Team working to market a small business with digital tactics.

Why Small Businesses Need Digital Marketing

By Courtney Thompson

Table of Contents

1. Consumers Search for Businesses Online First
2. Customers are Exploring Businesses Online Before Visiting
3. A Business’s Credibility Starts with its Online Presence
4. Digital Marketing Has Measurable ROI 
5. There are Multiple Low-Cost Digital Marketing Tactics

When I worked in marketing for a small business after college, I heard many compelling sales pitches for why we needed to market using traditional tactics like radio and newspaper ads. Let alone the small-town, loyalty-pull when you actually know the salesperson pushing you to purchase ads and the business has advertised there for many years. 

Though traditional marketing tactics still have their strategic place, digital marketing is the future for small business marketing. In this article, I’m going to give you five reasons why digital marketing is important  – even crucial – for small businesses. 

1. Consumers Search for Businesses Online First

In 2022, your potential customers are using the internet to find you and your competitors. 

Here’s a few trends on consumer digital behavior to consider for you digital marketing:

  • 93% of adults use the internet*
  • Even seniors use the internet – 75%!* 
  • 93% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses**
  • 87% of consumers read online reviews of local businesses**

Additionally, “near me” searches in Google have increased by nearly 400% over the past 5 years, according to an Forbes article on Google My Business best practices. (You can learn more about Google My Business in this article.) 

These statistics mean that your potential customers are online where they could be seeing your Google Ad, GMB profile, website, and more. Is your digital marketing capitalizing on these consumer trends? 

* Pew Research April 2021 Internet/Broadband Fact Sheet

** Brightlocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2020

2. Customers are Exploring Businesses Online Before Visiting

This past holiday season, we were encouraged to shop locally to help businesses hit hard by the pandemic, supply chain issues, and more. I love supporting local businesses when and where I can. Before I step foot in a store, restaurant, or other business, I almost always investigate online – read reviews, explore product availability, read menus, and more. In fact, 97% of consumers research a small business online before committing. 

“Consumers are starting their shopping journeys online,” according to a Forbes article on 2022 consumer trends. “In fact, it’s even more than that: they’re starting their relationship with retailers online, and only when they feel confident and comfortable with who the brand is and what they sell, will you see them willing to take that step of walking into the store.”

Whether retail or restaurant or another type of small business, is your company’s digital marketing allowing customers to explore your business online? Does the digital presentation of your business and brand motivate potential customers to write an email, pick up the phone, or get in their car to visit you? If your answer is “no,” then you’re missing out on huge opportunities for growth. 

3. A Business’s Credibility Starts with Its Online Presence

Because of the above consumer trends, your business’s credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of potential customers rides on your digital presence. Few or poor online reviews raise red flags. An outdated GMB listing or Facebook page looks suspicious. A non-existant or outdated website looks like your business may not even exist. 

If your business doesn’t look credible online, your potential customers will effortlessly hop to your competitor who has an updated website, multiple positive reviews, or more. Don’t let a poor digital marketing presence be the reason why your business doesn’t reach its full potential growth in 2022. 

4. Digital Marketing Has Measurable ROI

If you’re doing your digital marketing strategically and correctly, it has huge ROI potential for your business. In some industries, email marketing has a potential return of $40 for every dollar spent. Blogging can increase your likelihood of a positive marketing ROI by 13x. Most companies earn $2 for every dollar invested in Google Ads. More consumers (64%) will purchase a product if they’ve watched a video about it first. 

And unlike traditional marketing tactics, it’s reasonably simple to track ROI on digital marketing strategies and tactics because they are – well – digital. You can easily run reports on clicks and conversions, demographics, and more. And if a tactic or strategy isn’t producing results in a reasonable period of time, you can quickly adjust course. 

To read more about these statistics, check out this article on 2022 digital marketing ROI

5. There are Multiple Low-Cost Digital Marketing Tactics

Multiple digital marketing tactics are low-cost to start and generally easy to set up – making it relatively simple to start. In general, digital content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing. 

Digital marketing tactics like social media and GMB are easy to set up and free to use. You can also find other low-cost digital platforms for email marketing, web chat, and other tactics, though most businesses eventually outgrow the free platforms and features fairly soon. 

Blogging can cost you a little or a lot depending on the quantity and quality of what you’d like to produce and how much you’d like to write yourself. High quality websites, Google ads, and video production generally run a higher price tag to be effective, but are worth it considering the conversions they can produce. 

Qualifier: Digital Marketing Needs to Be Strategic to Be Successful

If you’ve read this article and decided you need to start or increase your small business’s digital marketing, I’d like to add a qualifier. Your digital marketing needs to be strategic in order to be successful. I know because I’ve been there that it’s extremely tempting to throw all the digital tactics (especially the free ones) at your audience and hope that something will just stick. I also personally know how incredibly frustrating and wasteful that can be. 

But I can also personally tell you that your success with digital marketing dramatically improves when you approach it with strategy. You need to take the time to learn what gap in the market your product or service is filling, who your customers are, how you need to talk to your customers, what digital tactics (maybe with some traditional sprinkled in) will best reach them, and how to get those tactics working together and measured. 

If you don’t know where to start, then read our article on Small Business Marketing Strategies to learn more. 

Grow Your Business with Digital Marketing

Digital marketing for small businesses isn’t going away. If you don’t know how to start marketing your business digitally, give us a call. Or, if you’ve been marketing digitally and you’re just not seeing the ROI you need, give us a call. We’d love to chat with you about your business and how you can achieve your 2022 goals with digital marketing. 

Let’s talk!