Think back to your last purchase. Any purchase. Walk yourself through that process. Perhaps you went out to eat at a new place. How did you find the restaurant? Did you already know about it, or did you use Yelp or Google to find it?
Start paying attention to your buying habits. Where did the journey start? Where did it take you?
Just about every purchase decision today is made by doing some type of research. People want to be sure they are making the right decision and not wasting time and money.
According to Capital Retail Bank, in 2021, 81 percent of retail shoppers conducted online research before buying. The overwhelming majority of retail consumers start their journey with online research.
This trend has been on the rise for a long time, but the COVID-19 global pandemic expedited the process. The rest of us are now having to catch up to the average consumer’s buying behavior, which only e-commerce brands had to worry about before.
Depending on your industry, digital marketing may have been on the low-priority list. You may think: We serve seniors, and seniors typically aren’t on the internet. (I should show you the texts my grandma sends me, with more emojis than I can count.) Or your business has possibly been in the same neighborhood for over twenty years, and you rely on a good reputation and word of mouth. (But do your online reviews match that reputation?)
If you have been waiting for a sign—this is it! I know that for owners of businesses, digital marketing can be overwhelming to think about. But, by biting off one piece at a time and implementing the system correctly, digital marketing will not only be manageable; it will lead to increased revenue.
Let’s talk about four reasons why you need to start investing in digital marketing.
“Build it, and they will come” is no longer a sound adage when it comes to running a successful business. We are in an age of instant gratification. Prospects expect to be able to find any and all information they are looking for online.
If they can’t find it from you, they are going to find it somewhere else. And the company that provided them the information is either going to gain the customer or charge you to have the customer. Why take that chance? Get people to your website or social media and keep them there. Don’t give them any reason to leave. Solve all of their problems, and there is a great chance they will be yours forever.
What if your typical buyer doesn’t do much research? You may believe you don’t need to answer questions. And you might be correct—perhaps you aren’t in an industry where people spend weeks or months gathering information before contacting a sales representative. But let’s think back to our earlier exercise. Odds are, your customer is getting on the internet at some point in their decision-making process, no matter how quick that may be.
For example, “near me” searches currently account for 53 percent of all Google searches. That is about 950 billion searches per year.
On top of that, when a user is using the phrase “near me,” they usually have high intent and are close to being ready to buy.
Is your business showing up at the top of the results for “near me” searches? Is it in the map pack? (This is the map that shows up at the top of many Google searches.) How many potential customers with high intent are you missing out on because your Google Business Profile (or Yelp profile) isn’t optimized, and you aren’t focused on reviews?
Bottom line: If your customers are online, you should be, too.
In my world, people always joke that sales and marketing folks love to spend money. But as a marketer, I actually hate asking for more money. Sometimes it is 100 percent necessary; however, I often find that if marketers are asking for more money, it indicates that they aren’t using what they have wisely.
Also, digital marketing typically has a lower cost per acquisition. Of course, this is only true if you are making the most of your spend and have the right tools and partners in place.
Let’s look at an example: billboards. I hate billboards! I hate them so much that it’s become a running joke among my family and friends. Don’t get me wrong—billboards have their place in marketing. But most people who buy billboards could be spending that money much more wisely. If you own a McDonald’s, sure: go ahead and buy the billboard! But if you are selling anything for targeted buyers or a long buying process, please look at other options first.
Now that I’ve stepped off my soapbox let’s look at the actual numbers. In Columbia, South Carolina, where I currently reside, a typical billboard is $1,800 a month. This does not include the costs associated with installation, project management, or design, but to keep things simple, let’s look at the cost of the billboard alone. Let’s say that this typical billboard gets about 350,000 impressions per month. We can’t measure much other than that, so we will use impressions as our cost comparison.
In the digital marketing world, I like to equate display advertising to billboards. These can be on Facebook or other websites. To truly compare apples to apples, we will look at a Facebook ad with the sole goal of reach (impressions). If I were to leave my targeting wide open (just like a billboard technically is), it would cost me around $1,290 a month for the same number of impressions.
Just by changing our medium, we are saving money. But what happens when we add targeting?
With digital advertising, you are able to target your audience through demographics like age, interests, and location. You can’t do that with billboards. And the more targeted your audience, the lower your cost.
Targeting not only reduces costs; it also helps with success. Tools like Facebook and Google reward you for doing a good job and creating a good user experience. The more people click and convert on your ads, the less they will cost you.
Digital advertising is starting to sound like a good idea, right?
I could talk about costs for days, but I’ll leave you with one last thing to ponder.
Most content you create has the potential to live on for a very long time. The time, energy, and cost investment for content creation is a heavy lift at first, but the content will last. You spend time writing it at the outset, but it can be found repeatedly. Not to mention, its success will build on itself. I have a client who wrote a blog five and a half years ago and continues to bring in ten thousand website views monthly from one blog! I am willing to bet that no one at the company can even tell you how much money they spent on that blog five years ago. Now, they are reaping the benefits.
Save your marketing dollars and start investing in a smarter way to get visibility, leads, and customers.
If you are like me, you may struggle to commit to things. How are we sure this advertisement is going to bring us, customers? What if the one we rejected would have performed better? These are the kinds of questions that keep marketers up at night.
You might be thinking, “Okay, but we have to run something. We have to market our business. So what is your solution?” I’m glad you asked!
My favorite thing about digital marketing is testing. You can get real-time feedback on any marketing you are doing. Whether it is advertising, messaging, conversion-rate optimization, or design, you can gather data to make decisions. Doesn’t an educated guess feel so much better than going with your gut?
I am not in any way dismissing the potential results of traditional marketing. I am just saying that if it’s done wrong, it’s a pain to fix.
Let’s go back to our billboard example. You spent three to five painstaking weeks working with your team and vendors to get the billboard absolutely perfect. Congrats! Well, two weeks in, you are driving by it, and you notice that the phone number isn’t as easy to see from the road as you thought it would be. After another two weeks of vendors, plus an installation fee, your billboard is much more like you imagined. Were those two weeks of hassle the best use of your time and money? Probably not.
If the same thing happened with a display ad, you could have called your vendor or gone in and fixed something yourself in a matter of minutes. The only cost? Potentially the design of a new image.
Customer behavior is always changing, and digital marketing allows us to be nimble, test ideas, and easily make changes if things aren’t working.
I saved the best for last. I’ve been hinting at it, but if you haven’t figured it out: I am a data nerd. I love numbers and what data tells us.
I get a lot of clients coming to me with “gut instincts.” Those aren’t always wrong, but they are tough to trust. So what do I do? Go to the data.
Data won’t lie to you if you are carefully reading it based on your goals and strategy. With data, you can make sound decisions, save time and money, and come out looking like a superstar to your leadership team and stakeholders.
If done correctly, you can measure any marketing to an extent. Tracking phone numbers and URLs is great for tracking print advertising, television, and direct-mail campaigns. However, while this will give you a solid picture, it doesn’t give you a comprehensive one. What if someone saw your direct mail and then googled your phone number three months later? Your beautiful postcard will never get credit for that lead.
This is something I struggle with in all marketing: Nothing is perfect. Anything short of a detailed interview with every single customer will never give you the full story. But through digital, you can get close.
Great tools help you connect the digital dots when it comes to online marketing. Good marketing software can help you attribute the primary source and secondary sources. With this data, you will truly understand what is driving leads and what is helping to close customers.
I can tell you from experience that the data you get from digital marketing (as long as your foundation is set) will help you make informed decisions about your marketing that will allow you to close more customers more quickly.
After all of that, you may think I am opposed to traditional marketing. I am really not (well, except for billboards). In fact, I am a true believer in integrated marketing for most industries. But in this day and age, if you aren’t at least covering your bases with digital marketing (no matter your industry), you are going to be left in the dust. Don’t let your competition take your leads and customers. Put up a solid fight.
Topics: Digital Marketing, Marketing Strategy