June 5th, 2023
Digital marketing has evolved quite considerably since we saw the first online marketing campaigns back around 1995. Now digital marketing in terms of content display on the Internet through websites, mobile devices, connected billboards, and even smart watches – they are simply everywhere.
Too often for small businesses, a lack of resources or having the wrong digital marketing strategy in place can be detrimental to their business success and limits their ability to explore and utilize this undoubtedly most powerful marketing era in history.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
By clearly understanding the opportunities, carefully selecting the right approaches for your business and your budget, you can adopt strategies and methods that allow you to unlock the growth limitation you may be experiencing.
Digital marketing allows targeting of your specific audience and hence enables more personalized campaigns than ever, resulting in lower marketing costs, higher ROI, and much improved profitability.
But the challenge is that there is now much more choices, channels, methods, and tactics and hence more complexity.
Let us explore these choices and find an easier way to demystify the digital marketing.
We will speak with one of the leading marketing experts (Mr. Liam Farrell) at a major marketing agency, Anaxstar.com Web services.
Mr. Farrell, let me start by welcoming you to EmpowerPioneers.com and thank you for providing us your valuable time, and incredibly experience. I will start with my first question.
Heather: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Liam: Sure. First, I like to thank you for your invitation and I appreciate your warm welcome.
I work as a Director of Professional Marketing Services at Anaxstar.com and I am responsible for sourcing the best and most effective outsourced services for our clients. For instance, we have clients who need Radio advertising. I source the best iHeart Radio shows, I purchase them as a bulk package, and we incorporate these into our marketing packages for our clients. I have worked at Anaxstar.com since 2004, and prior to that, I worked at Sun Microsystems and Microsoft, for total of 16 years.
Heather: With your vast experience, you obviously understand the difficulties that small businesses face when it comes to online or digital marketing. When I speak with small business owners, they say …
• I want to grow my revenue but lead generation online is costly and time consuming for me
• I need better business management tools as I don’t have much time
• I don’t have time to focus on marketing, it seems that I need to be online and in social networks all the time
• I want a marketing strategy that works for my industry, really quick and low cost
• I need a modern website that is informative but I don’t think I have the time to do it
• I want more qualified leads where the prospecting has done most of the work already
• I need a system to manage my leads and customers, I seem to never get back to my leads promptly
• I need a better online reputation and social presence so closing is easier
• I need help with email marketing or some kind of marketing that is easier to manage
• I need help with branding, content marketing, and social media posting
With all these concerns, so many things to do, so little time, where do you think small business owners should start from?
Liam: Small business owners tell us that some of them are certainly having quite a few challenges (many of the things you just mentioned) with marketing their products and services, with lead generation, with their online presence, and more. These challenges are often to do with budgets, selecting the best methods, choosing the correct channel for their campaigns, deciding on the best platform, content creation for content marketing, staying on top of current technology, increasing visibility and traffic to their websites, and in particular getting quality leads that covert. Business owners can have one, or many challenges that I described, at the same time, which makes things even more complicated for them.
I often suggest to business owner to first start with developing a marketing strategy for your business. Whether you are in a B2B or a B2C industry, you must first come up with a logical, practical and executable strategy.
This strategy is really the blueprint of how you intend to sell your products/services in your market. If you have multiple products/services then you must consider that you must have multiple strategies that uniquely apply to each of your offerings, since it may be that each of your products is targeted to a difference audience. Don’t think that this is a lot of work and takes lots of your time. It doesn’t have to get too complicated. You just need to follow a set of rules to devise a strategy for each of your products/services if they are targeted towards different audiences. I would start with the following guidelines:
- Determine the state of the market for your products and services. Who is likely to purchase your product? How popular is your product, and is there lots of demand for it? What are your competitors’ marketing strategies? By having an overview of your market and how much your product is in demand you can begin to establish buyer profiles, economic climate, product positioning, competitive analysis, trends and risks, and how your pricing can be set. You are now in a much better place to create a marketing strategy that reflects all of these factors and allow you to start to consider your options.
- Determine the market conditions based on competitors’ choices. The key to designing a strong and effective marketing strategy begins by understanding how the market is behaving and you can do that by analyzing what your competitors are doing. You need to look at what competitors are doing with their campaigns, how they are growing, if they are, what is their digital marketing strategy based on, how are they performing, and evaluate what are the key performance indicators for this market.
- Finally, your marketing strategy will begin to take shape when you start defining your marketing goals. What is your market goals, is it generating leads, or increasing sales, or establishing greater brand awareness, or gaining new demographic in your customer base, or any combination of these. If you know what you want, then you can focus on achieving that specific goal or goals. List your goals, e,g, 1) generate leads, 2) customer acquisition, 3) customer nurturing, 4) customer loyalty, cross-promotion, upsell, 5) branding, etc. and then you can now define who are your target audience based on the goals you have set for your marketing strategy.
This is a great start for business owners to compile a marketing strategy.
Heather: Should small businesses consider marketing outside of digital or online channels?
Liam: When you look at U.S. Internet usage as well as the global Internet usage, the numbers demonstrate the importance of the necessity for businesses to be online. The latest data suggest that 89% of CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) think that online marketing is the here and now and is more significant than so-called offline or print marketing or radio. As I mentioned before I am involved in iHeart radio advertising services for our clients, but every single one of the campaigns we do on behalf of our clients is to promote their brand online through their website or their social media presence.
It’s not complicated once you accept that Internet is here, and it is here to stay. Now you just have to put together a marketing strategy that works for you and your business goals. You establish this by looking at your market, the demographics of your customer base, where they are, where they hang out online, how do they look for your products, and how do they make decisions when they want to buy your product. Once you evaluate all of these, it is quite obvious that you want to be offering your products/services on the Internet, through your website, through social media presence, through blogs, etc.
Heather: Do you believe Facebook is a good place for small businesses to do advertising?
Liam: As I mentioned earlier, by looking at the market and the customers and establishing where they hanging out and where they search for your products/services, then it may or may not be that Facebook is ideal to have in your marketing mix. Campaigning in Facebook is not as effective as it use to be. Facebook made a few mistakes with regards to user privacy and users are not happy and this is now causing advertisers to move away. But in some cases, it may still be okay to place ads in Facebook.
Heather: How about Google advertising or Microsoft Bing advertising?
Liam: Both offer good PPC advertising programs. Unfortunately, they are very expensive. PPC, or pay per click these days are anywhere from $4 per click to upwards of $400 per click. Conversion rates are roughly about 1%, sometimes a little better of course. That means a small business owner is spending about around $400-$40,000 just to get a customer. At Anaxtar.com we see our customers spend anywhere from $8 per click to about $30 per click, which translates to getting one customer for $800 and up to $3,000 per customer acquisition. If lead generation is the strategy, and the margin on the product/service is high enough, then it may be worth it. Otherwise, and in most cases, search engine marketing (SEM) is very expensive for most small businesses. How many small businesses have a margin 3-4 times the cost of getting a customer through Google or Bing, since ideally, if you spend say $1,000 for a campaign with Google/Bing you should make about $3,000 – how can this be done with such high PPC costs and such low conversion rates?
Heather: What would you suggest small business owner do for their digital marketing campaigning or lead generation?
Liam: Well, I believe small owners should focus on getting leads from affordable sources and the most affordable sources of lead generation today is content marketing on the Internet through blog guest posts and social media promotion of those guest posts.
Latest market reports are indicating that content marketing produces 3 times as many leads and cost 62% less than outbound advertising in search engines. According to Forrester Research 91% of all marketing professionals use content marketing, and 60% of marketers report that content marketing is an extremely/very important component of their overall marketing strategy. 86% of B2C marketers believe that content marketing is an irreplaceable part of all their marketing campaigns, while 69% of B2B marketers regard content marketing as the most significant component of their marketing campaigns.
Content is how buyers now connect with businesses. They want to be informed of solutions for whatever they are looking for and they want businesses to offer them educational content so they can make better and more informed decision. This also build credibility and trust as part of the purchasing decision making process.
Heather: What is good content? How can small business owners create “good content”?
Liam: In basic terms, good content is content worth reading. Content is the go-to-tactic for any marketing strategy that generates demand and leverages valuable information for lead generation. This is why content marketing is so effective (generating 3 times as many leads) compared to outbound marketing like search engine advertising in Google. To create “good content”, you need to start with research. You need to talk to your existing customers and potential customers to see what kind of content to develop to reach more people via social media and blogs and other channels. If you produce content that people don’t want, you are simply wasting your time and your effort.
What do people want for content? Well, think of it this way. Your audience is a content connoisseur. That means they know good content a mile away, and reject rubbish content right away. Do lots of research. See what people are having a difficulty with. What are their questions and concerns? What kind of insights are they looking for? Once you know what they want, then consider offering them a range of content formats, (e.g. text, video, graphics, etc.) that match each unique persona requirement in order to maximize the potential for engagement. If you can achieve this, then it is highly likely that you will switch your prospect to a customer.
What we do at Anaxstar.com is to base all of our content production for our audiences, around the questions we get from our online contact page forms. These questions about products, services, marketing, changing trends for future campaigning, etc. tell us what content people want to read and what information they are looking for. Then we provide them with as much valuable information and description that we can and help them address the issues that concern them.
Heather: How can small business owners find time to be involved in content marketing when there is so much to do?
Liam: Each interaction with your potential customer is an opportunity. New technologies and strategies enable ways to strengthen your relationships with your customers and help achieve your business goals. Time allocation, cost and efficiency remain important, of course. And as customers grow more demanding, (they seem to be these days) excellent service stands out as a differentiator and a source of value. Content creation can be a smart way to alleviate some of the challenges and if used effectively, can actually help small business owners manage their time better and more efficiently by providing relevant content for their potential customers upfront.
The COVID pandemic changed the way customers want to buy and how they want to be treated, with profound and long-lasting implications for how businesses continue to fulfill their service needs, especially in a complex set of physical and digital experience. All the latest marketing trends analysis is suggesting that this is shattering the norms of how work is done, where to meet customers and what they want to buy, and how best to remain connected to them. Addressing the shifting dynamics in the market is an opportunity to re-imagine customer service: not as a cost to minimize but as a driver of revenue and value to maximize.
Heather: What are some of the marketing trends that small businesses should be aware of for 2022?
Liam: Our company Anaxstar.com does a survey every year and our communications department releases a report for the following year. They have recently released the 2022 Marketing Trends Report, which you can review. It is written in a very easy to read format, and offers incredible insight, in my opinion, for what to look for in 2022. There is a lot of great information available there.
Heather: Thank you for your insight and advice with regards to digital marketing for small business owners. We hope to have you discuss more topics with us, which we will provide for our audience in the future. Can I provide your contact information here?
Liam: My pleasure. I look forward to the next time we chat and discuss other topics. My contact information is below. Thank you.
Liam Farrell, Anaxstar.com, Tel: (206) 855-6800--- article sharing ---