Most small and local businesses (SMB’s), trying to keep up in the digital marketing world are struggling with the intricacies that online marketing represents today; social media, video, email, content creation, search marketing and paid ads, leaving many to try to make sense of the huge learning curve and subsequent success. We see this everyday, as our new clients ask us this very question. What does digital marketing success look like for the small business?

In order to answer this question, there are specific details that must be understood. The most important is understanding your prospective customer needs and purchase journey related to your product or service. The majority want to end their purchase journey in-store, while many online shoppers prefer e-commerce options. Knowing what your customer preferences are, how they interact with your competition, the path they take online and then constructing a strategic, multi-channel digital marketing program that fits is where success comes from!

Important Consumer Shopping Statistics:

A recent study surveyed internet users about the most important elements of their retail shopping experience. In other words, what is important to consumers when they research and shop online. Here are some facts that may surprise you.

  • 81% of internet users say they simply want to find what they’re looking for, see product reviews and recommendations, then most importantly buy the product when and how they want.
  • 59% say they want a consistent experience whether in-store or online.
  • 56% of online users want information that is relevant to them.
  • 54% of consumers want a consistent retail experience across devices (phone, desktop, tablet).
  • 52% of online shoppers want information that is specifically personalized to their age, style, tastes and location.

A VB Insight study went further in identifying that the top four digital marketing channels that are personalized by retailers are:

  • Email – 71%
  • E-commerce Website – 61%
  • Paid Digital Advertising – 61%
  • Social Media Marketing – 59%

What Does Marketing Success Look Like?

When small and local businesses make huge investments in digital marketing research, strategy development, technologies and platforms, they need to know what will result from these efforts. This is true especially when hiring experienced talent to execute the complicated maze that is digital marketing.

As we referenced in a previous blog post called Local Digital Marketing – What It Really Takes, we wrote “Many times businesses or their marketing agencies don’t like to talk about results. But at the end of the day, that is what matters, so it can’t be ignored.” In fact we were asked this specific question, just this week and here was our answer:

Success is ROI.

Return on investment is the priority and in the shortest possible time. Then scaled, profitable revenue from there.

It should not be a long ROI path as your price point and margins make this pretty straight-forward. We just have to out execute the competition at a higher level, everywhere we have a presence and at higher frequency in the short run, while building a substantial following of contacts and relationships in the long-run that convert over time. This is what we do…

Yes, we actually handled their question being that specific. Your digital marketing success should look exactly like this as well. A small local business can’t afford to utilize expensive marketing programs for pure branding opportunities like major brands and retailers do. Your digital marketing must deliver real results. Your success should be measured and tracked in detail so that continual adjustments can be made that directly impact and improve the conversion of online and in-store traffic into revenue.

None of this is easy and requires a tremendous amount of research and experience. Understanding your market, your customer, along with demographics and geographic targeting segments and knowing which platforms, tactics and strategies to use are imperative to your success.

How To Achieve Digital Marketing Success:

Navigating the complexities, options and details of online marketing can be overwhelming for many small businesses. We suggest taking a 3 tier approach for your local marketing.

1 – Know what you don’t know: If you are going to implement or improve your existing digital marketing efforts, you need to make sure you know what you need to know and especially what you don’t know now. Planning and making decisions on marketing implementation without the underlying knowledge you need is like playing the lottery. In fact you may be much better off buying a lottery ticket. Know what you don’t know before proceeding.

2 – Budget for the long-term: For most small businesses budgets are very tight. Unfortunately, effective digital marketing does take extensive resources of both time and money, so you will need to allocate for that. One of the ways you can establish a budget is by looking for cost cutting opportunities within your current operational and marketing costs. Specifically try to uncover line items that are consuming time and financial resources that are not delivering high returns. Remove those items from your current cost column and move them into a new digital marketing budget.

We’ve found that yellow page ads, other online services and forgotten recurring expenses are some of the most common examples of cost cutting opportunities that can be redirected to a new, robust digital marketing effort that can be sustained over the long-term.

3 – Test and modify: Finally, you will want to test, measure and adjust your marketing efforts frequently. By continually making improvements to what you are doing with your multi-channel marketing, you will be able to see how those changes impact the net results.

Here’s to your digital marketing success!