As a small business you face many challenges- all too many to discuss in this article. One that caught my attention recently is how consumers generally feel ‘they will receive a more professionally packaged product or service from the more established and larger branded business’. Professionalism is not only limited to serving someone with a smile, although that counts for much. It’s more importantly about providing the consumer with what they need, when they need it and sometimes even when they don’t know they need it.
One of the most efficient battlegrounds to forge war against big business is on the digital marketing front. This is because of some the distinct features that digital marketing has to offer. When it comes to digital marketing, correct implementation trumps budgetary restrictions. This is different to traditional marketing which so often prioritises budget over correct and efficient implementation.
Don’t get me wrong, every marketing effort will generally require a budget, however some will require more budget than others.
So what should every SME consider when implementing their digital marketing strategy for 2016?
1) Accept that mobile is king
We are living in a country where there are more sim cards than there are people – with a total penetration of 128%. Additionally over 81% of the population access the internet from a mobile device.
So what does this mean for small businesses in South Africa? If you do not have a website and content that is not optimised to be consumed on a mobile device you are essentially fighting a war over Madagascar, while your competitor enjoy the spoils of the rest of Africa.
It’s vital to realise that mobile and desktop visitors each have different intentions when visiting your website. Once you’ve figured this out your next step is to determine how your website measures up to business objectives that meet their intentions. For example – lead generation or a simple website enquiry is often the first objective when on mobile. So is your website designed to push lead generation before the user scrolls down the page?
Note how Zendesk use a strong call-to-action across both mobile and desktop. Both of which are above-the-fold, meaning users don’t have to scroll down.
2) A business should be as credible online as it is offline
Every business should take every opportunity to display credibility cues to their customers. This is even more important online, where the consumer tends to be even more skeptical. The following are absolute essentials:
- Register your business with Google
- List your physical address
- Operating hours
- Google maps location
- Photo of the business
- Be consistent with provided information across all platforms
- Regularly communicate with your consumer
Is your business on Google Maps? Try Googling your brand name in Google to see what comes up. If necessary, visit https://www.google.co.za/business/ to register your business.
3) Behavioural targeting should become a default practice
The 21st Century consumer demands personalised products as well as communications. This means that when you offer anything to your consumer the following needs to be considered:
- Browsing history
- Purchase history
- Demographic group
- And even social circle
Facebook offers amazing tools to target your audience. Here’s just one example screenshot you can view if you are running a paid advertising campaign in Facebook.
4) Content marketing is key to driving product awareness
Two points to consider when developing content for small businesses, especially service based businesses, are:
- Localised content is essential.
- Content should always be on closely related topics
So how does this look practically?
Let’s say you hypothetically own a guest house or a small resort.
On your business website you could have a dedicated blog for those who are interested in spending time at your resort. You could then use the following guidelines to shape the content of your blog posts.
- Localised content is essential:
- A review of a restaurant in your area.
- Fun events or activities in your area.
- Event calendar in your area.
- Content should always be on closely related topics:
- Develop content pillars.
- Then develop content based specifically on these pillars.
- These pillars should all relate to your primary topic – your product.
Once you begin to provide good quality content based on the above guidelines you subsequently begin to increase the probability of drawing interest for not only your main product offering, but also for topics that are closely related to it. As you follow through with the above you will also be simultaneously boosting your own credibility and website authority.
5) Staying ahead of competitors
One of the best ways to see if what you are doing is yielding results, and also to benchmark yourself, is to measure yourself against your competitors.
What can competitor analysis do for you?
- It gives you insight into competitor campaigns and content techniques.
- You’ll be able to track their keyword rankings on Google.
- You can see who they have built relationships with.
- Insight into what communities your competitors talking to?
- What are your national or corporate competitors doing?
- All of the above will help you assess how you, as a small business, can mimic or improve on their strategies
Check out these tools that we strongly suggest you use to do a comprehensive competitor analysis for your business:
- To monitor which social shares and backlinks your competitor is receiving.
- To see your competitor’s website and traffic statistics.
- Screaming Frog
- For the advanced user but it’s great for scraping competitor (and your own) websites. It scrapes’ links, images, CSS, script and apps from an SEO perspective.