Zohaib Hassan is the CEO/Founder of SnapWeb Services, an ROI driven, data-obsessed full-services digital marketing agency.
Covid-19 hit the world by surprise and left more than 14 million Americans unemployed with 31% of small and medium-sized businesses having to shut down their doors. Consumer confidence drives the U.S. economy and with uncertainty still on the horizon, business owners should consider the value of their advertising expenditures.
The Current State Of Affairs
According to Facebook’s State of Small Business Report, the hospitality and service industry took the hardest hit across all sectors (43%) and wellness, fitness, and other professional services followed close behind (41%). Surprisingly the retail industry wasn’t nearly as affected with 23% of businesses not operating.
When asked about their cash flows within the past 30 days it was clearly evident that cash outflow is greater than their inflow. This has led many business owners to turn digital in order to interface with their customers, ranging from digital ordering tools to curbside delivery.
Every form of traditional marketing can be translated into a digital setting. The only difference is that with digital marketing you’re able to identify exactly who your target audience is and what interests they have beyond the scope of your business. Additionally, the tracking capabilities are virtually limitless. Meaning that every dollar you spend can be directly attributed to your campaign(s).
The cost of running digital ads can be far less than running your traditional ads. Take billboards, for example. Depending on where your placement is, I’ve seen that the cost can range anywhere between $1,200 to $12,000+ per month. Given that you’re targeting the city you’re operating in, you could easily run display ads with far more reach and trackability than billboards. Bear in mind that you still haven’t included the cost of printing and installation. Since one of the current biggest issues with cash flow is that outflow is greater than inflow you can see how cost plays a bigger role now more than ever. Overall, if used correctly, digital marketing can help your business acquire and retain customers with a significantly lower cost per acquisition than your traditional marketing efforts.
Where To Start?
The best place to start is to do your own research into what different tactics you can use in order to fulfill your goal(s). Sometimes you don’t even have to pay, it could be as simple as creating and optimizing your Google My Business page. You can also:
• Set-up your Google Webmasters
• Fix website issues based on Google PageSpeed
• Put your business in your local and national online directories
Those are just a few ideas for your SEO, and there are still many other avenues such as e-mail marketing, social media advertising, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and so on. Once you’ve identified what platforms are needed you can then utilize these tactics and develop your overall strategy. You can either do this in-house or hire an agency to do it for you, but before you look at hiring out, you would do well to educate yourself on the basics of digital marketing first.
Two of the most frequently used platforms, Google and Facebook, have endless free resources available to help business leaders and marketing professionals alike get up to speed on the latest advances in the digital landscape. Setting up and updating profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Yelp or Google My Business doesn’t take a marketing background to figure out.
When it comes to leveraging your website, you may not have the know-how or budget to develop a state of the art site — but if you can get your web developer to help you install a few simple bits of script, you can learn so much more about how people interact with you digitally. You may think you know your audience, but Google Analytics will enable you to truly know everything about their age, gender, location, interests and even the journey they tend to take through your website. And if you’re interested in moving into paid advertising, free demographic analysis tools from Google and Facebook will help you build audiences that are already aware of and engaged with your brand.
Finally, you should always benchmark yourself against your competitors. Look at what they’re doing with their digital presence — Facebook will even let you see your competitor’s ads. By observing how your competitors operate in the digital sphere, you can use their presence as inspiration and a jumping-off point for your own digital marketing. And if your competitors have a lackluster digital presence, that means you have a wealth of untapped potential available in your local market.
Even if you don’t intend on personally executing your company’s marketing strategy, education on digital marketing fundamentals is paramount in finding the right candidate or agency to help you fulfill the role. Because if you don’t take the initiative to know what you’re interviewing candidates or auditioning companies for, you will get taken advantage of.