For small businesses, competing with bigger, more established brands can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Whilst there may be brands that have been around for longer, or are bigger than you, that doesn’t mean you can’t compete.
In days gone by, it was tricky for smaller businesses to compete. Today, however, digital marketing platforms allow smaller businesses to target people that are the most likely to be interested in your products or services, helping to reduce the amount you need to spend on marketing and focus on those people that are most likely to turn into valuable customers.
Digital marketing has many facets, and each should be assessed on its merits to determine which channels are most likely to yield the best results for your business. Success in digital marketing can be more easily measured than traditional advertising too. Return on investment (ROI) is much easier to track when you can see exactly how much you have spent, how many people you have reached, and crucially, how many sales you have made.
Analytics platforms allow us to accurately measure where a visit to our website came from, or which advert delivered a sale. This helps us to learn more about what works and what doesn’t further refining our marketing efforts and making our budget go further.
Which digital marketing platforms to choose
With so many platforms to choose from, it can be difficult for small businesses to know where to invest their budget. Perhaps the most important place to start is with your own website. This falls under the category of “owned media” as this is a platform that you are in full control of.
Your website is often the gateway to your brand and can be the first time a prospective customer engages with your business. Therefore, it is important to provide them with a great experience the first time they visit.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising your website so that you appear in search engines like Google for the keywords that are most relevant to your business.
If you sell green widgets, for example, you want to appear in the search results when people search for terms relating to “green widgets”.
The first part of the SEO process is to identify the keywords that are most relevant to your business and then create content that showcases your expertise around those topics. This could be product or service pages or it could be supporting content such as blogs, podcasts or video content.
It is also important that your website is technically well built. This means that it should be fast loading on all devices, should be accessible on all devices and that the content on your website is easy to find through clear navigation and linking.
Your website is a fundamental part of your digital marketing strategy so it is important to get it right.
Another channel that falls under “owned media” is your social media channels. These can complement your website and provide a gateway for people to reach your website if they haven’t yet heard of your brand or you are not yet appearing in organic search for the keywords you are targeting.
Almost every business today, large or small, uses social media to reach its target audience. There are many platforms to choose from and it is important to focus on the ones that are most relevant to your business.
Whilst it might be tempting to set up a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok and LinkedIn account, successfully managing each of these platforms take time and effort and if you can’t manage them all effectively, you run the risk of creating a negative experience for your followers.
Instead, build up your social profiles slowly, focusing on the ones where your audience is most likely to be active.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are making it more tricky for businesses to appear organically in people’s feeds so social media advertising is something you also need to consider.
For small businesses, this is usually a very cost-effective way of growing your audience and raising your brand awareness due to the targeting options that are available through these platforms.
Another highly effective platform for small businesses is email marketing. Of course, you need to collect the email addresses of potential customers first to make this effective, however, once you have a direct line to their inbox, you have a great opportunity to reach them with special offers, the latest product releases and news about your business.
Email marketing can have extremely high conversion rates when done well and it is important to understand your customer’s needs and address these through your email content. Personalising that content is a great way of building trust with your audience so make every email count, especially when you are first starting out.
It is important that your emails add value to your audience and are not just a repeat of what they can read on your website or on your social media platforms.
Emails are also a unique way to reach your audience that your competitors and big brands might not have. Whilst it is possible that people might sign up to competitor emails, there is a chance that they don’t, so this is the one area where you have their unique attention. Treat it with respect and email marketing can yield very strong results.
Learn from the big brands
Whilst you might not have the same budgets or the same size team as the big brands, there is still a lot you can learn from them. Not everything is about big budgets and big brands spend just as much time investing in their websites, SEO and content as you can.
Leading online casino, Betway, invests heavily in content marketing to help to drive more people to their website. As well as being an online casino, they also offer sports betting in a hugely competitive market. To stand out, they invite experts to provide tips to their customers through their blog, helping to add value to their customers when it comes to placing a bet and showcasing their expertise and authority.
Leading sportswear brand Lululemon use its social media channels to promote healthier lifestyles. They don’t focus on selling their products. They focus on adding value to their customers and prospective customers through supporting content which they then share across their various social media channels.
The world’s leading brands are competing for the same customers as you are so learn what works for them and improve on these tactics in your own digital marketing campaigns.