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Five reasons why your business needs to invest in digital marketing

Apr 27, 2018

Digital marketing might seem like something that only large firms would invest in, but Neil Hughes of Baker Tilly Hughes Blake gives five good reasons why SMEs should be looking to expand their digital marketing spend.

Small and medium-sized businesses are putting more and more emphasis on their digital efforts. Studies show 77% of SMEs planned to increase their advertising spend in 2018. It does look like these businesses are starting to realise the benefits digital marketing can bring but, with 29% of small businesses showing to not even having a website, it still seems as though there are many SMEs that are reluctant to make the investment. They shouldn't be. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Your customers are online

Some businesses believe their customers are not online, so an investment in digital marketing doesn’t seem worth it. However, 97% of consumers look online before making a local purchase, and between 70–80% of consumers research a company online before clicking the 'buy' button. Small businesses that don’t make the digital investment may miss out on real opportunities and run the risk of losing ground to more digitally-savvy competitors who rank in an online search for important keywords relevant to their industry.

2. Consumer expectations have changed

The modern consumer has a heightened sense of expectation. If a potential client goes online to reads up about an SME but finds that they don’t have a website or social media presence, it is considered a huge disadvantage, especially to the younger demographics (e.g. Millennials and Generation Z). If you want to resonate and connect with the modern consumer, you need to develop your online presence.

3. Seasonal trends drive sales

Without a digital marketing strategy in place, it’s hard to keep up with seasonal trends. Research shows that on Black Friday, for example, email marketing and online shopping via mobile phones drive sales in a significant way. If your business wants to make the most of this large shopping day, consider how to incorporate email and mobile marketing into your campaigns.

In 2015, 25.1% of all transactions were driven by email marketing, and mobile shopping accounted for 30.6% of all spending. Similarly, the influence of digital on other seasonal events like Christmas and Halloween continues to grow. Whatever the sector, digital marketing is now a must-have.

4. A good reputation can be made online

A good online presence that shows your business is reliable, responsive and trustworthy, and creates a great experience for your customers while positively impacting your brand’s reputation. Not having a social media presence or taking too long to answer queries via email can cause potential customers to lose trust in your brand, resulting in them looking to your competitors to solve their needs.

5. Your customers are mobile

The smartphone has revolutionised the way we go about our daily lives. Consumers today have the power of a personal computer at their fingertips at all times. Google has confirmed that there are now more searches conducted on mobile than on desktop. To target your mobile customers, your site must be optimised for viewing on mobile devices. Optimising your site for mobile does not have to be expensive either. There are many great themes and plugins, which will help you make your website mobile friendly.

Small businesses also need to be able to put themselves in a position to convert local mobile searches into customers. You need to put in the work to give yourself the best chance of ranking in local searches based on location. Best practices includes registering your business on directories like Yelp and Google My Business, and including your locality in your title tags and metadata.

Neil Hughes is the Managing Partner of Baker Tilly Hughes Blake.