Supercharge your business growth with digital marketing
It seems the whole world has shifted online, including consumers of all ages and demographics, and the vast majority of businesses.
So it stands to reason that marketing has shifted online too.
In many instances, the first interaction a customer has with a business is online. So if business owners want to get ahead, they have to get that first impression right.
Here's everything you need to know about how you can grow your business with digital marketing.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is any marketing activity that uses digital channels to reach prospective customers. Needless to say, it's broad-reaching. Online channels include your website, social media, and email, as well as things like search engine optimisation (SEO) and even chatbots. Businesses can also connect with customers offline, using SMS or QR code technology.
Traditional marketing (print advertising, flyers and billboards) is still incredibly valuable for many businesses. Yet in today's digital world, it works in tandem with digital marketing to capture and retain the attention of your target audience.
Importantly, digital marketing isn't only about ads and promoting your product or service. It's also about creating positive associations with your brand, forging relationships with customers, and even positioning business owners as experts in their field.
Why is digital marketing important to small businesses?
Digital platforms - and the information that can be found there - play a significant role in consumers' purchasing decisions.
According to data from Hootsuite, 47.6% of Australians use the internet to research brands.
About 30% use social networks to look for information about brands and products before purchasing.
And of those who watch video content, 18.5% watch product reviews and 16.7% watch influencer content.
One of the key benefits of digital marketing is that it can be targeted to a specific audience, based on age, gender or location, or content they've interacted with previously.
It also allows brands to offer personalised campaigns, or special deals to newsletter subscribers, for example.
All of this helps boost brand recognition, expand market reach, and can lead to increased loyalty and trust among existing customers. Business owners can also track what's working and what's not.
Finally, digital marketing doesn't have to cost a lot of money. There are options for every budget, and investing time alone can have an outsized impact.
9 effective ways to use digital marketing to grow your business
There are numerous digital marketing channels available. For most businesses, it won't make sense to focus on all of them, and different options will be right for different businesses.
The key is to get a clear picture of your target audience, where they spend their time online and the kind of marketing they will best respond to.
1. Create a professional website
This may sound obvious, but your website is the digital face of your business, so it should look professional, clearly show what you do, and be easy for customers to navigate.
Websites can also host other digital marketing tools - blog content, FAQs, or eCommerce capabilities, for example.
2. Boost your website's visibility with SEO
Search engine optimisation (SEO) simply improves your chances of appearing on the first page of any relevant search engine results, whether it be in Google, Microsoft Bing or Yahoo. It can be complex, and some businesses will benefit from working with an agency or specialist.
However, there are easy ways for small businesses to boost their search engine rankings, including researching and incorporating common keywords, and including links to other credible resources.
3. Captivate your audience with tailored email marketing
Done well, email marketing can be very rewarding. Emails can address customers by name, and offer exclusive deals or discounts. Or, a regular newsletter can offer news or advice, building brand awareness and reputation.
The downside is that consumers' inboxes are overflowing, so it can be tough to stand out from the crowd and secure an 'open', let alone a click-through or a sale.
4. Utilise social media to showcase your brand's personality
Social media allows businesses to showcase brand personality, and engage with their target audience online.
Popular platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok - business owners would be best placed to pick the two or three their target audience are most likely to use, and focus their efforts there.
A well-planned and well-executed social media strategy (one that offers more than promotional content) can be an inexpensive way to boost brand awareness, grow your audience and drive traffic to your website.
5. Create engaging content that cuts through the noise
Content marketing can include written content such as blog posts, articles and explainers, as well as videos or even podcasts. Content strategy goes hand-in-hand with social media, getting high-quality content in front of as many people as possible.
Content should be genuinely valuable to the target audience - that means the primary purpose shouldn't be promotional. Instead, it could answer a key question for your consumers, or share the experiences of a business owner.
Great content can bring credibility and trust to a brand, and elevate business owners as subject matter experts.
6. Consider investing in paid advertising
Pay-per-click advertising can be a strategic and cost-effective digital marketing channel, allowing businesses to place ads on search engines or social media sites, and only pay a fee when a user clicks on the ad.
Ads can be targeted to a particular demographic or search term, and results are trackable.
7. Use text messaging where appropriate
SMS marketing is another way to get personalised communications to your existing customer base.
According to textback.ai, almost 80% of people prefer to communicate with businesses via SMS rather than by phone. Text messages have an open rate more than five times that of email.
It's important to get the tone right, and not to bombard your customers. But done right, text messages can be a great way to connect with an already engaged audience.
8. Take advantage of reviews and comments
According to data from Capterra, 98% of Australians read online reviews before making a purchase, and 94% consider reviews to be trustworthy. So, while businesses can't write their own reviews (most platforms can identify and remove false reviews), they can encourage happy customers to leave feedback.
That means making leaving reviews as easy as possible, offering lots of ways to do so, and even directly asking customers.
In the case of negative reviews, it can help to respond publicly - and more importantly, politely - to try to resolve the issue. This creates conversation and community, and can even improve sentiment around your brand.
9. Don't underestimate the value of digital tools
Finally, there are many other digital tools that can slot into your marketing strategy, depending on your industry. QR codes, for example, can be a quick and easy way to share information with customers - including digital menus in hospitality.
Businesses can also take advantage of marketing automation tools, which deliver a timed series of communications to a customer after they make a purchase or sign up to a service.
Interesting digital marketing case studies
Different digital marketing strategies will be best suited to different types of businesses. Rather than attempting to do everything, the best option for most is to choose a few that support their goals.
Here are some examples of small businesses using digital marketing successfully:
The Grounds of Alexandria in Sydney is a cafe and restaurant that's often decked out with lavish themes - think Disney, Candyland or a Christmas wonderland. It's unique, fun and highly Instagrammable, for the owners and visitors alike.
The restaurant's social media showcases images and videos of the space, and the team quickly responds to comments, creating a conversation with prospective customers. Giveaways and prizes for Instagram followers also drive engagement and reach.
Adore Beauty has built its whole online presence around its customers - and it's working, with 64% of sales coming from returning customers.
The strategy includes social media, but the Adore Beauty website is also optimised to offer a seamless, convenient and personalised experience.
Working with third-party provider Tealium, Adore Beauty also uses real-time customer data to personalise advice and target individuals with relevant communications. This has boosted engagement by 400%, increased conversions by 17%, and increased revenue by 249%.
Content spans anything from sex therapy to how-to guides, while social channels offer bite-sized tips and food for thought.
All of this provides support for anyone who needs it - but it also puts the clinic on the radar for prospective clients.
Another Aussie beauty brand, Contour Cube, uses its TikTok presence to promote products in a light-hearted and fun way, as well as featuring founder Sarah Forrai's reactions to business wins - including landing Kendall Jenner as a customer.
The account has more than 322,000 followers, and has attracted more than 7 million 'likes' to date. TikTok is now the brand's primary marketing platform, Forrai has said.
How much should you spend on digital marketing?
Every business is different, so depending on your industry and marketing goals, your budget will be different, too. As commented by Business Queensland, experts typically recommend spending a percentage of annual revenue on marketing - usually between 5% and 15%. How much of this should be allocated to digital will differ depending on the business and goals.
If your main sales channels are online, and your customers are located all over the country (or even the world), it makes sense for a large proportion of your marketing budget to go online, too.
If you're a physical business targeting people in your local area, then your marketing budget might be more weighted towards traditional advertising.
Start by clearly defining your goals, and considering which channels are best suited to meeting them. Weigh up the costs of each, and whether the results will be worth the investment (even if it's just time).
It's important to measure the results, so if something isn't working you can change direction fast.
Digital marketing: What to look out for
Here are some pitfalls to look out for on your digital marketing journey, and how to avoid them:
- Impersonalisation: Make sure you're directing the right messaging at the right people, and add a personal touch using names wherever you can
- Content overload: Your content should be genuinely valuable for customers, and a joy to read. Don't put people off with too much of it, or with sales speak
- Complacency: The online world is ruled by algorithms, and they can change at any time. Staying on top of best practices for your chosen channels will make sure you get the best value from them
- Doing everything: It's almost impossible to get every digital marketing channel right 100% of the time. Think about who your customers are and where they live online, then meet them there
Leveraging Brother's range of products for your digital marketing efforts
Printers, scanners and labelling products might not spring to mind when you think of digital marketing, but incorporating them into your strategy does have its benefits.
Brother's colour laser printers, such as the MFC-L3770CDW, can be used for printing high-quality brochures, flyers and business cards, including QR codes. This means traditional marketing can be paired with digital marketing tools, giving would-be customers a rounded experience and an easy way to find out more.
Brother's range of desktop scanners can quickly and securely scan documents, images, receipts and more, immediately digitising information. This allows businesses to share information through digital channels more quickly, adding a competitive edge.
If you're promoting your products online, they have to look good. Brother's label printers and the free P-touch Editor label design software allow users to create professional-looking labels to do just that.
Label printing is also crucial to successful shipping, enhancing the eCommerce experience.
Digital marketing: No longer a nice-to-have
Most businesses would benefit from digital marketing in one way or another - even if it's just getting ranked in Google. But for many, if they want to stay relevant to consumers, it's no longer optional.
Consumers are online, so businesses have to be too. If they get it right, the rewards can be phenomenal.
Great online experiences are created by great hardware, so don't hesitate to contact Brother for any device recommendations to suit your digital marketing needs.