Going Digital: Why You Need to Embrace Digital Tech to Succeed

In today’s world, if your business isn’t online, does it even exist? That might sound dramatic, but it’s pretty much the reality, as you can see in the graphic below. Taking your business online isn’t just for the tech giants or trendy startups; it’s a vital move for anyone looking to keep up and stand out in our fast-paced world, where 63% of all shopping occasions begin with an online search. Here’s a breakdown of what going digital can do for you, and yes, it’s all sorts of awesome.

How you can go digital

Some small businesses think they’re digital because they have a social media presence. However, with algorithm changes on most of the major platforms, organic social media reach (unpaid social media posts) is in a steep decline. Similarly, hosting a website on one of the website builders, like Wix and Squarespace, means your website is mostly invisible to new users as your site is unlikely to show to advantage when they search for related products. Email marketing is hampered when subscribers use services like Microsoft Outlook that segregate such emails into a promotions tab that users rarely check. For instance, Reddit users report a drop in email open rates of 50% or more.

While these metrics are concerning, you shouldn’t hit the panic button just yet. Going digital is still a great strategy, especially for small businesses, as the ROI for such marketing campaigns far exceeds the returns of any other marketing options. The metrics merely suggest you need to update your digital strategies to encompass the new reality. So, without further ado, here are some ways to cash in by going digital in 2024.

What going digital does for your business

Global village vibes

Imagine serving customers not just down the street but across oceans! That’s the beauty of the internet. Moving your business online smashes those pesky geographic limits wide open. Suddenly, you’re playing on a global stage where anyone, anywhere, at any time, might stumble upon your products or services. This doesn’t just bump up your potential customer base—it completely diversifies it. Hello, world!

e-commerce performance
Image courtesy of eMarketer

Of course, the downside to this globalization is that you’re now competing with businesses around the globe with different resource requirements and costs. For instance, I consistently get requests for marketing help from everywhere you can imagine. However, my pricing is too much for companies in some countries and I can’t compete because my cost of labor is high. Hiring top talent in the US means paying them top rates. I’ve considered remote workers in lower-wage countries, but with my promise of quick turnaround and state-of-the-art tactics, I just haven’t found that a viable option. Plus, I need native US English speakers because that’s my audience.

Open all hours

Think about it: your online business never has to close its doors. It’s pulling a 24/7 shift all on its own. This means folks in different time zones don’t have to wait for your “Open” sign to flicker on. They can browse, shop, and even complete purchases while you’re snoozing. Talk about making money in your sleep!

That means adding customer support that’s available all the time. Chatbots are a great way to ensure you can meet this expectation without breaking the bank.

Cutting costs, not corners

Taking your shop online can seriously cut down your overhead. Rent and utility bills? Lowered or gone. Plus, many day-to-day tasks are easily and cheaply automated online, which can streamline everything from handling customer queries with chatbots to keeping tabs on your stock with nifty digital tools and RFID. Less money on the mundane means more for growing your business.

Using marketing automation means you can schedule a week’s worth of posts in short order, and then wait as your posts appear at the optimal time based on your target market and social media platform trends.

Picking and packing are labor-intensive tasks that you can delegate to robots that work around the clock without ever calling in sick. Computerized logistics systems can optimize your shipping to reduce this major cost.

Data is your new best friend

As someone whose career predates the internet, I can tell you that marketing in those days was a shot in the dark. You did something: run an ad, send a letter, and hope you got some results down the road. You never knew if what you did caused a change in sales (termed lift) or whether the change was a function of some outside activity because it took days or weeks to see any change after running a campaign. Worse, you couldn’t adjust the campaign on the fly if you started getting negative feedback or wanted to try something else to see if it improved your results.

event tracking
Image courtesy of Matthew Woodward

In contrast, the online world is dripping with data. Every click, every scroll tells you something about what your customers like or don’t like. Each open tells you how your message resonates with which group of subscribers. A complaint on social media offers an opportunity to engage with a dissatisfied customer in real-time.

With tools that track and analyze these behaviors, you’re better equipped to tweak your business in real-time. You can adjust your Google Ad based on its performance in the first hours and fix a problem almost immediately.

Armed with data, you can personalize your offerings and tailor your marketing message to individuals based on an analysis of their behavior to increase customer satisfaction and watch loyalty soar.

Smarter marketing

Digital marketing is the secret sauce for modern businesses. It’s not just about reaching more people; it’s about reaching the right people at the right time with the right message. Tools like targeted ads, SEO, and content marketing let you zero in on the exact demographic, geographic, and customer lifestyle you want with a message that resonates with them. This isn’t just effective; it’s cost-effective.

Need a boost? There’s a service for that

Ever heard of a Search Engine Ranking Service? Well, search engine marketing is both complex and extremely valuable for your brand. And, while you might not know about SEO, you’ve seen the effects of SEO in every search you ever ran.

When a user inputs a search query, the words they choose trigger the search engine to find webpages related to your query using the keywords (actually a keyphrase) used when composing the page. Once the search engine finds content related to your query, it ranks that content to deliver the “best” results first. Search engines like Google use a complex algorithm in this ranking process to ensure the user finds what they want quickly. Hence, creating content that ranks well for keywords related to your business brings more traffic to your website and, hence, more sales potential.

SEO lead generation
Image courtesy of Brafton

But optimizing your website and its pages isn’t for the faint of heart. That’s where an SEO service comes in. These services tweak your website so it climbs up in search results, making it more likely that someone looking for what you offer will click on your site first. It’s like putting up a giant billboard right in the path of your ideal customer.

The flip side

Sure, going online is brilliant, but it’s not without its bumps. There are upfront costs to setting up a slick online operation, not to mention the ongoing hustle to keep your digital marketing fresh and effective. And let’s not forget about the biggies like Amazon—yep, you’re up against them now. Plus, securing your online space is crucial; you gotta keep your data—and your customer’s data—safe from the baddies.

Wrapping it up

Taking your business online is a big move, but it’s one worth making. With the right strategy and a bit of savvy, your digital presence can become your strongest asset. Remember, this isn’t a one-and-done deal; it’s a journey. Keep adapting, keep improving, and keep your eyes on the digital horizon. Your future self will thank you for it!

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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.