Cathy Martine, AT&T’s Executive Vice President of Small Business Solutions said; “U.S. small businesses see incredible value and opportunity in digital marketing and are clearly increasing their presence as a way to gain access to new customers. With a variety of digital tools such as email, websites and social media, coupled with the ability to both deliver and access them from mobile devices, small businesses are building a new connection without borders.”
Where did Ms. Martine get such optimism for digital marketing? It seems, last year AT&T took a poll. They examined 1,000 small businesses coast to coast. In that study they learned that 66% of small, American businesses plan to devote the same amount or more budget to digital marketing. This includes but is not limited to: websites, social media and online ads. The polling also showed that the preponderant majority will grow their online brand through their company website and email blasts to customers, clients and patrons.
Additional money will also be applied in mobile marketing, also considered to be digital marketing, according to the poll. 71% said they are somewhat or very likely to increase their spending on digital marketing via mobile devises like smart phones and tablets. About one in three are using mobile-friendly websites as a way to attract and engage customers.
In addition, AT&T learned that more than 80% of small business polled would use word of mouth marketing to increase branding awareness and visibility. On a side bar, 93% of startups, businesses less than 2 years old, intend to maximize word-of-mouth marketing. I wonder if Twitter is part of their digital marketing plan?
I Have A Digital Marketing Budget. What’s Next?
So, now that we know that small businesses are going to spend more on digital marketing the next question is where in the digital marketing world should those dollars go?
My first suggestion would be in Website architecture. An eye-pleasing website design is important to your businesses image but your sites architecture will help dictate how far-reaching your digital marketing presence goes. Your sites architecture is the way every page of your website links to every other page. The CEO of High Rankings, Jill Whalen, reports, “poor site architecture can completely kill off rankings, traffic and even conversions.” She has suggested that small-business owners consider their main categories or products and services and how to organize them within their site’s structure in a logical, search engine friendly order. She also suggests hiring an “information architect” who specializes in search engine optimization & digital marketing if that’s not a skill you possess.
Once you have an eye pleasing and well structured website my second suggestion would be to invest into SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay per click advertising). Why? Because these digital marketing channels offer a significantly higher return on investment (ROI) than traditional marketing tactics. Skyler Malley, founder of Denver’s Firestarter SEO, explains, “Because SEO & PPC are highly targeted in terms of geographic location, demographics, and service areas; give answers to people when they are looking for information; and suggest that they use your business at a time when they need it, customers come to you.”
Being that I work frequently on the public relations side of digital marketing and advertising I have learned that press exposure and media coverage is traditionally valued three times higher than paid advertising. This is so because the public views it differently and more reliably. Thus, it has the potential to deliver greater ROI than traditional marketing, digital marketing and even ousting social media. With this I would recommend that small businesses owners learn how to pitch stories directly and effectively to reporters by using free tools like SourceBottle, HARO and Publiseek. Kari DePhillips, owner of the Content Factory says, “we’ve gotten clients media coverage at outlets like the Huffington Post and CNN using these tools, and they’re available to anyone who wants to sign up for them.” DePhillips adds that, “small business owners should ensure that they have adequate resources for monitoring and responding to media opportunities.” This is a quality problem to have, I would think.
Finally, once you have a marketable web site with great calls to action, with good SEO, your PPC campaign is up and flowing, and you are actively looking for mass media opportunities I would suggest a focused social media campaign, which will be covered in our next blog: Real Men Use Pinterest
By Jason Row
Husebo Advertising & Public Relations