I recently met a business owner who very proudly told me that they didn’t do any marketing online; no website, zero social media, nothing on Google, absolutely nothing online at all. So, my first question was ‘how is business doing’ and they replied ‘good…but’ and there we have it. I knew there had to be a ‘but’ and their ‘but’ was that they wanted to appeal to a younger target audience and get more new business from this market but they didn’t know how.

When I was studying for my degree in Marketing, social media didn’t exist – not even MySpace (I’m that old…) Instead I was learning all about the 7 P’s, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and how to conduct a SWOT analysis, and these are still imperative in today’s marketing, but, like all things in life, marketing has moved on.

My advice to this business owner was to get online and do it quickly, but do it properly and carefully as it is a science in its own right. Last week it was reported that between 2016/2017 there were 5.4 million small businesses operating in the UK and today over 375 million people worldwide are connected to (i.e. have ‘Liked’ or are ‘Following’) a UK small business page on Facebook.
With UK small businesses contributing over £1.8 trillion to the economy, it is without a doubt that the development of online marketing has helped to grow and maintain this figure, and undoubtedly this will continue to grow as digital marketing channels expand, improve and intensify. Here are my top 6 reasons why digital marketing will benefit any business:

  1. Be as targeted as you like: You can reach your prospect customers through social media channels, target them by location, age, gender, lifestyle choices, hobbies etc. and via Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click (likes of Google AdWords) by specific search terms (keywords) as well as demographic and geographic options. Depending on the channel, the amount of personalised targeting differs but the ability to target is still there to be used, therefore turning any marketing activity from a scatter gun approach into a well-targeted and thought-through campaign.
  2. High conversion rates: Digital marketing increases conversion rates more than that of any traditional offline marketing. Digital marketing is consumed by a captive audience with a response tool at their fingertips (their device). According to Forbes, 82% of consumers conduct research online, and Tech Crunch reports that 79% of people shop online. Although these are US figures, the UK market is reported to be on par. In the UK, sales via mobile devices grew year on year by 23.7 per cent in 2018 according to IMRG.
  3. Cost effective: Most forms of offline advertising such as outdoor, print, radio and television is traditionally expensive and can be difficult to measure return on investment due to offline marketing being a one-way communication. Because of this it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of a campaign and if it really is influencing buyers’ behaviour. With online marketing, there are many ways that businesses can use quick and affordable digital marketing tools that can be accurately tracked; from measuring clicks on an advert, hits on a website, likes and comments to a post or ultimately enquires and sales received. These various methods of tracking mean that you are able to measure Cost Per Click (CPC) – how much it costs you every time someone interacts with your advert – which in turn means you can measure your campaign reach more precisely.
  4. Real time response: There are two major benefits with digital marketing being in real-time, firstly it enables customer service to interact and respond live to their customers online, therefore generating more sales and retaining more customers. Secondly, you can get real-time results from any live advertising, by adjusting the message, target market and even budget if required, as the campaign continues to run.
  5. Size doesn’t matter: Small businesses can function like big business online, it just comes down to user experience. The most important thing for a business online is to look professional, know your target market and use the most suitable digital channels appropriately i.e. if you are a luxury cruise company looking to target wealthy retirees they probably won’t be on SnapChat and if you are a local dance company you will need to be on Google My Business amongst other channels.
  6. Almost everyone is there: Don’t get left behind! Serious businesses are ramping up their digital marketing campaigns as new figures report that 91% of people in the UK have their mobile devices next to them or within reach at ALL times*, this means that almost the whole of the country could be searching for a product or service that you sell, or even your specific business at any given time!

*Facebook feature, Evening Standard, Monday 5th November 2018