If you're a small business owner, you can be forgiven for seeing yourself as a small fish in a large pond -- one filled with plenty of other small fish. According to the UK's Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, there were 5.5 million private sector firms at the beginning of 2016, and small businesses made up 99.3% of all private sector firms at the start of last year.
But the truth of the matter is that there are things you can do to differentiate from competitors, encourage repeat business, and attract new customers, and you can get that edge through digital marketing. With that said, read on to learn about 5 digital marketing trends for small businesses. What you’ll ultimately find is that you can seamlessly weave chat capability into your digital marketing strategy for maximum impact.
In this digital era, it's important to get with the program. Many of your customers consume content across different platforms -- such as computers, smartphones, and tablets -- so you need to ensure that your marketing efforts are optimized for the mobile world. If your marketing only takes into account computers and laptops, you'll be losing out since not too many people will settle for the sort of clunky experience that comes from using a mobile device to access a web page that is not optimized for such use. When you consider that 45% of consumers are unlikely to purchase from a company with a poorly designed site, you can appreciate the need to ensure that your marketing strategy includes a cross-platform friendly website.
If you want to reach your customers, you have to leverage the technologies they are comfortable using. Video sites like Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram have many loyal followers, and you can take your marketing efforts to the next level by using the video platform to promote your small business. Consider these eye-opening statistics to get a feel for how important video is in the digital marketing space:
- 4x as many customers would prefer to view a video pertaining to a product than to read about a product;
- 25% of consumers admit that their interest in a business drops if it lacks a video;
- Consumers are close to 50% more likely to read through e-newsletters that have links to videos; and
- 80% of customers believe that a video demonstrating how to use a product or service is critical.
- Brand Ambassadors
If you want to differentiate yourself from competitors, then your digital marketing effort should include brand ambassadors, who are people you retain to endorse your product or service offering. Selecting the right brand ambassadors can help you to grow your social media presence, increase traffic to your website, build brand recognition, and even safeguard your online reputation by swooping in to address any negativity such as an unfavorable review.
- Mobile App
Developing an app is also a must. In fact, small businesses stand to be a big part of the expected triple-digit growth by 2018 in mobile apps. Your customers are increasingly using their mobile devices to do everything from making purchases, to doing their banking, to reading the news, to checking their social media accounts. Providing a convenient way from them to interact with your company and to learn about and buy your offerings is therefore a no-brainer.
- Short Message Service (SMS) Marketing
After you get get customers to agree to receiving SMS messages via text, you'll have a way to send them coupons, information about new products and services, and other information about your small business. One study shows that 48.7 million consumers in the UK will, by 2020, agree to receive business SMS. Consider this statistic:
- 23.5 million consumers -- out of the 37.1 million who will opt to receive business SMS this year -- will respond to a business SMS this year
Here’s another things to consider: Whether mobile, video, brand ambassadors, mobile app, SMS, or any other inexpensive ways to market your business, just about everything can be made better with chat functionality. At any stage of the process between expressing initial interest and making a buying decision, your customers can benefit from being able to get real answers from real people -- rather than from chatbots.
Chat can make all the difference, particularly when dealing with customers who want to hear a human voice before they pay for what’s in their digital shopping cart. So, don’t forget to include chat when you work out your digital marketing strategy.
Nick Rojas combines 20 years of experience working with and consulting for small to medium business and a passion for journalism to help readers grow. He writes about technology, marketing, and social media for the aspiring entrepreneur. When Nick is not sharing his expertise, he can be found spending time at the beach with his dog Presto @NickARojas.