I’ll be honest: I don’t like change. Change scares me. There’s comfort in doing things the way you’ve always done them. Unfortunately, nothing stays the same forever, and the world of business and marketing is no exception.
Your customers now have constant access to information, and they can research and comparison shop like never before. That puts traditional forms of marketing, like print ads and radio and billboards, in kind of a tough spot. They still have value, but they won’t take you as far as they once did.
This week, we’re going to take a look at how digital has influenced SMB marketing and how you can integrate it into your existing marketing strategy to achieve even better results.
Finding a new business using traditional marketing methods pretty much limits you to word-of-mouth-recommendations and… well, the phone book. (Do people still use phone books, or do they just get printed because no one’s told them to stop?)
The effects of digital can be seen far and wide, and I couldn’t possibly cover them all. But here are a few areas of interest where you can focus your efforts:
Directory Listings and Local SEO
When people search for you, they need to find accurate information. Google has the biggest share when it comes to search engines, so be absolutely sure that what turns up when your business is searched for is correct. You should do the same for Bing and Yahoo. In addition, many social media sites turn up in organic search, so if you have a Facebook or Twitter accounts, verify that the information there matches what you have listed elsewhere.
The Power of Online Reviews
85% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Reviews are highly trusted and shouldn’t be overlooked when assessing your marketing strategy. It’s not just the overall score that matters, though that is important. You also need to consider how frequently you receive new reviews and on what platforms they’re appearing. Google reviews will always show up with your Google My Business listing in search. Sometimes it will display a rating based on reviews on another platform, like Facebook or Yelp.
The important thing is, positive reviews reassure customers that you’re trustworthy. Given the option between a business with good reviews and a business with no reviews, customers will go with the former every time.
As an added benefit, the more websites you have reviews on, the more search results will appear. The only thing better than 4-5 stars on one site is having 4-5 stars on five websites. See the search results for Escapology? If you were undecided about going, seeing all those positive reviews might just be the deciding factor.
Website User Experience
It seems user experience isn’t always given that much consideration. A website is a website, right?
Well, not really. Shoppers expect to find what they’re looking for quickly and with as little effort as possible. If your website isn’t well organized, has slow page speeds, isn’t mobile friendly, isn’t attractive to look at, etc., visitors are likely to give up and look elsewhere. Taking the time to make your website enjoyable and easy to use shows you care about your customers.
It takes multiple touches before a potential customer will buy—how many is up for debate. Some say 6-8, some say 7-13, still others say 12. The beautiful thing about digital is that you can take advantage of retargeting to stay top-of-mind with people who visited your website.
You know how sometimes you search for something online, then log onto Facebook and suddenly you’re seeing ads for that product? That’s retargeting. You can set up an online ad campaign specific to people who have already shown an interest in your business—it’s hard to find more qualified leads than that.
So put yourself in front of them as many times as possible. When they’re ready to buy, you’ll be the one they think of.
Search Terms Reports
Google analytics and Google Search Console are easy-to-use tools that provide valuable information, one of which is the search terms report. You should check it regularly to see what phrases and keywords people are searching for before arriving on your site. You can use this information to better target your marketing—both digital and traditional.
How Digital Marketing Can Reinforce Your Traditional Marketing Efforts
Every single one of the digital marketing areas I listed above can be used to strengthen your existing position. You know, the one you’ve built through traditional methods over all these years and through so much hard work.
For example, if your marketing strategy up until now has been mainly direct mail or television, or radio, the next logical step is to make sure your online presence is in order. When I hear an ad or receive a piece of mail, unless I have a specific need for it right at that very moment, I’m probably going to forget about it. The best you can hope for is that people remember your name when they do get around to needing you. Then what?
Then they Google. Traditional marketing (like that one commercial that plays in every. single. break of their favorite show) has provided multiple touch points and kept you top-of-mind. But you can’t expect everyone to already know where you are, right? Or they might not be certain if you can provide the product or service they need, and they want to do a little research first. What are they going to find when they search for you?
Does your old address or phone number come up? Do you have one bad review on Google that makes you look bad, even though you have 10 excellent ones on Facebook? Do you have a website, and is it enjoyable to use?
Simply having all of these things in order can make a huge difference in the way prospective customers view your business. Once they visit you and get that first positive impression, use retargeting to remind them of their interest.
Taking advantage of digital marketing methods doesn’t have to mean making a drastic change to your traditional marketing plan. All of these tools can be used simply to strengthen your existing strategy.
One of the great things about digital is how much easier it is to track return on investment. Email marketing providers tell you exactly how many emails were opened, how many clicked, and if set up to do so, how much money you made from it through your online store. Website analytics can show you the same, along with what search terms bring people to your site, how long they stay, how many pages they visit. All of this information can be used to identify problem areas and work to make them better.
It can be dangerous to think that just because you’re doing well now and have plenty of business means it will stay that way. Nothing stays the same forever. Digital takes time, so if you want to reap the benefits in the future, now is the time to start.
Catherine has a degree in English literature and a passion for all things marketing. As Digital Specialist, her focus is on web design, search engine optimization, social media, online presence management, and project coordination.