Digital marketing is big news. With 67 percent of customers now using online sources to influence their purchase decisions, no company can afford to be left behind. However, the ever-changing world of digital marketing provides more challenges to small and medium businesses than it does to their larger counterparts; but they are challenges that need to be overcome if these modestly sized businesses are to continue to grow.
The Main Digital Marketing Challenges for Small and Medium Businesses
- Understanding the Different Platforms
Digital technology has opened up a wealth of new marketing options to small and medium businesses; but the more options you have, the more work you have to do in order to understand them and keep on top of them. It’s a challenge knowing which tools will be the most useful to you when there are over 30 digital marketing categories to tap into. Current research suggests that the most popular digital marketing method for small and medium businesses is their company website, with 71.6 percent. Social media came second (43.3 percent), with email marketing third (40.1 percent).
- Turning online leads into sales
56 percent of small and medium business owners are increasing their investments in digital marketing, but they confess to a lack of understanding of how to gauge the success of their efforts. It’s vital that companies implement a comprehensive online marketing strategy and learn to use analytics data to determine what’s working and what’s not.
- Finding the time and resources for digital marketing
Smaller companies are at a disadvantage here as they don’t have the staffing levels of their larger rivals and can’t usually afford to employ someone specifically to handle digital marketing. With a lack of knowledge of digital marketing and an inability to spare the time to learn, many small and medium businesses could be throwing money away on marketing efforts that aren’t working.
The Evolution of Marketing
Marketing has changed beyond recognition in the last decade or so as a result of technology. These days you have to earn your customers’ attention rather than simply being able to buy it with an eye-catching ad. Customers these days are much savvier as they are used to being bombarded with a constant stream of information and products 365 days a year. As a result, you have to put significant effort into being found by your potential customer base. It’s no longer possible to make people want to buy the things you make; instead, they expect you to make the things they want.
Changing Customer Behaviour
Customers these days don’t simply go into a shop and buy a product. Online retailing is big business in Australia; it’s now worth A$18 billion, and has grown 16.2 percent in the last year.
Social media has led to customers discussing companies and products among themselves; peer approval is now more important than ever.
Customers now have a greater amount of information and choice than ever before due to the global nature of online retailing. This has led to a decrease in brand loyalty and higher customer expectations; a recent Harris poll suggests that customer expectations are now “somewhat” (47 percent) or “much” (35 percent) higher than they were three years ago.
Mobile devices have led to more personalised shopping experiences and customers being able to compare local businesses. Many now view products online first before buying them from a physical shop; almost one in five local searches on mobile devices now lead to a purchase within a day.
Why Expert Help Is Needed
With such a plethora of online marketing channels to explore, and changing consumer behavioural patterns to understand, many small and medium businesses are finding themselves wasting money on marketing efforts that they cannot really determine the efficacy of. Platforms such as Google AdWords can yield good results, but they require an in-depth understanding of online consumer behaviour. Many small and mid-sized organisations are now enlisting help from experts who understand the digital marketing industry and how to put together the optimum strategy.