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.
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):
Create stuff people want: Start creating/publishing content that is helpful & valuable to your customers including: FAQs; How-To’s; Ebooks; Videos; and Blogs.
Be generous: The more you give, the more you’ll get. Build trust, credibility, & good will. Increase the number of pages & inbound links
Give great directions: Create relevant landing pages, clear calls to action and compelling offers
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.