A digital marketing strategy to boost your business

From Facebook and Instagram advertising to Google Ads, the digital media landscape is constantly growing. We explore the different digital advertising options available for SMEs, their benefits and their effectiveness for UK businesses.

One day your business could be at the top of the Google results or the Facebook newsfeed, but another day, another algorithm and your company could be plunged into online obscurity. For example, last year, when Facebook prioritised familiar interactions over branded content, it was greeted as a potential blow for marketers. We take a look at what digital advertising options are out there and how to boost success with them.

Finding the right platform for your digital marketing strategy

With so many options, knowing where to start can be confusing. As well as the choice of platforms mentioned above, businesses need to decide whether to go for paid or organic search results, using PPC (pay per click) or SEO marketing.

“Often SMEs and start-ups aren’t sure why they should choose one channel over another,” says James Wittering, digital marketing expert and director of consultancy agency Traphic Marketing. “Google allows you to throw ads at people based on keywords, whereas a platform like Facebook allows you to target your audience more carefully to get your ad right in front of your target audience.

“Google is the behemoth of PPC and it really pushes its PPC Ads. It’s well known and well used, but if it’s not well managed you’re not likely to get a good return on investment.”

The benefits of social media marketing

Marketing basics apply to platform choice: you need to have an idea of what winning looks like for your business and which metrics correlate to success.

Wittering suggests that start-ups and SMEs new to digital marketing should opt for social media platforms first because they can offer a high level of control over who sees your ads.

Engagement and clicks are meaningless if they aren’t the audience you want to target, and especially if they don’t convert

Hope Gorton
Digital marketing manager, Pixel8

“The other advantage is that you can promote content and you can promote lead generation, increase brand awareness and message,” Wittering says. “It’s about investment and engagement.

“With social media, you’re starting to develop brand advocates. There’s a snowball effect which takes on a life of its own beyond the budget you have attributed to it – other people start doing the work for you. If it’s done strategically, it represents more value for money.”

A long-term investment

To get the most out of your digital marketing strategy, it can take time to see the best results. “You can’t dabble in paid-for social media advertising, as it’s constantly evolving,” says Ben Treharne-Foose, director of South Wales-based website design agency Webfibre.

“Sometimes it can take months and cost thousands before you see a return on investment, but it’s extremely profitable once you get it right.

“I normally tell a new client it will be around six weeks before they start to see meaningful and consistent returns.”

Measuring success

Understanding what success looks like is key, says Hope Gorton, digital marketing manager for graphic design company Pixel8.

“Vanity metrics such as engagement and clicks aren’t always a sign of success,” she says. “With social [media] changing and algorithms making things harder, meaningful interactions are what can be deemed as a success.

“Building a community with your audience so they become advocates for your brand is a success. Engagement and clicks are meaningless if they aren’t the audience you want to target, and especially if they don’t convert.”

Return on investment

Although social media platforms are a good option for SMEs breaking into the digital marketing arena, Google Ads can also deliver an exceptional return on investment.

“We spent £13,930.22 on Ads which returned 548 enquiries through our websites, which works out at an average cost of £25.42 per enquiry,” says Elliott Gardner, in-house marketing manager at van leasing and hire company Low Cost Vans. “On Facebook we spent £7,909, which returned 456 enquiries, which works out at an average of £17.34 per enquiry.

“We had 1,093 enquiries that month, and 1,004 of these were PPC. Our conversion rate from enquiry to sale was 14.91%,” says Gardner.

Tom Dean, MD of print firm Screentec, outsources his digital marketing to Webfibre.

“Our digital marketing spend is approximately 7% of the return we get, so it’s a fantastic return on investment,” he says.

“We convert about 20% of the enquiries that we get through. Last year, the return from our digital marketing spend was £450,000, sourced purely from web advertising.

“We use a range of platforms and Google Ads has performed really well for us; we can’t throw enough money at it. But we wouldn’t have been able to get these results in-house – we don’t have the expertise.”

Five ways to get the most for your money

  • Consider starting with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and maximise conversion rates here before scaling up to Google Ads.
  • Invest in creating well-targeted social media content to increase engagement.
  • Spend time trialling different messages and images. Fail fast and learn quickly and constantly evaluate to get a better ROI.
  • Keep a ‘tech watch’ to monitor changes in algorithms, or consider outsourcing to an agency of specialists.
  • Choose a digital marketing agency with a very immersive approach – they will react with your voice and understand the tone of your brand.

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