In today's digital era, having an online presence for a business is a critical requirement. If you are not online, you do not exist. While running an SME is rewarding, it is also challenging and hard work. Small business owners need to be prepared and willing to do what it takes to ensure their business survives often volatile and highly competitive territory. Marketing is one element that is often overlooked by many small business owners, primarily due to the expense and time effective marketing strategies demand.

Many enterprises and business owners today still feel that they do not need to know about digital marketing. While age-old methods of advertising on billboards, newspapers, and TV are still available, if businesses wish to increase their revenues, the only way to do so is by going online. With the ecommerce boom, the online nature of conducting business, and online marketing to support them, even small business owners are gearing up to make their own space in the market. That said, sadly, many small business owners feel online marketing does not work for them because they believe their customers are not online. This is far from the truth, in fact, it is actually the opposite.

Building an empire online

Once a business has a strong online presence, it will gain new online, or in-person, consumers. With the massive presence of Google and Facebook, even if businesses use them for promoting goods and services in the local region, they can reach a large number of potential buyers online.

Small businesses have more marketing options than they have ever had before. Low barriers to entry on marketing automation and social media platforms present massive opportunities for smaller businesses, however, it also means increased complexity and more channels to keep on top of.

SMEs goals for digital marketing

Over half of Irish SMEs claim driving sales is a key goal for their digital marketing. Surprisingly over 1 in 5 SMEs are not using digital marketing at all, which means they are missing out on a huge number of potential customers. Digital marketing is designed to draw the attention of the businesses target audience. Thus, in order for digital marketing to be a success, the three pillars of digital marketing need to be in place:

1. Content marketing

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

3. Social media marketing

When it comes to digital marketing, content is king. Quality content is driven by relevant keywords in giving SMEs the digital presence and adequate search engine rankings they need to remain competitive online.

Google tends to favour larger sites belonging to larger companies with well-known brands. Since more authority and trust is conferred on these sites which have greater scale, SMEs have to work harder on their Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to gain prominence in the natural listings of the search engines. However, smaller businesses often have the advantage of being more nimble and dynamic. Small businesses SEO campaigns are often led by their owner/managers, which gives an SEO edge in terms of product or market knowledge, authority to make decisions, and speed of action.

Social-media is not only a communication tool for amusement, but it is also an important part of marketing strategies in business life. SMEs often face problems such as profitability and competition, as they lack time and resources. Although social media is often a slow process, and it requires dedicated resources, SMEs who ignore social media risk losing business to competitors who have a digital presence, consistently engaging with their customers through various social platforms.

Final note:

61% of online searches are about products or services, this statistic highlights the importance and what an optimized website, with high-quality, engaging content and relevant social media posts can do for a business.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.