Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with a number of small business owners about their digital marketing needs. What I’m learning is that there’s a HUGE discrepancy in the value many small business owners place on digital presence/marketing compared to the known value digital provides. We know that 63% of Americans search on Google, 68% of Americans use Facebook, and 35% of Americans use Instagram, owned by Facebook. That means basically every small businesses’ entire audience is actively using 2 platforms on a regular basis. That’s more than we can say for television, newspaper, direct mail, radio, and the numerous other media outlets that many small businesses are still prioritizing. I’m here to make a case for small businesses to at least devote the time needed to implement the most basic, high impact digital strategies.

How do you know if you’re neglecting high-impact projects in a small business?

If you’re pursuing projects in any one segment of your business to the point where those projects are starting to generate diminishing returns or seem stagnant, you’ve probably neglected another important aspect of your business where you could’ve been making larger gains. What I’ve seen lately is that small business owners are often uncomfortable with digital, so they avoid it and work on projects in other aspects of the business that they’re more accustomed to.  If you’re a small business manager and you’ve been avoiding your company’s high-impact digital presence and digital marketing projects, I have some recommendations on where to start.

Where To Start

  1. Your Website: Focus on functionality, not style. Google, among others, has found more than 50% of users will leave a website if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds or less. Forget about that beautiful, rotating image carousel at the top of your site. A majority of your customers aren’t actually staying on your site long enough to appreciate the images because they’re slowing down your site load time. Find a local site developer that can help you speed up your website. Or, if you have some site development experience, use this Google tool to analyze your mobile site speed and give you recommendations for quick fixes. Focusing on functionality can be a huge time and money-saver when you’re in the initial phases of improving your brand’s digital presence. Style and design do affect the user experience, but they can’t experience the design if they leave your slow loading site immediately.
  2. Your Ads: As I mentioned, most of your audiences use Google or Facebook/Instagram. Pick one to prioritize. Then, launch a small advertising campaign for your local area. You don’t need to spend a lot of time on the ads themselves. The same principle for your website is true for ad copy (in the early phases of your digital expansion). Don’t spend hours creating the perfect ad copy messaging for ads that don’t drive more than 10% of your digital revenue. Functional ads drive the potential customer to your website or encourage them to contact you. When it comes to Google Ads, functional ads should:
    1. Use as many characters as possible so they take up more space on the Google results page
    2. Contain keywords that your customers are searching with. These keywords should also be included on the landing page in your ad.
    3. Send users to a relevant landing page on your site, based on what they searched.
    4. Include phrases from your website.

One day, it will make more sense to spend time and effort optimizing these campaigns. In the beginning, the point is that you get a test up and running and stop delaying it to work on other projects. Your audience is on these platforms and you need to learn how best to reach them. You must start somewhere!

  1. Non-Website References: Use all of the free services that make your business easy to find. Easy for EVERYONE to find. Get outside of your personal, digital bubble and ask yourself, “Where are my customers online?” I can tell you that even though the browser on your personal computer might default to the Yahoo home page, the vast majority of your customers are using Google and/or Facebook. Google has a free service, called Google My Business, that ensures you have a free listing on Google when someone, especially local customers, searches for your business. On Facebook, you just need to create a Facebook business page. If you’re a local business, it’s critical to include your company’s address on these platforms. Facebook business pages are really helpful when you’re still working on fixing the site speed or other major features of your website. Include your company’s hours, contact information, services, product photos, etc on your Facebook business page in case customers are getting frustrated with your website.

These are just a few starting tips based on the conversations I’ve had with small businesses lately. They’re not all-encompassing and many small businesses have already mastered all of these areas. That being said, there are far more businesses ignoring digital than I realized.

There’s a lesson here for all digital marketers. If you’re sticking to what you’re comfortable with, you’re likely missing high-impact, goal-crushing opportunities that could really be furthering your brand. We should all take some time to reflect on our work days and determine if there are any projects we’re avoiding. If there are, do some research and decide if you’re really missing out on a great growth opportunity!