The business world is highly cluttered. The battle for consumers’ trust is constant, and things are even more difficult for small businesses. You’re not only facing direct competition with locally, but also indirect competition from around the world thanks to the internet. Ordering something from halfway around the world is not much harder than from down the street in today’s digital world.
Considering that 14% of startups fail due to poor marketing, it’s become essential for startups and small businesses to rethink their digital marketing campaigns. In this post, we’re going to look at the top digital marketing trends that small businesses have to embrace if they want to be successful.
You could spend a lot of money looking for hacks to get your site to the top of the search engine results. There’s one catch – trying to beat the search engines at their own game is like trying to play baseball with a blindfold on.
You might get in a few lucky swings and hit a ball or two out of the park, but you’ll also waste a lot of time and energy which would be better spent on building up an evergreen content base that will bring in leads for many years to come.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is something of a misnomer. You’re not going to attempt to sell your products with these pieces at all. Think of it more as thought leadership or providing information. It’s more valuable to your consumer than an outright marketing plug.
What Are the Benefits?
It’s difficult to pin down the exact ROI from a content marketing campaign. You’re not necessarily going to get business from each piece of content. What you are doing, however, is providing your prospect with a valuable resource. This helps them form a more favorable impression of your brand.
Content marketing also fits in perfectly with what Google has been telling us that they want for years: high-quality content. It’s one of the few ranking factors that the search engine will admit to.
It’s useful for:
- Improving your SERPs
- Building brand awareness
- Establishing your company as a subject matter expert
It’s also more likely to be shared than your standard adverts and helps keep readers on your site longer, which has a positive effect on SEO.
If you’re using CRM software, you’re probably already using some form of AI. It helps analyze consumer behavior and identify what stage of the customer journey they’re currently in. AI can be a very useful asset for improving the client experience.
A smaller business doesn’t necessarily have the funds or employee base to run a full-blown customer support center. This has become a popular application for AI since chatbots can be created on a relatively small budget and provide your clients with improved user experience.
Say, for example, that someone is trawling the internet at 9 pm on a Saturday. They see an item they like and wonder if your boutique currently has it in stock. In the past, they’d have to wait until regular business hours to call in or send in an email.
Neither option is unreasonable, but today’s shopper wants instant results. They don’t want to have to wait for someone to get back to them, so they move along to look elsewhere.
It’s a problem that can quite easily be solved by implementing a simple chatbot. This can be done relatively inexpensively and allows simple questions to be answered on the spot. This is the next evolution in digital marketing.
Marketing has always been about getting the timing right. You make a connection with a prospect, and then nurture that connection until they are ready to buy. You then build the relationship further to facilitate buying in the future.
This is how things are supposed to work in theory, but in the modern world, full of looming deadlines and a never-ending stream of leads which need to be followed up, it is becoming more difficult. This is why automation is the next big digital marketing trend to take on board.
Follow-ups can easily be automated. After your meeting, simply make an entry in the system. The system can then send a follow-up email to check whether the client needs more information or update them about new products.
Automation offers even more possibilities. Imagine if your client comes into your store and buys a dog bed. There’s a good chance that he’s got a dog. What if he were to receive a discount voucher on his receipt for the purchase of dog treats or toys? The system can be programmed to identify related products and provide offers accordingly.
Data-Driven Marketing is Key
Big data used to be the province of large corporations. Collecting and analyzing data was once too expensive for a small business to consider. Nowadays, this is no longer the case since AI allows you to process data at a rate that has never been seen before, while providing far better insights than ever before.
It’s a lesson Target learned the hard way. A few years back, the retail giant decided that it wanted to boost baby-product sales. Their team decided that they needed to find a way to ascertain which purchases might indicate that a woman was either trying to fall pregnant or was already carrying a child.
As a result, they analyzed thousands of pieces of data and drew up a profile. This helped them identify clients who might be pregnantso they could provide them with deals geared towards new parents.
The idea backfired when a concerned dad confronted the company about ads which were being sent to his teenage daughter. It turned out that she was pregnant but hadn’t told him about it. In the end, the campaign was dropped because people were uncomfortable with the brand knowing so much about them.
This serves as a telling example of just how effective data-driven marketing can be when conducted correctly.
The world of digital marketing is one that is in constant flux. One minute, influencers are all the rage – the bigger, the better. Then research shows that micro-influencers might be a more effective way to get the message across.
It’s hard to keep up, but that’s essential if you want to succeed. Not sure that you can manage on your own? Then why not partner up with professionals to get the help you need?
About the Author:
Avid learner, Oleh’s curiosity is a never-ending source of inspiration that drives him to research, revise and apply new things. He is an experienced blogger and a passionate traveler with a great sense of humor, who cannot leave a stone unturned in the pursuit for greater knowledge and understanding. Reach him out @DMGeekcom.