Okay so let us investigate this. Every business that exists today must be doing some type of marketing to sell its product or services. Most businesses prefer the traditional way of marketing to sell their services.
Now the question is what traditional marketing is and why many businesses are still using this form of marketing. Once we have the overview, we will jump into understanding digital marketing and why digital marketing is necessary for small businesses that are just starting up.
In simple words, any form of marketing that is done offline to sell products or services to the customer is called traditional marketing. In earlier days we did not have the access to the internet, so we rely on this traditional form of marketing for the promotion of the product or service.
You must have seen billboards on the highway while traveling, is not?
Billboards – The billboards are one of the examples of traditional form marketing and these billboards are still used extensively to display any product or service.
Ads on TV or radio – are another form of traditional marketing which is expensive and called broadcast traditional marketing.
Interesting fact – when you are watching a cricket match on TV and an ad starts, these ads will fall under the traditional marketing category. But if you are watching the same cricket match on Hotstar/ SonyLiv, and the same ad pops us then this ad falls under the Digital Marketing category.
This is because when we use the offline mode of marketing (here – TV), it becomes traditional marketing whereas when we use the online mode of marketing ( Hotstar/ SonyLiv or any other application use internet) it has become digital marketing.
Print ads – are quite a generic form of traditional marketing where businesses display their ads in local newspapers or magazines to create awareness of the product or the services they are offering.
Cold calling – the most used and affordable traditional marketing tool even now within many corporates to sell their product. But is cold calling only a traditional marketing tool? In India and abroad, you will find most of the companies have an ISR team (inside sales representative). One of the roles of ISR is cold calling on a customer database to find out prospects for their business.
Even though cold calling is a part of traditional marketing, it is used extensively in digital marketing as well. Companies receive inquiries on their websites for their services. And to verify the authenticity of those inquiries companies take the assistance of cold calling to call and verify the genuineness of the leads.
Now you have understood the widely used traditional marketing tools that businesses are using to promote or market their services offline. It is time to jump into digital marketing tools.
First, what is digital marketing? in a quite simple language digital marketing is nothing but promoting the product online using the Internet and any computing devices such as desktop laptops mobile, or tablets. This is the basic definition of Digital marketing.
Now look at one example here, suppose you own an ice cream parlor, and the name of the parlor is tasty ice cream. Your tasty ice cream parlor is in banner Pune. The people who are on the roads nearby can find your store easily. What about the customer that is on the Internet?
There may be many people who are looking for ice cream at your location, but they may not be aware of your store. How do they reach those buyers? This is where digital marketing comes into the picture. Using digital marketing you promote your product or service here ice cream digitally means online.
Let us see what tools you have currently to promote your ice cream parlor online.
1. Website – you can create a website for your business. Let us suppose your website name is tasty ice-cream.com. On your website, you can mention all the details of the ice cream that you offer. Like the available flavor, all the healthy ingredients that you use to prepare the ice cream, the price of all the ice cream types, the address of your store contact number. So, all that information helps any visitor to your website understand your store and all the details that he or she may need before uh visiting your store. This is the first and most crucial tool of digital marketing to attract an online customer.
2. Blogging – You can even design a website for free using Google Sites. Or start writing a blog for free using blogger.
3. Search Engine Optimization or SEO – You know about the website, right? But where to find the website? On search engines like Google, isn’t it? So, people search on Google for any type of information they need. And as we created a website now it is time for us to make that website visible. You want your website to appear on the front page of Google, right?
This is possible using SEO and for a specific search term or technically called Keywords. For example, your primary keyword is “ice cream shop in Barner Pune.” Whenever anyone types on Google your primary keyword, that is ice cream shop in banner Pune, your website will rank high because of search engine optimization that you have to do, or you can hire an agency to do the search engine optimization.
4. Google ads or pay-per-click ads– In the above example, you have seen that you can use search engine optimization to rank your website high on Google or any other search engine. But you have another option to rank your website high on search engines and that is by using Google ads or paper click. Here you must pay Google to show your website on the first page of the search engine using a specific keyword.
In this way, your website ranks high on Google, and you get more visitors to your website and get more footprints to your offline store.
5. Social media marketing – here you can create social media pages like on Facebook Twitter Instagram of your business for free. You can create a page on your business name. You can put images of your ice cream store the location you can provide over their contact number so that the people who are on this social media can find you, know about you, and visit your store. And here also you can promote your social media page with social media ads. Social media ads promote your business page to the local audience.
You can target a specific location for your ad. Suppose you want to promote your ice cream store only in Bonaire Pune, then when people from a Baner location are only able to view your promoted Facebook page and get to know about the details and can visit your offline store. These social media ads are very cost-effective, and you can reach out to thousands of people with extraordinarily little expense. This is the unique feature of social media marketing for even small businesses to try out to reach out to an exceptionally large audience.
6. Email marketing – you can easily get free email marketing tools online such as MailChimp and SendInBlue where you can send emails to your prospects for free. A fantastic way to start is with a promotional email to your prospects for example you can send an email to your prospects about the ice cream flavor that you have, or you can send out a mail mentioning the healthy ingredients that you used in your ice cream.
You can mail about any discount coupon and if someone visits your store with that coupon there can be some discount on the ice cream and this way you can understand that how many people come from email campaigns.
I am personally using the Sendinblue email marketing tool for my email campaign. In Sendinblue you can send 300 emails per day for free. So monthly you can send 9000 promotional emails to your prospects. I believe in your initial days of business 9000 emails per month is quite good for just starting up and later stage you can go for any paid plan we increase the number of emails you want to send in the future.
Till now I have discussed the primary traditional marketing and digital marketing tools that are available with us to promote our product or services in the market. As you can very well see that most of the digital marketing tools can be started for free or at truly little expense. Apart from being affordable 2 even a small business digital marketing has many other benefits. Let us talk about a few of them-
- Digital marketing is more affordable than traditional marketing – You can see that most of the digital marketing tool is freely available starting from designing your website for free creating your product page for free on social media sites and email campaign that you can do using FREE Email marketing tool, many SEO tools are available to us for free such as Small SEO Tool. Whereas traditional marketing is a very costly affair. For example, billboards, print ads, broadcasting ads all involve a respectable number of investments given to start with. So, any business which is just started up can use digital marketing tools to promote their product and services and be able to reach out to their prospects who are online. This way they can create a brand image online which will help them to build a brand value.
- Live interaction with your prospects – using your website or social media you can directly interact with your prospects by using the chat or messenger features. You can solve any queries that your customer has before even buying your product or services.
- Customer feedback – using Google reviews your prospects can happen to understand the feedback given by your customer. Google reviews or feedback helps your prospects to make decisions.
- Specific targeting – using Google ads or any social media ads you can target only the prospect that you wanted to reach for example you want to reach two people in Pune, or you want to reach a specific age group like 30 to 40 years only or you want to reach to a specific gender. So, this specific targeting is available only in digital marketing.
- Results are measurable – you can measure any ad campaigns performance like if you run an ad campaign on Facebook or Google ads and you wanted to know how many people visited your website or from where they visited your website or any other detail you want related to your website visitors you can get all using Google Analytics. Google Analytics makes digital marketing measurable and trackable.
- Customer loyalty – using digital marketing you can win customer loyalty. When you have your company on Google, you have many positive reviews of existing customers, your business can be found on social media, you reach out to your prospect using direct mail. All this creates customer loyalty to your brand.
This is not exhaustive. There are many other benefits a small business can receive using digital marketing.
So, I would say every small business data starting up must use digital marketing to reach out to online people. But in the initial time, the investment should be extremely limited. You should not allocate an exceptionally large amount for your digital marketing campaign. And it is also not that we are not using traditional marketing at all. For a small business, it is very necessary that traditional marketing and digital marketing go hand in hand and help each other to create a good funnel of prospects. Finally, if we ignore digital marketing when we are starting up then our competitor will take advantage and take advantage of our customers and make them their customers.