How Small Businesses Benefit from Digital Marketing.

The goal of marketing has always been to connect with your audience in the right place and at the right time.  With people spending twice as much time online as they did 12 years ago, that meeting place is online. With that realization, businesses should be embracing at least some forms of digital marketing. What exactly is digital marketing?  Digital marketing encompasses all of the digital channels available to you including the social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest (yes Pinterest), email marketing, your website, inbound marketing, blog posts, digital advertising, white papers, infographics, SEO and everything that is earned through public relations and social media mentions.  Hubspot  That is a lot!  But, you don’t have to dive in and try to do it all.  Do a few things, do it well, and then add on to your digital marketing portfolio.

Two of the biggest benefits of digital marketing are that it can be done at a low cost and second is that the measurability of digital helps you decide what is working for you, lets you know where to invest your dollars, and allows you to pivot to make changes that are not costly. Digital marketing is always about testing and repeating so results may not be quick, but they can be impressive.

What other reasons are there for investing your time and resources into digital marketing?

  1.  Engage with your customers.  Your customers are online, in fact as of May 2017  there are 1.94 billion active Facebook users per month. Zephoria Your customers expect you to be there as well.  Having a website that is not up to date or informative is not going to cut it.  The goal is to not just show up but to actively have conversations with your customers.  From here you can find out what they like and dislike, what their interests are, and how you can better serve them.  This can lead to a more loyal fan base and potential new or improved products.   
  2. Play with the big dogs.  This is especially true if you are seeking organic traffic instead of paid.  You can put your name out there and be as recognized as many of the top brands we use everyday.  Ok, so that may be a stretch goal, but if you are consistently being active on social media, creating content that your customers find relevant, informative and engaging, you will become top of mind when someone is looking for a local auto repair shop, real estate agent, or places to go for a staycation.  This type of engagement costs little in terms of dollars, but it does require capital in regards to your time and planning, but the results can be impressive.
  3. Extension of customer service.  Your customers will have questions and even complaints and will want them heard and responded to, and they expect a quick response.  85% of customers expect a response within 6 hours on Facebook and 64% expect an answer within an hour on Twitter. Shep Hyken  I do have a couple tips to help you out.  First only be where your customers are.  Meaning do not try to spread yourself too thin by thinking you need to be active on all social media platforms.  Choose the platforms that work for you and that your audience engages with, then make sure you are there. To help manage expectations you can place notes in your profile stating that questions will be answered during a certain time frame.  Also, be active on the platforms during this time frame.  Your customers will get to know your habits and can feel confident that you will respond to their issue when you return. Finally, don’t be afraid to take it off – line.  If the issue is quite complex or if the customer is becoming harassing, ask them – within the platform – to email or call so that you can work together to resolve the issue.  This shows anyone who is following the conversation that you are willing to put forth the effort to solve issues and not to bury them.

Your digital portfolio should include some of the ideas listed above but do not expect that you can do it all.  Choose the platform that your customers use (remember that Buyer Persona) and be sure to be active and responsive.  Show that you are an expert and gain the trust of current and prospective customers.  This is a marathon and not a sprint.  Be prepared to be in it for the long haul and to manage your expectations for growth.

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