Small and medium-sized businesses are beginning to realize that digital and online marketing are necessary in achieving success. In the past, many small business owners had ignored online marketing, and they lost business as young and middle-aged customers flocked to competitors that are online.
A new survey based on data from 300 small and midsized businesses in the third quarter of 2012 was recently published by BIA/Kelsey, a distinguished local-media research firm. One of the top findings of the survey was that 40 percent of these businesses are planning to increase their budgets for digital marketing sometime in the next year.
The survey also reported that the online channel rated as the favorite among the small businesses surveyed is Facebook. Over 52 percent of businesses used Facebook for promotional purposes, which puts it above most other forms of marketing, such as the following:
• Newspaper advertising – 31 percent
• Community sponsorship – 27 percent
• Email marketing – 25 percent
While I strongly agree of the importance of utilizing social media for your business, I certanly wouldn’t suggest it consume the bulk of your marketing resources.
Social Media does not generate significant ROI in my experience. Facebook Likes, Google +’s or a mention in LinkedIn are not reliable ROI metrics to measure. While an important part of your online marketing strategy, I consider Social Media not so much of a sales function but more of a marketing department function, where brand awareness and consumer education are important.
I believe the greatest ROI generating activity is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). By far and away, SEO produces the lowest cost per lead, the largest volume of leads and the best leads in terms of quality. The drawback with SEO is that it can take some time to get to the ranking.
In the interim, use PPC, especially for high-value, short term campaigns. In my opinion, think PPC for the short term and think SEO for the long-term better quality leads.
Keep in mind, with your online marketing you are building a complex and long-standing infrastructure that, will grow with time and effort. As important as quality relevant content is also consistency in posting new quality relevant content.
As I have mentioned, you must devise a online marketing strategy and you must use the best resources of what today’s technology has to offer.