August 28, 2018 - Episode 7

What is Digital Marketing and How Can it Help a Small Business?

Digital marketing can be a tricky part of marketing for a small business. Technologies and strategies are constantly changing and evolving on the Internet and in other digital arenas. This means it’s crucial that every business has a digital marketing strategy. People are discussing your business online, and you should be part of that conversation. We explore the different components of digital marketing and how they can be used by small businesses. We also talk about digital marketing tips that any small business can use to be more successful.

Episode Transcript

Jake Braun:
Hello everyone, welcome to Kickin it with Kapok, a podcast on business owners, marketing struggles and solutions, and other business related topics. This is episode seven, "What is Digital Marketing and How Can it Help a Small Business?" It will be Mirela and I in this episode and we will continue to explore some of the basics of marketing, and today we will be tackling digital marketing. We'll discuss what it is, how it's different from other forms of marketing and why it can help your small business. Since the intersection of business and technology is kind of my forte, I'll kick off today's episode and then Mirela will add some additional, valuable insights after I get us started.
So, when it comes to digital marketing, there's really almost two different digital marketings. There's digital marketing in the broadest sense. It involves anything involving digital technologies. And then people will also use digital marketing as a replacement for either internet marketing or online marketing, and then digital marketing has really overtaken those terms starting in around 2014, but really took off in 2016, and that's according to Google Trends. So, the things that people are searching in Google.
So, the components of digital marketing. There is website design and development. This is probably the most critical and we'll dive into this a little bit more later in the episode. And then there's content marketing and email marketing, which are both a very popular and successful parts of digital marketing right now. Content marketing is just creating content about your business that your customers might wanna read and might inform them about both the products and services you offer, and just educating them generally around the industry that you're in. And then email marketing is communicating with your customers or potential customers via email, either email newsletter or something along those lines.
Then we have search engine marketing, which has two components to it. SEO, which is probably one of the most complex and often misunderstood terms in parts of digital marketing. It probably needs its own episode, but the gist of it is trying to use different techniques to appear higher in the search results on Google or Bing or other search engines. And then, the other part of, not SEO, but search engine marketing is paid search ads. So, when you pay those search engines to appear at the top versus designing content and other things on your website to appear organically.
And then there's display ads. So, this is kind of like paid search ads, but it appears on other websites on the internet. Whether it's big websites like Facebook and YouTube, or whether it's other local newspapers, national newspapers, blogs, or really any other site on the internet.
And then there's the digital marketing that's not online marketing. So, this is kind of, if you're at your dentist office and they're advertising teeth whitening on a television in the office. That's digital marketing, but it's not necessarily online marketing. And then we also have an ad with the Tampa Bay Rowdies where there's a digital field board where our company's advertisement will appear, and other companies as well. And that's another digital marketing, but it's not online marketing.
So, how do you think digital marketing compares to traditional marketing, Mirela?
Mirela Setkic:
Well, digital marketing is definitely more trackable, which means that it's easier for advertisers, meaning companies who spend money on that type of marketing to calculate their return on investment, or ROI. It is also a more cost effective. For example, it's a lot cheaper to send out an email to whole bunch of people who are on your email list versus sending out a physical postcard mailer that you will have to pay someone or spend time in house to design. You will also have to pay the post office, the postage, to deliver that direct mail piece to your target audience. Also, YouTube commercials are significantly more cost effective than running a traditional television or cable TV commercial, or even Super Bowl ads. Those are extremely, extremely expensive. So, people don't have to spend as much money on digital marketing and, which also brings us to the point that digital marketing has kind of lowered the barrier to ... entry for businesses who don't have massive amounts of money to spend on advertising or marketing.
For example, if I cannot afford a super expensive glitzy cable TV commercial, I can probably hire a local video company or video marketing company to record an ad or video that I can put on YouTube and that will be a lot cheaper than running a television commercial.
Jake Braun:
Yeah, I think one of the things about lower barriers to entry is it can sometimes trick business owners into thinking that's easy to do. They might get involved in Google ads and start running ads for Google search and on other websites. Maybe they don't know all the rules and all of the tricks and stuff that can make your advertising more efficient on those networks. So, just because something is easy and the barriers to entry are low, doesn't mean that you don't need to be educated and really understand how to take advantage of those things successfully in a cost effective manner.
The other thing that I would bring up is that digital marketing has kind of increased the demand for tractability and accountability and in traditional marketing, as well. I think with digital marketing its kind of baked into the cake. Everything you're doing is easily trackable and you can see, "How many leads am I getting on my website that come from ads from this other website?" And people are demanding that their traditional advertisements also have accountability. "This postcard that we sent, how many people did it drive into the store?" People are asking advertising and marketing agencies for that sort of information. So, how else would you say that marketing has evolved in the digital age, Mirela?
Mirela Setkic:
Well, just like you mentioned that digital marketing is making people expect or demand accountability and traceability from traditional marketing. I guess, we can say that the two are kind of converging and also complementing each other. Both are changing, digital and marketing ... and traditional marketing are changing, so they're kind of coming together and, I guess as they would say back in the day, there's a little bit of synergy between the two of 'em. So for example, if a company is doing a direct mail piece, a postcard, that they're sending out to, let's say, 2,000 people, it's now easier to track a postcard. They will usually include a link on the postcard that will take all the people who want to inquire further about whatever's offered with a postcard, to a website, and then the advertiser, that company, can see how many people actually came to that link and tracked the success of that mailer that way.
Also, like I said, there were converging and the lines are kind of becoming blurred between the two, between digital and traditional marketing. For example, Hulu TV and traditional television. I guess some people will debate, "Is Hulu traditional TV? Is traditional TV now also digital ... online marketing?" The lines are very blurred. I'm not enough of an expert to say what the definite is. Maybe you know a little bit more about the this Jake.
The other point that I want to mention is that what's old is new again. That's kind of the case with online marketing. A lot of the traditional marketing ideas, like direct mail kind of, is the online version ... I guess email is the online version of direct mail and a lot of the old school marketing practices are being, I guess, being evolved or changed or adapted for online and digital marketing.
Jake Braun:
Yeah, I think in terms of television. Television is digital now, even over the air broadcast, but before it was, it was analog. It wasn't digital. So, any TV ad was not a digital ad. Now it's kind of, I feel like people still don't consider it part of digital marketing. It kind of falls into the traditional bucket, but it is a very, very blurry line and I'm not sure exactly where it falls into right now, especially with things like Hulu. I think email marketing and direct mail are kind of both underestimated. They're both really great ways to advertise your business. Direct mail still can be very, very successful and email marketing is probably the ... one of the number one digital marketing things that you really should be doing no matter what, maybe after making sure you have a website.
Mirela Setkic:
And that's actually a good point about direct mail. A lot of companies are kind of going back because for a few years, everyone went online and did online marketing. A lot of businesses just stopped focusing on traditional marketing. So, now they're kind of taking things back a little bit and trying some direct mail because it kind of has a nostalgic feeling to it. So, now most of us are used to getting so many email marketing messages that sometimes when you get a beautiful direct mail piece in your mailbox, it kind of gives you a nostalgic feeling and you actually look at it and read it.
Jake Braun:
That's a good point, too. So, websites. We should probably spend some time on websites. How important do you think it is for a business to have a website?
Mirela Setkic:
Well, in my opinion, and I think in the opinion of most people, if a business doesn't have a website, I just assume that they're not real or they may have gone out of business. I think most people also assume that that particular business is maybe not as serious about their business or is not as professional as it could be. So, a website is crucial. It is kind of your first impression that people have of you online. It is also how people check if you are real or credible.
Jake Braun:
So, in the vain of being serious, you think a do-it-yourself solution like a Wix or a Squarespace, can those ever be a good idea for a business owner?
Mirela Setkic:
A serious business owner, I would say, no. I think if someone is an upcoming poet or a singer or an artist, I think a Wix or a Squarespace website might be an okay idea because it has ... I think it has a gallery component and that's fine. But, if you have a different type of business and you need something that's more robust, I think that those two options are a little bit of a trap because the price is very low and it sometimes tricks people into thinking, "Well, I'm just going to try this, and even if it doesn't work, it's not going to cost me a lot of money." Well, you start creating this website using Wix or Squarespace and then you start customizing it. Then you have invested so much time, and time is money, even though it costs you a little bit money, it probably costs you a lot of time. At the end you just kind of have this hodge podge, kind of a hot mess situation of this customized website that's very difficult to navigate and it doesn't have the powerful features that you need.
But, at that point, you kind of have the ... I think they call it a slot machine effect, where you have put so much time and money into it that you can't back off. So, you say, "Well, you know what? I'm just gonna let it sit out there. It is a website so I'm just gonna let it be and maybe down the road, I will get a more serious website." Well, at the same time, people are coming to your website who are your customers and they are judging you and they're saying, "Wow, this person only spent $50 on this website. He or she is really not serious about their business."
Jake Braun:
Yeah, I think when we were preparing for the podcast, you told me about a hair dye analogy.
Mirela Setkic:
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, good point. Yeah. So when I think of Wix or Squarespace, I think of dyeing your hair or going to a hair stylist to get highlights, so every now and then I like to put some partial highlights in my hair. And I can go to CVS or Walgreens and I can get a box of hair dye and a highlighting kit for $5 to $10. And on the back of the box it shows me this beautiful picture and pretty much says, "You too can have this hair if you follow these instructions." Nine out of ten times, people go home and they try their best to follow those instructions and at the end of it, they do not have the hair that they thought that they were going to have. Something happened, I don't know what it is, probably because they don't have the skill to do hair.
An alternative to that is going to a hair stylist, a professional hair stylist or hair salon, which is the option that I choose because even though I will send $100 or $120 of my highlights, I know that my hair stylist is professionally trained and understands all of the features of human hair, all of the techniques for coloring human hair, and at the end of my session at my hair salon, I actually have beautiful hair and if something goes wrong, I can go back to my hair stylists and he or she can fix my hair. If I take the $5 or $10 hair dye box from CVS and I mess up my own hair at home, I don't have anyone else to blame, I can just blame myself. The hair dye company is going to just ask me if I followed instructions and it's all on me.
Jake Braun:
Yeah, it's crazy how websites are one of the professional services that I think are most overlooked if a business needs help with the plumbing or the electricity in their establishment, I doubt that they try and do it themselves or have one of their employees do it first. But when you come to websites, for some reason, there's a mentality that anyone who knows how to use the internet can do it. And I think I was looking at this statistic that 46% of customers say a website and how the website looks, is the biggest trust factor for deciding whether to trust that business.
So the website is super important, you should really make sure it's super professional and it conveys that to your potential customers.
And then moving past websites to some other digital marketing efforts, what do you think Mirela, are some other marketing activities that a business should be engaged in online?
Mirela Setkic:
Well I think the most obvious one is social media marketing. And just choosing the most appropriate platforms for your business. And focusing on quality over quantity of platforms and also the content that you post. For example, if you don't have anything interesting or relevant to say on Twitter, you probably should not be tweeting. Tweeting just for the sake of tweeting is a terrible idea. You might come across as annoying, might come across as someone who is not really a voice of authority in the industry. So you might just kind of be doing a disservice to your brand.
So I say, think about who your customers are and where your customers go to gather information and consume news and where do they gather online? If they're gathering on Instagram or Pinterest, that's where you should be. You should not be on Twitter if your customers are not on Twitter.
Jake Braun:
Yeah, so easy in one sense because you just get on there and you start typing, you upload a picture, whatever and it's out there. But you really need to be careful and deliberate with your social media. It's so easy to say the wrong thing. And even if you delete it, it's still permanent and it's been archived in the way back machine or somewhere else. And you can never really undo it totally, so you gotta be really careful.
And doing one platform versus many is such great advice. It's so much better to do one perfectly or near perfectly than to do five just marginally okay. Because it goes back to the trust factor like with the websites. You want to be serious wherever you are, even if it's offline. Just make sure your acting like a business with whatever you're doing.
Jake Braun:
Are there any other digital marketing efforts that maybe we should mention?
Mirela Setkic:
Yes. And I think before I go into those, I think I just want to make clear that we are not advocating that you pick a single social media platform. We are advocating that you chose as many as are appropriate for your business. So that might be one, that might be two or three or even if it's five. But just make sure that your customers are actually there and that you are putting out quality content. And I just don't want people to think that they need to purge and deactivate all of their social media accounts.
Jake Braun:
That's a very good point. I was just saying that doing one versus many is a good idea. But if you can handle two or three, certainly do as many as you can handle, just don't do them for the sake of doing them.
Mirela Setkic:
Okay. Now I'm glad that we made that clear so people don't think that we're crazy.
Okay, so you mentioned other efforts that people could be doing online in terms of online marketing. And I think just being very mindful and intentional about your online presence and keeping an eye on your online reviews and your reputation online. And when I say online reviews, I mean both positive and negative reviews. And I think businesses often overlook the fact that it is actually more important to respond to reviews that are negative than those who praise you a lot, because people who are upset and they leave you a negative review online, they're probably very angry and they're expecting you to get back to them and try to fix their problem. And if you don't do that, that might even inflame their anger more. So they will go to other places and say other negative things about you.
And kind of just think about online reviews and your online reputation as word of mouth, which is the most powerful way to market a business, a product, or service. And also, I think we have heard stories about people who have been kind of blackmailed by upset customers on social media because they did not respond on time or they kind of kept giving into people who are posting negative stuff online. So I think it's very, very important to have a very, very strict and specific policy as to what you are willing to give to people who complain to you online. So you're not just encouraging them to complain even more in an effort to get more from you.
Jake Braun:
Yeah, you should be willing to do whatever your willing to do online, offline. Because when you start doing extra things online when someone complains to you on Twitter, then all of a sudden, the people at your business start to expect that and it gets into this vicious feedback cycle where you're just offering more and more online. But just set your policy and make it a policy that makes sense and do right by your customers and do right by them when they complain in your store or via email as well as when they complain on social media.
And make sure someone is monitoring all of your reviews on the different sites. Whether it's a designated person in your office or whether you hire a marketing firm or you hire anyone. Just make sure anywhere you could be getting reviews, someone is looking at it and either responding or notifying someone else to respond. "Hey, this person wasn't so happy here, what can we do to make it better?" Or just at least respond or make that person feel heard.
Mirela Setkic:
Yes. And I think also, try to take the conversation offline. Encourage an upset customer to call you or email you instead of commenting back and forth on Facebook. And if that customer does call you or email you, respond right away. Don't make him or her wait for days or weeks. Then they will go back and they will leave an even nastier comment for you.
So just be very proactive instead of being reactive.
Jake Braun:
And would you say there's any last tips that maybe we should give small businesses owners out there on how they might be able to improve their digital marketing?
Mirela Setkic:
Yes. I think people should keep in mind that digital marketing should be uniform branded and strategic. Meaning that your in person personality or brand image and brand message should be exactly the same as it is online. You don't want to have a split personality. So when people who meet you online should be able to recognize those personality traits that you had online when they come to see you in person. And also, if they meet you in person and they go find your Instagram account, they should be able to recognize some of your brand traits in that Instagram account.
And the other thing that I think a lot of business owners, especially when they start out make is that they kind of blend their personal and business social media accounts together. And I would advise people not to do that, just keep them separate. And I know that when you just start out and most people don't know about you, you feel like, "Why does my business need a separate social media account when I don't even have anything to say under that account. I'll probably have like one or two followers." And that's okay. You're not going be Mr. or Mrs. Popular right away. But it's very important to keep it separate so your customers are not seeing all of your anniversary pictures of you and your husband and your vacation pictures and all of that stuff.
It's okay to sometimes sprinkle some of your own stuff into your personal social media accounts, but you should not treat them as your personal thing to showcase your family and your vacations and talk to your friends. And I think the way that you kind of avoid some of these mistakes is by actually sitting down or actually hiring someone from the outside to create a social media use blueprint for your business. So you have a clear understanding of what your brand personality is going to be, who your audience is, what type of content you're going to post, how you're going to acquire new followers, how promptly and what are you going to say in your responses to followers messages, posts, and comments, and things like that.
So you have a clear vision and mission in terms of your social media presence and marketing for your business.
Jake Braun:
Yeah, that all sounds like really great advice.
If you're enjoying the advice your getting on the podcast, we would really appreciate it if you would subscribe and rate or review us wherever you listen to your podcast. That's how new people find this podcast and can get some information on how to make their business maybe more effective online. We would really appreciate it if you could do that. And I think it's been a great seventh episode.
Jake Braun:
Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or comments about anything we talked about today or marketing in general. You can visit us on your website, KickinItWithKapok.com. Or on social media. We're on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as Kapok Marketing.
And this has been a great Kickin' it with Kapok, brought to you by Kapok Marketing. Thanks for listening. We'll have something just as great for you next time.