Digital Marketing Survival Guide For Small Businesses (in Hong Kong)
As a small business owner, you’re likely overwhelmed with numerous responsibilities each and every day. Whether it is sales, accounting or just managing the day-to-day operations, keeping up with the continual flow of work can be exhausting. Due to this constant time crunch, one aspect of a business that often gets pushed to the side is marketing. This is where often hiring a marketing specialist comes in place. We like to say “ With MARK&TING in the mix, the chef gets to focus on cooking instead of building website or designing a flyer”.
However, if you do decide to do it yourself, it is important to focus your marketing efforts where they can make the biggest impact -- the digital space. While it may not be feasible to try to compete in every aspect of the digital landscape, efforts should be focused on a few key areas where a small business can still gain an advantage over its larger competitors. In my experience running a digital marketing agency, these are the most important areas small business owners must prioritize.
If your digital marketing strategy isn’t optimized for mobile platforms, then you are probably missing the mark with a good chunk of your customers. To stay competitive, your strategy should include the following, at the bare minimum:
Responsive Website Design: First and foremost, your website should be designed so that it is fully functional on mobile devices, which means using a responsive design. As smartphones are becoming a primary access device for web browsing (especially true for Hong Kong, where about 60% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices), it is important that you are offering a seamless user experience between both mobile and desktop users. Responsive web design is one of the best methods to achieve this.
Geotargeting: Facebook offers the ability to serve targeted, hyperlocal mobile ads to your customer demographic. The best part of this service is that ad delivery is based on their location. Since consumers are consistently utilizing mobile devices, this offers a unique way to reach potential customers in specific geographic areas who otherwise might not have found their way to your website. (Consider placing ads in google maps, one of the most recent features google offers)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Ranking well on search engines requires implementing excellent publishing and marketing information known as SEO. This effort has become more important, especially on the local level, in staying relevant online.
Many users only look at the first page of the search engine's results when seeking answers, or they look to the featured snippet or knowledge panel of Google Search results. Those that rank near the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) have nothing to worry about, but those listed on the pages after often see a steep decrease in page visits.
With Google’s increased focus on quality, high-ranking search results, including websites that provide mobile users with location-specific results to their queries, small business owners should focus efforts on local SEO as well as standard SEO to gain an advantage.
Sometimes the easiest way to rank high on first page is to find unique longtail keywords, specific for your business, which do not have a huge amount of searches, but are very relevant to your target audience.
Did you know that the average amount of video content watched on YouTube globally is 3.25 billion hours each month? That is an incredible amount of video and should provide some insight as to why this content format should be a priority for your business. Creating engaging video content for platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin can help you effectively reach customers while building brand awareness.
When creating videos, it’s important to consider how and where you will be posting them. For example, up until recently, it was widely accepted that videos should be shot horizontally. However, with the rising popularity of the “story” feature on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, vertically shot videos have become more the norm to fit these formats. In fact at this point (August 2018) the best performing video for your facebook campaign would be in portrait mode and shorter than 15 seconds with engaging titles.
To tackle the “vertical video” issue, we at MARK&TING often shoot video vertically, making sure the video keeps the highest possible resolution for portrait oriented clips. Example here.
Influencer marketing is on the rise in 2018. When done properly, it can positively impact the public’s perception of your business or products, inspire brand loyalty, foster organic conversations on social media and boost your sales.
Content is king when it comes to a successful influencer marketing campaign. Aspects to identify and create before launching a new campaign include the following.
Platform Insights: Is your content in the right place? A common misconception is that you need to be everywhere, when the truth is that you simply need to be in the places your customers are. If your content performs poorly on certain platforms, then you should re-evaluate whether or not to focus your efforts there.
Social And Search Trends: In life, timing is everything, and that concept translates to your content as well. Even the best content, when posted at inopportune moments, is more likely to miss your target audience, which is why you should stay updated on both social and search trends to release content that people are looking for.
Content Calendar: A common business mistake when it comes to content is to create and post on the fly without any sort of plan. This hit-or-miss style will inevitably produce hit-or-miss results, while a carefully crafted content calendar produces consistency. A calendar provides a visualization of your upcoming content strategy and helps create a consistent flow of content to better build your brand.
Trustworthy Influencers: Influencer marketing is all about authenticity, which means allowing an influencer some level of freedom to create content that is genuine to them. In that regard, as a business owner, you need to have trustworthy people in this position who understand how to meld your goals into what they produce. It is critical to allow them freedom when creating content so it has validity and authenticity while still accomplishing your goals. That requires trust on your part.
Hong Kong Influencer tip:
We often see “con influencers” in Hong Kong who barely just started and already have thousands of followers on Instagram and Facebook. Keep in mind that followers, likes and shares can easily be purchased (instead of earned) which might look good at first sight, but ultimately won’t help bring customers through your door, so make sure to thoroughly analyse the audience of your potential influencer, before your part with your hard-earned $$$.
A common problem among small business owners is a lack of understanding of whether their marketing efforts are effective. To avoid this, make sure you are gaining valuable insights by measuring key metrics with programs like Google Analytics. Then, learn to adjust your efforts accordingly to be effective. You may not have the time or resources to explore every digital marketing strategy, but at a minimum, make the time to place your digital marketing focus on these key areas to compete as a small business in the digital space.
In worst (best for us) case scenario, you can always hire us (MARK&TING) to handle the marketing on your behalf. We would be happy to help. (contact firstname.lastname@example.org)