Around 75% of new customers now meet local businesses first online, not through TV commercials, on the radio or through other means.
This demonstrates a tremendous cultural shift. How are your target customers finding businesses like yours and making buying decisions today?
It exemplifies why going digital in your small business advertising efforts is the smartest choice for any growing business. Are you missing out on 75% of your potential customers because you’re not small business advertising online?
It’s highly likely.
Let’s explore 15 more compelling reasons that you should be small business advertising digitally.
1. It’s More Cost-Effective Than Traditional
With traditional marketing, you’re often forced to put all of your eggs in one basket to reference the classic fable.
Traditional advertising channels like TV, popular magazines, newspapers and billboards require you to invest a lot up front in one strategy.
You’re generally paying for one spot. A single billboard that can’t be moved until after the contract expires.
Or you’re getting a package deal with one platform. Several 15-second spots on a popular daytime soap, for example.
In either case, you’re not diversified in any way. And that’s a problem.
If you misjudged the ideal message for that audience or somehow the timing was off, you could end up not seeing a good ROI on that investment.
We’re not saying you should spread your strategy thin across too many platforms like trying to be on 10 social media platforms as a small business. You won’t be able to build a good following on any of them.
But small business advertising in the digital marketplace allows you to test ads, timing, messaging, platforms and a lot more for a lot less.
This helps you quickly determine what’s working and what isn’t. Apply what you learn to optimize your strategies. And you’ll continue to see ad costs go down, not up, the longer you work at small business advertising.
This year, on average, a small business will invest 1-10% of their gross sales into advertising and marketing. That 1-10% goes much further when it’s digital.
As we continue through this article, it will be increasingly clear why that is the case.
2. It’s Very Scalable
Don’t waste $1,000 or more on a really bad idea.
When you use the Internet for your small business advertising, you start small with a lower maximum ad spend. Do some A/B testing. Track performance. Then increase your ad spend on the better ad.
And because digital advertising is reaching so many people in a short period of time, you get this feedback quickly. So you can scale the same day.
You’re not testing ads over months like you would with traditional.
There are definitely some parts of digital marketing that take longer to get results like SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is important for the long-term health of your company because it helps reduce advertising costs over time.
But it’s not a fast ROI.
The ads side of digital marketing, however, can get results quickly when the right strategies are in place.
3. It Levels the Playing Field for Small Business
Big companies like Amazon, Walmart or even Progressive Insurance can afford to drop millions into one campaign over a few months or years to overwhelm their competitors. They can, and do, blow many small businesses out of the water like this. Many businesses who’ve been around for decades close up shop.
A small business may feel helpless against these industry giants. They can’t outspend them. But with small business advertising on the Internet, you can outsmart them.
And many small businesses like yours are doing just that. For example, Ties.com. It was recently a small business that’s growing despite the threat of big business. They’re thriving even though you could probably get a cheaper tie faster on Amazon.
They’re doing it in several important ways.
- They have a very attractive and easy to use SEO web design. It loads fast and looks great on mobile. The navigation is very intuitive and user-friendly. It’s optimized for conversions. But it doesn’t feel salesy.
- They’re investing in helpful, customer-focused content like how-to videos, regular blog posts and infographics.
- They’re strategically using PPC (Pay-per-click) ads through Google Ads. They create compelling ads that people want to click. They show up on pages that pull up their big competitors. It gives them an opportunity to sway that buyer toward their product instead. These ads take people to a conversion optimized landing page that makes the sale.
- They have a blog called the “The Man Academy” that shares tips and tricks about dressing formally.
They also have almost 20,000 followers on Instagram. They’ve focused on beautiful imagery and lifestyle picks rather than simply showcasing their product. They’ve focused on building a brand, not just making the sale.
Each of these elements works together seamlessly for one dynamic and effective small business advertising strategy.
4. You Get Instant Feedback on What’s Working or Isn’t
When you place an ad in a magazine, you might measure performance by how much the phones ring. You might see a notable uptick that tells you the ad is working.
But if you’re running ads in different places, you’d have to ask to find out which one led to the call. And you don’t really know how many people saw the ad. How many people almost called you? How many people cut it out and saved it for later but won’t call you for another 2-3 months?
You may say, none of this matters. I care about increased sales. That’s the bottom line.
But without instant and repetitive feedback, it’s hard to know why something works. You might abandon a good idea that was “almost” great just because you don’t have the right data.
With the instant feedback you get with your online small business advertising you know exactly how to make it the best it can be.
5. It’s Easier to Reach the Right Customers with Small Business Advertising Online
If you’re a commercial services company targeting entrepreneurs and other small business people, showing an ad on SharkTank, The Profit or some other show popular among this group may be advisable.
But you’re limited in how well you can target on this platform. For one, everyone is seeing the same commercial.
Think about how much more relevant this ad would be if you showed one ad to the 50+ crowd and a different one to the 20 somethings if both are your targets. Do you think these two groups might appreciate a different kind of commercial?
What about women or men? Ph.D. or high school diploma? Homeowner or renter? Teens in the house or a toddler? Likes fitness or works for the local hospital?
When you use social media advertising as your form of small business advertising, you can get this granular to build the most relevant ads. People connect with relevance. And that connection increases sales.
82% of people say they actually enjoy marketing and advertising content when it’s made more relevant to them.
6. It’s the Better Way to Capture Lost Opportunity
What would you do if you realized that you just lost a big customer or client? You’d probably give them a call and find out what happened. You’d try to make it right.
But how often do you lose customers to competitors or simple distractions? You have no idea why they left. In some cases, you don’t realize that they’re not coming back.
When you do your small business advertising online it’s easier to re-connect with people who were once customers. It’s easier to reel in a person who was almost a customer. But something happened to prevent the sale.
It’s called remarketing. Small businesses that use this strategy can double their revenues for a relatively low amount of money.
Why? Because they’re advertising to people who already know their brand, not complete strangers. It may not take much to convince them to complete the purchase or come back.
There are several ways to remarket with digital. Here are just a few.
- Set up your email system to automatically send emails to customers you haven’t seen in a while. Offer them a discount to bring them back in. Email automation is one of the best ways to engage and re-engage customers.
- Set up your email to automatically send someone an email if they abandon a cart. If they stop mid-way through a sales video on your website, send them a reminder. Often people abandon carts because the shipping is more than they expected. Try offering them a shipping discount to get them back. If you can earn a repeat customer, it’s worth it.
- Use Facebook advertising to send customized ads to people who visited your website recently without making a purchase. They’ll see the ads on Facebook, Instagram and partner websites. This is a form of remarketing, called retargeting. You can also do this with Google Ads.
- Use Facebook’s Ad Manager to set up ads that go to target customers who’ve already visited you on Facebook or Instagram.
An Adobe study found the retargeting ads get 400% more clicks than ads sent to strangers. If you have systems in place to convert those clicks once they arrive on your site then this has a great impact on revenues.
7. It’s the Highest ROI Way to Nurture Leads
And speaking of email, email is a very important part of your small business advertising strategy. It’s the highest ROI method to nurture lukewarm leads into loyal customers.
Loyal customers not only buy more than other customers. They tell other people about you. In the days of social media, that can actually be a lot of potential customers.
Email Marketing can deliver a 44:1 ROI. That means for every $1 you spend on email, you can get $44 in revenues. Traditional advertising generally has an ROI of 2:1.
While email marketing has a phenomenal ROI, it’s important to realize that email doesn’t stand alone. The most effective email strategies use a blog or social media (or both!) to generate leads. Then use email to nurture these leads with regular, relevant content and occasional advertising.
Email gets this kind of ROI through two very important features: automation and segmentation.
Automation allows you to send emails at the perfect time. Welcome emails and abandoned cart emails are a form of automation.
Automation can also resend an email to only the recipients who did not open it. It can send emails to different groups or people at specific times of the days based on when analytical data says they’re most likely to open the email.
Segmentation involves breaking recipients up into smaller groups. Then modify your content to be very relevant for each group. Only send the most relevant content.
This significantly reduces unsubscriptions while it increases shares, clicks and sales.
For example, let’s say you have 1,000 email subscribers. That’s not hard to achieve with the right lead-capture strategies.
By using surveys or other data-collection, look for commonalities they share. Then break them up into 3 or more groups.
You might base it on age, profession, management level, location, a favorite pastime or any other number of traits. Then, when you send out content, use language, examples, images, etc. that show that you recognize each person on a more personal level.
Before we move on to the next section, it’s important to state that most segmentation and automation software ares cost-prohibitive and sometimes complicated to learn.
The best way to reap the benefits without breaking in the bank is to work with an email marketing agency that can spread the costs out among many clients. They’re experts at getting the highest ROI for businesses through this kind of software.
8. It’s the Best Way to Increase CLV (Customer Lifetime Value)
We don’t have to tell you that life is distracting. People are receiving brand messages all day long online, at breakfast, during their downtime, talking with friends.
79% of people say they’d switch a long time brand for a coupon. That’s saddening for businesses who are trying to build customer loyalty.
But there’s a way to keep your customers and remind them to come back and buy every once in a while. That’s keeping your brand visible to them. As they’re getting competitor messaging and offers, they see your brand. They remember all the good experiences they’ve had with your brand.
It keeps them loyal to you in the face of competitor offers.
Email is effective if someone has subscribed to your list. But social media is a great way to stay top of mind, speed up the buying cycle, and increase revenues.
Returning customers spend 67% more than new customers. They’re the first to try your newest products or services. It also costs about 7X less to retain these customers through a digital channel like social media that it does to acquire new customers.
Increasing customer return by just 5% can increase revenues by as much as 95%.
Engage existing customers by encouraging them to follow you. You can deliver regular, shareable content through social media. Also, consider social media advertising. Remember, thanks to remarketing, you can choose to show your ads to existing customers to get them back into the store.
Show then ads like “We’ve missed you.” “Haven’t seen you in a while. Here’s 20% off your next order.” Or something like this that recognizes that they are existing customers.
9. It Allows You to Track a Customer’s Journey
Through analytics, see how people navigate through your website. Which pages do they like the most? How often do they come back and how long do they stay?
What kinds of people are you attracting to your site? Male/Female? Interests?
See if a person clicked the contact page but then left the website. Note which calls to action are getting the most attention. And this is just the beginning.
You can’t know all of this with traditional advertising. You only see the end results. With small business advertising, you can.
We should mention here that it’s very easy to fall into a trap. There is so much data you can collect and learn from. It gets overwhelming. Don’t try to track everything at once.
Instead, consider keeping a high-level overview of data to look for anomalies. And focus on the data that you can use to better create and implement strategies.
As you become more proficient, it gets easier to quickly sort and prioritize analytical data to gain greater insight, learn from mistakes and optimize everything.
10. It Reaches People at the Perfect Time
Are you a local business? Then this well-researched statistic should get your attention. 75% of local searches lead to real foot traffic in your store. Or appointments if you’re a services company.
50% of people who visit your website on a mobile device will be physically in your shop within 24 hours.
Today, a customer’s journey with your business starts online. And over 50% of the time it starts in a search engine like Google. And increasingly it’s starting on a mobile device.
Chart courtesy of Smart Insights.
They’ve just typed “Comfort Food in Atlanta”. If you’re this restaurant and your website is visible and user-friendly, they’re coming to see you instead of the other comfort food restaurant down the street.
Make your website visible in Google search results. Make it user-friendly.
This requires an investment in SEO (search engine optimization).
With initial SEO web design and ongoing monthly SEO maintenance, a website can scale the search results to reach page one for many highly profitable keywords in the industry. Anytime someone searches for a company like yours, they’ll find you.
SEO does take time. It’s a long-term, sustainable part of small business advertising online. It can take a while to gain visibility. But over time, you’ll continue to get more and more traffic as you maintain your SEO.
11. It’s Easy to Attributes Sales to a Specific Campaign(s)
We’ve already spoken a little bit about this. But it deserves its own section. In traditional advertising, you can’t always tell which campaign led to the sale. Or was it multiple campaigns or strategies that worked together?
If you can’t attribute, you don’t know where money is well-spent. You could end up cutting a campaign that didn’t appear to work because the effects were delayed.
Then your next campaign gets all the credit when it really isn’t that good.
In digital advertising, everything is out on the table. With proper set up of your analytics accounts and campaigns, you can find out the first known touch point.
Then see which other content or ads contributed to a sale. On average a person will touch your brand online 7-13 times before they buy.
Each touch gets them closer. So it’s important to know which touch points to partially attribute a sale to.
By properly attributing, you can maximize your results.
12. It Facilitates Conversation, Not Just Selling
In the “old days”, media space was limited. You could only have so many ads in a newspaper. They could only take up so much space. TV commercial time was limited and expensive. Self-publishing a book wasn’t an option.
There was no room to start a conversation, tell people more about your product or demonstrate that there’s a real person behind your brand.
We had to rely on taglines, radio jingles and hard-sell tactics to get anything sold. Or worse, salespeople had to lug a suitcase door-to-door. Or cold call people on their landlines.
Thankfully, those days are gone. But many small businesses are still using these outdated tactics. They don’t have to.
With small business advertising on the Internet, space is nearly unlimited. You have a website that can handle 500 pages or more.
It’s ample space to speak conversationally about the following as they relate to your brand:
- People’s challenges
- People’s goals
- How you can help
- How to best use your products
- How to choose products
- How much you value your employees
- How to solve common problems in your industry
- How your customer benefits from your services
People aren’t threatened by, or suspicious of, brands who approach them on an authentic, conversational level. But most people feel very threatened by pushy salespeople.
Get conversational by maintaining a helpful blog. Upload some How-to YouTube Videos. Then share your articles on social media to increase website traffic.
Blog articles are great for lead generation. Invite people who like your articles to download a free ebook in exchange for their email.
See how this all works together.
It’s harder to develop interconnected strategies across platforms when you use traditional marking channels instead of digital.
13. It Future-Proofs Your Business
By the end of last year 22 million people in the U.S. had canceled their cable. It’s not because they just watch the local channels now. It’s because they get their entertainment through the Internet.
You may think they’ve traded out for Hulu or Netflix. But that’s only part of the story. Today people spend billions of hours watching YouTube videos. That’s more than the time they spend on Netflix.
57% of people say they love to read blogs to entertain themselves. The average adult spends 2-4 hours on social media. Most CNN fans get their news at CNN.com, not on the TV channel.
Many of the channels we once advertised on are dying out for new forms of media. Learning to use these newer media sooner rather than later will help your business be better prepared for what comes next.
14. It Gets You Ahead of the Competition
71% of small businesses now understand that it’s important to have a digital presence. 29% of small businesses don’t even have a website. 31% are on social media. But they don’t have a website to lead people to.
About 86% of small business are on Facebook. But only 52% of small businesses post something on social media every day. 79% post at least once a week.
Considering how important consistency is in marketing, this is definitely somewhere that you can do better to beat out your competitors.
About 1/2 of small businesses are trying to maintain their website and do their social media marketing in-house. They’re usually tapping a receptionist, server, cashier or other staff member to do it part-time. This can lead to inconsistency and lack of traction. Your small business can do better in your small business advertising.
15. It Helps You Get More Great Reviews & Referrals
Many small businesses struggle with this. They don’t want to ask for reviews. But most happy customers don’t automatically write reviews. That is unless they’re interacting with you in the digital world already. There are several effects at work here.
- Ease of writing a review. With a strong digital presence, it takes less than a minute to click over and write a review. This is the most important.
- Social peer pressure. If a person sees others writing good reviews and saying nice things, they want to as well.
- Defense mechanism. If a loyal customer sees something negative about your brand and that hasn’t been their experience, they will want to hop over to write you a great review. These are the kinds of customers that you can generate through effective digital marketing strategies.
On top of all of this, because you’ve started a digital conversation with your customers instead of direct selling, it’s easier to directly ask for reviews without it feeling like begging. And yes, you should have a system to always ask for reviews. Email automation, as we discussed earlier, is a great way to do this.
Effective Small Business Advertising Starts Here
It starts online where 75% of potential customers are meeting new local businesses. It starts with a great website design. But in order to make the most of the Internet, you need to work to build an online brand through social media and search engine optimization. Online marketing includes nurturing your leads through regular, relevant email content.
It requires you to get conversational and build trust with a blog.
Are you ready to go digital? Contact us for a free consultation.