Why is a digital marketing strategy important for SME's?
Claire Biddle, founder of Strateji.co.uk explains why a digital marketing strategy is important for SME’s and why this should be considered over the design of a website.
Many small business owners that do not see the value in growing their presence online, have had bad experiences or simply do not understand the benefits of marketing themselves online.
Developing a digital strategy first will help aliviate some of these concerns. Business owners will be clearer about what they want from their website, they will better understand what is achievable, providing more realistic expectations and will be able to use this new found knowledge when working with web designers to build a purposeful website.
Setting clear objectives of what you want your website to do for your business
For most small business owners, the design of the website is almost always the main factor. The first port-of-call when taking on the task of developing a website is normally to either look up a local website designer or have a go at a D.I.Y website maker such as Shopify.co.uk or Wix.com. Let me tell you in this article why this is a big mistake…
Is it better to choose a website design or build a website strategy first?
The first thing to consider is why you want a website. For most businesses in the 21st century a website is important (by 2020 85% of customers will shop online) however, some businesses operate quite happily without one. If your business has a thriving local customer base. Drawing in more business may hinder rather than be a blessing, but for most it is important to now be digitally competitive.
A local business may only need a website to act as an information point, to offer additional information such as visitor information or to enhance credibility however, other businesses will want their website to drive more people to purchase their products or use their services.
Once a business has a clear objective of why they want a website, a strategy can be put in place to make sure the website works in the right way for them.
Building for success
You can have the most attractive website in the digital universe, but considering how many stars there are in such a vast space, if your website can not be found, it’s a wasted effort!
This may surprise you, but many web designers do not normally understand SEO (search engine optimisation). They may build you a great looking site but if it is not Google friendly, it is likely it will not rank well online versus competitors. Web designers are generally very talented in design and code but not so much in Search Engine Optimisation. A client of mine recently had a new website built. Now, in the year of 2015 when ‘MobileGeddon’ exploded, you would have thought any web designer would have built a mobile friendly, responsive site as standard. But no, as SEO was not the remit of the web designer, this was over looked and now the owner has the decision whether to be less competitive online or budget for a re-build.
To read more about what is ‘MobileGeddon’ read here.
Making your website work hard for you
Understanding what you want your website to do for you will help you decide whether the design is right. Do you want your website to provide you leads? Do you want visiting customers to book online? These are important factors when planning your user experience. A good website will only ever be a couple of clicks from the home page and will provide a simple but effective experience. A website that provides hundreds or thousands or visitors is great however, if you do not know who your visitors are, why they ended up on your website or why they are not purchasing – that’s not so appealing. A website needs to perform for you. It needs to silently act as a sales tool, gathering customer information for you to then make intelligent marketing decisions.
The dream website – a website sales tool
Imagine a website that Google loves, so he will happily rank you for keywords that are important to your business. Imagine that you get a healthy flow of customers to your website and then the site attracts them to make an action, that in turn, provides you with valuable customer data. Imagine, how you can then use this intelligent data to send targeted emails or other forms of marketing that are tailored to what exactly interests the customer. Imagine then the customer logs back on your website and you are notified what pages they are looking at. This then gives you the perfect opportunity to deliver a targeted follow up call to convert the visitor into a customer. At this point you may be thinking you are in an internet ‘Big Brother’ world but, this is completely possible and businesses are using this to make more intelligent marketing decisions.
Technology moves on
Another factor to consider is that technology is rapidly advancing. What was good optimization three years ago, would probably today penalize your website. The strategy and design of the website needs to be flexible. If you have spent endless hours building your online presence, building links to your website, getting found prominently online, the last thing you want is not to be able to make technological changes in line with Google’s recommendations. Many small business owners have found this a problem when building themselves a D.I.Y website. They have enjoyed the benefits of marketing their website online. Paid for expert help and then due to Google algorithm changes, have needed to make technologic changes to the website. If the website design is restrictive and does not allow for adjustments, the website can become outdated and find it can be hard to remain competitive online without paying for a complete re-build.
These couple of points may make you realize that in fact the design of the website is far less important than the customer experience and that working out the marketing strategy first will in the long run give you a better return on investment.
My advice is to work backwards. Look for a design company that can offer you good online marketing after-service or, look for an independent marketing service who can then recommend a good local website designer that they can work together with.
Why a digital marketing strategy is important for a SME is simple. Get the online experience right and even small businesses can compete with big brands. You will essentially have two shop fronts. You will give yourself two opportunities to market your products and you will be ready for the future digital customer.