In the past few decades, small entrepreneurs never got a chance to compete in the market. From budget limitations to the lack of resources – big businesses always had a monopoly. After all, the only way to grab audiences’ attention was by spending heaps of money on television commercials and billboards. Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t possible for small businesses, but things are changing in the 21st century – all thanks to technological advancements.
The emergence of digital media and smartphones is changing how people engage, interact, and shop. Social media forums are letting brands build business profiles, while search engines open doors to a whole new online advertisement world. Earlier, online marketing was a different way to promote products, but now it has become inevitable for businesses.
Digital marketing lays a foundation on which entrepreneurs build their presence. It establishes their position in communities and niches, creating brand awareness amongst audiences without costing a fortune. In short, it is an opportunity for small businesses to become a part of the industry and win their market share by breaking monopolies.
However, now digital marketing is beyond running ads or having a website. It is more about leveraging tech-savvy tools and analytics to conduct market research and gain an edge over competitors. And your failure to acknowledge its significance can drive you out of the competition. Let us look at the importance of digital marketing and why your small business needs it to grow and thrive.
1. BUILDS BRAND RECOGNITION
These days, it is quite impossible to attract customers by sending out pamphlets and business cards. Since people have a strong presence on online platforms, they expect the same from every small brick and mortar business. Therefore, focus on building brand recognition by exhibiting your presence across multiple marketing channels. Are you clueless about it? Have a look at this marketing guide and learn the ropes.
Firstly, create business profiles on the search engine, social media, and other digital tools. Use the power of content marketing to spread your brand message across. Consistent branding across multiple networks reflects a positive brand image. Remember, customers have a plethora of options in the online world. If they didn’t find your brand, it would take them two minutes to find a substitute and switch. Hence, utilize social media – Facebook, Instagram, etc. to build brand recognition amongst audiences.
2. TARGETS RIGHT AUDIENCES
When it comes to running a billboard campaign, brands have some target audience in mind. Unfortunately, you don’t have any control over whether that target audience would see the advertisement or not. Amongst the million benefits of digital marketing, targeting the right audience is likely to be the best one. It lets you break clusters into small and focused groups while allowing you to engage with them.
You can run a survey, start a conversation under the comment section, and offer customers solutions. For running advertisements, select demographics – age, gender, location, religion, and interests to connect with potential customers. If you have a women’s apparel brand, the target audience will be mostly women aging 18 to 45 years or above active online shoppers. It helps you reach out to people who have a keen interest in your product offerings, boosting sales and profits.
3. EASY TO SCALE & ADAPT
Every marketing campaign requires initial investment to get the traffic flowing, but surprisingly, this is not how digital marketing works. It doesn’t cost a dime to create a business profile on any social forum, nor you have to spend any money on forming community groups. Only social campaigns, advertisements, and sponsored posts cost you a few bucks. You can choose a daily budget, which can be as low as $1, and schedule the ad.
Similarly, if you see the ad doing well instead of renegotiating the deal, you can keep the ad running by increasing your budget. All these marketing campaigns provide instant results. From the number of people who clicked on your ad to possible conversions – you can analyze data and make informed decisions. The significance of digital marketing to small business becomes more prominent when you recognize how simple it is to grow business online.
4. LEARN FROM COMPETITION
Believe it or not, audiences turn to brands that offer discounts, initiate trends, and provide reliable customer service. Therefore, if you want to win an edge, adopt a different perspective towards your competitors. Instead of seeing them as someone you want to beat, look up to them as a learning opportunity. Are they using content marketing? What is their mode of communication with clients?
With the help of digital marketing, you can find answers to all these questions. Feel free to surf through their website, blogs, and social media pages to track their performance. It will make you apprehend how actively they respond to changing tastes while fostering interactions with customers. Remember, the aim is not to copy your competitors but to learn from their mistakes.
5. PROVIDES REAL-TIME CUSTOMER SERVICE
With utmost reliance on the digital world, customers need support at every step of their buying journey. Alongside providing contact details or email address, use savvy tools to provide real-time customer service. You can hire customer support representatives to assist your social media followers. They would collect responses, answer queries, and take feedback from customers. After all, customer satisfaction is a critical point in establishing an outright market presence.
Moreover, you can also leverage artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning to streamline customer support. It uses human intelligence to provide human-like responses for answering customer queries. It means bots will be catering to queries and helping people make purchase decisions. Although you can integrate AI with social profiles, consider adding live chat options on your website. It will help visitors find products while instantly getting answers to their questions, boosting sales.
6. ENGAGES CUSTOMERS
Unlike conventional practices, digital marketing offers two-way communication. Brands get to promote, and customers respond with comments and feedback. As a result, the online audience has a lot of power in their hands. In addition to promotions, small businesses have to focus on building relationships with clients. If you are wondering how? Have a look below.
i. Initiate conversations on social platforms. You can start a Q&A session through live video to learn more about your potential customers.
ii. If you are bringing a new product, use online polls to get an idea about what customers want.
iii. Run surveys to get honest feedback and reviews of your customers.
Iv. Create online quizzes to learn more about visitors.
Unsurprisingly, customers appreciate the attention and prompt replies. They are more willing to trust a business when they get honest answers to their questions. Thus, interact and engage with them on a personal level to establish brand loyalty.
7. OFFERS A PERSONALIZED EXPERIENCE
Earlier marketing was more about trial and error. Marketers were devising campaigns by following their gut and instinct, but everything has a reason in this digital era. Customers are feeding businesses information round the clock by signing up for newsletters and filling questionnaires. As a result, they await brands to treat them as individuals. Fortunately, digital marketing lets businesses segment markets and offers a personalized experience to customers.
In addition to generating leads, you can use this as your unique selling proposition. If you use email marketing, personalize emails by adding the first name of every customer. Likewise, recognize customers on individual levels – understand their preference, check their purchase history, and customize ads for them. For instance, if a visitor has abandoned his cart, send an ‘email’ with a special discount offer, or remind them of their cart. You can also send SMS, but 72% of consumers prefer that businesses use emails to communicate.
8. EXPANDS CUSTOMER OUTREACH
Every business wishes to expand globally, but would that be possible with a store in one corner of the city. Your offerings and services should be for the people of that region and the people around the world. It can put your business on a global forum where people from all around the world can shop from your brand. After all, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon are all international forums accessible by everyone.
If expansion is on your bucket list, devise a digital globalization strategy. Before stepping overseas, concentrate on local expansion by making your products and services available nationwide. Similarly, use social media to set demographics of another country and start promoting. Join hands with a reputable logistics company and cherish your versatile customer base.
9. ENJOY HIGHER ROI
Digital marketing offers a higher return on investment (ROI) than any other type of marketing. It is an ideal opportunity for small businesses to make the most out of a limited marketing budget. Let us unwind the returns of every campaign one by one.
i. Email marketing offers the peak ROI since it works like a conversion machine. Build an email list with quality subscribers and deliver high-quality content.
ii. Content marketing generates three times more leads than television commercials or any other traditional marketing campaign. Alongside website traffic, it brings buyers to your website.
iii. Social media establishes brand image and turns leads into potential customers.
While operating a small business, you have to ensure budget-friendliness. Learn how to stretch every dollar as you grow your brand because each cent counts. Understand the costs and see whether it would provide you with a sufficient ROI.
As a small business holder, you would have multiple questions regarding the benefits of digital marketing. From increasing customer outreach, developing brand image, improving customer service to saving money – digital marketing provides a pathway to success. Hence, look for smaller ways to jump into it. Create a social media account, list your business on Google, develop a web page, and see its impact on your business. With all these overwhelming benefits, what is stopping you from marketing your business online?
Danish Mehmood is a senior SEO strategist at a web development and digital marketing agency based in Orlando, FL. He is passionate about digital marketing and loves to analyze the SEO industry in his spare time and stay in touch with the latest happenings. Connect with him at @InboundDM on Twitter and on LinkedIn.