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The internet has opened the door to reach out to a new audience that SMEs could never reach before. In fact, with the ongoing pandemic and the shifting buyers' behavior, one could argue that Digital Marketing has become crucial to the survival of SMEs.
For a business to thrive and survive, it must generate sales. In the past, advertising was carried out via traditional media such as billboards, signage, newspapers, leaflets, brochures, postal mails, radio, and television. Often these methods are difficult to start, sometimes are too expensive, and often are hard to target specific audiences. TV commercials for example are often completely out of reach for most SMEs.
Even if this strategy brings in a trickle of business, there is now a more effective and easier way to do it. For small and medium-sized businesses, the online market has a large number of potential customers. There is no reason for small businesses to ignore this vast market, no matter how new they are.
The Internet has truly changed the world we live in. Billions of people connected globally, news travel almost instantly across the globe. You could order that new exciting product through a website hosted at a data center on the other side of the world. Digital marketing is becoming increasingly important, as consumers search online more often and buy online more often than ever before. Businesses can effectively advertise their brands to the right target audience at the right time and place, in a cost-effective and measurable way.
For small businesses, this is a game-changer for several reasons:
With a small investment, any small business can look better (and bigger) than the big guys.
Reaching out to a niche audience has become easier, cheaper, and measurable.
Access to a larger audience has vastly expanded the potential market for small businesses that were restricted to their local areas.
That said, having a website is just a small part of the Digital Marketing game. Digital Marketing is promotional activities for products/brands to influence customer perception and stimulate their purchasing behavior on the Internet platform. Digital marketing, in a nutshell, refers to marketing activities conducted using one or more digital media sources. A few examples of digital marketing are email marketing, pay-per-click, social media, web-based advertising, and even blogging.
Let's review the digital assets we need to run successful Digital Marketing campaigns and how SMEs can compete with the big guys:
A website: while you can completely do without a website, it's strongly recommended that you don't. If you don't have a website, you are completely at the mercy of other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, etc... What happens when a sudden change in their policy disrupts your business? If you are not ready to make the big investment yet, templates are the way to go.
Branded assets (logos, Artwork and graphics, acronyms, letterheads, business cards, etc): you can start small, there are free logo tools and pre-design templates that you can buy. Fiver and other freelance markets can also be another source to look for affordable help.
Video content (video ads, product demos, etc): with a smartphone, you can start doing video blogging, product commercials, and demos. There are a wide range of tools to help inexperienced users with these tasks at a very affordable cost (and sometimes even free)
Images (infographics, product shots, company photos, etc): smartphones these days take better photos than you can imagine :).
Written content (blog posts, eBooks, product descriptions, testimonials, etc): get a freelance writer to help to transform your ideas into written content. If your time (and skill) allow, write your own articles.
Online products or tools (SaaS, calculators, interactive content, etc)
Reviews: without the big brand names, SMEs will have to proactively collect reviews from clients to instill buyers' trust and confidence.
Social media (Facebook Fanpage, Instagram, Twitter, etc): SMEs, without all the complex corporate processes, can be more innovative on social media.
Today, people use the Internet to find information about products and services instead of sifting through hundreds of pages of phone directories. About 80 percent of consumers begin seeking products and services online today, typically starting with Google. When your competitors can find you online, your prospects will choose them.
A good digital marketing campaign usually yields a higher ROI because it pinpoints the target market. What better way to increase enrollment in a kindergarten than by running digital ads that target only parents who have young children of the intended age?
With 4,66 billion internet users worldwide, surely you can reach someone in need of your product or service? With geo-targeting, you can reach out to potential buyers all across the world from your home office.
Digital Marketing allows ads to be immediately tweaked to fit new changes and data as they occur, faster and easier. Analytics tools such as Google Analytics make it possible for you to determine where visitors are coming from, how they interact with your site, and what actions they take. By understanding the buyer's journey, you can identify where improvements might be needed to get the desired results.
When it comes to traditional marketing, there are three main costs: development, production, and publishing. SME budgets are often inadequate for these types of expenses. Digital marketing is considerably cheaper than traditional marketing. Digital marketing can be customized to fit almost any budget. Media and publication costs are practically nonexistent when doing digital marketing campaigns.
A big advantage of digital marketing is its ability to track almost everything and get real-time analytics. It's easy to keep track of all the metrics that matter to your company, such as impressions, shares, views, clicks, and time spent on your website.
Unlike larger companies that can spend millions on TV advertising or large campaign, smaller companies are restrained by limited budgets. Nonetheless, the emergence of the Internet and online marketing opportunities have given small businesses a chance to compete with their larger rivals.
As an example, you may achieve ranking on the first page of search results if you create a website with a user-friendly design, optimized long-tail keywords, and a remarkable customer journey. Search Engine Bots will always favor content that resonates with the target audience, regardless of which brand is bigger.
If there are only sales within the target time, then your business becomes a failure to maximize revenue. By having an online presence, you allow the sale of your products or services 24 hours a day to anyone without any restrictions.
Most SMEs are still confused about current forms of marketing, which also accounts for delaying Digital Marketing. Digital marketing should be a central focus of almost every business's marketing strategy. No other method allows you to communicate with your customers so consistently, and nothing else can deliver the level of personalization available with digital data.