digital marketing

By Lorna Henderson

Historically, small businesses didn’t always invest largely into their digital marketing strategy. Start-ups with a limited marketing budget tried to minimise overhead costs so didn’t want the expense of setting up and maintaining a website. However, today’s consumer behaviour demands that businesses have an online presence. Did you know that over 80% of consumers will research a large product online before they make their mind up?

The way that people find a business has changed too. The traditional process of looking up a plumber in the Yellow Pages or finding a business card in the Post Office window is being phased out. Our lives are becoming increasingly digitalised, whether you are downloading TV shows, talking to your friends on Facebook or finding a local business. It has never been more important to have an effective digital marketing strategy.

For small businesses without a marketing team to deliver their digital marketing strategy, people can often feel out of their depths. However, your digital marketing strategy bears a large reflection on your business. For instance, if you have an out-dated website, with old content and it isn’t responsive so doesn’t work with smartphones, this will not give a good impression. So there really is a strong necessity to invest both time and money into your digital marketing.

Let’s look at some of the key areas in a typical digital marketing strategy:

Website – The look and usability of your website has a big influence over whether people will decide to do business with you. If your pages take ages to load, or you have pages of unformatted blocks of text, people will disengage. You really do have to understand what your target audience wants from a website. More frequently we are seeing content like video used to promote businesses because it is quick to view and looks much more engaging than text. Staying up to date with the most effective types of content will ensure that you can appeal to new customers.

The content that you upload onto your website says a lot about your business. If you have lots of informative, useful content then visitors will see your business as experts in that field. You really need to use the opportunity to show off your skills and knowledge or the great reputation that you have built up. Scored highly in customer ratings or won awards? Make sure you get that on your website to make people aware of just how good your business is. Your website is effectively your digital ‘shop window’ so use it to impress rather than frustrate your website visitors.

Social media – Using social media channels for business is becoming more popular. Facebook business pages, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, the list goes on. The great part of social media marketing is that it costs nothing to get the accounts set up or to publish content. What you do have to do though is invest time into creating quality content. To keep a good following, you must create regular, good quality content.

You also have to be careful how you use your ‘voice’ as this sets the image of your business. If you want to create a professional image then the language and content must be used wisely. Another area of focus is being sure to reply to your customers but to avoid getting into online arguments with dissatisfied customers in case of a PR disaster. Encourage any disgruntled customers to discuss in greater detail by private messaging your business or sending an email rather than having an online debate for the world to see.

Email marketing – One of the biggest factors for successful email marketing is setting up an email that looks attractive and works across a range of devices. By using HTML available through various providers like MailChimp, you can achieve a professional looking email campaign and test it across different devices/email clients. Sending out an email campaign that doesn’t work well or looks strange when potential customers open it will give a really bad impression of your company.

Lorna Henderson is a freelance professional with a keen interest in technology. When not busy with her day to day tasks, she can be found trying out the latest gadgets, catching up with her favourite online blogs, or browsing the web in search of the next big thing.