Digital marketing represents a great opportunity for Canadian businesses of all sizes, but it’s also easy to waste your time and money if you don’t know what you’re doing. Whether you’re doing SEO, Social Media, PPC or any other type of online marketing, getting a positive ROI from digital marketing requires hard work and dedication to understand your audience and find ways to gain their loyalty and appreciation. For most businesses, the best way of achieving this is to get help from an experienced professional who will work with them on a strategic allocation of time and money.
Now, we wanted to know which part of online marketing Canadian businesses found the hardest to execute, so we asked 500 Canadian small business owners “What part of your company’s digital marketing do you struggle with the most?” and gave them 5 answers to choose from, covering SEO, SMM, Blogging, Reputation Management and others. The survey revealed that a majority of small business struggle with getting fans and followers on social media and ranking high on search engines. Here are the official poll and results from Google Surveys:
In the current digital era, having a strong social media presence and ranking on Google, are the best and low-cost ways to reach your local audience! Just by the fact that business owners are struggling with these aspects show that they do realize the importance of these factors to their business, but may not have the know-how to succeed in these areas. Vice versa all the other factors in the survey like reviews, blog content, and a trustworthy agency are also critical to helping local businesses succeed and thrive, but not “struggling” at these aspects could just show that a lot of business have not even considered these avenues. Let’s dive deeper and see what else the survey tells us.
Females significantly struggle more with social media than males. However, this may not mean that male business owners struggle less with social media, but reveal that male business owners might be less concerned about social media compared to females. Female business owners may care more for the social media of their business and sees it as a priority that needs to be improved on. This shows that not only do many business owners require more education about how to use their social media and gain more fans and followers, but more education to male business owners on the importance of social media to their business. There is a stereotype on what business must have social media, but in the era of smartphones, it is crucial to every business to have a presence on devices that most consumers use or will use daily.
Looking at the male population in the survey, ranking higher on search engines is what majority of male small business owners struggle with. Social media and search engines are what is commonly thought of as the top ways for people to discover your business online. Most business owners can see the importance of ranking on the first page of search engines but do not understand how to get there. Doing the proper Search Engine Optimization for their website can be a lengthy and technical process, that can be frustrating.
Although the data shows that small business owners over 44 struggle less with social media, it is more likely that small business owners over 44 are increasingly less concerned. They are from a generation that grew up without or with very limited internet and never mind social media. This shows that older business owners need to be educated on not only how they can use social media for their business, but how social media is now used in everyday life of their consumers and the trends of e-commerce and even more so now- social commerce!
Although it seems that not many small business owners struggle with finding a trustworthy agency, it is more likely that a lot of small business owners never thought of or believe it is unnecessary to hire an agency to handle their digital marketing efforts. The benefits and rewards to hiring an agency that are experts in digital marketing and understands the ins and outs of marketing locally are endless. Not only will it save businesses owners time spent learning best practices but also give them more time to focus on other aspects of their business. The business generated and time saved from hiring a digital marketing agency to help grow your business outway the cost and is less expensive than what most would expect. Most agencies have experts in each field and can tailor their services to your needs.
A great way to build buzz around your brand’s products and services is to create a free prize giveaway or contest for your target audience. Start with a hashtag and prompt your customers to follow you on social media for chances to win. Be sure to post professional images of your prize as well to ensure legitimacy and also create a sense of urgency with an official deadline. Free prize giveaways are effective and are great ways to lure in anyone remotely interested in your product or service into your social web. From there you can market and engage with these new users in the future. When the prize giveaway is over, be sure to deliver on your prize and announce prize winners; giving you credibility for the next round.
Maximize your reach. Put your social media profiles on every marketing channel possible. Whether it be on business cards, marketing brochures, mailed out flyers, in-store seasonal campaigns, email signatures or websites, remind your existing fan base to follow you on social media. It’s an easy way to organically grow your social media network and expand on your brand’s community bedrock; reaching more customers who already have voted in your favour, which helps you maximize your hardworking marketing dollars on a community proven to buy.
Want instant results? Allocate some money for social media ad spending. It’s arguably one of the most affordable ways a business today can improve brand awareness without breaking the piggybank. You’ll be able to target specific demographics beyond your existing following as well. From boosting social media posts to sponsoring hashtag campaigns to buying banner space on LinkedIn and YouTube, when you invest in social media ad spend, you’re guaranteed to reach a targeted demographic, build up your community and easily track your marketing ROI.
Position yourself in influencer accounts and be available. A great way to get more followers organically is to piggyback on relevant influencer accounts. This means you’ll want to follow other relevant accounts in your niche industry. By doing this you instantly get your brand in front of the industry movers and shakers. It also will get your profile in front of the eyes of other users looking to develop their own network in that industry. Indeed, there are a lot of social media snobs who do not believe in aggressive following, nevertheless, it’s natural and organic for other like-minded accounts to search and follow each other. Think of following others as planting a seed on other account properties for others to find and follow.
The ideal way to organically build your social media following is to consistently give people what they want: valuable content. This is what many people refer to in the digital marketing industry as ‘infotainment.’ Whether it be content that educates, entertains or informs, if your content is ‘good’ and you are consistent with it, then your community will naturally find you. The difficult part is coming up with a consistent stream of ‘valuable’ content and having the time to push it daily for long periods of time. It usually takes a site a year of full-time content creation to build a decent content library and following. To get started you’ll want to begin with writing articles for your blog, create videos on YouTube or Vimeo, design infographics, produce slideshows or podcasts and the list goes on. Figure out which ones work for you and measure for continual improvement.
Try new networks and expand. A great way to organically build your social media network is to expand into other networks. Do your research and figure out which other social media networks out there are worth your time. Identify which channels mesh well with your target demographic and most importantly, identify which ones are the most sustainable. Whether it’s testing out sites like that of Snapchat, SoundCloud, Pinterest, Reddit, Instagram, Tumblr or Viber, regardless the network you’ll have a new opportunity to leverage an existing community, build a following on that network and direct those users to your website.
Take advantage of social media analytics and data. Study your past social media posts and look for times where you see spikes across all metrics. This includes reviewing the waves of traffic, impressions, and overall following to just to name a few. After reviewing the data, fine-tune your strategy and tailor your updates for those prime time hours. This way you can optimize your social media calendar each month and naturally lure in more eyeballs to grow your network organically.
Stay tuned for more blog posts on how to grow your local business with digital marketing!
Monica is a digital marketer and lifestyle blogger that loves creating content. When she isn’t watching YouTube videos, you can find her writing.