Is Digital Marketing Effective for Small Businesses?

digital marketing

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Most businesses worldwide have used digital marketing either in its full spectrum or in some limited form. Many have allocated the bigger share of their marketing resources to digital marketing. A good number of them have grown their brands using it. But some have failed to achieve expected results due to misconceptions about what it can do for businesses.


What is digital marketing?

Let us come up with a simple definition that is easy to understand especially for small businesses and startup entrepreneurs including those who are not technically or digitally savvy.

Digital marketing encompasses all business activities related to reaching and communicating with potential and existing customers using electronic devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones that are connected to the internet.

The essence of digital marketing is connecting to a target market where and when they are in a position to receive and to engage with a marketing message.


What can digital marketing do for businesses?

Unlike offline marketing, digital marketing can enable businesses to achieve the following:

  • better focus on their target market in terms of demographics and psychographic profiling;
  • deliver their marketing message through internet channels frequently used by their target market; and
  • do so at a time frame when their potential customers are online.


How does digital marketing work?

In digital marketing, there are content and digital channels.

Content may be a written form of communication, a picture, an illustration or graphic design, a video recording, a voice recording, or a live video/audio feed used to communicate the marketing message. These contents are published on the following digital channels:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • Social media post
  • Email/Newsletter
  • Online ads

Then there are digital techniques used to promote these contents online such as the following:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)

Optimizing a website to rank higher in search engine results page.

  • Social media marketing

Promoting a brand or content on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and others to increase awareness, drive traffic, and generate leads.

  • Email marketing

Using emails to promote content or promotional offers.

  • Search engine marketing (SEM)

Using search engines like Google to show ads through paid bids when someone searches online for similar product/service.

  • Native advertising

An advertisement that is content-focused shown on online publications alongside other related non-paid content.

  • Affiliate marketing

Advertising on other websites paid through commissions when a sale is made through said websites.

  • Influencer marketing

Using popular personalities on social media in marketing by influencing their followers to eventually become potential customers.

  • Mobile marketing

Adapting online marketing campaigns in unique formats to personal mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

In using the above digital techniques, various key performance indicators (KPIs) are used to gauge how effective each technique is in contributing to the overarching marketing objectives.

In small businesses, usually one person or the owner himself is responsible for the KPIs of most of these digital techniques.  Bigger organizations usually hire specialists to handle specific digital techniques like an SEO specialist, social media specialist, and others.


Can small businesses make effective use of digital marketing?

Small businesses and startup entrepreneurs can use digital marketing to effectively achieve their marketing and business objectives.  Some of these are:

  • Creating awareness, driving engagements, and boosting sales
  • Determining the most cost-effective marketing tactics
  • Monitoring and evaluating marketing ROI

Use of digital marketing to attain the above objectives are the same for all types of business.

While big businesses can allocate more resources, small businesses can likewise achieve good results even with a smaller budget.

The key here is to have a clear buyer persona, that is, knowing the demographic and psychographic characteristics of their ideal customer.

For B2C businesses, having a clear understanding of their customer’s needs/problems including gender, age, location, and other demographic data plus their interest, behavior, and other psychographic data will ensure good targeting.

For B2B businesses, knowing exactly their customer’s needs/problems, decision-making process, stakeholders and decision-makers, budget, timetable, purchasing history, and other relevant data will certainly contribute to good lead qualifying.

Equally important is developing useful and interesting content appropriate to the stage of their buyer’s journey.  Are they in the awareness, consideration, or action stage of their buying decision process?

Finally, a small business can also achieve good returns on its marketing investment.

In digital marketing, a business can monitor real-time results.  There are standard metrics and various analytical tools that can be employed.

With these data and analysis, only the most cost-effective content, digital channels, and techniques can be retained and iterated to deliver the highest ROI for the business.

It is about time that small businesses take up digital marketing in promoting their brands.

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