing rules. With an average user spending 4.8 hours of their day using mobile devices, it’s pretty obvious that marketers need to go online.
Here are some statistics to help you understand the significance of digital marketing:
- 87% of buyers begin their product search on the internet.
- Retail e-commerce sales are expected to surpass $1000 billion in the United States alone by 2023.
- Companies that use digital advertising have 2.8x better revenue growth rates than those that do not.
- 91% of customers have visited an online store due to their online experience.
- 25% of small businesses invest in online marketing; this presents a great opportunity to promote your business and reach potential customers before your competitors do.
What is Inbound Marketing?
As the name implies, inbound marketing is a marketing strategy that organically brings customers or clients to you. Thus, inbound marketing can relieve you from marketing efforts to generate business if done rightly.
The central idea behind inbound marketing is to grab the attention of potential customers by providing value through content. The content you share allows you to position yourself as an industry authority and bridges the trust gap. Thus, if you create high-quality content and consistently engage with your prospects, they are much more likely to deem you trustworthy and buy your products or services.
As it is a ‘pull’ marketing strategy, customers find your business and not the other way round. Therefore, inbound leads are much better in quality than outbound leads. Plus, you’re saving a lot of time and money as you don’t always need to be ‘on the hunt.’
However, everything is not so rosy when it comes to inbound marketing. To get to a stage where you’re not chasing customers, you need to put effort, A LOT of it! Let’s understand the various digital marketing techniques you can employ to have an impeccable inbound marketing strategy.
Which are Various Digital Marketing Techniques? (About, Pros, Cons, Tips, Ideal for)
Before we get to the drawing board, it’s essential to know the various techniques you have at your disposal. Let’s get into it right away!
SEO (Search Engine Optimization):
Where do more than 90% of people search for products and queries? Google. Thus, having your website on the first page of Google allows you to target these questions and generate business. That’s where SEO comes into play.
SEO is a technique that allows you to improve your website ranking for search queries related to your industry. It optimizes your website to be easily crawlable for Google’s spider, and it comes across as a trusted source in the industry.
- Visibility: More than 80% of product purchases begin with an online search, and SEO allows you to position your website for those queries.
- Quality traffic: Users who will land on your website will be interested in your industry, thus requiring less effort to convert.
- No need to pay: Unlike search engine ads or social media ads, you don’t need to pay for traffic generated on your website as the website rankings are based on Google’s algorithm.
- More traffic than ads: The organic search results yield higher traffic than Google ads.
- Long-term game: SEO doesn’t produce instant results as it takes at least 6-8 months to have any kind of impact.
- Algorithm changes: Google’s search algorithm is always changing, and this will result in ranking fluctuations for your website.
- Competition: Companies in most industries realized the importance of SEO long ago, which makes it difficult for a new entrant.
- Create a long-term content strategy and regularly write content (especially blogs or articles).
- Focus on content that is high in quality and depth. It’s been studied that Google prefers long-form content over shorter ones.
- Ensure website crawlability and make sure it fulfills all basic SEO requirements.
- Hire an SEO professional or agency to take care of your website and perform regular SEO audits.
SEO is ideal for you if…
- Your targeted customers are always searching for products or services related to your business.
- Location plays a crucial role in your business. For example, a moving company in New York can benefit from targeting search queries such as ‘best moving company in New York.’
- You don’t want to pay for ads to generate traffic on your website and are looking for a long-term solution.
Search Engine Ads
Google Ads can be an ideal option for you if your targeted customers visit Google to buy products/services and you want to get instant results. With ads, you won’t have to wait for your website to rank on the first page of Google.
On Google, search engines work on a pay-per-click (PPC) model. This means you will have to pay each time someone clicks on your ad. To have your website in the ads area, you will need to win an automated auction that depends on the budget and quality of your ad and website.
- Fast results: Search engine ads allow you to bypass the organic ranking process and have your website on top of search results instantly.
- Control over budget & result: With PPC, you’re always aware of the amount you will be spending and the estimated results you will get out of it.
- Brand visibility: Having your brand on the top of the Google ranking helps customers recognize and remember your brand.
- Access to data: Running PPC ads gives you access to relevant data that can be quite useful to up your SEO game.
- Costly in the long term: PPC proves to be a costly long-term strategy as you’re paying for each click that results from Google.
- No sustainability: As PPC is a money-driven channel, the traffic will disappear once you stop spending.
Search engine ads are ideal for you if…
- You want to achieve instant results
- You have a good marketing budget
- If you want to drive website traffic through search engines
Social Media Marketing & Advertising
With an average internet user spending 144 minutes on social media every day, you’re missing out on a lot of business if you don’t leverage the power of various social networks. Unlike Google, users are less likely to search for products or services on social media, but it opens up opportunities to engage with them through quality content. In addition to the organic reach, you can use social media channels to run ads.
- Brand visibility: Social media channels have become the yellow pages of today’s age. Customers/clients typically visit social media channels before getting into the business.
- Creative freedom: Social media allows you to create various types of content such as images, posters, videos, memes, GIFs, etc. This is great as you can create content that your targeted audience consumes.
- Target your audience: Social media channels allow you to target your ads to people based on demographics and interests. This means your content is shown to people who’re likely to be interested in your products or services.
- Thought leadership: Creating helpful content on social media lets you establish yourself and your brand as a trusted voice in the industry.
- Competition: All social media channels are flooded with promotional content as companies seek to leverage the availability of an audience.
- Difficult to measure: It’s difficult to measure your marketing efforts on social media channels. You might get likes, comments, views, and retweets, but it’s difficult to know how it all adds to your bottom line.
- Reliance on ads: If you’re a small business and aspire to generate leads in the short term, there’s no option but to run ads.
Social media marketing is ideal for you if…
- You want to increase your brand awareness
- Your target audience consumes relevant content on social media channels
- You want to establish yourself (and your company) as industry influencers
- You want to create a long-term strategy based on content
Whether it’s Google, social media networks, or any other digital marketing channel, you’re always dependent on the platforms for many things. For instance, Google could change its ranking algorithm, and your years of efforts in SEO could crush within seconds. However, there’s one channel that you have end-to-end control over. Yes, we’re talking about email marketing.
It might be one of the oldest methods in the book, but email marketing is one of the most rewarding marketing methods. It gives you a return of $36 for every $1 you spend. Moreover, it allows you to connect with your customers and nurture the relationship directly.
- High ROI: Email marketing has the highest ROI among all digital marketing channels.
- Personalization: Email marketing allows you to create personalized email campaigns. And this doesn’t mean sending “Dear [First Name]” emails. You can segment your audience based on area, gender, buying preferences, purchase history, etc.
- Easy to measure: Measuring the result of an email campaign is quite easy as the email marketing platforms provide you with all data such as delivery rate, open rate, clicks, views, etc.
- Instant results: If your email campaign is purely for marketing purposes (such as sales, discount, product launch, etc.), then you can expect it to create an immediate impact.
- Spamming: If your email campaign is too frequent or doesn’t deliver any value to customers, they’re likely to opt-out of subscription or report you as spam.
- Size & design: Emails with too many images take a lot of time to load. Plus, you need to design templates so that they’re visible using various devices.
- Failed delivery: Emails with certain keywords, characters, or poor design are not approved by email service providers, and they often block these emails. Thus, you need to be quite careful when it comes to creating an email campaign.
Email marketing is ideal for you if…
- You want to engage with your audience and send personalized emails constantly.
- You intend to keep your email contacts informed of the latest offers, launches, and discounts.
- You are targeting people and industries that use emails frequently. Conventional industries such as accounting and transport are prime examples.
One of the best ways to propagate an idea without spending on ads is to have a popular and trusted voice in the industry talk about it. This is regarded as ‘influencer marketing.’ Contrary to popular opinion, influencer marketing goes way beyond flaunting expensive clothing and accessories. You can have people like researchers, media personalities, founders, content creators, etc., as influencers.
Having an influencer helps you reach their audience and creates trust in customers’ minds. Brands are capitalizing on the rise of influencers in the digital world, and the influencer marketing industry became $13.8 billion industry in 2021.
- Increased brand awareness: Promoting your product or services through influencers allows you to reach wider audiences at once. This results in increased brand awareness and visibility.
- Builds credibility: People follow influencers as they trust their industry knowledge. If you employ influencer marketing for your brand, it is bound to establish a foundation of trust.
- High ROI: Influencer marketing is almost a sure-shot way to get people talking about your product or services. 89% of people think influencer marketing delivers the same or better results than other marketing channels.
- Boosts social media reach: Increasing your organic reach on social media is a mightily difficult task due to the cut-throat competition. Influencers can help you slice through it and emerge as a leading voice in the industry.
- Difficult to find the right influencers: Influencer marketing can come back to bite if you’re not careful enough to partner with the right influencers. Finding such influencers and turning them into a collaboration is a challenge in itself.
- Customer pessimism: According to a study, less than 5% of people believe in the products or services influencers are promoting. This results from the bombardment of influencers that an average internet user has to go through.
- Huge investments: Partnering with influencers is a costly affair as even micro-influencers charge thousands of dollars.
Other Marketing Channels
Apart from these five marketing channels, other marketing channels are less prevalent but can deliver the results you’re aiming for.
- Display advertising: Display advertisements are images, text, or video ads published on 3rd-party websites. For example, if you have a software company, you can display ads on a tech blog.
- Referral marketing: You could create a referral marketing campaign to give incentives to your existing customers to refer your business to other customers.
- Affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing is a method of marketing in which affiliates, through tracking URLs, refer users to your site. The affiliates earn a certain percentage of sales as commission.
Understand the Customer Journey Flywheel
More than the metrics or creatives, marketing is a game of psychology. Half the battle is already won if you understand your prospects and customers. But as you’d expect, it’s not an easy thing to do. That’s where the customer journey flywheel enters to act as your compass.
(Image of flywheel)
The flywheel is pretty much self-explanatory so we won’t delve much into it. You need to understand here that you need to build customer trust to turn them into promoters of your business. Digital marketing can get your business heard to new people and even turn them into customers for once. But it’s your product and service that will keep the flywheel moving.
Of course, marketing plays a crucial role but not more than your product or service. Thus, if you’re not generating as much business as you expect, the problem lies somewhere in this flywheel. You must identify the problem and correct it to ensure you’re achieving your business goals.
How to Get Started with Digital Marketing?
As you’re reading this blog post right now, you’re probably new to the world of digital marketing and might not know much. However, there’s good news: you don’t need to have everything figured out. You only need to know the relevant things to you, and the only way you can gain expertise is by practice.
Let us walk you through the step-by-step process of forming a digital marketing strategy for a small business to help you get your feet moving.
Define your Brand
One of the most underrated and often overlooked steps is understanding and defining your brand. And we don’t mean just colour palettes, fonts, and logos. Your brand represents what you stand for in every aspect of your business. This can only be defined when all the people in your business sit together and discuss.
Defining below things will help you prepare your marketing roadmap:
- Define a ‘Why’: You didn’t just start this company to make money, did you? You wanted to solve a problem utilizing your skills and expertise. First, you need to define that ‘why,’ and all your marketing efforts need to resonate with that.
- USP (Unique Selling Point): What makes your products or services stand out from the competition? What’s in it for the customers?
- Core Values: What are some non-negotiable values of your organization? Which are the values that you want your company to be known for?
Define a Purpose
I’ve seen many companies jumping the digital marketing bandwagon just because others are doing. More than marketing, this is FOMO (fear of missing out), and it won’t take you anywhere.
Digital marketing demands a lot of investment in terms of time and money. Therefore, it must be channelized in a clear direction. In other words, marketing must serve a clear purpose. Below are three common goals that marketing will help you achieve:
- Awareness: This will help potential customers know about your business. This is a common goal of companies that are starting. After achieving certain brand visibility, you can think of leveraging digital marketing to generate revenue.
- Lead acquisition: The most common goal of digital marketing is to reach out to potential customers and engage with them to turn them into customers. This is regarded as ‘lead generation.’
- Expand existing business: Businesses with a good number of loyal customers might want to offer more products/services or leverage them to reach out to a new customer base.
It might be possible that your goal could be a combination of two, and that’s fine. The thing that matters here is the clarity and the actions you take to achieve it.
Set SMART Goals
Whether your goal is to boost brand awareness, generate leads, or achieve a certain revenue, you need to turn it into SMART goals. This will help you measure and stay on track.
Here’s what SMART stands for:
Specific: As we saw in the previous section, you shouldn’t do marketing for the sake of marketing. Your goals should be as specific as possible.
Guiding questions – Do you wish to expand your online reach and increase your revenue? Are you looking to increase your revenue? Do you want to increase your lead generation?
Measurable: Setting a goal that you can’t define in numbers is as good as not setting it at all. This will help you track your progress and take prompt action if things are not going as expected.
Guiding questions – How many leads do you want to generate this quarter? How many social media followers do you want to reach by the end of the month?
Attainable: The goal you set must not be too high or too low. As a marketer, you shouldn’t be too pessimistic or optimistic. Setting too high goals will put unnecessary stress on your team, and you’re bound to be disappointed in the end.
Relevant: Set a goal that’s relevant to your business’s current state and needs. For example, you can’t expect to generate leads if you start things from scratch.
Time-bound: The way you set the goal in terms of numbers must have a deadline. Things can take forever if you don’t set a time limit.
Know Your Audience
Once you’ve gained enough clarity about your business and goals, it’s time to step out and understand your target audience. If you’re a B2B business, you need to create a customer persona and firmographics in the case of B2C.
Here’s a template to create B2B Persona:
|Personal Background||Professional Information|
Spending power and patterns
Adaptability with technology
Preferred mode of communication
Source of their industry information
Most used social networking platform
Industry events they attend
Blog/newspapers they read
|Level of education|
Professional success & failure
Product or service that will help them
Typical working day
The decision-maker in the company/family
Preferred mode of communication (emails, calls)
Mode of product/services research
If you want to prepare firmographics, you need to define the following things:
- Industry: Which industry segments would be most interested to hear about your product? Try to identify three to five industries or segments that you might target.
- Company Size: Are you targeting startups, unicorns, or big boys? You must define your targeted companies in terms of revenue and team size.
- Location: If your business is location-sensitive, you must identify the locations you want to target on priority.
- Sales cycle stage: You must identify where the company lies in the sales cycle. Are they aware of the existence of your business? Have you had any interaction with them? Have they shown any interest? Knowing this will help you make the right step at the right time.
- Company type: The type or status of your targetted business might also play a part in the decision-making process. Below are the way companies can be classified:
– Individual firms
– Standalone entities
– Subsidiaries of larger organizations
– Limited liability corporations (LLC)
– Publicly owned companies
– Privately held companies
- Performance: A company’s growth curve can tell you whether they will be looking for your product or not. You can take the below things into consideration to assess that:
– Duration of existence
– Rates of growth or decline
– Profits and losses
Pick the Right Marketing Channels
Once you have clarity of your brand, goals, budget, and target audience, it’s time to pick the right marketing channels. This is a crucial step as a wrong decision can result in a significant loss in terms of time and money.
I would suggest you start small and focus on the few most important marketing channels at the start. This will help you channel your efforts and help you understand those channels in depth.
Measure, Learn & Improve
Once you’re on a roll, you’re likely to get lost in the content creation, propagation results, etc. Most people put in many of these efforts but fail to retreat and see things from a bigger perspective. Thus, I suggest you take a step back at regular intervals, have discussions with your team, take outside feedback and try to learn and improve. This will help you no matter how big your business becomes, so such retreats must be a part of your marketing calendar.
LeanSummits: New-Age Digital Marketing Agency
Being a marketer, I’ve seen the world of marketing changing its shape time after time. Coping with all these changes becomes overwhelming for small companies, and they commit deadly mistakes when it comes to marketing. Thus, it became my passion for helping businesses harness the power of digital marketing, and I founded LeanSummits.
We at LeanSummit Solutions work with business leaders to address their most pressing business issues and help them find the most promising business solutions. Our team is equipped with extensive industry and functional expertise. They bring a breadth of perspectives to the table, challenging the status quo and igniting change inside the company.
Our business model is based on your success rather than your budget. LSS’ objective is to grow your business by providing you with the right tools. We’d love to have a chat to help your business grow. Schedule a free consultation today!