There are many reasons why digital marketing is important for small businesses all around the world. We live in a golden age of technology and that has changed the way most businesses operate. 10 years ago, we wouldn’t even be talking about digital marketing because it didn’t even exist at the time and most businesses just settled for billboards, fliers, and tv and radio advertising which many small businesses simply could not afford.
Today, the narrative is different because with the introduction of the internet, google, social media platforms, emails, webinars, websites, mobile devices, and online forums it has never been easier to create awareness for your brand or your small business.
The common misconception that most small businesses have is that they think digital marketing is for all the large co-operations or organizations like Coca-cola and Nike, with large marketing budgets and brilliant marketing minds behind computer screens. This is understandable because, at first glance, digital marketing looks complicated, and most small business owners wouldn’t even know where to begin. There’s also the fear of the unknown.
As a small business owner, you may not have a lot of money to spend on marketing and you would definitely be skeptical about digital marketing because there is no assurance of making a return on your investment. The good news is that things are not always as they seem and with this article, we would take a look at some reasons why digital marketing is important for small businesses.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is simply the use of electronic or mobile devices and the internet to promote, sell, or create awareness for products or services.
Simply put, digital marketing is marketing that is done online and there are many strategies that businesses could employ. These strategies are created to suit their business type and their target audience (existing and potential clients).
Why digital marketing is important for small businesses
- It creates an online presence for the business
- It provides a competitive advantage
- It provides Scaling potential
- It is Budget-friendly
- It Improves your ROI
Many businesses today are going online by creating websites, multiple profiles, groups, and forums on the internet but there are still a lot of businesses that are lagging behind simply because the internet is not secure this affects the authenticity of many platforms and it could be difficult to know who to trust. Some other small businesses simply do not know where to start but regardless of these reasons, the importance of digital marketing for small businesses cannot be overemphasized. This is because ;
It creates an online presence for the business
We live in an age where just under half of the world’s population possesses mobile devices. This means that having an online presence for your business could count as a criterion for determining the trustworthiness of your business. It has gotten to the point where as soon as you mention a new brand, people don’t ask for business cards, they go online and search for the brand and if there is no information for that brand, it is not regarded as a trustworthy brand. As an added bonus, when a brand is found online, there’s a certain level of respect that is attached to the brand by society in general. There’s just something that speaks quality when your brand is online.
This is why digital marketing is important because it provides you with the much-needed online presence for your business. How would this work? Well, when you are creating advertising campaigns online, your potential clients would need a place to visit to know more about your brand that the advertising campaigns cannot simply provide. This would mean the creation of landing pages, social media accounts, and online forums for your business. This way your potential clients would have a location to visit online to know more about your brand.
Possessing an online presence works like a physical address does but on a different scale where instead of your clients visiting your local shop or business residence, they could visit your online store or website and get the information they need. It would also contain your contact details or that of your customer care representatives for cases where they need to make any extra inquiries. This is why getting into digital marketing should be at the top of your priority list in terms of your marketing plans.
It provides a competitive advantage
Even as more businesses are beginning to use digital marketing there is still a large number of businesses that do not use it or do not understand how to use it. This is why when you adopt digital marketing and leverage it the right way, you would be miles ahead of your competitors and by the time they’re trying to pick up the pace, you would already have the majority of the market share online through a dominating online presence that only digital marketing can provide.
Another way digital marketing could give you an edge over your competition is that it provides you the opportunity to run your campaigns better than they have even if they started using digital marketing before you. This could be achieved by analyzing the marketing techniques used in their campaigns and taking note of what they did right and wrong. This would help you adjust your marketing strategies to play to your own strengths and take advantage of the loopholes in their advertising campaigns.
At the end of the day, the purpose of your business is to make a profit, and anyway you could get ahead of your competitors should always be welcomed with open arms. The sooner you take your business digital, the better.
It provides scaling potential
No small business wants to remain small. The goal of many small businesses is to one day become a giant in whatever industry they are currently invested in. This however is no easy feat because there are always other businesses that possess a larger market share physically and online. At first glance, it would seem like there’s no easy way of competing with such businesses but the introduction of digital marketing almost levels the playing field. This gives you the chance to compete on a leveled playing field and suddenly, your brand could have an advantage where it seemed impossible.
Also, assuming you already had a plan to scale your business in the future without the use of digital marketing, the process of scaling could be sped up rapidly simply because you added digital marketing to your marketing strategy. For example, where you would be planning on starting international shipping in 5 years of operation, with digital marketing it could be shortened to just one year because the chance to reach an international audience is now made possible with digital marketing.
The introduction of digital marketing would affect all aspects of your business significantly and give you a chance to stand out in a competitive business environment. For example, it could affect how your sales are being carried out and also how your receive payments for your products or services.
These new methods would surely be an improvement on the old ways where instead of using the normal cash registers you would now be able to accept payments through various online mediums like Paypal, MasterCard, Paystack, and more. You also have the chance to introduce subscription-based payments to your business because of the technology involved and all this simply just adds to the scaling potential of your business and scaling your business would now be a question of when you’re ready to begin.
It is budget-friendly
If you thought you needed a large budget to begin your digital marketing journey then well, think again! This is because digital marketing is cost-effective. With a very little marketing budget, you can launch your marketing campaigns and begin to see results almost instantly.
There are multiple platforms that offer the chance to run your advertising campaigns and these platforms are great because they are cost-effective and they help you make the most of your advertising budgets. This way, you would not have to spend much on your marketing, to begin with, and you would be able to optimize your marketing process in the best way possible. This means that would know what advertising campaigns to invest the bulk of your advertising budget on.
To make things even better you could take the organic route where instead of using paid advertising, you market your products and generate new clients organically (using free marketing).
Granted, the results come much slower than using paid advertising but if you do not have the funds to start engaging in paid advertising, you can take the organic route by creating quality content that would engage your target audience, create an exciting customer experience, and engaging customer service to compliment it. You would definitely see results; it might take a while but it would also give you enough time to build your online presence so that when you do get involved in paid advertising, you would’ve already built a sustainable online presence and you would be capable of scaling much faster than usual.
A great idea for small businesses is to leverage both paid and organic advertising. The key is finding that middle ground where you are building your online presence through content marketing by creating quality content and engaging with your existing customer base, at the same time expanding your reach by bringing in new clients using paid advertising.
There is no one size fits all answer for finding that middle ground. You would need to experiment to find the balance between the two but it would be worth it in the end because you would find that your business would grow at a steady rate. At some point, you would be capable of going all-in on paid advertising knowing that your online presence is strong and capable of handling the traffic that would be generated by using paid marketing fully.
It Improves your ROI
Digital advertising is different because there are numerous ways to optimize your advertising campaigns to get the most out of them. For example, simply by looking at the campaigns of other businesses, you could be able to deduce where their strengths are and implement the same in your marketing strategies. You could also take note of what they’re doing wrong and find better ways to do them which alone could help you improve your ROI.
Another way is to test your marketing campaigns by utilizing the option to include multiple customer demographics and target audience descriptions. When your marketing campaigns are live, you would get data that would indicate how well each advertising campaign is doing. This would help you to know where to invest the bulk of your advertising budget in order to get a good return on your investment. The other less successful campaigns can also be tweaked using the most successful campaign as a blueprint. This would ensure that very few losses are made and it would improve your chances of seeing a return on your investment as soon as possible.
Why small businesses need digital marketing
There are more than enough customers online to last your business a complete lifetime but there is no way that these customers would ever get to hear about your business until your online presence is created. Just like shopping in a physical market, potential customers tend to scan around the market to find what brand fits them best and they would always refer back to the brand that offered them the best experience.
When your brand can offer the essentials like great prices, nice customer service, and more than they begin to view your entire customer experience which has to do with connecting with your customers on a deeper level. This is where digital marketing comes in because with it, you are able to create an online presence that provides the things your customer (existing and potential) would value.
For example, customers value a personalized shopping experience where the products that are recommended are the products that the customer regularly purchases, a speedy payment and delivery system, loyalty programs, and more. When a customer realizes that your store is not up to the standard of your competitors, if not more, they would simply move to the next store.
Looking at the bigger picture, your digital marketing strategies and campaigns should be able to communicate to potential customers that your brand is authentic and miles apart from your competitors. It should highlight the problems that your brand solves and provide a means to solve these problems step-by-step in a great delivery format (video, audio, or text). This would make your potential customers eager to do business with you. But it doesn’t stop there.
Digital marketing helps you to build and sustain lasting relationships with each customer individually. You would also get reviews from each customer that you could make public on your websites and also include in your advertising campaigns to attract new clients.
For a small business, maintaining communication with your clients may be hard but digital marketing makes it look like a walk in the park. This is because there are digital marketing platforms that make it easy and cheap for you to create fun and engaging content for all your customers. There are also digital marketing platforms that allow you to automate your communication with your clients.
From things like “thank you” messages after every purchase to email newsletters that would allow you to send messages to tour clients every now and then on updates about your business or simply staying in touch with them. You also have access to many tools that help you get information from your clients to help you better understand their needs and improve your general customer experience and profitability like online polling systems and google forms.
Benefits of digital marketing for small businesses
- Improved brand reputation
- Increased accessibility
- Increased reach advantage
Now let’s take a look at how your business can benefit from adopting digital marketing to your advertising strategy.
Improved brand reputation
Most customers today do not really believe your business is authentic until you can provide some form of an online presence be it through a website, social media profile, groups, or an online community. It is important to note that there are many businesses online that are not credible at all so it doesn’t just stop at creating an online presence that contributes to your authenticity. There are other factors like your automated responses, your customer experience, and the information provided on your website or social media profile.
Many of these dubious websites are not responsive whatsoever and they do not have an active customer service response team. This is why you need to pay attention to response speed on your digital marketing campaigns comment section and your general online presence as well because if you are to gain the trust of your customers then you have to respond as fast as possible to the inquiries. This gives them a sense of authenticity and would reduce any doubts they have about making a purchase from your company.
With an improved brand reputation, more and more customers would trust your business and be willing to spread the word about the authenticity of your business. Many small businesses underrate the power of a good review which is why they spend less time on developing their customer experience and their opportunity cost ( the profits they are missing out on ) in these areas are very high. There is also the chance that your business could go viral with the right marketing and online customer experience. This is because when one person shares a review about your business online, more people see these reviews, and the more that happens the more likely your business is to go viral.
Prior to the adoption of digital marketing as a small business, not many people would be aware of the existence of your business. This limits your profitability to a large degree and you would be spending valuable time trying to design fliers to pass around your local town. This does not mean that using these methods wouldn’t work, it just means you would not see the results you want to see as fast as possible and your customers would have to visit your physical stores to see your products or make any inquiries.
This is why increased accessibility is one of the benefits of digital marketing. It helps takes away any physical restrictions in the sense that your customers do not need to be physically present to access any information or products. With digital marketing, your customers can simply inquire about your products or services, pay for them, and have them delivered to their specified locations without getting to meet you or visiting your store.
This means, in some cases, you could take your entire business online and manage it from anywhere in the world. The costs you would be reducing would help a lot for a growing business and you would be able to invest in other aspects of your business to improve your ROI.
Increased reach advantage
This just builds on the previous point. With digital marketing, you would have access to reach potential customers that you would not normally be able to reach. It opens international doors enabling you to market your products to an international audience and be seen worldwide. You could finally be able to add “international” to your business name and this brings about so many more benefits.
For example, with an increased reach, you can attract the eyes of investors all around the world, and because of your increased accessibility, they could easily have access to any information they would like about your business and make their offers to you directly. All these and so much more can be accessed when you adopt digital marketing for your small business.Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Nansel Nanzip Bongdap
Nansel is a serial entrepreneur and financial expert with 7+ years as a business analyst. He has a liking for marketing which he regards as an important part of business success.
He lives in Plateau State, Nigeria with his wife, Joyce, and daughter, Anael.