Why Your Business Needs Digital Marketing

digital growth

Every day, new brands are launched into a marketplace already filled with competitors with established customers and reputations that create equity for them. It’s a daily battle to help your brand stand out from the competition and give it a chance to survive. Survival on this battlefield requires sophisticated marketing strategies and a budget to implement them. As a small business or a startup, your brand needs digital marketing if you want a fighting chance of success.

need digital marketing
Image courtesy of Data Reportal

Since startups and other small businesses have limited budgets, they need to make wise choices. Digital marketing faces much lower costs and significantly higher ROI (return on investment) than the traditional marketing tactics that came before as every day more and more consumers turn to digital sources for information about product options, opinions about available products, and even purchase options. Below are some aspects of digital marketing you should consider as your build your marketing strategy.

Your business needs digital marketing

The fundamental reason your business needs digital marketing is because that’s where your customers are, even if you have an older target market. As you can see in the image above, 66% of the world’s population uses a mobile device, mostly smartphones with internet access — 4.32 billion of the 5.16 billion mobile devices are used to access the internet. A few more folks access the internet only via a desktop or laptop computer, suggesting that at least 59% (and likely more) of the world population accesses the internet. Of those without internet access, many are too young or live in impoverished conditions.

More than the number of people with internet access, your business needs digital marketing because consumers start their search online or use the internet as part of their decision-making process, as you can see in this graphic from Nielsen. Obviously, consumers in many other categories also use the internet when searching for products, get recommendations and reviews, finding more information about products, or completing a purchase online.

needs digital marketing
Image courtesy of Nielsen

So, now that you understand the use of digital marketing you have one piece of the puzzle. The other piece of why your business needs digital marketing has to do with the rapid decline in the effectiveness of traditional marketing channels. Newspapers are dropping like flies, the few remaining papers forced to deliver mostly digital copies rather than one delivered to your doorstep No one watches broadcast or even cable TV live, instead cutting the cord in favor of streaming services that deliver advertising in a digital format. Communities are outlawing outdoor advertising, and direct mail is slow and expensive. These factors, plus the high cost and low ROI of traditional marketing contribute to the switch of dollars to digital platforms, as you can see below.

digital marketing

All the factors make it obvious that if you’re not marketing online, you’ve missed the boat and your business isn’t able to grow the way it should. So, let’s move on to discuss some more benefits of using digital marketing, especially for small and startup businesses.

Ways to use digital marketing

Inexpensive customer research

While top brands invested in years of customer research to understand their market and possess megabytes of data on actual sales, startups lack customer research and small businesses often settled for anemic research to avoid the high costs of doing a more thorough job of collecting and analyzing data.

But it’s very important that businesses of all sizes and industries know what a consumer wants, how they view your brand relative to other products, the positioning used by competing brands, economic and cultural factors that impact consumer wants and needs, and much more. Without this detailed research, you are working blind in trying to reach prospective buyers and responding to competitors.

Thankfully, digital technology can track, monitor, and even study the customer’s buying behavior. Social media is the perfect tool for understanding the mind of consumers, almost like being invited into their living room for a chat. Monitoring the performance of your website using tools like Google Analytics gives you a peak at how visitors move through your website, where they come from, and even what type of content motivates a purchase.

The use of digital technology allowed companies to determine what products and consumer characteristics fit so they can offer the right product at the right price in the right place to meet customer needs. They better understand how to position their brand and what to say to motivate buyers to make a purchase. Businesses can identify future trends and forecast sales to better develop budgets. So instead of wasting millions of dollars on a television advertisement or trying to be everything to all consumers, the business can understand the consumer, focus their marketing budget on activities that resonate with him/her, and know which products they might find most valuable.

Use metrics to drive success

Nowadays, a growing number of consumers use mobile devices to go online and find out more about the products offered as we mentioned at the beginning of this post. And due to the widespread access to mobile devices and computers, online marketing is the easiest way to reach out to modern customers.

Analyzing the online information generated from this online activity helps companies to understand real-time metrics as well as trends in how consumers interact with their businesses and those run by competitors. Consistently monitoring KPIs (key performance indicators), businesses get better at predicting how their target market responds and what will motivate them to purchase a product. If you want to know more about choosing the right KPIs to start with, here’s a resource for you. Obviously, KPIs vary based on the nature of your industry as well as different marketing tactics, so you need a bunch. Over time, you’ll add new KPIs and get rid of ones that don’t help guide decision-making any longer.

Armed with a consistent analytics program, you will find you can optimize your marketing to reach your marketing goals.

Engage customers

In the old days of traditional marketing, you sent marketing messages out into the ether and hoped something resonated with a consumer who made a purchase. With digital marketing, it’s now a two-way conversation between the brand and consumers. Of course, that changes the way you do marketing in a digital world. Gone are the impersonal missives and ignoring customers or relegating them to your customer service staff. Gone are the highly scripted messages using celebrities to endorse your brand. Now you can have a more authentic conversation with consumers across various platforms such as your website, social media, email, SMS text messaging, and more.

There’s no denying the fact that social media has become a rage with over 4 billion active users. Now is the best time for startups to make the most out of their digital marketing investment. The use of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, for instance, changed the way people communicate with each other and with brands.

Social media posts on these social platforms, as well as newer once like TikTok, look more like a conversation among friends with consumers generating posts related to your brand, which means there’s now shared control over the positioning of your brands. We call this user-generated content or UGC. Social media requires you spend at least as much effort listening as talking, which makes it very different from traditional media. But, you also gain valuable marketing research from this listening as well as building a relationship with consumers as a result of the conversations you have online. Through digital marketing, customers feel a certain sense of positive energy with the brand.

You can also use webinars, blog posts, and ebooks to provide an opportunity for customers to engage with the brands directly, ask questions, and be involved in the business. You can create videos to demonstrate how to use your product, provide directions on installation, and provide other ways to create greater value for customers, answer their questions, and motivate their purchases.

In other words, customers can easily reach out to a brand and seek answers to their questions. If you need help with your startup, now is a good time to reach out to a digital marketing agency for their professionals.

Mobile optimization strategy is important

Mobile marketing is a consideration in every aspect of your online marketing strategy. While having a website a decade ago was highly effective, modern customers engage with a brand and its content through a variety of platforms including mobile devices. In fact, 60% of email messages are opened on a mobile device.

Meanwhile, search engine technology is constantly evolving. In designing your website, you must adopt a mobile-first strategy to meet consumer preferences and rank well in search engine results. Google now considers mobile-friendliness as a major ranking factor, for instance. Not to forget, mobile search is a major force in an online search. 

The nature of influence on digital platforms

Influence is a major factor used by consumers to make decisions regarding the products they purchase. Always has been. But, in the world of digital marketing, those influencers are ubiquitous and varied. You still have celebrities endorsing products in TikTok videos or posts on social media but now you have microcelebrities with large, engaged groups of followers who hold sway over their communities to influence the products they buy. Some of these influencers are paid for their efforts, giving rise to influencer marketing, while others do it as a means to improve their following or for individual purposes. Influencers also use digital advertising to support themselves and some make millions of dollars each year for their efforts.

Conclusion

I hope I’ve now convinced you that you need digital marketing to reach your goals. Other posts on this site offer solutions as you begin building your digital marketing strategy, so subscribe to ensure you never miss a thing.

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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.