Two respected organizations, Vocus and Inc., recently teamed up to produce a report titled “The State of Digital Marketing for SMBs”. For their study, the group surveyed 408 digital marketing decision makers. A key question that was addressed was the effectiveness of digital marketing tools. The results from the survey showed the top 5 to be website, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), email for marketing, and email for customer service. See the charts below for the complete results.
The researchers further separated the respondents based on the level of sales of the organizations they represent. The top five tools were consistent across both groups but, were ordered slightly differently. For organizations with over $1 mil in sales, the website remained the #1 tool, but email marketing had both a higher usage percentage and a higher effectiveness ratio coming in at the #2 spot.
As you examine your options for digital marketing, keep these tips for using the top 5 most effective digital marketing tools in mind:
- Website – A professional website serves as your online business headquarters and will provide that all-important first impression. It should look nice, but if possible, it should also be integrated with your business. Share news, offer promotions, accept payments. Also, be sure to post links to any of your social media profiles as well as any other ways to contact you.
- Social Media – Use these channels to connect with your customers. Don’t forget that its more about being “social” than it is about advertising. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest are not places that people are going to search for merchandise to buy. But, they might be places that they learn about your company, products, community involvement, etc. This is where they will hear your voice. Use these channels to influence, not to do hard sales.
- Email for Marketing/Promotion – One of the reasons that this medium is so effective is because it is often used to drive repeat sales and to enhance an existing customer relationship. An existing client already has a relationship with your company and products…hopefully it’s a positive one. You can leverage what you know about your client to send targeted messages about related products, reminders about special programs, special coupons for their birthday, etc.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – If your brand is not well-established, how will you draw traffic to your business online. SEO efforts aim to increase your business’ standing in relevant search results, or in other words, search results for keyword phrases related to your business or products. Many self-proclaimed SEO specialists and companies will contact you and guaranty that they can get your business on the “first page of Google”. Beware of these companies. Each of the major search engines maintains control of their proprietary algorithms which determine how results are ranked in their search results pages. You can get on the first page immediately by paying for ads but, a listing in the organic results cannot be guaranteed. If Google (for example) determines that some unfair tactics were used to get your site listed prominently in the search results, they could penalize you and remove your site from their index altogether…and theirs really nothing that you could do to stop them.
- Email for Customer Service – A great use for customer service emails is to strengthen a relationship between you and your customers. Setup automatic response messages to give your client immediate feedback after they submit a question or comment. Make sure that every message is branded with your company logo, slogan, links to various social media profiles, etc. You can also leverage email for soliciting feedback, like customer service questionnaires that can provide you with information (from your clients perspective) that you can act on.