Why You Need a Digital Marketing Plan For Your Business
“Ignoring online marketing is like opening a business but not telling anyone” – anonymous
The very short answer to why you need a digital marketing plan is because your competition may already be outranking you online. There are nearly 250,000 Small-Medium Enterprises in Ireland employing almost one million people. And whether you’re in a crowded, competitive industry or offering a more niche service, it’s important to present yourself online in a professional, authoritative and trustworthy manner, using your own individual voice and branding to stand out from the crowd. Because if someone is looking for a business or service now, they search online first.
Your Customers Are Online
More people are shopping online nowadays because they are time-poor and it’s convenient. A recent ‘We Are Social Digital’ survey found that 59% of Irish people have purchased a product or service online in the past 30 days. And 37% use the internet most often through a smartphone.
And despite some recent negative media coverage, we’re still addicted to social media. According to the most recent IPSOS/MRBI poll on Social Networking (2017), 65% of Irish people aged 15+ have a Facebook account and 45% of those use it daily. Over 600,000 people aged 15+ use Instagram daily, while 1.4 million use WhatsApp and 66% use Snapchat daily.
Why Have a Digital Presence?
According to the Digital Marketing Institute (Ireland), there are 8 reasons:
- Use It to Stay Relevant
- Have a Competitive Advantage
- Collect Key Analytics (data can help shape knowledge of your customers)
- Retain or Expand Market Share
- Hire Staff (LinkedIn is the perfect for graduates. Often Facebook and Twitter are used by smaller businesses looking for casual/part-time staff
- Helps With Growth
- Provides Social Selling Opportunities (by engaging with and influencing customers)
- Suits all budgets and easier to track ROI compared to traditional media
And here’s two more reasons:
- Helps you Get Noticed at Events (whether you’re at an industry conference, sponsoring a sports or charity event, or launching a new product, promoting it on social media can help to expand your audience and even gain free media coverage)
- Can Improve Customer Service and Brand Loyalty (digital opens up a two-way conversation with customers either through email, website query forms or social media, and has an immediacy people expect nowadays)
Organic or Paid traffic for growth?
Often the growth of an online presence (website, social media) can happen organically for a SME. However this can often mean it’s haphazard, lacking direction and isn’t measured for return of investment (ROI) so there is no value attached to it.
Alternatively, if you’re prepared to spend money you need to consider paid advertising in search results with Google Ads (or Bing Ads), or a long-term Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy to drive traffic to your site or improve your ranking on search engine results pages.
With regards to grow your audience on Social Media you would be wise to invest in paid social media advertising to reach new potential customers.
If you don’t have the knowledge, time and experience to execute either of these options (organic or paid for) in a clever and strategic way, then you need to hire someone who knows how. It’s time for a digital marketing plan.
Where to Start?
A digital marketing plan is a cost-effective way of promoting your business, raising awareness and informing your customers about the goods or services you offer, promotions, opening hours etc. And it’s also highly measurable in real time, so that strategy can quickly adjust or adapt – for example reacting to local, national or world events that affect your business or your customers.
If you just need a website as a shop-front, then your digital strategy should focus on paid advertising and SEO so that you’re driving traffic back to your website. The website needs to look professional, perform well on mobile devices and have excellent sales copy so people understand immediately how you can serve them best by solving their problem. Include testimonials from happy customers in your sales copy if you have them. Be sure to include up-to-date staff profiles so new customers can become more familiar.
If you have an eCommerce transaction-based website, understanding your customers’ user journey will help you identify the content required to get them checking out that basket of goods. This is where a wider digital strategy comes into play – tying up all the various channels that will help result in better sales conversion and ROI.
What Do You Say Online?
No matter what kind of business you run, you have a story to tell. The motivation and passion behind how you serve your customers makes you stand out from the crowd. It can be formal and professional focusing on career highlights, or if you’re running a small family business then perhaps your family becomes the brand. Your unique story will deepen your relationship with your customers and make you more memorable.
A digital strategy will manage your story or brand efficiently and effectively while identifying your customer base and the relevant digital channels you need. It will also set KPIs and measure ROI. It’s time to get more digital-savvy to attract, engage and retain customers and keep your business ahead of the competition.