“SME business owners should devote their time to ‘doing what they do best’ – growing and developing their business.”

The transition from print to the digital era has seen a new skillset required in the marketing world and those who keep up will reap the benefits.

Some analysts believe technology is evolving so fast that five years of development today produces more innovation than the past 50 years combined because information is now exchanged at record rates.

Cara Pring, who runs The Social Skinny, a website dedicated to social media and website optimisation strategy, says when she was in college, one of her advertising professors said it takes an average of seven impressions before a consumer recognises your brand.

“Today, with the saturation of social media, internet, satellite radio, and expansion of television networks, that number of impressions is closer to 20,” she says.

Christena Singh, author of the Sensis e-Business Report 2013, draws on some amusing comparisons between the way businesses operated around 10 years ago (Sensis started tracking technology trends in Australian SMEs through these reports in 1995) and how we do things now.

Fax machines were more common than a desktop computer, modems and pagers were the norm, and only 5% of SMEs were plugged in to the internet.

Marketers advertised in print publications, radio and television advertisements and they followed the ‘four Ps’ principle – considering product, price, promotion and place before launching anything.

Today, 93% of online research starts with a search engine and 68% of consumers read up on a company on social media before buying goods or services from them, according to BrandPoint.

While traditional marketing methods can still complement new digital tactics, your business can reap enormous rewards through cultivating a great digital marketing strategy.

Blog posts, social media, videos, infographics, webinars, podcasts, online shopping – the marketing possibilities the digital era has heralded seem endless.

So, should you be investing in digital experts to drive your marketing campaigns?

According to Abigail Murison, acting managing editor at content marketing agency Edge, SME business owners should devote their time to “doing what they do best” – growing and developing their business.

“Some owners might come from a marketing background and be comfortable doing their own digital marketing, preferring to outsource the accounts and admin functions. Others might be great software developers or salespeople, and would be better hiring someone to do the marketing, or outsourcing it to an external agency,” she says.

It also depends on the amount of content you are creating as part of your digital content marketing strategy. If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of crafting blog posts, tweets, Facebook updates and videos, perhaps it’s time to outsource to the experts.

Whether tapping into the resources of a digital marketing services company or investing in a full-time digital marketing manager, you should research digital trends to ensure you’re asking the candidate the right technical questions. You also want to know what kind of results they have had from their marketing: views, click-throughs, visitors and, hopefully, conversions and sales.

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