The idea of expanding and growing your business via online methods can seem like a daunting experience. In this day and age, many businesses are aware of how vital digital channels are in gaining new customers and expanding their businesses presence across a larger audience. They know that advertising online is a great tool for fuelling business growth,
Why should I start now?
According to the CCIQ’s 2018 Digital Readiness Study, sponsored by Vodafone Australia and SureBridge, 86% of businesses currently engage in social media and digital marketing. Digital marketing can be defined as the process of marketing your business online via channels such as social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube etc). Ensuring that you have an updated and relevant website that can easily be found through online search engines (Google, Yahoo), as well as the creation of email marketing campaigns to promote your business or a particular service or product that you offer. Advertising your business online also allows you to access potential target markets that may not have been accessible through other forms of media. A key benefit of Digital Marketing for small biz is that often allows you to reach a much broader audience across multiple locations for a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising. 61% of businesses believe that advertising through social media helps them to generate new business.
How do I start?
Similar to other traditional marketing activities that your business may undertake, you will need to create a marketing plan in order for your digital marketing strategy to be effective in fuelling the growth of your business. Creating a digital marketing plan will allow you to identify your business goals, outline where you would like your business to be in a certain time frame, identify any strengths and weaknesses that your business may have, as well as defining targets that you’d like to achieve through marketing your business online. A great way to start creating your plan is to take the approach of ‘Opportunity, Strategy and Action’. This allows you to benchmark your business where you are now and assess what you need to do to get to where you want to be online.
A Digital Marketing plan will allow you to have measures in place to tackle pain points within your business. For example, if one of your digital marketing goals is to gain more followers to your social media pages, you will need to be aware of the timeframe this will take to achieve this, as well as having a clear understanding of how you will achieve this goal. Like traditional advertising, Digital Marketing requires a plan of execution toensure that your goal will be met in a cost effective and timely manner. Having a plan will help you to outline who your target audience is, what type of social media (paid, owned, earned) you require in order to target those consumers, the schedule that these posts will have, and measures of success to allow you to accurately view if changes need to be made to your strategy or if your business is on track to reach its goals.
Some issues you may face
A total of 40% of Queensland businesses still don’t have a digital marketing plan. If you choose to begin marketing your business online without a formal digital marketing plan, you may run into potential issues that can affect the success of your campaign. Without mapping out a process of how you wish to achieve the goals you have set for your business, it can be difficult to measure the success of your marketing efforts which will, therefore, affect the overall growth of your business. Potential issues that may arise from having no digital marketing plan include:
- You may be targeting the wrong audience: If you haven’t thoroughly researched how your target audience behaves online, you may end up targeting an audience that isn’t best suited to your product or service. Keep in mind that a consumer may act differently online than they do via traditional channels. A great tool to understand how many people are potentially interested in your product online is to conduct a ‘keyword search’ through Google Analytics. According to the 2018 Digital Readiness Study, 52% of businesses are currently using Google Adwords within their digital marketing strategy.
- You won’t have a defined online proposition: Without a Digital Marketing plan, you may find it difficult to tailor the content you are creating to different target markets within your customer base. If you are creating articles or social media posts without considering who the audience is, you may be missing out on a large number of potential customers as they won’t be interested in the content you are producing.
- It will be difficult to measure success: A benefit of a Digital Marketing plan is that the goals you wish to achieve will be clearly outlined, and a pathway to achieve these will be defined. Without outlining your goals and the process that needs to be followed, it may be difficult to analyse whether you are on track to achieve your overall business goals. By clearly outlining your targets, you will be able to match these against the results that you are achieving online, allowing you to change your strategy if required.
What can I do to mitigate the risks of going online?
In this day and age, technology provides us with numerous benefits within both our personal and professional lives. The 2018 Digital Readiness Study states that 85% of Qld businesses report some level of confidence that their data is safe online. As with any form of advertising, there may be certain risks that can potentially pose a threat to the security of your business if you’re not adequately prepared. There are steps to take to ensure that your business minimises its chances of being affected.
- Backup your data: According to the 2018 Digital Readiness Study, 91% of Qld businesses currently have systems in place to back up their data. This ensures that the data essential to your business is stored in a safe place offline and is easily retrievable should something happen to where you originally store this. Examples of ways to back up your data include uploading a copy of your data to a cloud storage solution or copying the information onto an external hard drive. If you don’t back up your data, you are atrisk of losing all company records should your system and files corrupt.
- Implement security software: You need to ensure that your business has sufficient security software installed to minimise the risk of attacks from an external party. Implementing security software throughout your organisation will ensure that your emails, database of contacts, calendars, passwords and content are all secure. If your business were to be targeted and you didn’t have software installed, this invasion of privacy could be detrimental to the future of your business.
- Create social media guidelines: Creating social media guidelines for your staff will ensure that the content which is posted online positively reflects your brand’s image and accurately reflects the company vision. By implementing guidelines for your digital content, this will also ensure that information relating to your business is posted and shared on websites that are deemed ‘respectable’, therefore minimising the risk of your business becoming the target for unwanted activity if its information is sourced through an unsafe location.