Did you know most small businesses across the country don’t use digital marketing as part of their public relations strategy – and they don’t plan on it either? Research shows that, of those that run small companies, less than half invest in digital strategies. Yet of those that do, more than 80% acknowledge it’s important to their organization’s success.

The truth is, this type of marketing can make a huge difference for your business! Keep reading to find out why to invest in digital marketing and how to get started.

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is, “The promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media.” This can include search engine optimization (SEO), social media, blogging, online advertising, email marketing and more.

Why is Digital Marketing Important?

A laptop sitting on a desk displaying charts and graphs.
The statistics behind digital marketing show how valuable it is.

You may think I’m biased, but the facts speak for themselves; digital marketing is an important part of every business’ public relations strategy. Here’s what the research shows:

From HubSpot:

  • 61% of global internet users research products online.
  • 44% of online shoppers begin by using a search engine.
  • 60% of all organic clicks go to the organic top 3 search results.
  • 50% of all mobile searches are conducted in hopes of finding local results, and 61% of those searches result in a purchase.
  • SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.
  • 82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who blog monthly — which, by itself, is still an impressive result.
  • Social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing.
  • Companies that acquired customers from Facebook: B2C is 77% and B2B is 43%.
  • 80% of US social network users prefer to connect to brands through Facebook.
  • Pinterest pins related to trending topics see an average of 94% increase in click-throughs.
  • Pinterest referrals spend 70% more than visitors referred from non-social channels, including search, according to industry reports.
  • 68% of B2B businesses use landing pages to garner a new sales lead for future conversion.
  • Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less.
  • People are more likely to visit a B2B tech company’s website after seeing a tweet from the company, getting them one step closer to becoming a lead.
  • In 2014, email marketing was cited as the most effective digital marketing channel for customer retention in the United States.
  • 59% of B2B marketers say email is the most effective channel for generating revenue.
  • 24% of consumers who view a mobile ad will look up the company online.

From Smart Insights:

  • 10 years ago, 7% of the US population used one or more social networking sites. Now that figure has increased almost tenfold, to 65%.
  • Of those who use the internet, a massive majority of 76% of American’s use social media.

From Direct Marketing:

  • 57% of consumers say they’d be somewhat or very influenced to think more highly of a business after seeing positive comments or praise online.

From Twitter:

  • 47% of people who follow brands are more likely to visit the company’s website.
  • 72% of followers are more likely to make a future purchase.
  • 84% of people who follow/interact with SMBs mention an SMB to share a positive experience.

From Aabaco Small Business:

  • 74% of consumers cited relying on social media to make purchasing decisions.
  • 64% of Twitter users and 51% of Facebook users are more likely to buy the products of brands they follow online.
  • 50% of shoppers have made a purchase based on a recommendation through a social media network.

From the Word Pro:

  • 71% of consumers who have had a good social media experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.
  • In 2015, Facebook influenced 52% of consumers’ online and offline purchases.
  • 70% of those helped via social media will return as a customer in the future.

How to Get Started with Digital Marketing

Many business owners are overwhelmed with the idea of taking on digital marketing. Of course, firms are happy to help, but if you want to give it a try yourself, here are some tips to keep in mind as you get started.

1. Make It About the Consumer

A woman smiling while looking at a laptop.
Digital marketing success begins by thinking about people.

Strong digital marketing comes down to two things: great content and your target consumer. You can share the most amazing updates on social media, but if they’re not written with your users on mind, they’re not going to engage with you. Remember, everything comes down connecting with your potential customer.

As Jeff Bullas explains, “The best brands stand out on social media by building strong connections with their fans through human qualities and relatable messaging.” Keep it fun, and let your company’s personality shine through in each and every blog post, Facebook update or email newsletter.

2. Use More Than One Medium

Tackling digital marketing can be overwhelming. It’s important to find the balance between connecting with consumers in multiple places and spreading yourself too thin. At the very least, make sure you have:

  • An SEO-optimized website
  • A blog you update at least twice per month
  • A regular presence (5-7 updates per week) on at least two social media platforms
  • A monthly email newsletter

If you want to take on more, I’d recommend:

  • Updating your blog weekly (down to the same day and time) to increase your SEO
  • 1-2 updates per day on your social media networks
  • Adding in another couple of social media platforms
  • Sending an email newsletter twice a month
  • Running ads; we’ve seen a lot of success with Facebook’s promoted posts, but you can advertise on pretty much any social media platform or through Google with a very cost-effective pay-per-click campaign

3. Include Lots of Visuals

An image of a gallery wall with 15 different images.
Are you wrapping visuals into your business’ digital marketing?

There’s a reason for the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Images are an extremely important part of a successful digital marketing campaign; they’re able to reach consumers in a way words simply can’t.

As Social Media Examiner recommends:

  1. Select visuals that express what you want your post to say.
  2. Use social images to stand out from the crowd in users’ news feeds.
  3. Make sure you’re relevant to your target audience.
  4. Wrap your brand’s color into your images.
  5. Don’t be afraid to add words on top of your visual.

What types of visuals can you wrap into your digital marketing? Jeff Bullas shares 10 great ideas. I specifically like:

  • High quality stock photography
  • Infographics
  • Personal photographs
  • Behind the scenes shots of your workplace
  • Quote graphics
  • Images that reflect the essence of your brand

4. Learn SEO Basics

You don’t need to be an expert when it comes to SEO, but it’s important to know basics like how to insert keywords into your articles and updates, what types of content you should or shouldn’t link to and how often to update your digital channels.

But remember – although it’s important to know SEO basics so you can tailor your content for search engines, don’t forget your target consumer. If they find you on Google, you want to be able to give them what they’re looking for.

5. Timing Matters

An alarm clock on a table.
Make sure you think about when you post, in addition to what you post.

In digital marketing, it’s not just what you post, but also when you post. Sadly, there’s no perfect answer about when it’s best to send email newsletters or update your social media channels. The good news is there is a lot of research out there, but make sure you keep an ear to the ground in case new data comes to light.

6. Monitor Analytics

Is your digital marketing strategy as strong as it can be? Ask yourself this question every 6-12 months, but don’t just rely on your perspective; take a look at the data behind your business’ digital presence:

  1. Google Analytics is a great resource to see who’s visiting your website and what they’re clicking on.
  2. Your email marketing platform (such as Constant Contact or MailChimp) will have data about the email newsletters you distribute.
  3. Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels provide analytics for you to see who’s engaging with your posts, etc.
  4. Ask customers how they heard about you. Although this isn’t a digital technique, you’d be surprised how many answer they found you online!

In Conclusion

I hope that you see the value of digital marketing for your business! The internet is a fantastic way to connect with current and potential consumers, so make sure you’re using it.

Read more: Why Budgets are Shifting to Digital Marketing