An introductory guide to digital marketing for Australian small businesses


We're living in the digital age - stop marketing like we're still living in the industrial age!!!

On a daily basis, I speak to Australian small business owners who don't get digital marketing, and their often unfocussed online presence reflects this.

This article is an introductory guide to online/digital marketing. It also addresses some of the most common digital marketing fallacies I hear and explains how outsourcing the digital marketing function to specialists is the most effective low-cost strategy for business success.

Website

You might think that what I'm going to say about websites is just stating the obvious but since it's the number one issue my company finds with small businesses' online marketing programs, it's not that obvious. Please read on and also reflect on your own website - is it the best it can be? How does your website compare to others in your industry? If you haven't looked recently, you might like to take a minute to compare them. Then also view your websites on your smartphone.

Every business needs a quality website. It's the corner stone of the entire online marketing program. The website is the front cover of your online book - it should look professional, engaging and visually stimulating, presenting a great business image to future clients and be easily readable on a smartphone. Clients shouldn't be disappointed when they finally open your website but engaged and interested in your competitors' sites.

With customers now being twice as likely to do an online search before visiting your shop or serviced office (if you sell from a location they visit), if your website isn't visually appealing, looks dated or is difficult to use, your lost customers will likely be handing their hard earned cash to your competitors.

I see horrible websites every day and there's really no excuse for your business's website not to be at the top of its game, considering that websites are now cheap to create, which leads me to my first Australian digital marketing fallacy...

#1 Australian Fallacy: Websites are expensive

Websites are cheap!!! You can have a stunning, contemporary customised 3 page website for less than a night out in Sydney. My company charges $300. Some of our competitors charge even less. Stop paying $5,000 or $10,000 for a website...there is absolutely no need...it's money that could be channelled into digital marketing or another value add service, Consider that website styles/formats change frequently and websites need to be updated at least annually.

If you can't afford $300 for a new website, utilise a free online website DIY builder like wix.com or web.com which have great templates. Redirect your domain address to the website address for a free website or, by paying a small monthly fee, attach your domain to the website.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing is the process of gaining website traffic or attention through social media sites. It's also the component of digital marketing that is the most time consuming for business owners, with many spending hours every week working on social media programs that are slightly effective, at best.

…the Internet has turned what used to be a controlled, one-way message into a real-time dialogue with millions. Danielle Sacks, The Future of Advertising, Fast Company, 17 November 2010

The thing is, consumer behaviour has changed. The way people now buy has changed. In-store foot traffic is down, online research is up and smartphones are becoming increasingly important to the consumer's purchasing journey. Many Australian businesses are late to understand so haven't structured their marketing around these changes.

Understanding the new digital reality is critical so a social media program for our clients is always aligned to what we know works - what we call the the 4 key principles of social media (thanks HubSpot - these are based on your recommendations):

  1. Create stuff people want: Start creating/publishing content that is helpful & valuable to your customers including: FAQs; How-To’s; Ebooks; Videos; and Blogs.

  2. Be generous: The more you give, the more you’ll get. Build trust, credibility, & good will. Increase the number of pages & inbound links

  3. Give great directions: Create relevant landing pages, clear calls to action and compelling offers

  4. Smartphone savy: Provide relevant, local information that is easily readable on smartphones

When social media is done well, it can have an extraordinary impact on your business in a truly cost effective way.

#2 Fallacy: Social media is expensive

Social media is cheap!!! Companies like mine that operate offshore will charge you $5/day (less than the cost of lunch in Perth) run your entire digital marketing program including your social media and your SEO and make it highly effective. This allows you to focus on other business critical activities. Work smarter not harder and outsource your social media

Search Engine Optimisation

Imagine starting a business but putting no signage up. You have to hope that people will stumble across your shop accidentally and want to see what you sell.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the marketing discipline focused on growing visibility of your business from free, organic, editorial or natural search results on search engines. SEO is about putting a huge sign on your business which attracts people who are looking for what you sell, but also getting your customers telling others about your products.

Search engines provide targeted traffic to your site, that is, people looking for what you offer. Search engines are the roadways that make this happen. If search engines cannot find your website or cannot add your content to their databases, you miss out on incredible opportunities to drive traffic to your site.

As part of a digital marketing campaign, SEO can help get people to your website that aren't searching for a brand name. Using the right keywords can mean attracting traffic from people that are actively searching for products you carry and may be ready to buy.

#3 Fallacy: SEO is the most important component of digital marketing

Many Australian business owners I talk to see SEO as a panacea for their lack of digital marketing success. Not sure if it's the technical sounding name 'search engine optimisation' or the fact that many see it as some mythical magical beast that will transform their product sales, but they pump money into SEO with unrealistic expectations and often get frustrated when their website's ranking barely changes. SEO works best when it's not done in isolation it's implemented with a well constructed engaging website that people want to visit and a great social media program that provides a reason for people to click on your site. Digital marketing is not SEO but SEO is a key component of digital marketing.

In conclusion

Your website, social media and SEO is a powerful combination. When the 3 are done well, they force-couple to dramatically increase traffic to your site and sales. Your social media is linked to your website. Great content (Social Media) encourages people to click on and link to your online pages and shows Google your pages are interesting and authoritative. This leads to search engine success because Google wants to show interesting and authoritative pages in its search results (SEO).

If you'd like a copy of It's Time to Transform your Digital Marketing Marketing presentation, containing some interesting stats and other information relevant to digital marketing for Australian small businesses, please email me at andrew.styles@asiaoffshoring.com.

Andrew Styles is the Founder/President of Asia Offshoring Inc., a company providing low cost, revenue generating services to hundreds of Australian SMEs. Services include: $5/day Digital Marketing; $300 Websites; $100/day Virtual Staffing; and $200 Video Editing. Go to www.asiaoffshoring.com or contact Andrew for more details.

If your website is more than 1-year-old, you’re missing an extremely powerful tool in your marketing arsenal.  Read on and I’ll explain why.

How effective is your current business website?  Assess it using our website self-audit tool. Details below.

Had a really interesting chat with a former Hewlett Packard colleague of mine last week. He needs a website built for his new business and we were stepping through some examples of websites that he likes.  What was interesting was that he gets it...that websites are a powerful tool for attracting customers, then engaging them, then getting them to purchase the product/service.


My former colleague shared 2 examples with me of websites that are at either end of the effective websites spectrum.

 

 

What you’ll notice when you open both is the differences across a number of parameters.  
Here’s some of the key components that make a 2016 marketing effective website so powerful.
Websites are powerful marketing and selling tools
Websites, like fashion, change frequently. That website of yours from 2014 is now out of date. Contemporary 2016 websites have been designed around selling psychology and engagement.  The format these websites are based on is a tried, tested and proven formula. Utilising this formula is a way to increase engagement and sales. If you’re not updating your website, you’re losing ground to your competitors.
Bold colour and minimalism.
Modern websites feel spacious.  Each page uses lots of open space, which, when paired with bright, flat, bold coloured shapes and images, create visually engaging moments.  The engagement happens from when the website opens and banner is a high definition stock pic. The minimalism that applies to the pages also applies to the number of pages, hence the move by some businesses to have minimal pages and, in some cases, a single page.
Tagline
It should be clear from the moment of opening the website what the business is offering.  The website should have a tagline that succinctly tells what the business is.
Content
Content continues to be king.  Adding value to people’s lives and helping them solve issues will develop loyalty, confidence and trust.  You have included a blog on your website that is regularly updated.
Giving before receiving
Offering viewers value from the moment they open the website is important and effective.  Another former HP colleague of mine is very effective at this - he offers a 30 min no obligation personal branding consultation and gets high conversion based on this. A website offering free stuff with no expectations adds to brand loyalty, confidence and trust.
Free – budget – moderate - high end
2016 websites will typically offer a range of options for the product or service. The base level is typically free – product can be tried but it may have only basic functions or limited time only offer, but gives users confidence and trust in the product/service. Fee paying options are then offered with a budget option then some additional levels which offer more functionality.
Mobile devices
Websites are no longer viewed mainly on PCs.  In fact, in some countries, more than 50% of online purchasing is now done on smart phones and tablets.  If your websites is not ‘responsive’ and unable to effectively reformat for these devices, or if your online purchase buttons don’t work, it’s possible that 50% of your viewers (and potential sales) are lost.
Constant updating
Because of the way websites are radically evolving, websites are no longer the ‘make and forget’ part of the business.   They are now dynamic core components of a business’s marketing program that need to be regularly refreshed and completely updated at least annually.  If your website is more than 1-year-old, it should be rebuilt in the 2016 format. By not doing so, your cluttered 2014 website with the side bar might be one of the factors contributing to that stagnating sales growth.
Pricing
The kicker for getting a new website build has always been cost, but that’s no longer the case. The highest quality websites with all the bells and whistles (including ecommerce), can now be created at super low cost. For example, my company are currently offering $150 stunning WordPress marketing-effective 1 page websites (http://www.asiaoffshoring.com/#!web-development/zoxdi), Our competitors charge similar prices.  Stop paying $10,000 for a website – there is absolutely no need.  Utilise low cost website services and put the remaining funds into your online marketing budget, or hire another social media specialist (offshored) to support your digital marketing program. (http://www.asiaoffshoring.com/#!virtual-staff/ya439).
Finally...
Getting a new website is no longer about providing viewers with a shopping list of products and services.   Utilising the latest web designs to create engaging websites means that you’re also utilizing marketing-effective websites based on recognised selling psychology.  If you’re not creating the websites of the ‘now, you’re negatively impacting your marketing strategy. 
How effective is your current website?  
Take a moment to see how your website aligns to 2106 marketing-effective websites. Try our website self-audit tool at http://www.asiaoffshoring.com/#!web-development/zoxdi
Andrew Styles is a highly regarded regional expert in utilising Asia for offshoring management He is also founder of Asia Offshoring Inc, an Australian owned business increasing profitability through the provision of digital and virtual services to Australian businesses. For more details, see www.asiaoffshoring.com 

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