The responsibility of running a small business is real. Cash flow, quotes, follow-ups, day-to-day operations, sales and what is often left last on the list, marketing, especially, digital marketing. The responsibility is real, and so is the demand for your time and attention.
If you want to increase your odds of small business success, the effort you put into your digital marketing activity is crucial. You can have the best product or the most remarkable customer service, but if you're not marketing your small business effectively, you waste a great opportunity.
What is digital marketing?
Marketing, in a nutshell, is the action you take to promote, advertise and sell your products and services. Creating a digital marketing path for your business is when you commit to using digital technologies via the internet.
The principal objective when using digital marketing is to promote your business through various forms of digital media. Broadly speaking digital media includes and is not limited to mobile phones, display advertising, social media marketing, e-commerce applications, pay per click advertising and even included channels that do not require internet access.
The challenges of going digital
Numerous factors are inhibiting a small business from adopting digital technology with significant challenges of 'going digital' varying from business to business. Most common we hear from our small business community of students is the lack of time, overwhelm of too much information, an uncertain return on investment and perceptions that time and cost of implementing a new system are prohibitive.
Why is it essential to take a digital approach?
Work smarter, work more efficiently, increase cash flow and save time on administrative tasks are a few reasons why it is time to step up your digital game. Having an online presence to complement your product and services eliminates geographical boundaries and opens up your reach to customers and markets that would not usually be within range for a small business operation.
Deloitte Connected Small Business 2017 found that small to medium- businesses with advanced levels of digital engagement are:
- 50 per cent more likely to be growing revenue and
- 60 per cent more likely to have more revenue per employee, than businesses with basic levels of digital engagement.
Further, productivity enhancements associated with adopting digital technologies contributed over $104 billion to Australia’s GDP over the decade to 2014.
If you want help ensuring your small business continues to grow successfully in the coming year, following are five practical digital marketing actions you can take.
1. Tell don't sell
Commit to telling scintillating stories. It's no longer good enough to be active on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram when every other small business is doing the same thing. You have to become a master storyteller as a small business owner if you want to stand out in today's noisy marketing landscape. The content marketing you create to tell your brand's stories should focus on serving the needs of your target customers and answering their questions. Don't be afraid to be different and try new things in how you share your story if you want to be successful with your digital marketing.
ACTION: Tell your story through the eyes of your customer by including their stories through testimonials or case studies on your website about, blog or testimonials pages to provide credibility and proof about the results and solutions you offer.
2. Give that little extra
Help your customers care about your business by genuinely caring about your customers. Showcase your willingness to help by the way you interact on social media, industry forums and groups. The more effort you put into being of service, the higher your odds of small business success. Make a concerted effort to focus on being helpful in your digital marketing this year and watch your customer engagement rates soar.
ACTION: Surprise and delight your customers by sending them an email to see how they are for no other reason than to see how they are doing. Further to this, another great way to give a little extra is to schedule five to ten minutes a day to give some love and comment on other business and customer pages.
3. Go behind the scenes
Sharing more about what you believe in, why you started and your company culture isn't just for big brands and large corporations. Small business owners who openly share their company culture with their customers have a much higher chance of building brand loyalty. When your customers know what you stand for and the causes you believe in, they're much more likely to make a connection with you and choose your small business over a competitor.
ACTION: Create a new piece of content like a blog, video or live stream on something close to your heart that will help your customers get to know you better.
4. Going digital is going mobile
Commit yourself to optimising your digital marketing outreach to mobile consumers. From smartphones to voice-enabled smartwatches, today's customers are mobile. If you want your marketing efforts to go next level this year, it is imperative you double down on mobile outreach. Create a mobile marketing strategy for your brand and revisit your plan throughout the year to ensure you're staying on target.
ACTION: Test your websites mobile optimisation to see if it is mobile friendly https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
5. Be empowered by analytics
One of the smartest digital marketing actions you can make moving forward is to base your audience outreach on data. Small business owners who define their digital marketing strategy based on hard data have a much higher chance of marketing success than those who fly by the seat of their proverbial pants. Too many small businesses make critical marketing decisions based on how they feel. The power of intuition is far more effective when it has real customer usage data to support it. Everything from social media analytics to website visitor data can help you determine how you will market your small business. When you see your marketing ROI (return on investment) increase based on data, you'll feel like kicking yourself for not adopting a data-based digital marketing strategy sooner.
ACTION: Check your Google Analytics, Facebook and Instagram Insights and look at who are your customers, where are they from, when do they visit your website and social pages and how long do they stay there?
These five digital marketing actions for small business owners can have a significant impact on your ability to grow your business. Plan early to make your digital marketing efforts seamless, and you'll be impressed at your ability to create opportunities. Building a small business into a thriving venture isn't easy, yet with careful planning, you can be your greatest advocate to help you succeed when others fail.
Thank you so much for reading this post.
If this is the first time we have met, I have been contributing direct initiatives and input to the small business community of the tourism industry for the last 20 years. Igniting excellence in people is the reason I get out of bed every morning. It is also the reason why I started InstituteOfExcellence.com in 2014.
Since then I have developed over 30 courses in tourism, digital and social media marketing and proudly work with leading training organisations Monarch Institute, Institute of Digital Marketing, Holmesglen and Tourism Tribe to serve and support hundreds of small businesses around Australia grow their business and themselves.
If you have an unwavering passion for tourism and would like to connect with over 300 tourism professionals come over and join the conversation at the Your Tourism Excellence Private Facebook Group
"What the new year will bring to you and your business will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year"