Mapping out digital marketing strategy for SMEs

Over the past five years, there have an increasing number of small and medium businesses progressively pivot from exploring digital marketing solely as a supplement to their traditional marketing strategies, to turning it into the mainstay of their marketing efforts.

While most SMEs will hire a digital marketing agency, many have chosen to train up their own staff to acquire and retain in-house knowledge.

If you have not made such moves yet, or even explored digital marketing, this year is the time to definitely do so. There are many benefits to digital marketing, such as affordability, easy targeting of the audience you want, and trackable, and measurable results.

This article will explore how the digital marketing funnel works.

In the digital marketing funnel model, the customer journey is described using a funnel shape, through which the customer becomes aware of your products, considers using them, and finally makes a purchase.

The marketing funnel top: Awareness

The ultimate aim of a marketing funnel is to lure would-be consumers, strung out randomly across the worldwide web, to a place where you can close the sale or generate that lead.

The width of the funnel at the top is hence a reflection of the large number of people you will need in order to reach in order to find those few who will convert into your customers.

Top of the funnel digital marketing strategies are designed to capture the highest number of eyeballs possible based on your budget. These include:

  • Search engine optimisation and marketing (using keywords to drive visitors to your landing page, website or ecommerce site from Google’s search function)

  • Social media marketing (marketing that uses the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. platforms)

  • Email marketing (like direct marketing, but using email)

  • Content marketing (using content such as articles, white papers, or videos published on other websites and social media to draw traffic to your own)

  • Display marketing - This is advertising technology (adtech) that allows automated targeting of consumers across multiple websites based on ads that are more relevant to their interests (contextual advertising), behaviour (behavioral targeting) or retargeting (ads that show your brand to would-be customers as they browse from site to site). Display advertising is often programmatic, meaning it can be bought in bulk on digital advertising exchanges.

The marketing funnel middle

As prospects progress down the marketing funnel, they will either drop out altogether or develop an interest in your products and services. As the prospect discovers more about your products and services, he or she may develop an intent to purchase, and require more information about your product, or nurturing as leads, before the final purchase occurs.

Content marketing is often used to drive prospects towards the bottom of the funnel. The ultimate aim of content marketing is to become a reliable trusted source of information about the problems that your business solves, and to build relationships with new customers.

By being timely, smart, engaging, and personalised with content and social media marketing, you can nurture prospects until they acquire enough conviction about your product to make a purchase. Display targeting can also keep your products in the forefront of your prospects’ consciousness, reminding them of your value proposition.

The marketing funnel bottom

The bottom of the funnel is where you have to persuade your prospects into taking action, be it clicking on the purchase button, filling in a form where the customer enters his personal information for follow-up by your sales person, or calling your number for enquiries.

This is the absolute bottom of the funnel, where the prospect of closing the sale or generating that lead finally comes to die. Free trials or demos, discounts, money-back guarantees, time-limited offers and other closing tactics are often used here to motivate prospects to take action.

As such, a professionally designed website, persuasively written landing page, or easy-to-use ecommerce platform is essential for the bottom of the funnel.

Which techniques should one use?

There is no one right answer, as every marketing department has different goals, needs, and constrains.

Each digital marketing technique has its own unique cost structures, audience profiles and optimal use cases. If your product competes primarily on cost, for example, you may find more returns from investing in display advertising, which provides top and middle of the funnel value.

Or do you want to reach out to female, high income-earners, aged between 25 and 50? Perhaps social media marketing in combination with email marketing may be your best bet.

Whichever you choose, at least you will be able to measure the effectiveness of your strategies.

How to measure your results at every stage

All digital marketing tools have dashboards that provide statistics on your campaign, reporting various metrics like number of visitors, cost-per-click and more. There are also online tools which aggregate metrics from all your social media platforms into one unified dashboard, so that you can manage them all from one place, while Google Analytics offers a free and sophisticated way of tracking visitor activities on your website or landing page.

Understanding how digital marketing works can be challenging, but it is worth doing the research, and putting efforts to get the results you want.

- Florence Fang, Managing Director and Principal Consultant, Flame Communications Pte Ltd -