The diversity of digital marketing approaches and platforms seems intimidating to most small businesses. However, starting an internal digital marketing function isn’t as challenging as most businesses presume.
In this blog we discuss the steps small and medium organizations can take to build and nurture their digital marketing function. We look at the digital marketing checklist for small businesses while building their internal engine. Additionally, we talk about what they must be mindful of at each of these steps to increase the chances of success.
Digital marketing and SMBs: A fear of commitment
Small and medium businesses (SMBs) have traditionally struggled to build a strong digital marketing function internally. Unless they happen to be a part of the digital industry, most SMBs neglect digital marketing owing to stringent budgets, lack of expertise, and limited digital readiness. If they have any digital presence at all, it tends to be focused on a single platform or channel to optimize costs. They often rely on a digital marketing agency to help build their online brand identity.
Further, a lack of digital understanding prevents many SMBs from making the most of the many benefits offered by digital marketing.
Small and medium organizations incorrectly assume that digital marketing is an extremely resource-intensive activity, whether in the form of outsourcing or setting up an internal team. Let us disprove this notion by understanding digital marketing checklist for small businesses and how they can set up internal digital marketing teams and operations.
Let's look at some of the best tactics to set up an internal digital marketing operation for the small and medium businesses:
Outline the requirements
Enterprises should start with outlining the requirements about the concepts, tools, and practices in the industry is a must. It is important to know the exact scope, role, and deliverables and outcomes that need to be achieved.
Once the fundamentals are in place, the next step is building the right team. Depending on the goals, the services of writers, designers, editors, developers, SEO experts, or a combination of these may be required. All these are highly specialized skills and cannot be undertaken by a single person, building the right team is essential for long-term success. For starters, freelancers, contractors, and digital marketing service providers can be engaged with fixed goals and deliverables in mind. A small team that works with external contractors and agencies can eventually be scaled up to build internal capability.
It is vital to have a very practical idea about how things are going to progress and at what pace. Expect the initial few months to be full of challenges and constantly changing plans. The digital marketing industry is constantly changing, and the rules of the game continue to evolve. Thus, set realistic timelines for each goal and do not expect instant results. All good digital marketing campaigns are consistent and spread over several months. Hence, do not rush things to obtain premature results.
Gain digital readiness
While digital marketing is a priority for 70% of small and medium businesses, 84% of them do not have the digital readiness to execute and amplify their efforts. What’s more, due to a lack of information and industry knowledge, enterprises make costly decisions as well. According to reports, nearly 90% of businesses end up choosing a marketing product, service, partner, or platform that simply is not suitable for their requirements. In other words, small and medium businesses must build digital expertise. This involves investing in the right tools, hiring talented digital experts, and having a digital-first mindset that enables them to make the most of modern digital technologies.
Unless small and medium organizations cultivate digital readiness, their internal digital marketing efforts will continue to miss the mark. It is important to get access to some basic marketing tools, including but not limited to, analytical tools, email automation tools, spell-check tools, design software, video editing software, and other necessary services. Remember, two in three marketers benefit from automation tools within six months, and those using lead management tools see a 10% rise in their business.
Create your digital identity
The next step is to build the organization’s digital presence. Set up the company website, social media accounts, and start posting blogs about successes or industry news. Let the team operate as an individual agency to consider the organization as its first client in order to help cultivate a creative and impactful online digital brand identity.
Align all messaging and communication
Once the basic structures, assets, and tools have been set up, put them to use to create consistent messaging across platforms and mediums. The text, illustrations, tone, and user experience should all be in sync with each other for the best results. Ensure compatibility for different devices and formats, get feedback from industry experts and leaders, and go through every last aspect of the company’s identity.
Start building a database
The very last thing to do before the team jumps into a campaign is to start building a database for relevant user profiles from public and private sources. Create a list of people to reach out to, promote the company’s services, and set up a digital lead generation pipeline. This will be an ongoing activity that must be sustained in the future as well.
Four things to do after launching your digital marketing campaign
Outreach: Begin by reaching out to all the people in the organizational and professional network about the new identity, the services provided, and a strong CTA. Then, put outreach efforts into the next gear by sending emails to the database that has been curating. Prioritize people according to relevance and follow up diligently. Marketing experts have long advocated the importance of building the right connections with the right people in the industry as an integral ingredient for success of digital marketing campaigns.
Set indicators: Set up easily measurable indicators and checks to help understand the overall direction of the team. Create internal parameters of success and failure, keep referring to them periodically, and be flexible to change them according to new developments. Having these indicators will help in deciding when to hire, downsize, shift goals, expand operations, or wind up existing campaigns.
Network: Once the digital marketing team is officially in business, it’s time to take the database building to the next step. Actively network to seek out collaborators and even find organizations within the industry you can partner with. Sign up for conferences, round tables, and events to meet like-minded people and find opportunities to pitch company services. Have a short pitch, marketing collateral, and other company information handy at all times.
Experiment a lot: Finally, once the ball starts rolling, don’t be afraid to try something new. As long as the goals and methodology is clear, feel free to experiment with the messaging, tone, and visuals as deemed fit. Remember, at its core, digital marketing is a highly creative and emotional function, and there are many different ways of doing the exact same thing.
Things to keep in mind when starting a digital marketing team
Originality and focus: One of the easiest ways new digital marketing teams get distracted is by replicating competitors without much thought. It can be tempting to follow the footsteps of someone who has succeeded, but laying the foundation in this approach can be a double-edged sword. Small and medium organizations must have the right mix of originality and focus to build on their USP and uniqueness.
Setting the right expectations: Although digital marketing is an extremely effective method to attract, engage, and retain customers, it comes with riders. The initial investment can be high, results may take time, and a certain sense of consistency and dedication is required. So, be prepared to experience setbacks with the right expectations and conviction. Remember, any digital campaign may take up to 8-12 months to mature and deliver results, so be patient.
Experience is expertise: All the degrees, training certifications, and online courses in the world pale in comparison to the actual experience of implementing a digital marketing campaign when it comes to learning. The more digital marketing projects are implemented, no matter their scale or kind, the more experience is gained. In digital marketing, expertise is truly built by how much has been practiced and not by how much is known.
Stay flexible and keep learning: Finally, don’t be afraid to respond to new trends or unanticipated demands. If a new opportunity or market development can help you pivot to make the most of untapped potential, don’t be afraid to show some flexibility. It is also vital to stay on top of industry trends, best practices, learn about new tools, and deploy new concepts to stay relevant and agile.
Digital marketing holds the key to scale up business growth. However, small businesses can find themselves tangled in a complex web of jargon and acronyms. Small and medium businesses can use the above guide as a starting point to avoid common mistakes, stay focused, and use the right approach for creating an in-house team of digital marketers. Digital marketing is a continuing process, enterprise can also partner with a dedicated digital marketing agency and take help to kick start the process. However, it’s important to know how the agency works and evaluate its capabilities.
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