There’s no denying that the value of digital marketing is in its returns. The price for service should always be an investment that brings in more than what was paid.
Of the over 50 percent of small businesses that still don’t have a website, most rely on word-of-mouth. The concept is clear: satisfied customers tell people they know. Some of those people become customers.
Good results with word-of-mouth combined with doubt in the effectiveness of digital marketing is keeping many business owners from getting a website. Some of these had websites and stopped investing in them. Their online presence didn’t prove its worth.
Could digital marketing have helped these businesses? Yes, of course, if it had been looked at correctly. Just as no man is an island unto himself, an online presence for an offline business is just one piece of the puzzle. It’s useful, but not when isolated.
A business’ existing customers are another piece to the whole. Its online presence should help serve them. They, in turn, will help feed it. How? Through their natural tendency to further word-of-mouth. Online, the power of word-of-mouth is exponentially more.
Strong Internet Branding: An Asset for Local Business
Most local businesses can be found in the Yellow Pages. New customers also discover them by passing by their locations. Potential customers almost always have questions they need answered before they buy. Neither Yellow Pages nor outdoor signage can tell it all.
People are busy and comparative shopping can be extremely time-consuming. Since calling or stopping by every local business of an industry is usually unfeasible, shoppers go online for information. They fuel their purchase decision with the insights the Internet provides.
Being online sets local businesses at an advantage, but it also puts them face-to-face with many competitors. Offline, your competitors may be the next zip code over. Online, they’re just a click away. Strong Internet branding can tip the scale in favor of your business.
Before they read a word, online shoppers pick up visual cues. Such is the advantage of star ratings. The yellow stars captures attention. Existing customers are the source of star ratings. And wouldn’t you agree that ratings from loyal customers will most likely be the highest?
A Proof of Customer Delight Shoppers Trust
All day long, business owners and employees can boast about the greatness of the company. All kinds of claims of being the best are found online. Many consumers have become jaded by such talk. When shopping online for new local businesses to patronage, it’s the inside scoop they want.
The inside scoop on a business and the quality it offers isn’t as reliable when it’s given by the business. It has to come from actual customers. Talks of satisfaction guarantees, the most delicious cuisine, the most professional service mean little when coming from the service provider and a lot when it comes from real customers who they really impressed.
The Value of Digital Marketing
Every small business should have a website, even if it’s just one page. And having social media accounts is great if they stay updated. None of these things alone are powerful enough to prove the value of local business digital marketing at its best.
Digital marketing methods and assets must be connected, professionally designed and managed, and made to serve your existing customers more than anyone you might attract. Only then will the effectiveness of digital marketing and its potential returns for a local business be fully felt.
Elisa Planellas is a digital marketing consultant in Memphis, TN, helping small businesses establish, maintain, and expand their online presences, connecting offline customer relationships with online experiences designed to deepen loyalty, brand strength, and reach.