Running a small to medium business in the digital age isn’t easy. The market is changing at an extraordinary speed, customers are increasingly harder to please and there’s an abundance of digital tools available. It’s easy to understand why many businesses find it overwhelming to shift direction and set-up their businesses for future success.

As a company that was founded on technology, we believe that technology can be truly transformative, and reiterates why you should invest in digital tools to improve your business behind-the-scenes, particularly in the areas of sales and marketing.

Investing in digital marketing: Where to start?

Have you ever heard about SMB Digital Marketing? Online marketing for small or medium businesses can be a very frustrating endeavor if you do not know how to approach it. 

SMB in marketing stands for small to medium business. Digital marketing is made of all the online points of contact that a business has with its potential customers on the Internet – from a website to paid advertising, email marketing and customer relationship management.

A successful SMB digital marketing campaign can be compared to a well-oiled machine, where the many little parts and gears have to spin just right and help out the adjacent components.

If you are considering to allocate a digital marketing budget for your business, these are the questions that you have to ask first:

  1. What are some of the marketing challenges that you need to overcome?

  2. Whether you can do the project yourself, in-house by one of your employees or if you need to hire a small business marketing agency?

  3. If you decide to hire someone, think about the costs and benefits. Should you work on your marketing in-house or should you hire an agency?

  4. Where do you start? What is the most cost and time effective platform for your first campaign?

  5. How do you scale up your local marketing campaigns? Once wheels start moving, which is the best next step?

Small Business Digital Marketing Challenges

Budget Limitation

Budget is the #1 digital marketing challenge that small businesses face. In most cases, small companies have a limited marketing budget and cannot facilitate huge digital marketing programs. 

Fortunately, there are ways to develop a strong digital marketing program without an unlimited budget. Word of mouth (great customer reviews, a strong geographical presence) and good SEO are totally free or low-cost marketing tactics that work well. In fact, 27% of SMBs say that word-of-mouth is their most effective marketing channel, compared to 3% who believe that pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is most effective. This means that marketers with small budgets can get started by building a great reputation and imparting good SEO practices.

Not Enough Leads

If you are struggling to generate high-quality leads, you are not alone. It is a problem for many companies, especially if you are a SaaS company, or simply operating in the B2B industry. A business website, by itself, is not going to bring you unlimited leads. You need to invest in additional services, such as SEO, pay per click and email marketing. Then, the solution to managing costs is to start only one project at a time, get as specific as possible with your marketing campaigns, find out your unique selling proposition and focus on that. 

Lack Of Technical Knowledge

About 45% of the SMBs do not even have a website while it brings you a lot of benefits: 

  • It makes your business look professional 

  • It will become a huge useful information resource

  • It helps to increase leads

  • It helps your customers easy access to product info and improve your customer service

One of the reasons that stop SMBs from getting a website is the lack of technical knowledge. Getting some basic knowledge of technology if you are not a tech-driven company is a good idea. But if your team is more than busy trying to keep up with the current pace of your business, it is unrealistic to think you will have the time to understand what technology is right for your company. So, the key is to find the right partner who can do this for you, while you focus on what you do best.

Competition

One of the biggest Marketing challenges for SMBs is competition. With the increasing globalization and the penetration of new technologies, competition is becoming bigger and more fierce than ever. Facing this challenge requires a constant monitorization and competition analysis. Try your best to reach your ideal target audiences before competitors do so. And remember that it is not something that you do once and forget about it. The moment you take your eyes off your competitors, you can lose the game quickly. 

Brand awareness

Another Marketing challenge that SMBs face is the lack of visibility. Or, in other words, the low brand awareness that potential customers have for a specific brand. This is a problem because you might have the best product on the market, but if people don’t know about it, they will not buy it.

There are multiple ways you could start doing to increase your brand awareness. Some of them you can start right away as they are cheap and effortless. Others you can do later, once you have the time and resources.

  • Generate helpful content. Blog posts, infographics, ebooks, etc., are a great way to get shared all over Google and social media by users who liked your content.
  • Search Engine Optimization. Optimizing your content for search engines will help your website, content and products show up when someone is searching.
  • Unique brand identity. Building a unique brand personality with design and colours that draw attention is a great way to make your campaigns and brand memorable.
  • Free merchandise. Give away small, free merchandise like pens, folders, hats, etc. to people who are likely to purchase your products later down the road.
  • Referral & affiliate programs. Having referral and affiliate programs is an excellent way to have experts & influencers or your current customers spread the word.

Growing your email list

Next on our list of Marketing challenges for SMBs is growing the company’s email list. Which, especially after the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation across the European Union, has become even more difficult than before.

Using content is a great strategy to grow your email list quickly. Offering free and helpful downloadable resources like infographics, ebooks, courses and whitepapers in exchange for visitors’ email address is a great way to encourage them to opt-in.

After all, people don’t want to leave their data voluntarily if they aren’t getting anything in exchange. A company that does a great job with offering free resources will acquire more customers for subscription for sure.

Lack of Marketing know-how

If you are a small company without a Marketing team or a person who has the necessary know-how, it doesn’t mean that you can’t undertake this position. The key to facing this challenge is educating yourself in the Marketing field as much as possible. If you don’t know where to start from, here are some tips:

  • Free Marketing courses. There are multiple Marketing courses that are completely free. Watch Experts’ Youtube channels. There are multiple channels that are highly recommended, such as Income School, Surfside PPC, Backlinko, and Google Ads.
  • Register for webinars. Many companies are constantly organizing online sessions, Masterclasses, webinars, summits, and face-to-face events. 
  • Practice with Advertising platforms. Learning is good, but it is nothing if you do not practice. So, don’t postpone your campaigns until you’ve learned enough. Just start and learn along the way. You have to learn from your mistakes if you want to avoid repeating them.

However, on the other side of the spectrum, we have small businesses that want to hire Marketing professionals, but don’t know how to identify the talented ones. After all, your budget is not unlimited, and a good investment in top human resources can make all the difference.

First of all, it is important to understand the need to invest enough time in the hiring process. Don’t hire just anyone because you are in a rush; strive for great employees even if it takes longer time. After all, you need to make your investment worth it.

Second, look for the right qualities. If you only have a budget for one Marketing resource, make sure that this person is capable of adapting to different Marketing subroles. Make sure that you have someone who is not so specialized in a certain field or a tool.

A lot of companies hire one person to do a lot of things. Even at small companies, multiple channels is going to be too much for just one person, even a rockstar digital marketing manager. 

Companies usually assume marketing agencies are super expensive. The reality though is that it is often a lot cheaper because a team could handle every channel of your business at the same time. Each member is a professor in their in charge fields. So, it could help you to save time, increase efficiency and reduce costs. 

Conclusion

Life isn’t easy for small businesses. If you’re struggling with digital marketing for your small or medium business, know that you are not alone. Keep in mind that there are many ways to work around challenges and be competitive in digital marketing for SMBs. 

Want to know how your business is doing online right now?

Need more information about how to win at SMB digital marketing 

Call us today for a consultation or shoot us a quick email to learn more. 

Cmsmart is here for all of your digital marketing needs and would love to help your business create a game-winning strategy.

Ms. Flora Nguyen

Email: flora@cmsmart.net
Skype: live:hoa.nt_18
WhatsApp: +84 354 816 268