What does digital marketing mean for SME’s?
Technology has become an integral part of all our lives. We’re always within reach of a phone or a computer keeping us constantly connected. Apps like Skype, WhatsApp and Messenger enable us to stay connected with family, friends and businesses across the web. Social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram let us share our thoughts, ideas and experiences with the world. From settling an argument using Google to searching tutorials on YouTube, the digital world is now a seamless part of modern life.
Over the last decade there’s been a shift in how marketers spend their budget using more digital channels than traditional analogue methods. Most businesses have some sort of online presence and with digital media playing such a big role in our lives, it makes sense to capitalise on it. Knowing your audience is important in deciding how to balance your efforts between digital and traditional marketing.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is a broad term that encompasses any sort of marketing viewed using digital channels to reach consumers, usually online but also extends to include channels that don’t require use of the internet. There are many different ways to categorise and subcategorise the different marketing media online, but which matter the most to SME’s?
Where do you start with your website?
The most important one you’ll want to get right first is your website. It needs to match your brand’s image and promise, while also being intuitive to use. There are a variety of different types of website you can have, each one is ideal for a different purpose.
Knowing what type of website will be best for you depends entirely on what you want to use it for. Sometimes it’s pretty obvious, if for example you plan to sell your product online you’ll need an e-commerce website. Other times it can be harder to know. Ask yourself what function your site serves for your business and how it compares to your competitors. Do they use their site differently? Is there a way you can change yours to be more effective?
Check out our Why is having a mobile friendly site important? article to learn more about what you need keep in mind when design a new website.
How can I get people to my site?
The 2 types of traffic all marketers need to know about are paid and organic. Paid traffic consists of visitors who are directed to your site via a paid online advertisement. Organic traffic are visitors who find your site by searching for a keyword or phrase on a search engine like Google or Yahoo, or through social media.
You can see the difference between the 2 every time you search on Google. Paid adverts will appear at the top and bottom of the search results, they appear as either links with a green box saying “Ad” next to the link.
Or as product images with the price, supplier and product name. You’ll see these marked by the word “Sponsored” and an information symbol.
Organic results are listed below sponsored links. To increase your visibility organically you need to improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and presence on social media.
Paid or organic traffic, which is more effective? That’s a matter of debate in many marketing circles. It can be tempting to focus on paid because for faster results or on organic because it’s cheaper, but you need to use both organic and paid marketing to get the optimum ROI (Return On Investment).
What’s the best way to use paid ads?
When setting up paid ads online it’s important to think about your prospect’s experience. Where are they seeing your ad? What frame of mind are they in when they see it? What is it they want at that very moment that you can provide? Why would your ad mean more to them than someone else’s?
When using Google Ads for example, you can optimise for specific search terms. So instead of just sending traffic to your homepage and hoping prospects look around your site to find what they’re looking for, you can send them to the exact landing page with the solution to their problem. Using different landing pages for different search terms is a great way to maximise your return on investment (ROI).
Creating specific campaign landing pages is a way of extending this tactic. You can create tailored content to direct prospects to your business. This is often used to appeal to people who are researching a solution and aren’t ready to make a purchase yet. Offering content as an incentive to prospects in exchange for contact information and to sign up to your marketing lists, will help you to build up a database of people interested in what you offer. This type of content is known as a “lead magnet.”
For example: The Big 3 M’s of Marketing Booklet
What about social media?
Social media is one of the most complex areas of marketing. Each social media channel has it’s own unique ecosystem, requiring a tailored approach to fit each platform. You should adapt the campaigns and content you use on one platform to work in the ecosystem of others. This approach gives the best balance between efficiency and effectiveness.
Because of the timeline nature that all social media platforms share, creating new and relevant content is the best way to organically attract an audience. How regularly you post and how you interact with your audience will vary from platform to platform and business to business. It’s important to experiment to find out what generates the best response from your audience.
If we take Facebook for example, most users are at home in a relaxed setting, they’re often more receptive to an informal approach. Whereas LinkedIn is designed for professionals to use in a business environment, there’s far more interest in breaking news or expert opinion types of content.
What about paid advertising on social media?
With paid advertising on social media you can adopt the same basic approach as Google Ads, try using different types of content to appeal to people at different points of the sales funnel. Each platform offers a variety of different ad types. Most platforms offer timeline ads as their default ad type, which will have the same format as standard posts to their platform.
Using Facebook as an example again, they provide a huge variety in the types of ads you can run and where they’ll be displayed because they also own Instagram and Messenger. You can boost normal posts to extend their reach or use dedicated carousels and videos ads to stand out in someone’s timeline. You can put your ads on Instagram feeds and stories, you can even place your ads in Messenger. The huge variety of customisation that social media offers gives advertisers plenty of opportunities to test and optimise different types of ads for different audiences.
How can SEO work for me?
SEO is all about boosting your website’s visibility so that it appears higher in search results. There’s an entire subsection of the marketing industry dedicated to SEO, but there are things you can do to boost your rankings without outsourcing to an SEO agency.
- Have an up to date sitemap for Google.
- Include words or phrases you want to appear for in search engines in the title and first sentence of a page or blog post.
- Use keywords in your content but don’t cram them everywhere, Google bots don’t like this (and it will count against you).
- Create helpful content based around different keywords.
- Post your content on social media – interactions with posts linking to your site boost both your SEO and your visibility on social media.
SEO is essential for all online businesses and is an on-going process that needs regular attention. You need to be constantly updating your SEO and making sure everything is optimised. Remember it’s only one element in the marketing mix, use it alongside your other marketing efforts rather than letting it become your sole focus. Relying on SEO too much is risky as any changes to Google’s algorithms could have serious negative effects on your marketing and sales.
How do I create all this content?
Quality and relevant content is key to digital marketing. Whether it’s a lead magnet for a paid ad or an article for an email, most strategies will use content marketing in some form or another to engage new prospects. What the content is about, the format of the content and where it’s being placed, are the 3 key things that need deciding before you create it.
The topic you choose needs to be relevant to your prospect at the time they find your content. For example, a review of the top swimming cap brands might be interesting to someone on your mailing list, but it’s unlikely to make someone seeing your Facebook ad want to visit your leisure centre. Or an accountant offering to deal with tax returns quickly and efficiently could be an attractive offer to someone searching LinkedIn but unlikely to attract any attention if it appeared in Instagram’s story ads.
There are dozens of different ways to format your content, from videos and infographics, to whitepapers and ebooks. Each format can be designed and structured to make it unique and engaging. The format you choose will need to take multiple factors into account. Who’s the target audience? What effect should the content have on your prospect? And where will the content be delivered?
For example if we’re an office furniture supplier looking for new prospects, we could use a landing page with a lead magnet to draw them in. By selecting a market segment to target we can make our content and ads much more direct and relevant.
Let’s choose standing desks as our target segment. We’d start by running a Google Ads campaign targeting people researching the pros and cons of standing desks, choosing keywords specific to that enquiry and focusing our content on offering the solution. This is will attract people who are interested in standing desks but as yet undecided. From our ad we’ll take them to a landing page with a sign up form to our lead magnet. To compel our prospect to sign up, it’s important our content has all the information our prospect needs to make an informed decision. After receiving the lead magnet, the prospects should be ready to make the next step towards buying their new desks.
A whitepaper would be a strong choice for our lead magnet. It’s the perfect format to provide a lot of information and as a download it can be viewed at leisure rather than crammed onto a webpage. After they’ve read it, they’re in the perfect position to look at the selection of desks we have to offer. Sending a follow up email with the option to download our brochure on standing desks or on sitting desks enables them to take the next step towards buying, as well as providing valuable feedback on the effect of the whitepaper.
Email marketing and what do I do with my list?
You want to keep in touch with prospects who aren’t ready to make a purchase, but are interested in what you offer. This way when the time comes, you’re already a familiar face for them to turn to. Traditionally done by calling through your list to see if anyone needs you and periodically sending out newsletters, now email marketing does the bulk of this type of work.
Despite talk of email marketing having had its day, it is still one of the most effective marketing channels.
Emails are a less intrusive, more efficient way of keeping in touch with a large list of contacts. Having a regular schedule and offering your database valuable information as well as scheduled promotions will build a strong connection with your prospects. Combining email marketing with telemarketing puts you in the strongest possible position in the minds of your prospects.
Creating email content that’s interesting and useful to your prospects but not necessarily self-promotional, is a great way to engage with them while setting yourself up as an authority in your market. With an engaged audience who see you as a reliable source of knowledge, occasional promotional offers are much more effective.
How do I monitor the results of my digital marketing?
Good data has always been the secret to successful marketing. With digital marketing the amount and accuracy of the data you can collect is almost limitless. Page visits, email opens, link clicks, video view times, the number of different metrics you can monitor accurately with very little effort enables even the smallest business to make smart, data driven decisions.
With everything you do online you want to identify the key performance indicators (KPI) for that activity. By monitoring your KPI’s and comparing them to past data, you gain a clear picture of what your audience responds well to and learn how to make your marketing as effective as possible. You can test multiple different approaches, then based on their KPI’s, take the most successful and amplify it to a larger audience. Optimising your marketing is always a possibility and in this rapidly changing environment you always need the best data driven decisions to stay at the top of your game.
Most marketers use software which provides them with data on our activities. Google Analytics for example, provides you with data on your website and what sources are driving the most traffic. It can also help to use tailored software to help monitor certain aspects of your digital efforts. Like Moz Pro, SEO analytics software that monitors every KPI involved with SEO, tells you your current ranking for specific and generates actionable feedback on what to change to improve it.
So what does digital marketing mean for SME’s?
As a term covering such a broad range of marketing platforms and techniques, digital marketing is a necessity for any business hoping to grow and thrive. Most SME’s likely do some form of digital marketing or another already. It’s important to diversify your digital marketing efforts across different avenues, to get the optimal ROI for your time and money. Look at what you do at the moment, which areas do you excel in and which do you need to give more attention? Knowing where you need to improve is vital in marketing and the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see results.