As an entrepreneur of a small business venture, I used to be faced with fear that I will be unable to compete with bigger players that are in the same industry as me. With more staff to do the work for them and more money to spend on marketing and advertising, it only seemed natural to think that they will eventually win the race when it comes to expanding their businesses. But I was wrong! Working practically as a solopreneur, I soon realised that through digital marketing, my business can grow regardless how many people I hire (or don’t hire) and how much money I spend on advertising.
So if you are feeling insecure about growing your small business, I’d encourage you to definitely give online marketing a go because many small and also local businesses have grown over years regardless their advertising budgets – thanks to the power of the internet! All you need is a solid business plan and willingness to learn and apply the key concepts of internet marketing to succeed.
And if you are wondering how online marketing can help you achieve the business of your dreams, here are my top tips on How Digital Marketing Can Grow Small Businesses (Even On A Tight Budget!):-
Expanding Your Reach
When you want to get more sales and leads for your business, you need to let more people know about who you are and what you offer. Although using print advertisements, presenting coupons, and featuring posters in all major roads and shops that can attract your prospects may seem like a good idea, the number of target audience who will eventually get to know about you and your services will be very limited.
Through internet marketing, you get to target a much larger crowd (in many cases a wider global audience) to see your advertisements and get to know about your business. With more prospects seeing your advertisements and online landing pages, the probability of you getting more sales and leads will increase tremendously.
Targeted Advertising with Analytics
Unlike traditional forms of advertising that are based on assumptions and projections such as newspaper, radio and television ads, using internet marketing methods can help you achieve better results by letting you understanding your target customers’ behaviours, trends and demands first before advertising. You also get to choose to feature your advertisements to a selected group of people based on certain criteria such as gender, age, location, interests and income so that you can customise your messages according to their needs. Through this method of advertising, you get to enhance your customer experience and utilize your advertising budget wisely for maximum impact.
This will help you to increase your customer satisfaction and improve the chances of having repeat sales, while enabling you to maintain brand loyalty amongst your customers.
Two-Way Interaction with Customers and Prospects
With an online presence, you will be able to gain two-way interaction with your customers and prospects to further enhance your product or service offerings to grow your business.
Most often, when a customer is not satisfied with your products or services, they will not complain directly to you. They will express their feelings through social media, forums or blog comments. When you keep track of what is being said about your business, you will know the weaknesses of your products and services and strive towards improving them. With these platforms, you can also respond to any negative views and comments that people have about your business to clear any doubts about your products and services.
You will also be able to easily measure the success and failure of each branding or advertising campaign that you organise for your business. You can track their progress based on social media engagements and responses as well as website visits and comments – and not forgetting the total sales and leads you gained during the duration of your campaigns. You can also reply to positive responses to further encourage the support for your brand.
So in general, having an internet presence will enable your business and brand to come ‘alive’ in the eyes of your target audience. This will encourages them to support your business more and improve brand loyalty.
Cost Effective Advertising
With the existence of online advertising, you can slowly test and measure the success or failure of each of your marketing campaigns without spending a huge amount of money upfront. Popular advertising channels such as Facebook, Google Adwords and Bing Ads allow you to set your daily ad spend so that you do not exceed the limited budget that you have allocated for marketing purposes. And once you have identified a campaign that works, you can slowly increase your advertising spend to compete with your competitors.
Free Leads and Sales through Organic Traffic
Reaching new prospects doesn’t always need to be through paid advertising methods. By applying SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies, content marketing and being active on social media, you will soon start to see organic traffic come to your website or online landing pages that convert into new leads and sales for your business without paying anything!
Your Customers Are Already Online
Let me know honestly, when you want to find anything – whether it’s a hotel, restaurant, tourist attraction or even household items to buy, where do you go first? Do you open your favourite web browser like Google – or do you search on the Yellow Pages hard copy book, newspapers or hard copy magazines? I’m guessing that you would most probably open your favourite web browser to find the answers to your questions…Am I right?
You see, we are now living in a digital world where information are searched and accessed more through the internet than through traditional print mediums. So whatever business you are in, you will soon realise that your customers are searching for products or services like yours mainly through the internet!
So if they search for answers online and find your competitors first, they would probably settle for their products and services instead of yours!
And in the present times, if your business doesn’t have a website and social media presence, your customers will come to the conclusion that your business is not legit or it doesn’t exist. That is why digital marketing is so important when it come to growing small businesses.
Learn From Your Successful Competitors Online
It’s normal to feel inferior when it comes to comparing yourself to your competitors who seem to have more customers, products/services and advertising budget to spend. But did you know that having competitors who are already successful can be an advantage to you?
Well, believe it or not – having successful competitors can actually help you to set a benchmark for yourself and your business. You can also learn from them by seeing what they are offering, how they are crafting their marketing messages, how they are doing their branding and how they are attracting their customers to buy from them. If you are good at analysing, you can also breakdown their business models to see what works for them and what doesn’t.
This can help you to identify the best direction for your business – without the need of spending thousands and millions of dollars to test and see what works! Isn’t that great?
And with the power of the internet, researching about your competitors and their strategies becomes even easier and more achievable!
Convenience for Customers
Whether you like it or not – we live in a fast paced world where nobody the time to sit around and search for information for hours to get solutions.
So by having an online presence, you get to answer simple questions that your customers want to know fast. For instance, if you have a local business, ideally you would need to have a website indicating your opening hours, products/services, address (and even better map to your address!), telephone number and email address.
It’s also advisable to have a Q&A page to answer commonly asked questions about your products/services so that your customers will be able to find out about them without having to email or call you.
And if you sell tangible products, it will be even better if you have an e-commerce store that will help customers to know whether the products they want are in stock – even if they plan to drive to your shop to pick them up.
Being online also helps you to reach out to customers who are limited by disability or who have trouble getting to your office/shop due to long travel distance.
Stay In Touch With Customers Without Being Too Salesy
I’ve been to a particular boutique before (no names mentioned!) but was greeted by a sales person who was being too salesy. She kept on pestering me to try on more clothes and shoes and insisted that I looked great in them even though I felt they were not good for me! That totally put me off. I never went to that boutique again.
You see, when you are too salesy, instead of getting more customers to desire your products and services, they will begin to resist and push away what you have to offer.
With the power of the internet, small and local businesses are able to stay in touch and engage with customers in the long term more than ever before!
You can encourage them to follow your social media channels where you can share interesting information that are beneficial to them or fit their needs while featuring product launches and promotions. You can also send them weekly or monthly newsletters featuring stories that will be of use to them, while introducing your products and services.
This will keep your brand constantly in their minds. So when they want to purchase anything, they will think about your products/services first before looking elsewhere.
Being online lets you keep in touch with your customers at a fraction of the cost compared to traditional forms of marketing such as printing hard copy newsletters which could cost quite a lot in the long run.
Online Sales Funnel
A confused mind always says ‘No’. Imagine finding something on the internet. You browse through the search engine and hit in to the first few websites that pops up on the front page of the search engine. You read a few lines of each article and look around a website out of curiosity – but the website is not user-friendly. You don’t know what they are selling and what they do. What will you do next? Exit, the page right?
So if you have a website for your business, it’s always advisable to try and move your customers and prospect to an online sales funnel.
The same goes if you have a physical shop. You would ideally want to attract your customers and prospects to your website and move them to your sales funnel too.
With this strategy, when a viewer goes to your website, you can direct them to opt-in through your landing page. Then you can slowly follow-up on those who have opted-in to your list to introduce yourself and what you offer to see if your products/services fit their needs. The online sales funnel will guide them towards making a decision on what to buy.
And I guess that’s it for now!
I must say that through the power of digital marketing, many small businesses have gained the success that they truly deserve. Have you tried any internet marketing strategies before on your small business that has enabled you to gain more customers? If you have, and do not mind sharing, then I’d encourage you to leave your comments in the section below. Share this article if you have any friends or family members who wish to expand their small businesses online.