[5 minute read]
Only a few years ago, digital marketing for your small business might have been an option – a “maybe” or a “might do.” Today, it’s fair to say that having an online presence for a small business is an imperative – at least for 90% of businesses. What’s great about digital marketing is that anyone can dabble in it, whether that means trying your hand at some social media or DIY-ing your way to website greatness with a free tool like WordPress or Wix.com.
Whether you’re a fledgling marketer who is new to the wild west of online marketing or you’re familiar with concepts like SEO, content marketing and PPC, there are a few untold truths about digital marketing that you’ll only ever hear whispered in the underground bunkers of the architects of the internet. Here they are (in no particular order):
Untold Truth #1: The size of your following does not directly determine the extent of your success
Marketers would love to believe quantity matters more than quality, but it doesn’t – well not in the conventional sense. For some odd reason, the everyday digital consumer rates brands with large social media followings higher than others. We could put it down to herd mentality or the fact that we live in a system that seems to glorify quantity over quality. Either way, you may have noticed that it gets easier to attract more followers on social media once you have a decent sized following. Having said that, it’s probably worth debunking the myth that accounts with large followings are the most successful. Followers are potential customers that need to be inspired to make a purchase, and converting leads into sales is a whole other ball game. It all depends on your stage of growth.
If you’re just starting out on social media, it may be worth your while to run a competition using a tool like Gleam, Rafflecopter and Woobox, or try another strategy to quickly boost your follower size for the purpose of improving your image. But if you’ve been in the game for a minute, you may want to shift your focus to acquiring good quality leads – customers who are a) interested in your product/service and b) within your targeted demographic. Boosting or sponsoring your post may be a more effective tactic. In those cases, you may not end up with the biggest following but your leads will be “hotter” (or more likely to convert). Think about your objective before rushing to invest resources into social media. Your objective should always determine your strategy.
Untold Truth #2: Word-of-mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool
Let’s start with some stats. According to a study conducted by Nielsen, 92% of consumers from around the globe report that they trust word-of-mouth recommendations (also referred to as “earned media”) above all other forms of advertising. That’s a whopper. If you thought word-of-mouth wasn’t as powerful as it once was in the good old days, think again. Word-of-mouth marketing is far from dead, it’s evolved, it’s become digitised. Back in the day, people relied on information they received from family and friends. They still do. But the concept of “family and friends” has evolved to include the worldwide online community. Before we make buying decisions, we ask for recommendations on social media and we read reviews. This has led to the proliferation of internet phenomena like unboxing and live reaction videos – yes, these are the new word-of-mouth marketing tools and they’re multiplying by the minute.
There are two lessons to be learnt here. Number one, never hide from a bad review and hope that it somehow disappears into the ether – listen to the customer, respond, fix the problem and do it out on the open water (a.k.a on social media or wherever the review was posted). There’s nothing that destroys the online reputation of a small business faster than a social media manager who is ungracious in their responses to negative comments. Number two: ask and thou shalt receive (yes, it sounds more authoritative in Old English). When your customers make a purchase and have a good shopping experience, ask for a review, a star rating, a carrier pigeon trailing a ribbon of compliments – anything. The more you’re recommended, the greater your credibility. And here’s an idea – incentivise, incentivise, incentivise. By rewarding your customers for their referrals, you’ll be strengthening your online reputation. So don’t be shy, ask those kind folks to spread the word. If you’re as good as you claim to be, they always will.
To be continued…
This article is part one of a three-part series on demystifying digital marketing for small business. Watch this space for part two. In the meantime, you can connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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