Bruce Hakutizwi
Bruce Hakutizwi 3 August 2017
Categories B2B, Search Marketing

Why No Business is Too Small for Digital and Mobile Marketing

Digital and mobile marketing represent incredible opportunities for even the smallest of small businesses, and they’re becoming more indispensable every day.

When you consider how much money some huge corporations spend on their digital and mobile marketing efforts, it’s easy to assume that these marketing disciplines are out of reach for the average small business. And, if you’ve ever dipped your toes in the huge range of opportunities available for paid advertising on search engines and social media channels — especially if it was a DIY effort — you probably saw little or no return.

No one would blame you for a healthy level of skepticism, especially if more traditional advertising and marketing methods are still getting the job done for you. But, as you know, smart business owners need to keep up with important trends, and here’s one to consider:

“There are 28 million small businesses in the United States, and 98% of them are looking for dedicated marketing automation for the first time. This is a positive thing, considering nearly half of them are still working with old-school methods, depending on spreadsheets and one-off emails to reach their audiences.” - ResponseCapture, a marketing automation software provider, commenting on recent survey results.

If you own a small, local business, like a restaurant or a grocery store, you’re probably used to paying for advertising space in the local newspapers and periodicals, renting billboards, and sending occasional direct-mail campaigns to customers in your target region.

These are old-school tactics that have worked well in years past and may still provide a sufficient ROI to keep you dutifully hitting the repeat button month after month.

Now, you certainly should have a website for your business (it is 2017, after all!) and you probably even have a Facebook page. But what are you doing to actively drive traffic to your website these or any other digital assets?

“Studies show that between 70-80% of people research a company online BEFORE visiting the small business or making a purchase with them.” (Blue Corona)

In reality, digital and mobile marketing represent incredible opportunities for even the smallest of small businesses, and they’re becoming more indispensable every day. Let’s see why:

Digital marketing has a lower barrier to entry

Most of the traditional marketing and advertising channels you’ve been using for years have risen pretty steeply in price, haven’t they?

Print, radio, television, direct mail… all have become far more expensive for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that digital marketing opportunities have created competition for customers’ attention that simply wasn’t there in the past. As a result, advertisers are no longer lining up outside their door clamoring to give them their money because they’re the only advertising media in town. And that drop in revenue has caused — among other things — a corresponding rise in advertising fees.

Consider this: Your local newspaper likely has a set minimum fee in place for every ad size they make available in their paper. They probably also offer a host of add-on services like graphic design, copywriting, and other items to raise the price of that advertisement. But, at the same time, they’ll often include a digital version of your completed ad on their digital issue of the paper at little or no cost. How can they do that?

It’s because the cost of publishing something digitally is just a tiny fraction of what it costs to have it physically printed, broadcast on the TV or radio, or hand-delivered to your mailbox.

That fact alone validates digital marketing as an option even the smallest businesses should explore, if only as a way to experiment with streamlining your marketing budget.

Digital marketing is primed for experimentation

Speaking of experimentation…

As a small business, you don’t have the resources available to play games or take risks when you’re placing ads or developing commercials for broadcast in the local area. It’s just too expensive to put something out there you’re not at least 99% sure is going to bring back predictable returns.

So, rather than getting creative and daring, most small business marketers err on the side of caution. This is understandable, but it’s also sad. Who knows how many potentially incredible marketing campaigns ended up in the circular file just because they were deemed a little too original to invest in?

On the other hand, due to both its low cost and the opportunity to instantly alter digital marketing campaigns on the fly, small business owners can experiment to their heart’s content, with very little risk, in an effort to find a message that resonates with their audience.

Digital marketing is more trackable.

One of the enduring complaints marketers have faced over the many decades since mass market advertising became the norm is the fact that it’s very difficult to track the return on investment for a TV commercial or a newspaper ad. John Wanamaker, a wealthy businessman who made his fortune in the late 19th century, famously quipped, “half of my advertising dollars are wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

Direct mail was the only pre-digital form of marketing for which hard data on revenue generated from a particular marketing investment could realistically be collected. But even the most skilled of mail order copywriters and catalog companies were flying blind any time they tried something new, leading to huge failures just as often as they enjoyed successes.

On the other hand, digital marketing efforts are trackable — often in real-time — from day one. So much data can be gathered surrounding every aspect of a digital marketing campaign, most marketers barely scratch the surface of the insights available to them.

Digital marketing can be optimized and automated

Combining the two previous points offers another powerful benefit of digital marketing over the more traditional avenues small businesses may still be married to:

Since digital ads and marketing campaigns can be tracked at all levels using powerful analytics software, and they can be changed almost instantly with little or no effort, it’s become commonplace to set up fully automated campaigns that will perform their own A/B variant testing, swap out various images, and otherwise optimize continually based on response.

Many of the most popular pay-per-click (PPC) services — like Google Adwords and Facebook Ads — offer this service as a matter of course.

And, even if the particular tool or campaign type you’re working with can’t be fully automated, optimization based on analytics is as quick and simple as accessing the appropriate report, making an appropriate change, and letting it run again until next time.

In the near future, digital marketing will probably just be called “marketing”

There are at least a dozen more reasons why digital marketing deserves your attention as a small business owner. But all these comparisons with traditional methods being set aside, the world is obviously becoming more and more digital and mobile every day. Every applicable trend points in that direction.

Results from a CNBC poll led to these conclusions:  

“Experts say word-of-mouth marketing can still be an arrow in the quiver of small business owners, but leaning into digital marketing will be the difference between being a local market leader and just getting the next order.”

“When it comes to paid advertising, business owners are making the switch to digital, albeit slowly: 21 percent of business owners are using social media ads while just 6 percent advertise on the radio and 5 percent on TV.”

“Email, website, and social media are the top three marketing tools used by small businesses: 54 percent email, 51 percent website, 48 percent social media”

It’s conceivable that the traditional advertising and marketing tools you’re using today will cease to exist, or at least become wholly irrelevant, in the near future.

So, even for very small businesses, now is the time to explore all that digital and mobile marketing have to offer and to get your target audiences used to consuming your content in these formats. Doing so can offer impressive ROI today and a more sustainable business model in the future.

shirley whyte
shirley whyte

Good article, great time for SMEs to make their mark online

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