Every crisis brings in an era of changes and transformation. It’s the time when businesses have to be the most adaptive towards the market, flexible to strengthen themselves as per the needs, and yet be competitive.
These are challenging times that we have been facing for the past few months and if trends are to be believed then we are in for some more surprises even in the post-pandemic era. The unpredictability of consumer behaviors or increased focus on essentials or changes in buying patterns or fluctuations in demands or even shift to digital has been some of the outcomes of this crisis that experts believe are to stay for a longer time in even the ‘next normal’.
A study by McKinsey & Company in 2020 found that consumers even in post-pandemic situations will tend to prefer low out-of-home engagements as much as possible. If the trends are to be believed then the buyer’s journey is all set to be more digital than ever in the coming times.
If numbers are to be believed, then a survey on SearchEngineLand found that even though consumers are wary of the pandemic situation, their online spending pattern has still seen a hike of almost 30% across major countries.
This trend of increasing online purchases in the future might be a boon as well as a curse for small businesses, if not handled properly.
The answer lies in the numbers again, so in the consumer behaviors studies, there is a certain chunk of the population who have preferred to stick with their known brands in the pandemic situation but similarly there has been a good amount of 40% of them who have tried our new brands as well. So digital opens up this new range of possibilities for businesses to capture and be found by their potential target audience, who as the numbers suggest is looking for them.
But that being said, digital also opens up a new can of worms for smaller businesses as due to the low adoption rate of digital marketing services, they are losing their chances of emerging as the real winners of these post-crisis trends and making a mark in this competitive landscape.
In a recent survey by our team with 100+ small business owners across the globe, we found a very alarming yet quite common trend. Almost 34% of them believed they both lacked resources or time to actually work on the marketing side of their business and sometimes tend to ignore it. Most small and medium businesses today tend to prefer referral clients, but those referral clients though being a great opportunity to ensure continuous revenue, but tend to lose the opportunity for higher growth.
Almost more than 4.5 billion global users are active online and with the current trend of increase in “digital” or “online” buying patterns, it’s a market with unlimited potential. 80% of your consumers today do some online research before coming to a purchase decision. So, whether you realize it or not but most of the sales today are influenced by some kind of online interaction with the brand. So digital marketing becomes a key to unlocking this market potential.
To those of you still not well versed with the term “Digital Marketing”. Let me simplify this for you.
Digital marketing is a marketing variant where you use a collaboration of online marketing channels and techniques to reach out to your target audience (potential customers), build engagements, create awareness of your business and influence their purchase decisions.
It has a variety of channels and techniques available but let me just quickly gist down and put in simple words a few of the most important ones:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
The process of optimizing your website and online presence to increase your business visibility to the potential target audience, by enhancing the chances of coming in the top results of relevant keyword searches on popular search engines like Google, Bing, etc.
Believe me on this but this is one of your best pals when it comes to giving you the initial or immediate push in relevant website traffic and getting your promotions kick-started and even boosting them to the next level. PPC or Pay Per Click Ads to help you create different forms of display or search or video ads on channels like search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) or social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, etc.), where you can define your target audience or the characteristics of the people to whom you want your ad to be displayed.
Social Media Marketing:
With a population base of 3 billion+, it’s a country that you can’t ignore. Okay, you got me there, it’s not a country but the number of users of social media as of today. So, this segment of digital marketing helps you target those potential customers through all-around social media engagements. It involves optimizing your social business profiles and creating a relevant social media presence with campaigns, posts, ads, contests, and many other activities.
Email Marketing forms one of the most responsive marketing channels of all. With 40x more interaction capability and the chance of conversion (converting into customers), this has been the most inexpensive yet the most powerful tool in every digital marketing specialist’s handbook. In simple words, it’s as the name suggests the segment of digital marketing where you utilize the power of email campaigns to reach out to your potential customers, engage with them and influence their buying decisions.
Well, it forms the major base in all of the digital marketing strategies as it is related to almost each and every one of them. Content marketing is one of the most powerful and cost-effective marketing solutions of all. And as you all know, who doesn’t like good content that connects with them or educates them, or even makes them feel, right? Research says that a good and relevant content piece whether in form of a blog or video or any other form can successfully create a strong connection and trust amongst the potential customers with the brand. And in this world of influencer marketing, that strong connection can soon be materialized into buying decisions.
And why it is important for small businesses?
- It provides an equal competition platform where you can compete with even the market leaders without thinking of any unfair advantages, you can create your own niche segment or even optimize your digital presence and rise to the level of any leader. It’s a segment of marketing where big bucks are not what drives the crowd, but data-driven and highly optimized techniques can make you the clear winner. It’s a platform where your ads or content piece if done correctly can rank on search results even higher than your biggest large-scale business competitors.
- You can define your own audience to target your marketing to, from locations to niche segments. Most of the time small businesses tend to target customers from a particular region or from a particular consumer segment. You can define them based on their locations, their past interactions with your brand, their online behaviors, common areas interests, demographics and much more. Digital marketing gives you the flexibility to control your marketing efforts towards the audience that you feel, or your market data trends suggest is going to be the best target audience. So, you get the best out of each marketing effort and budget spending.
- Easy on the pocket. To all those who might have told you that digital marketing is costly, let me tell you one truth, they were after your money and nothing else. More than cost, it is about the intent and the methods. If the latter two are taken care of, then the cost optimizes itself accordingly. To give you an example, you can create 30-40 un-optimized google ads and spend a huge amount of marketing budget and get the result which can be achieved by 8 optimized google ads with a more targeted audience and optimized ad copy that converts, at almost 1/3rd the cost. So yes, digital marketing can be costly but only if it is not data-driven or customized for your business and target audience. And, accordingly, think about this, the only expenditure you mostly need here is hiring a specialized digital marketing team for that or even better hiring a specialized digital marketing agency (like us, which at times cost you 1/3rd the cost of even a one-person in-house marketing team). Apart from that, your marketing budget can be optimized to the minimum and operated to deliver high conversions. Digital marketing provides you with an ROI that offline marketing channels can never provide you.
- Everyone is going online, so you marketing needs to too. In the coming post-pandemic era when the trends suggest that online buying shows an all-time upward hike, if you fail to grab this opportunity to transform into a business that has an established online presence, then soon, it might get too late to catch up. It’s time to act and create a more resilient marketing framework for the future that caters to your needs as well as aligns itself with the needs of the new-age audience or the hyper-connected consumers as we like to call them.
There is a whole new world out there right now and your potential customers are already searching for you online, it’s time to get connected. Adoption of effective digital marketing as one of the goals for 2022 should be the main aim right now for every small to medium business across the globe today.