Digital Marketing can provide small businesses with a cost-effective avenue for increased brand recognition, lead generation, continued customer connectivity and customer engagement.
By Cleveland SCORE
Digital marketing has a significant role in small businesses marketing strategy as it has a direct impact on your business success. The overall strategy should consist of market penetration, product development, market development and diversification. Digital market can play a crucial role in the market penetration and development segments of your plan.
Market penetration strategy centers on selling current product offerings to existing and new markets. Through social media platforms and search engines, your business has the capability to reach customers, both existing and new. A well-defined home page should have an overall professional appearance and contain target words defined by search engine optimization (SEO). It is important to identify target words and phrases for your product and industry that will put your web page on the top of the list when potential customers initiate web searches. In fact, it has been proven that a good use of SEO is critical to the success of the web page. While budgets may constrain business from outsourcing development of the website, there are many and various inexpensive or free web development tools found on the internet. These will provide templates that can be used to develop professional-looking websites.
Digital marketing also supports the effort to build brand recognition. Brand recognition in marketing is an important concept as it means customers and potential customers recognize your brand name, logo, reputation, and tagline. While there are many avenues to get this out to the market, one of the most utilized is the internet. The advantages of brand recognition include supporting repeat purchases, a competitive edge and increased overall marketing capabilities.
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The other important benefit to digital marketing is the cost benefit relative to commercials, mailings, and other forms of material-based advertising. Following are benefits that support cost containment:
- Ability to Retarget Ads – This is essentially the audience-building mechanism within social media that allows you to set parameters targeted toward your preferred audience. The targeted audience are those website visitors that were actively looking at the site. By utilizing these parameters, you will reach the appropriate customer and impact your return on marketing strategy cost.
- Social Selling Connects & Converts – In the current business environment customers are savvy and well-informed more so than in the past. They have multiple channels available to gather information on products. For social media to work effectively, a business needs to have a marketing team that knows how to utilize social media to reach and convert potential customers. With eye-catching content, you can establish connections with potential customers and thus increase potential sales. Content should be visually engaging and show how the products can solve customers’ problems.
- Track Success & Adjust Campaigns – Through use of the proper key metrics related to media marketing, you can significantly increase your return on investment. Social media sites allow for real-time statistics on viewers such as, page views, average time on a page, average session duration, referrals and much more. These provide a wealth of marketing knowledge on what is effective and to whom.
- Pay-Per-Click – This is particularly useful for small business. It allows you to develop brand awareness and greater visibility to a relevant audience. It helps generate leads through ads that contain a value proposition.
- Customer Acquisition Costs – Relative to emails, marketing campaigns and material marketing strategies, social media allows for real-time posting to web content. Additionally, it reduces both the time and expense related to other more costly resource expenses incurred with traditional marketing methods.
- Use of Social Media Influencers – This again is especially beneficial to small businesses. By identifying and contacting influencers, you can reach an additional target audience group. Social influencers have a loyal following online and share their thoughts and opinions on topics with their followers. This opens your business exposure up to potential customers you may not have been aware of previously.
Through the use of social media, small business has an optimal opportunity to increase market share while reducing marketing costs overall. Having identified the benefits, you should also consider the risks related to the use of digital marketing. They are:
- Lack of Adequate Customer Target Research – Investing money in a poorly targeted audience and use of inadequate search engine optimization key words are the main issues related to this risk.
- Keep Current with Google Changes and Algorithms – Changes to algorithms, search engine features and other general updates may impact the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
- Risk of Using Services – The two main services available are Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). SEM is used on Google and Yahoo to allow customers to click into your ad. You may be charged for each click which could cost you significant budget dollars. SEO risk is related to your target words and the algorithms set out by Google. If your SEOs don’t meet the algorithms criteria your web page will not be one of the selected ones for the potential customer. This will translate to wasted dollars on marketing.
- Risk of Exposure – Reputational Risk – Any misstep or poorly visualized website could damage the organization’s reputation. In today’s business environment there needs to be a heightened awareness of social guidelines. Websites should be reviewed prior to publication to ensure not only accuracy of content but also social acceptability.
- Lack of Strategic Development – This entails ensuring a well-thought-out web page prior to publication. Steps to be included in development include:
- Identify target audience
- Set a clear goal
- Set a budget
- Plan your strategy
- Apply your strategy
- Explain results
- Ineffective Landing Page – This page should be visually pleasing, quick to load, contain appropriate information, and be easy to use. It is the first impression your potential customer has of your organization.
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The world of social media can be overwhelming; however, it is the new environment for marketing. Developing the proper marketing strategy and implementing it while recognizing the risks and benefits can afford the small business a valuable, effective and less costly approach to marketing.
In the event your business may have a unique need for outside assistance with operational issues, growth initiatives or other business matters, SCORE mentors can offer you expertise and support. Mentors with a wide range of technical and user experience are available on request.
The Cleveland Chapter of SCORE was founded in 1965 to foster and support the small business community in Northeast Ohio through mentoring and education. There are currently 80 volunteers with experience in the fields of business ownership, managers, accountants, attorneys, and other business fields that are ready to share their knowledge through mentoring. For more information about our services for small business visit the website at www.cleveland.SCORE.org or call (216) 503-8160.
In addition to mentoring services, there are also webinars and on-demand classes listed on the website. To attend a webinar, visit the site and register. Following are upcoming events in May:
Seminar Title Date & Time
Simple Steps: Business Basics May 4 – 7:00 PM
Marketing Basics May 9 – 7:00 PM
Business Planning at Lorain Public Library May 10 – 1:00 PM
When an Employment Decision Fails May 11 – 11:00 AM
IRS Direct-Pay – How to Pay Your Taxes Online May 11 – 1:00 PM
Simple Steps: Business Concepts May 11 – 7:00 PM
Ashtabula Hustle Pitch Contest May 12 – 10:00 AM
Registering to Sell to the Federal Government Market May 16 – 12:00 PM
Using Videos in your Website May 16 – 7:00 PM
4 Things you Need to Take Your Business to the Next Level May 18 – 1:00 PM
Simple Steps: Marketing Your Business May 18 – 7:00 PM
Selling to the Federal Government Market May 23 – 12:00 PM
Simple Recipe for social media Success May 23 – 7:00 PM
The Profit Playbook- How to Get Sales Day 1 May 24 – 7:00 PM
How to Overcome the Unique Challenges Facing AAPI
Business Owners May 25 – 1:00 PM
Simple Steps: Financial Plan for your Business May 25 – 7:00 PM
Marketing in the Digital World May 30 – 4:00 PM
Reach Customers Online with Search Engine Optimization May 31- 7:00 PM