Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are the most vulnerable organisations out there and you likely don’t need to be told how challenging they are to run. Particularly if you’re at the lower end of the SME scale, running a new business is very similar to starting out as an entrepreneur online; lots of risks, lots of potential mistakes and in the short term, not much reward for your hours of overtime.
This being said, sticking with your small start-up and turning it into a medium-sized enterprise is not only possible, but worth the effort too, as countless business owners will tell you. The question is, what do these people do to keep their businesses growing, especially in those challenging early days when they’re working 12+ hour days just to keep things rolling?
The answer is digital marketing. With the birth of the internet and digital media, marketing was completely revolutionised not just because of all the new avenues for reaching people, but because of how accessible it all was. Digital marketing is easy to start and easy to scale. You don’t need a multi-billion dollar budget to market your business using the internet, all you need is a computer and some know-how.
This post is designed to illustrate what digital marketing can do to help your SME reach the next level and explain why it’s worth investing in. In particular, we’ll look at three of the major digital marketing techniques: PPC, SEO and Social Media.
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is a very commonly used marketing technique that involves paying for your position on a search engine’s results page (SERP). The idea is that when someone is searching for something, whether it be a product or a service, you want to make sure that your business appears on their search so that you can sell them whatever you are offering.
By far the most commonly used search engine is Google which you most likely use, too. When searching on Google, at the top and the bottom of the page, there are different coloured search results titled “Sponsored”. These are websites that have paid a sum to take those positions so that you – who is searching a term related to their business – are more likely to click on their website and find what they’re looking for. In that business’ eyes, they’re enticing you by putting their website at the top of the list, increasing the chances of you clicking and finding out about their service or product. You can do the same.
How Does This Help My Business?
PPC is a cost-effective way of putting your business in front of the people that matter. The reason why PPC works is that it allows you to target specific keywords that people are searching. So, if you own an interior decorating business, then you can make sure that anyone searching “interior decorators” will see your website before anybody else’s.
The ability to target specific people searching specific keywords is what makes PPC (and digital marketing as a whole), so impactful. Plus, you can start a PPC campaign with a tiny budget, so no matter how small your business is you can at least try the system out, attracting your target audience to your website meaning an increased likelihood of a sale.
Search engine optimization (SEO), is a much more challenging task for the budding SME owner. The concept of SEO is that instead of paying for your website to be at the top of the search results through PPC, you optimise your website so that it naturally appears this way. In short, this involves trying to show Google that your website is most relevant and useful when people search a specific keyword.
The challenges involved in doing this are vast because Google doesn’t have a list of the ranking factors that affect how high your website appears on the search results, all we can do is guess based on what they have said and through trial and error. Many people create “Complete Ranking Factors Lists” but the truth is that it’s impossible to be sure about what works and what doesn’t. All we can do is estimate.
To properly optimise your website there are hundreds of different things to keep in mind, from discovering who your business’ optimal target audience is based on your sales figures to keyword research so you can find the most searched, least competitive phrases to target. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a big job but it’s worth all of the effort if you do it properly.
How Does This Help My Business?
Ignoring the challenges involved, SEO is an extremely powerful tool because it allows you to do what PPC does but for free. After discovering who your business’ optimal target audience is through investigating sales information and keyword research, you can easily focus your website on appearing for those keywords. Therefore, you are spending all of your time focusing on getting the right people in front of your business; the right people being those who are most likely to buy your service or product.
For example, if you run a property company specialising in selling commercial buildings in London, then your keyword research might reveal that whilst “commercial property for sale” is a difficult keyword to get your website to appear for, “commercial property London” could be a better, more focused keyword that’s easier to rank for. By making sure that your website appears for local keywords like London, your SEO strategy is encouraging very specific people (those most likely to use your service) to find your website – meaning more sales and more revenue.
3. Social Media
Finally, we have social media. Social media marketing has two primary focuses that SMEs can take advantage of – exposure and branding; though, if you choose to look into it, there are plenty of different ways to effectively use social media marketing. We’ll just look at the basics.
When it comes to exposure, social media excels simply due to its advertising options. Allowing you to target certain demographics with your adverts, the major Social Networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn are a great way of putting your business in front of a large audience.
Arguably though, the true value of social media is in how it allows you to build a company brand. In all forms of traditional marketing, it’s very challenging to easily interact with your target audience and give your business a voice. Social media has solved this problem, enabling businesses to create communities and interact directly with customers.
How Does This Help My Business?
Social media is, as its name suggests, social. Using it, it’s possible to give your business’ brand a voice and tone that matches your target audience, enabling you to create a tribe of supporters who follow your every update and word, as well as share your content with friends. This is why social media marketing is essential, not just for driving sales and traffic to your website, but for giving your business a human aspect that people value, as opposed to the corporate style of many organisations.
These points are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to boosting your business’ growth through digital marketing. As a whole, the field of digital marketing is constantly evolving and developing, which is why it’s difficult to remain at the top of the game unless you invest all of your time into it.
Despite this, if you own an SME or are considering starting a business, keep digital marketing in mind as a way to give your business a boost when you get the time and funding to invest into it.