Is digital marketing essential for small to medium businesses?

Costs are rising, so is it still worth investing in digital marketing?

We get it, we’re a business too, so we fully appreciate the pressures SMEs are under now with the rising costs associated with running a business. 

Inflation is rising, the cost of goods is going up, the price of fuel is extortionately high, as are electricity and gas bills, and transportation costs are rising too!  With all these rising costs, it’s natural to try to reduce outgoings to make some savings wherever possible, so it’s easy to look at services that your business utilises and question whether they are essential or not. 

Inevitably, digital marketing services often come under such scrutiny because digital marketing efforts often don’t produce physical, tangible results. You can easily see the benefit to using a reliable courier service – your goods are transported from your warehouse or shop to your customers. You can directly match and attribute sales to your sales staff and quantify their worth to your business as a result. But digital marketing? Does digital marketing really matter? 

Does digital marketing really matter?

Regardless of the size of the business – digital marketing really does matter. 

Have you tried digital marketing for your business before and didn’t see the benefits? Perhaps you’re a service-based business and many of your leads come from referrals? Maybe your business is small and you just like it that and don’t want to grow too big? 

Reasons for why you haven’t invested in digital marketing are perfectly valid, but they’re not reasons for why it’s not worth investing in digital marketing. 

A good marketing strategy can improve your retention rate and the quality of your clients or customers. It can help you increase leads from sources other than referrals, so you don’t have to rely on word-of-mouth alone. And just because you’ve tried something before and it didn’t work, doesn’t mean it won’t work – there are so many ways to market your business online and they don’t all work for every business. 

But why is marketing so important for businesses, even small businesses?

Let’s talk statistics. 

Did you know that almost 40% of small businesses don’t have a website? 

When you consider that around 60% of the world’s population are online, and with nearly half of those use the internet to research products and brands before making a purchase, that is a huge missed opportunity. 

Maybe you’ve had a lot of success in your local area because you’ve got a great product or service. That’s great! But what happens when those customers no longer need your products or services? Or you want to expand and grow in an area you haven’t sold in yet – who do you sell to then?

You may think that just having a great product or service will automatically bring customers to you, because that’s what’s happened so far, right? Well, it doesn’t matter how good your product or services are; if no one knows about them, then who’s going to purchase them? 

Almost 80% of consumers now use the internet to find out more about local businesses. This figure has increased, year upon year, and it is showing no signs of reducing. 

This is where digital marketing comes in.

A good digital marketing strategy and content plan can help get your business in front of those internet users that are looking for businesses like yours, often right at the stage where they’re ready to make a purchase! 

Not only that, but good digital marketing can take your existing customers and convert them into brand ambassadors, doing even more marketing for you – for free! 

Almost 90% of consumers look at online reviews before buying anything, so encouraging your customers to leave a review through digital marketing techniques can really boost your brand’s reputation and increase leads. With the right digital marketing techniques, you could get customers singing your praises on social media too, giving you great user generated content that you can share as social proof of your product or service value. 

What can digital marketing do for your business?

Effective digital marketing can target your audience at the right time in their buying process. For example, you can send customers or clients on your email list time-limited offers or new product launch information at a time of the year where they’re more likely to make a purchase. Or you can run a social media advertising campaign during specific holidays, such as Mother’s Day or Christmas, to increase sales.

Digital marketing can help your business increase its reach, and by quite a large margin! Considering the amount of time that many people spend on the internet or social media, digital marketing can help get your business in front of more people than ever before, especially when compared to non-digital marketing methods.

Digital marketing is easier to track and monitor than some non-digital marketing methods. Have you ever distributed leaflets for your business? Did you know precisely how many of them converted to a lead or sale? Well, most digital marketing techniques come with some form of analytics that can help you quickly track the success of a campaign and can even tell you exactly how many sales can be attributed to a single campaign, or even at what point the potential customer left your site, valuable data for refining your overall brand sales pitch.

Digital marketing lets you ‘talk’ to your customers before they’re even customers. When people buy something, they generally go through a whole process before making the purchase. With digital marketing, you can engage with them at almost every stage of that process, helping them become familiar with your brand and building confidence in your business and its products or services.

Digital marketing brings people to you. With non-digital marketing methods, a lot of the time you must go to the customer – you must reach out with advertising through the post, hand out leaflets, put up posters or billboards, make outbound sales calls, the list goes on. But with a good digital marketing strategy and engaging content, customers will find you when they’re searching online for the products and services you’re offering. Or they’ll get to know your brand through blog and social media posts that build your authority and subject matter expertise in your industry.

Effective digital marketing can help increase your revenue

With all the above benefits, and the simple fact that there is such a larger audience online, you might simply assume that you could make more money just by reaching more people. By marketing your business online, you’ll do just that – the number of people you could reach is huge, and if you use a multiple digital marketing techniques such as email marketing, blog posts, a website, social media, and digital advertising, you’ll have vastly increased the number of people you could reach with comparative investment in non-digital methods.  

Digital marketing can take time before you start to see a return on your investment – and this is a reason many businesses turn their backs on digital marketing investment. They do not see a large enough increase in sales within just a few months and assume it’s not working. But it is. It takes time for your brand to build presence, and many platforms are governed by the behaviour of buyers as interpreted by algorithms and machine learning. These can take time to learn where or when your ideal customers will show up, or which other associated searches your products will be presented alongside. 

Typically, a good digital marketing strategy can start to show results after 3 to 6 months and your business should start to gain revenue as a result before month 12. But this obviously varies between industries and can be affected by the type of digital marketing services used – a business using a wide range of services like email marketing, social media, blogs, website SEO, and paid advertising would expect to see results sooner than a company using only social media to promote their brand. 

To filter out the things that don’t work, and amplify those that do, you need a good digital marketing strategy built for you by specialists, to ensure that your efforts aren’t in vain, and that changes in the fast-paced digital advertising landscape can be absorbed and reacted to correctly. 

If you’d like to receive the benefits of a well-implemented digital marketing strategy, get in touch. 

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