Digital Marketing: Digital for SMEs 101
You’ve heard about it and think you know what it means. Now that you have read this far into the Digital issue of Marketing, you are more confident in using the term in day-to-day business. However, as a small business owner, do you have any digital marketing campaigns currently running in your business or do you believe that it’s for big companies who have large budgets to spend on advertising? Hopefully not.
What is digital marketing from a small business owner’s point of view? In my opinion, it is the process of promoting goods and services through the use of new and emerging technology. In plain English, it is getting your product into the face of your target market through tools such as blogs, SMS and banner ads, to name a few.
Digital marketing covers some if not all of the things that you may consider to be internet marketing. Either way, digital or internet marketing is another channel to get the word out there concerning your product/service offer.
Apart from being new and interesting, what I think is the most exciting aspect of digital marketing is the ability to personalise the content of each marketing campaign that you have in your business.
One of the best examples of personalisation that I have come across recently is the Huggies Online Club website. If you are unfamiliar with this site, it is essentially an information portal that has been put together to promote a product/business (Huggies), yet also provides relevant information to the target audience on topics such as pregnancy and new babies.
As a new mum, I am a member of the site. When my daughter was born I was prompted to enter her birth date into my profile and now, each time I log in, the content displayed on certain areas in the site is relevant to her age and development stage – even the text has references to her first name.
It has meant that I visit the website more frequently than I would otherwise have and refer to the site when looking for information.
So, as a small business owner, are there digital marketing campaigns that you could be running in your business without having to extend your bank overdraft? The simple answer is yes and I suspect many of you are already in this space without knowing it. Here are some practical examples for you to ponder.
Email Marketing – Start with a Good Database
I have written in previous columns about email marketing and why I think it is a great and cost-effective tool to use in your business. To take your email or digital marketing campaigns to the next level, I believe the first step is to review, sort out and update your database. Have you divided or segmented your list into specific categories? Do you know which town or state each person is from? Have you asked your database what type of information they would like to receive? Do you have permission to involve third parties?
Why is such detail important? For starters, a segmented database gives you the ability to personalise your content specifically to your audience.
If your target audience is marketing managers but your database has a variety of different occupations on it, such as financial controllers and operations managers, wouldn’t it be great to select marketing managers and put together a campaign just for that audience? Not only would it cost less, you also have the ability to specifically address your message to that audience with a view of converting sales.
I recently inquired about some advertising in two popular business news websites. I was only interested in targeting subscribers in the Melbourne area, as I didn’t want to attract customers from other regions for this particular campaign – it simply wasn’t relevant. I assumed that because the businesses were completely online, that they would have a highly segmented and organised database. I was wrong.
I didn’t go ahead with the campaign and it was a lost opportunity for advertising sales. While your online presence may not be suited to advertising, having a highly segmented database gives you flexibility for future campaigns and business opportunities.
SMS and MMS – An Area of Opportunity
You are probably very familiar with SMS (Short Message Service), which is the ability to send text messages via a mobile phone. However, MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) may be less familiar to you. Essentially, MMS is the ability to send messages via mobile that include text and pictures, along with video and audio content as well.
Before you start sending SMS and MMS messages to your database though, it is crucial that you have a list of people who are happy to receive this form of communication from you. Mobile phones are very personal and while you have a great opportunity to communicate one-on-one with your audience, it is important that you have consent to do so. There are very few companies who I give permission to contact me in this way, however, there are instances where I rely on this information, for example reminders/confirmation of my hairdressing appointment.
There are many areas where SMS and MMS is relevant. If you are in real estate, you could notify perspective buyers of open for inspection times or if an offer has been made on a property they are inquiring about, promoting them to take action.
If you’re a retailer, you may like to send out new stock or specials information this way. If you are running events, perhaps you could send out reminders and directions on the day to your venue with a link to Google Maps. Whatever it is, make sure that you have permission before you start sending messages and your content is highly personalised and relevant to the person receiving the message.
Blogs – If You Have Got Something Relevant To Say
As a small business owner, you may be very passionate about what you do or your particular area of expertise. If that is the case, then a blog might be for you.
Having an opinion about a topic or sharing thoughts about your industry is a good way to help raise your profile and if you are in the business of B2B marketing then I would suggest that this tool is for you.
You don’t need to have a website to have a blog (although if you don’t have a website and are serious about your business then I suggest you get one) as there are applications such as WordPress and Blogger.com, which can help you get started without having to do a course in coding or HTML.
A simple DIY option may be a good way to start and if you end up with a loyal following, it may be worth investing into an application that can be customised to your individual requirements. Like anything, if your last blog post was six months ago, then perhaps consider having it removed. Make a diary note to write a regular post.
There is no doubt that technology is changing the way we live and consume goods and services. For example, when I am on public transport I check my bank balances, while waiting at a doctors I order my groceries, and when I am in between meetings I write my enewsletter. I also schedule appointments with my personal trainer through my online calendar. I use Google Maps to get to client meetings.
Digital marketing is about keeping up with the way we live and using technology to target customers to generate sales – have fun with it!
Publication: Marketing Magazine
Month: March 2010