Is Digital Marketing Worth the Cost?
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In Short, and If Done Well, Yes!
Digital marketing has a low barrier to entry, making it ideal for small businesses. You don’t need a six-figure budget for a successful online presence, either. It is, though, still an investment. And we’re here to demystify what exactly that means for you.
Content creation is the foundation of your digital marketing. Without it, you’ll have nothing to share online! There are multiple types of content that you can mix together to create an engaging online presence.
- Email newsletters
- Community engagement
Blogs establish your thought leadership in your niche, and are also content you can share on social media. This time investment varies depending on the topic and frequency, but it could be anywhere from three to eight hours a month. We recommend at least two blogs per month, ideally four.
As we’ve found in our annual small business owner survey, blogging regularly is a challenge. Even with limited resources, though, it’s important to make blogging a priority for its website value and its value to your potential customers.
Images are another important piece of a strategy. Social media, especially Instagram and Pinterest, are highly visual, and there are three ways to make this work for you: investing, sourcing, and reposting.
Investing in your own original photography is a must for product-based companies. To offset the cost, consider scheduling quarterly instead of monthly photo shoots.
Another way to use imagery on social media for a low cost is to use stock lifestyle photography. With websites like Unsplash and Pexels, you can have a high-quality online presence for free. There are also paid options like Adobe Stock or Shutterstock.
You can also source photos from your customers. Many customers love posting their finds on social media, and are thrilled when their favorite brand reposts the, with credit.
The best method to making the most of your budget is to create a mix of original, stock, and reposted photography to limit expenses while maximizing your content’s quality.
Video marketing is an asset we recommend most companies partake in, though the amount varies based on needs and resources. Many businesses will invest in a profile video, which is shared on social and added to their website. Other video resources include recipe videos and product highlight videos, and customer
These videos can be very simple, too. Something as quick as a three second stop-motion video with a phone app can catch users’ attention while scrolling.
While social media is considered rented space, you own the access to customer emails. (As long as they’ve opted in, of course.) This is why email newsletters are an important part of a marketing strategy. Sending monthly newsletters requires a few hours a month, and can encourage repeat sales or word of mouth marketing.
Most email marketing platforms are free or affordable, making this one of the easier tools for small businesses to implement.
While not content creation itself, you do need community engagement in order to make the most out of your content. Community engagement includes responding to comments and messages on each platform, especially those with an intent to purchase.
Community engagement is a daily habit, and needs to be a priority for an active and engaged audience. If users see that a brand isn’t engaging back with them, they’ll be less likely to engage moving forward.
Making Digital Marketing Worth the Cost
Now that we’ve established what is within a digital marketing content strategy, we need to address the more important piece. Is it going to be worth the cost? There are three ways to do this:
- Focusing on personas
- Setting clear goals
- Investing in quality
Your marketing personas are a snapshot of your goal customer, including their name, occupation, salary, wants, dislikes, and desires. When you focus on these personas, making them a lens for all marketing materials, you’ll be more likely to succeed.
Setting clear goals helps you measure success. Without it, how will you know if you’re growing? Common marketing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are follower growth, increased sales attributed to marketing, and email list growth. Check in with these KPIs monthly and quarterly to keep you focused.
Investing in quality is the third way to make digital marketing worth the cost. If you don’t prioritize high-quality work, then it’s not worth investing in at all. Your level of quality may not be the same at a Fortune 500 company, but focus on clear, crisp images with strong composition, well-written articles, and regular community engagement.
In order to use digital marketing well, you need to invest time and money. How much is up to you, but know that the better your digital marketing is, the more effective it will be. Whether you choose to do it yourself or hire an agency to facilitate and produce your content, you can grow your small business’s presence online.
By Marc Apple
Marc Apple is recognized as a leader in the marketing industry and has 20+ years of experience helping businesses of all sizes improve their digital marketing. He specializes in website design, SEO, social media, and paid search programs. He is a frequent contributor to other marketing websites and speaks regularly about marketing to small business owners and startups. To learn about Marc and to contact him, visit his author bio page.
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