Speaking at last week’s annual Digital Marketing Forum hosted by Sensis and The Australian, Sensis CEO John Allan said digital marketing offers a relatively cost-effective starting point and with more Australians searching and shopping online, “it is one of the best ways to get your business found”.
Research from the Sensis e-Business Report 2015 indicates one third of Australians are accessing the internet 15 times a day while two thirds of businesses are selling online from their local region.
Although he said “it is with some concern that we found only 17 per cent of SMEs have a digital business strategy, a figure which remains unchanged for the past two years.”
Mr Allan said business owners need to ask themselves the following questions:
- How will the digital age impact me and what can I do to harness it for the benefit of my business?
- Have I got the right digital tools to grow my business online and take advantage of the opportunities out there?
He says small businesses also need to consider the prevalence of smart phone usage with more than 69 per cent of Australians now owning a smartphone.
In April, Google announced a change to their search algorithm to give prominence to websites designed for viewing on mobiles and tablets. Currently only 39 per cent of businesses have mobile optimised websites and changing this “this should be a number one priority” he said.
The algorithm change “appears to have driven SMEs to take action, with 28 per cent planning to optimise their website for mobiles in the coming year. It is not only your website you need to consider. To adapt to the new “mobile first” digital world you must look at every aspect of your business, from customer service to delivery of products and services through a mobile lens.”
For those small businesses daunted by the prospect of where to start, Mr Allan advises to “just start”.
“Get your website into shape, create some click-worthy content or start to explore Facebook or Instagram. The challenge for us all is how to adopt new digital technologies and skills to expand our markets, take advantage of opportunities and remain competitive.”
Quick tips for getting started
1. Outline your goals
Is it to look for brand awareness, drive sales or to interact with customers? How you answer this question will shape your strategy.
2. Research your industry
Knowledge is power, as the old saying goes. Do you know who your competitors are and how many social media followers they have or what content they are sharing on their website? This will help you determine how you can better meet the needs of your audience.
3. Understand your audience
As with any marketing campaign, defining your target market is essential. Who are you trying to reach? What are they interested in? And most importantly how do they spend their time online? This will help your digital strategy to remain relevant.
4. Don’t be afraid to go back to basics
Review your online activity including your website and social media pages - assess whether your brand is putting its best foot forward. Check how easy your website is to navigate. Is the path to making contact with you or making a sale simple or complicated?
5. Get to know SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
The most impressive-looking website means nothing if your customers can’t find you. The absolute goal of online marketing is to be there when someone is looking for you. Tapping into the services of a reputable marketing company will be one of the best investments you’ll make to get more customers.
6. Advertising still matters
One of the keys to finding your website is search engine marketing (SEM) because you shouldn’t just rely on your customers finding you organically. There are also plenty of ways to make it happen including online directory listings and cost effective advertising such as Facebook and Google Ads.
7. Keep content fresh and current
You want to engage potential customers and you want them to come back. Be proactive with your content and outline in advance the different pieces of information you will distribute at different times.