Overcoming the biggest small business online marketing challenges

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Online marketing opens up a range of opportunities for small businesses.

For many small business owners, marketing is often treated like an unwanted pet – you know you’ve got to take care of it but it’s not quite up there on the list of priorities.

In recent years, online marketing has become an increasingly popular and effective tool for businesses to grow, engage and retain customer bases. Most social platforms like Facebook have made it possible for small business owners and in-house digital marketers to manage their profiles and campaigns on their own.

Since cost is often a factor in a small business owner’s decision making process, self-served platforms means saving on agency fees and allocating more towards actual media spend. The downside is the extra time and effort required to properly manage online profiles, communities and paid campaigns.

With as much as 47% of SMB owners handling marketing efforts on their own, it’s vital to work smart when it comes to planning and executing your digital strategy. This may sound daunting but fret not, we’ve got some useful tips that will help you on your way.

Choose the right channels

Your first consideration would be to decide which digital channels to focus your efforts on. Resist the urge to be on each and every new and ‘trending’ social media platform out there, even if everyone else seems to be doing it.

Weigh your priorities when it comes to who your key audiences are and take into consideration the resources that you have available, then decide which channels are best suited to reach them in their most engaged mode.

Remember, less is more when it comes to choosing your primary online marketing channels. Doing well on a single platform takes lots of time, effort as well as trial and error testing.

Here’s a breakdown of the top social media channels and their key features to help with your planning.

Source: Leverage new age media

Keep the content beast contented

Digital media, particularly social media, presents a huge opportunity for marketers, but you need sufficient content to create a significant online presence.

In every 60 seconds there are 3.3 million posts published on Facebook, 55K Instagram photos uploaded and 422K tweets posted.

Source: Smart Insights

Small businesses are competing with an ever-growing number of other brands and content creators competing for the attention of online and social media audiences.

There’s a need to stay top of mind with a steady stream of content that resonates with online audiences in order to effectively harness the power of online and social media for business growth.

In paid online campaigns, ad creative refresh plays an important role in campaign performance. Advertisers are expected to switch out creatives every 3 to 5 days to prevent ad fatigue from compromising their campaign ROI.

Just remember, you don’t have to do it all by yourself. There are lots of resources available to help you with your content strategy, whether it’s keeping your blog alive via ghost writers or curating third party content, to creating sufficient ads to keep your online campaigns performing well.

Harness the power of data and automation

Almost half of small businesses don’t know if they are marketing effectively while 14% know they aren’t. In this day and age, with the vast amount of data and insights readily available, this should be a phenomenon of the past.

The rising popularity of AI technology within marketing platforms means that a majority of your online marketing efforts can actually be automated. Machine learning has also allowed such automation to be intelligent in the sense that it’s possible to predict what kind of designs would work for the targeted audience even before ads need to be created.

You can now create “set and forget” online ad campaigns, where all you need to do is set a brief once and the platform takes over the management of the ads, including swapping out old underperforming ones and creating new ads when the system detects it’s time to do so.

For most small and medium business owners, this means your days of trying to juggle running your business successfully and marketing it effectively are over.

Winner of Facebook’s Innovator of the Year, ReFUEL4 is the world’s leading data-driven creative platform, delivering assets from 10,000 global creators backed by predictive AI technology. Learn more here.

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Alexis Ng

Alexis Ng is marketing manager at ReFUEL4.

All by Alexis