Marketing Strategy - Increased Digital Budgets, But A Risk Of Reduced Returns?

Recently, I came across some digital marketing statistics that I thought were worth discussing here on this blog in case it could help identify any areas that might need fixed in your own marketing plan.

Here are the statistics to begin with - I'll discuss them in more detail in the main body of this post below:

  • 66% of small businesses are to increase or equal their current digital marketing budgets (source)
  • 88% of users who look for a local business on their mobile device take action in a day or less (source)
  • 60% of local businesses don't have their phone number shown on their site (source)
  • 93% of small business websites don't display correctly on mobile devices (source - check the bullet points around two-thirds down the page)

Small Business Marketing - Increased Digital Budgets, But A Risk Of Reduced Returns?

So, first of all, it looks like around 66% of small business owners have decided to equal or increase their digital marketing spend. That's a good thing - a properly designed and funded digital marketing strategy is a very cost effective and efficient way of generating leads for your business.

The only side note I'd like to make here is that most small business owners (82%) still say that most new business comes their way through referrals and word of mouth. Clearly, networks such as LinkedIn can be included here, although my gut would say that the majority would mean 'real world' referrals when they say this.

So, while it's great that digital marketing spends look to be on the up, small businesses shouldn't forget the power of more traditional forms of marketing either.
However, the main point of this post is to ask,
'While it's great that small business marketing budgets are being increased, isn't there a danger that this increased spend will be wasted if simple web properties like websites aren't designed properly?'
The answer is obviously a clear 'yes'. Therefore, in light of the above I thought that I'd offer a few pointers as to how you can make sure that if you increase your digital marketing budget, you are not simply wasting your money.

Here goes:

1) Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile Optimised

Given that so many small business sites aren't mobile optimised and that so many users now access sites on their smartphones (78% in the US- Check the image under 'Consumer Usage By Device', it would be a good idea to check how your site looks on a phone screen.

If you think that it needs some work, there are plenty of ways you can fix this, with many free versions available if budget is an issue. If you use a Blogger template for your site, you'll simply have to activate the mobile version of the template. If you use Wordpress, here is a useful post on how you can install a mobile friendly template onto your domain.

Also, there is a really useful site from Google that is designed to help you easily make your site mobile. It's also great for testing how your site performs on mobile devices. You can get to it here - How To Go Mobile

Finally, if you aren't sure about making the changes yourself, you could ask a freelance website developer for some help. You should be able to find decent rates by looking on sites such as Odesk and Elance.

2) Make Sure Your Phone Number Is Clearly Visible On Every Page

Okay, so this one doesn't need much explaining hopefully, although I was amazed that so many SMB sites don't have their number clearly displayed. Here are a few best practice tips when adding your phone number onto your site:

  • The top right of the template works best - people naturally look there for contact numbers
  • Having the number on every page is ideal - users won't always land on or visit your home page
  • Especially on your mobile template, giving your phone number prominence on the page will encourage users to 'click and call' - it's easier for them to do this rather than send an email
  • If possible, try and have a toll-free/freephone number for users to call you on as this will increase the amount of calls you receive 

3) Think About The Structure Of Your Site - Is It Easy For Your Users To Find What They Need?

There was also another 2012 Forrester Study, which showed that up to 50% of sales are lost because users can't find the content they are looking for. So, this made me think that it would be a good idea for you to have a look at your site from a buyers' perspective to make sure that it's easy for them to find what they are looking for and to take the required action. It's very often simple elements that need attention here, such as:

  • Making sure your site has a good search function and that's it's easy for users to find (again, somewhere around the top right is good for this)
  • Making sure your site navigation and menus are laid out clearly and 'as expected'
  • Making sure that there aren't any broken links - these really put buyers' off
  • Making sure that your most popular products and services are well linked to from your home page

In short, making sure that you have a site which makes it easy for people to contact you, find the information they need or make a purchase is what you want to achieve here - anything else will probably mean your potential customers will head off to your competitors.

4) Make Sure You Have A Prominent Local Search Position

Finally, I really found the statistic about local searchers taking action within a day very interesting. I guess this means that when people are searching for local products and services, they really 'mean business' and are ready to purchase. With that in mind, it's really important that your business is easy to find when it comes to local searches.

I've actually not long written a couple of posts that might come in useful here so I'll direct you there to have a look:

In Sum

So, I hope this post has been useful to you - essentially, I'm trying to say that it's all well and good spending more on your digital marketing strategy, but if you are going to make the most of this, you really have to make sure you have your bases covered in terms of:

  • Site usability - making sure everything works properly
  • Ensuring that your site is mobile friendly
  • Making sure that some of this budget goes toward setting up a strong local presence
  • And letting people know how the can contact you - ie putting your phone number on your site :-)

A lot of this might seem like really basic stuff that doesn't need mentioned, although the stats at the start of this post would suggest otherwise - in any case, I hope it's helped you or at least provided some food for thought.

Thanks for reading!

By Alan MacDougall
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Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy and tips blog designed to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.