Did you know? A recent survey revealed that 75% of small businesses believe that internet marketing is ‘effective’ or ‘very effective’ at attracting new customers.
For small business owners and entrepreneurs, every foray into marketing needs to provide return on investment – and quickly enough to give you an understanding of whether it’s worth it continuing. Market saturation and brand awareness campaigns are rare and marketing spend is judged quickly on its ability to convert into revenue.
Often the first question is “What’s the best digital marketing strategy for my business?”. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that. Each marketing channel (Search Engine Optimisation, Social Media or Paid Advertising) has its own capabilities and limitations, and the right fit for you will be based upon your industry, competition, budget and timeframes.
So let’s take a look at what you need to know about each:
Search Engine Optimization
Is it effective for small business? Yes! SEO is second only to word of mouth (which is the holy grail of small business marketing). A survey conducted by BrightLocal highlighted that of all businesses surveyed 20% find SEO to be the most effective channel at attracting new customers. In addition, Hubspot shows that 44% of online shoppers begin by using a search engine. Those are numbers that you don’t want to ignore.
But while it can increase your organic traffic enormously, it does takes patience. It may be six or seven months before you achieve a significant return on investment. This is known as ‘ROI latency’, and it often scares small business away. If you stick it out and do it properly, though, you’ll reap the rewards in the end. After all, search engines are where your customers are – it’s that simple.
So what’s involved in SEO? A good professionally-run campaign will involve local SEO, onsite SEO plus ongoing link-building and content marketing.
Local & Onsite SEO:
This is the short term, cost effective entry point. Targeting local terms can help your site get first page results within a few weeks, sometimes overnight, for lower competition searches. Although the traffic volume is typically lower, these terms generally still have significant commercial value.
A well-organised website is structured into silos, with each silo is targeting different search terms. When you combine these silos with location-based keywords, you no longer compete against giants in your industry. Instead you compete with small businesses that are in your local area. This is incredibly effective and should be built into your website design. Don’t focuses on design and styling over SEO – there are ways to achieve both and if you ignore SEO you’re limiting your site’s capabilities and leaving a tonne of money on the table.
Content Marketing & Link Building:
This is long term & more expensive part of SEO. It involves creating content for your own site and other websites while gaining links back to yours. It’s a great way to demonstrate your expertise to potential customers and it also gives a big boost to your SEO.
It’s also important because your potential customers will search in many different ways, and often the term you want to rank highly for is just the start of your customer’s search. Having lots of content allows you to target more customers and catch them at different stages of the buying cycle.
But generating content can be a time-consuming process, and without interesting (and frequent) content it’s hard to earn the types of links that will confer domain authority & rankings in search engines. This can make it hard to increase traffic and search visibility.
To summarize, you need to think about both these approaches if you’re going to succeed in the search engine competition. While onsite and local SEO can get you to the first page over time, creating content and link building is the best way to lend authority to your site, strengthening your position overall and strive for more competitive industry search terms.
It’s hard to compare social media to SEO because they’re two different beasts. Building an audience across social media can be tough, and even when you do, the divide between followers and genuine customers can be significant.
With that said, social media can be an important part of building your business’ reputation and establishing you as an authority within your industry. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, “There is no sale without the story, no knockout without the setup”, highlighting the importance of social media for building a connection and maximizing brand awareness.
The thing SEO and Social Media have in common is content. No matter which platforms suit your business, social media relies on consistent, high-quality content. For this reason, using content as the backbone of your digital marketing strategy means you can maximise your SEO efforts while also syndicating across social media platforms. From there, track your conversions and establish where your time is best spent.
As always though, your content needs to be high quality and highly relevant to your target market. Social media is unforgiving when in comes to mediocre content. After all, a single Facebook user is may be exposed to up to 1,500 pieces of content per day, so you need to make sure you’re creating something that will stand out. Paying attention to your metrics will guide you on what content is hitting the mark.
Potentially the best entry point for small businesses. A well-set up AdWords campaign can generate inquiries within 24 hours. This can work well alongside your organic SEO efforts to cover that period of ROI Latency. Once your organic SEO begins to pay off, you can reduce your AdWords spend. A further benefit of this approach is that it will provide you with data on search terms that can be useful when making decisions about keywords to target in your SEO work.
To keep in mind…
- If you don’t understand what you’re doing you can use your budget quickly
- Tracking data is essential to your success
- An effective website or landing page is key to your success – it has to be designed to convert quickly and easily
- Even some “experts” and “agencies” make a lot of mistakes when configuring AdWords and it can quickly eat away at your profitability.
Now that you know what your options are, you can design a strategy that suits your business best, based around your industry, budget and time frames. If this seems a little overwhelming, you can engage the help of an experienced digital marketing agency. This can be a really good move if you want peace of mind around your strategy – after all, the most important thing is that you set yourself up to see the best possible return on any time or money you invest.
It’s important to get referrals and see case studies for any potential agency you decide to work with. Make sure you work with companies that are passionate about building successful campaigns and growing your business as much as they want to grow their own.
PixelRush is a conversion-focused digital marketing agency located in Melbourne. They’ve been helping businesses Australia-wide build high performing digital marketing campaigns since 2013.