Ever feel like you’re floundering in the digital seas? Like you’re just treading water when other businesses are thriving online?
If you feel like a fish out of water with everything digital, we’ve got 3 essential beginner strategies to help you start to make waves on the web.
Consumers are Evolving!
But before we look at how small businesses can adapt to the digital landscape, we need to look at why they should. And as with most things in marketing, it’s dictated by consumer behaviour. Let’s take a look at some stats…
Nine in ten people had access to the internet in their homes in 2018. (Ofcom, 2018)
People claimed to spend a total of 24 hours online per week, over twice as much as in 2007. (Ofcom, 2018)
Online advertising generated £13.4bn in the UK in 2018 – up 13% since 2017. (Ofcom, 2019)
Smartphones now account for over 50% of global internet use. (Statista, 2019)
Globally, we now spend an average of 136 minutes a day on social media. (Statista, 2019)
91% of consumers take action as a result of reading positive reviews online. (Critical Research, 2017)
Just let those settle in for a moment. Consumers are more connected than ever, spending more time online – chiefly on smartphones. A decent chunk of that time is spent on social media. Digital advertising is a fast growing market as more and more companies see the benefit of advertising online. Consumers are aware of online reviews and use them to make purchasing decisions.
Food for thought!
Essential Digital Marketing Trends
So with these stats in mind, let’s tie them to a few current online marketing trends.
Search Engines that Answer Back
No longer do search engines merely feed back a list of relevant search results. Depending on the kind of question you ask, search engines can give you rich answers that either help you assess your options or maybe even give you a straight answer there and then.
Using Google as an example, features such as the knowledge panel, map pack, and mobile extensions all provide basic contact information. This enables users to interact with businesses without clicking through to a single site – the information is all laid out in the results page.
The Internet is All Around Us
Nowadays, we’re always connected. As mobile data packages become more affordable and mobile data technology gets faster (hello, 5G) we’re only going to become more accustomed to always being online.
Online Reputation is Everything
Whatever industry your business is in, it’s easier than ever for people to review your services online; either through listing/review sites like Yell or sharing their thoughts over social media. It’s therefore increasingly easy to check out previous customers’ opinions before making any kind of buying decision.
Today, every business’s reputation precedes them online – for better or for worse.
Further Reading: Why Your Online Reputation is More Important Than Ever
So How Should SMEs Adapt to This Challenging Landscape?
1. Ensure your website is search optimised and mobile friendly.
To stand a chance of being found online, you need to pay attention to how well your website is optimised for search. Search engines like Google utilise a number of factors to decide who ranks where on search results pages. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the practice of setting up your website with these factors in mind, with the aim of giving your site the best chance of ranking well for appropriate search terms.
For more information about optimising your site for search, check out 11 SEO Factors You Should Still Worry About and 5 SEO Trends to Watch in 2019.
Your website also needs to look good and work well on mobile devices. As mobile internet use goes from strength to strength, it makes sense to consider that more and more of your average audience will be using mobiles and tablets to access your site. The goal here is for your website to provide just as much of a rich and valuable experience on mobile as it does on a desktop, with allowances made for smaller screens, tapping, and swiping. Mobile compatibility is an increasingly essential search ranking factor too, so optimising your site for mobile may also benefit you in search.
2. Embrace the availability of information.
Keep yourself aware of the information that is out there about your company. Check through all company listing sites where you’re present and make sure that your contact information is correct. Use Yell’s Connect Scan to find listing opportunities, spot discrepancies in your contact information, and find your star-ratings across a number of reliable review platforms.
The prospect of unearthing negative reviews can hold some companies back from activities like these. But if you don’t know what people are saying about you online, you could be setting yourself up for a fall. Embrace the availability of information out there about you – don’t fear it!
3. Be willing to open a dialogue.
Which brings us on nicely to our last tip. While you’re searching for your company online, pay attention to any reviews you’ve not responded to, or indeed any mentions of your company over social media (whether they’ve tagged you in or not). Respond graciously to all reviews and mentions – even if they’re less than glowing. If you do find some negative sentiment, this guide about turning negative reviews into positive experiences may be useful to you.
Always be open to starting and engaging with conversations online; whether that’s by responding to reviews, starting a two-way (or more!) discussion over social media, or even embracing personal messaging apps or chatbots.
We humans are incredibly social creatures, so social media is a natural draw for us. We spend more than two hours a day on social media on average – a figure that seems to be increasing. And in business there’s a lot to be said about being visible where your audience are looking!
Conversing with customers and prospects through personal messaging apps (like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger) is another trend to be aware of. It’s incredibly convenient for customers because they can interact with you wherever and whenever works for them. You can even pair messaging apps with an AI-driven chatbots that are programmed to answer basic queries about your company, products, and services. This way, prospects can get answers any time of the day or night – all without having to pay overtime!How should SMEs adapt their marketing practices around our ever-changing marketing landscape? Click To Tweet
So how are you currently getting your name out there online? Do you feel you’re struggling to keep up with digital marketing trends? Or have you embraced the latest tech and have some tips to share? Let us know in the comments!