How Small Businesses Can Improve Digital Marketing Strategies
Recently I wrote a post entitled Digital Marketing for All Businesses, Great and Small, and noted the surprising percentage of businesses that reported not having a website. (Statistics gleaned from the U.S. Census indicate that of the 14,441,089 businesses surveyed, only 24.8% reported having a website, while 75.2% reported not having a website.) I found this figure astounding, quite frankly, and decided to do a little digging to understand the obstacles that businesses face in promoting their products and services through digital marketing channels.
Not surprisingly, barriers to an effective digital marketing plan are felt most acutely by small businesses, rather than enterprise-level organizations. A recent Small Business Digital Trends Survey found the following interesting statistics:
- 80 percent of small businesses that have a website are their own webmasters, managing the site themselves
- 59 percent of site owners created their own site with DIY tools
- 37 percent of small businesses don’t use digital marketing tools
As owners of small businesses are known to wear many hats, it is easy to discern why it might appear difficult to manage the business as well as the website and digital marketing campaigns. Moreover, large enterprises have all the advantages – or do they?
Making it Big on the Strength of Being Small
Small businesses have many opportunities to turn an expected key in their success. One way they can make a big impact is through optimizing for local search, as well as optimizing search for unique and specialty products or services they offer. I happen to know that my local mom-and-pop hardware store carries radiator bleed keys and Google generally returns results local to my area. So, I searched on the phrase “where can I buy a radiator bleed key.” While not surprisingly, Amazon topped the list, my local hardware store was nowhere to be found, although a supply store from the U.K. appeared on the first page. (Incidentally, I performed the search from the U.S., and a radiator bleed key, in case you are wondering, is used to bleed air pockets from old fashioned radiators to improve efficiency of operation.) Here is a screen shot of the search:
Next, I used Home Depot’s site search for “radiator bleed key,” which returned the response: “We’re sorry, we found 0 matches for “radiator bleed key.”
Ah ha! I thought, this is an opportunity for the small business, and a perfect example that both small and large businesses can have a place in the community. Home Depot is not likely to suffer for lack of radiator bleed keys, and the local shop can demonstrate its responsiveness to the community it serves by optimizing for local search and promoting specialty products by optimizing its website, specific content and search.
Tools for Digital Marketing and Optimization
Recently, Forbes reviewed Adobe’s Digital Marketing offering, writing “Over the past few years, Adobe has built a strong platform that addresses various needs of digital marketing. We believe that this platform not only provides a cost effective digital marketing solution to companies, but also helps them manage marketing campaigns across different channels (online and offline) and devices. Adobe’s marketing cloud is one of the most comprehensive and integrated marketing solution available in the market … We expect Adobe’s marketing platform to continue to lead the digital marketing solutions market…”
So, let’s look at a few recommendations that can be implemented utilizing robust and effective digital marketing tools for our mom-and-pop hardware store example:
- Many people wish to support their local business enterprises. While not everyone needs a radiator bleed key, the hardware store in our example might consider developing engaging and relevant content to distinguish its unique positioning to respond to the needs of local residents.
- Of course, for those who do need a radiator bleed key, among other hardware items, optimizing product pages with a place for visitors to write a review can increase customer engagement.
- Optimize for mobile and create an app: many people find it convenient to stop by a store on their way home from work or when out doing other errands. Utilizing a tool that understands the GPS position of app users and when the app is launched within a certain radius of your business can deliver particularly insightful data.
- Optimize for local search: As per our discussion above, it’s nice to know that if I am ever in the U.K. I will be able to procure a radiator bleed key. But with the price point being somewhere in the range of $2.00 to $6.00 U.S., I’d rather find one locally.
- Gathering customer behavior data to create personalized experiences can increase customer loyalty.
- Create a social media presence to connect with customers, identify trends, and understand the relationship between social interactions and business results.
- While small business owners face many time constraints, revisiting the entire website, prioritizing the most critical sections first, while conducting tests such as A/B and multivariate, can yield actionable insights leading to an uplift in conversions.
- A Final Word: Data analysis, accurate measurement of results and testing cannot be too strongly emphasized as providing a solid basis for decision making. Through careful attention and response to customer behavior data, customer experience can be improved, driving higher ROI, which, incidentally, improves the business experience.
There are many different and fruitful digital marketing options and strategies; the above suggestions are but a few. While the small business owner has many pressures and limited time, a thoughtful digital marketing strategy coupled with the right tools can be the key to success. If you’ve turned an unexpected key to success in the world of small business, please leave a comment and share the benefit of your insight and experience.