On Wednesday, Lebo Mashigo from Eggsellent asked me to provide a 20 minute guide on her small business show on Ikutani FM but due to Eskom's Loadshedding, the show could not be aired. So this is why I am sharing why digital marketing and technology is important for startups and small businesses. This would have been some of the topics I would have highlighted during the show.
Each day, new brands are launched in the marketplace. These brands have to compete with long-standing companies and millions of marketing campaigns.
For startups, the only hope of being successful is in marketing better and more efficiently than old businesses. Startups often have a limited budget, which means that they have to make the most of their limited finances in reaching customers and developing revenue.
Why Is Digital Marketing Important for Startups and Small Businesses?
Digital marketing can often be done at a much lower cost than traditional marketing. While print and television advertisements can cost thousands of dollars, an online advertisement may only cost a few hundred dollars. Also, a blog can reach thousands of readers for the cost of creating articles and paying for a server. Digital marketing allows startups to reach new clients and develop relationships at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing.
1. Inexpensive Customer Research
While a company like Coca Cola has years of customer research to back each product, startups are too new to know exactly what their customers want. Technology can be used to track, monitor and interpret buying behavior. Through technology, companies can figure out which products and demographics work best for their business. Rather than waste millions of rands on an ineffective television advertisement, the startup can directly target the consumer that they know is interested in the product.
2. Engage Clients
Social Media campaigns, social media posts, and webinars all provide an opportunity for engaging the client directly. Through digital marketing, customers feel like they have a personal, one-on-one relationship with the company. Once this relationship is developed, it takes a minimal amount of effort for the startup to keep their clients. Other than engaging clients, social media campaigns also help to drive traffic to the company’s website and market new offerings.
3. Use Metrics to Drive Success
More consumers are using mobile devices to get online and find out about products. Because of the widespread access to traditional computers and mobile devices, online marketing is one of the most efficient ways of marketing to consumers. Also, it offers real-time metrics for the startup to gauge the success of their campaign. Instead of trying to guess the number of newspaper readers who looked at a print ad, the startup knows immediately how many viewers are reading and interacting with their advertisements.
Startups can now customize their marketing approach to specific locations and demographics. These sophisticated tools allow digital marketers to find out about the customer’s buying behavior and identify new opportunities. Also, digital marketing makes it easier to discover which offerings are useful and which products should be created to match the consumer’s needs.
4. Developing the Right Digital Marketing Approach
When creating a digital marketing strategy, companies have to tailor their approach carefully. Digital marketing allows all aspects of the advertisements, emails, and content to be integrated into each other. From creating a website to posting a webinar, these techniques must be planned out in advance for them to be effective.
4.1 Among the different methods available, startups can use these key elements:
Creating a website that showcases their brand
- Video marketing
- PPC campaigns
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Search engine optimization
To start with, the business needs to make a website that is attractive and easy to navigate. It should place the brand as an authority in the field. Within the website, most companies will also want to include a blog or similar content-focused section. This part of the site can then be used to boost online visibility and brand awareness.
For startups operating on a limited budget, it is important to utilize search engine optimization (SEO). This technique is used to drive organic traffic to a website. The search engines scroll through websites to pick up on keywords. These keywords, backlinks and other metrics are then used by the search engine to decide if the website will be useful to a reader. Web sites that are considered higher authority and more useful are ranked higher in the search engines. Since most people will only click on the first three results in the search engine listing, it is important for businesses to appear in the top results.
For SEO to be effective, companies also have to develop backlinks to their site. These links can come from other websites, social media or blogs. Each backlink is an indicator to the search engines that another website found the company’s page to be interesting or useful. As a result, a page with more backlinks will rank higher than a page without any backlinks.
5. A Mobile Optimization Strategy Is a Necessity
Search engine technology and online users are constantly evolving. While a basic website was effective a decade ago, current users are now interacting with companies through their mobile devices. Because of this, smart startups must create a mobile optimization strategy. At the very least, their website must be designed so that it is easy to read and navigate using a mobile device.
Mobile search is now a larger portion of searches than desktop searches. As a result, Google changed their ranking algorithms to make sure that websites are designed with mobile devices in mind. If websites are not mobile friendly, then they will not be ranked as highly in the search engines.
6. SEO Is Still Important
While some people thought that SEO was dying just a few years ago, it is still important for websites. Google may have updated their algorithms, but SEO is still the best way for the search engines to decide what a site is about and how useful it is. As long as there are search engines, the search engines will need some way to determine the topic and usefulness of a website.
7. Content Should Be a Major Part of Any Digital Marketing Strategy
Each time someone plays an advertisement in the newspaper, they have to pay another fee to place the ad. In comparison, content marketing can provide a relatively cheap or free way to market a business continuously. Consumers want to find out information about products, and they will search for that information online. When the user arrives at the company’s site, the business has an opportunity to turn their quest for knowledge into a sale. Once the content has been added to the website, it can continue to attract clients for free.
Content does not have to be in the form of an ordinary blog. Infographics, webinars, GIFs, memes and images can all form a part of the startup’s content strategy. If something can be liked or shared, it can become a part of the company’s online content. Each share on social media delivers free advertising and new prospective clients for the startup.
8. Think Beyond Basic Pay-Per-Click Ads
Ten years ago, pay-per-click ads were the main way that businesses conducted their online marketing strategy. Today, this technique has a far lower impact than other marketing techniques. Paid advertisements tend to be more promotional than educational. Readers are also used to ignoring advertisements, so these ads tend to reach far fewer people than most businesses would like. Instead of pouring thousands of dollars into a limited ad campaign, companies can embrace social networks, informational content and brand building tactics.
Advertisements can still be useful, but they are only one of the tools that are available to marketers. Engaging consumers online takes time, and ads are limited in their engagement options. While a pay-per-click ad may bring in a few additional clients, it cannot be the company’s only source of lead generation.
9. Optimizing the Conversion Rate
Some startups believe that digital marketing does not work because they do not generate leads. Part of the problem is that these startups forget to optimize their conversion rate. A social media post may bring people to the website, but it will not create a sale unless the company optimizes the website. There should be an option for subscribing to an email list, buying a product or filling out a contact form on the site. A call-to-action in the bottom of an article or a button for signing up make it easier for the website visitor to become a paying client.
10. Traditional Marketing Versus Digital Marketing
The main reason to use digital marketing is that it is a low-cost way to reach more potential buyers. Consider some of the costs of traditional marketing:
Direct Mail: $3,000 to send 5,000 postcards
Local and Network Television Advertisements: $200 to $600,000 for a spot
Radio: $70 to $250 for a spot
These costs do not even include the cost of making a radio or television advertisement. Depending on the business and the advertisement, a product can cost several thousands of dollars. Startups are often unable to afford even one television advertisement, and a single ad has a very limited reach.
In comparison, digital marketing offers a much lower cost. They generate more than 50 percent more leads than traditional marketing and allow startups to compete with large corporations. For digital marketing, startups can expect to pay just:
Pay-Per-Click: $250 to $500 a month
Blog Writing: $40 for a 300-word post
Social Media Ads: $100 or more a month
Search Engine Optimization: $1,000 per month
Social Media: $1,000 or more per month
Different marketing agencies may charge less or more than these figures. In some cases, startups can eliminate marketing costs almost completely by writing blogs and connecting to social media on their own. Even when these marketing techniques are outsourced, they are still drastically cheaper than traditional advertisements. Also, these advertising techniques can reach a broader audience and deliver a better return on the investment.
11. Digital marketing allows startups to:
- Boost their visibility
- Increase online conversion rates
- Reduce their marketing budget
- Generate leads
- Increase Sales
- Develop a brand awareness
- Increase online conversion rates
- Improve customer engagement
- Influence purchasing decisions
- Track their return on investment
In a recent survey, CB Insights found that 17 percent of startups failed because they did not market correctly. Digital marketing has to be done as soon as the startup is formed. From the beginning, digital marketing needs to be a core part of the startup’s business strategy. For the business to be successful, it has to reach out to new customers, develop leads and convert leads into sales.