Martin Butters - How Can Small Businesses Get The Most Out of Digital Marketing?
15 Jul, 2019
In this edition, we welcome Martin Butters of MarkItWrite, to give his thoughts on how small businesses can best utilize digital marketing!
Starting your own business is an exciting time for any entrepreneur/s. The thrill of seeing your vision become manifest, your shop filled with stock, kitchen fired up and ready to serve, or office space connected and tooled up ready for the first day of hard work conjures a feeling not easily matched - the birth of children and wedding days aside. Maybe.
Once you have your business all set up and ready to go, however, it's not simply a matter of flinging the doors wide and waiting for the throngs of customers to start pouring in. Of course, you will get a certain amount of passing trade and word-of-mouth business, but to really succeed, you need to get to work putting your name out there.
Of course, in the digital age in which we find ourselves, this means digital marketing. As a fledgling business, you likely don't have the kinds of eye-watering marketing budgets we see big brands throwing about, but that doesn't mean you have to make do with just an ad in the local paper. In fact, one of the best things about digital marketing is many of the platforms used to facilitate it can be accessed for little or no financial outlay.
How then can your small business get the most out of digital marketing?
#1 Market Research/Brand Differentiation
One of the most amazing things about living in this always online and connected world is we have unprecedented access to information, which can help small business owners get to know their market and discover new ways of setting themselves apart from their competitors.
Our good old friend Google is a great place to start and will allow you to see how other businesses in your industry are advertising themselves and drawing attention to their websites.
Check out the screengrab above and you can see that appliance repair people are marketing themselves along the lines of a same or next day service or no fix/no fee. Not only can this give you ideas on how to add value to your own offering, but you may spot a trick they've missed.
#2 Optimise Your Website
If you're a brand-new business, then chances are your website is quite a basic affair. However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't take steps to ensure it's running at its best.
Consumers find fewer things more frustrating than websites that take a long time to load, but they also want businesses to have their online portals filled with rich and interesting content. This means you must find the right balance to make sure your website visitors can access the information they need without having to wait until doomsday for it.
As you can see, there is a strong correlation between page loading times and bounce rate, meaning you only have a few seconds to get your page up and running before your audience gets bored and clicks off - with one of your competitors being their likely next port of call.
We could write an entire article about optimizing your website but, for now, just make sure whoever is responsible for yours understands its importance and has the expertise to carry it out.
#3 Social Media
In 2019, social media is a no-brainer for any brand which wants to get noticed in the digital space. Of course, you can go down the route of paid ads and sponsored posts, but there is an absolute ton of powerful marketing, you can carry out on social media for absolutely no money whatsoever.
First and foremost, social media is a great way to engage with your audience. Most people - especially younger generations such as Millennials or GenZers - list social media as their preferred method of communicating with brands. This means, if you're serious about customer engagement, social media is where you need to be.
And engagement is the key. It's not enough to simply fill your social feeds with advertising, and this strategy will have people clicking the unfollow button before very long. Respond to comments (good and bad), run polls, share amusing posts, hold contests (like/comment/share competitions are great for drawing in new people), and prove that you care about building relationships with your audience instead of just selling your products or services.
Be aware of which platforms you use as well. As a new business, you aren't going to have time to devote yourself to every social media platform, so focus your attention on the ones where your customers are the most active. Broadly speaking, if you're a B2B brand, then Linkedin and Twitter will likely yield the best results, whereas, for B2C, Facebook and Instagram may be a better choice.
There is also a load of niche social media platforms out there, so finding one which is focused on your industry can be incredibly useful. The audiences on these platforms are much smaller than on the big brands, but far more keenly focussed, increasing your chances of getting your message across to interested parties.
#4 Start a Blog
Written content has been a core tenet of digital marketing for a long time now, providing your website with new material - something Google's algorithms love - while giving you great material to share around and draw people to your website.
Once people get into the habit of reading your blog, you can establish yourself as an expert voice in your industry and increase the chances of your business being one that springs to mind when your readers are looking for the product or service you provide.
However, Google can also tell when content is written well, so this might be one area where it might be good to lay down a little money. Not everyone has the time, skill, or inclination to write the kind of high-quality material which makes Google's eyes light up, so it's definitely worth considering hiring a professional content marketing firm to do it for you.
Professional writers will know the right topics to cover, links to use, format to apply, and more, to make your content stand out from the crowd.
Whether through written content, social media, a well-optimized website, market research, or more, there are a ton of ways to start making digital marketing work for your business. Get on board with it now, work hard at it, and your entrepreneurial acorn will have the best chance of growing into a mighty oak.