Common Misperceptions of Digital Marketing for the SME

Although the world was already on a fast track to fully digitalising, COVID-19 pushed everyone to rapidly adapt to digital means and even fully transform digitally. Singapore is no exception; and as local SMEs embrace digital transformation, their marketing strategies have shifted to focus on digital marketing.

However, despite the promised wonder of increased revenue and business growth by digital marketing, only 2 in 5 SMEs perceive their marketing efforts to be successful. Here are 5 common misperceptions of digital marketing and why your marketing efforts aren’t seeing results:

Misperception 1: Blogging isn’t useful

From its birth in 1994 to the big boom in mid-2000s, blogging is still hugely popular today, especially among brands. Blogs give you a chance to express your brand personality, show off your industrial knowledge, and improve your trustworthiness. In this case, more is better. Bloggers who post more often see better results than those who don’t – although quality is still as important as quantity.

Blogging will also naturally increase traffic if your content has valuable keywords. You would want to write on topics relevant to your industry, which you should load in related keywords. For example, your brand sells coffee beans, and your blog posts include guides on various brew methods. Someone searching online for a French press guide could well stumble upon your blog post, learn of your brand, and become a potential customer.

Misperception 2: SEM isn’t worth it

When was the last time you clicked on page 2 of a Google search?

It’s probably been quite a while, hasn’t it? Or perhaps even “never”. And it’s quite likely that you’d have clicked on the very first result that popped up, whether on accident or not. These top results are usually paid advertisements, with a little “Ad” indicator at the side.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is an effective way to increase your brand’s visibility through search engine results pages (SERPs). By using pay-per-click advertising (PPC), it can be an excellent way to bring in a targeted audience to your website. In fact, 74% of businesses say that PPC is a huge driver for their business.

Of course, this requires using the appropriate keywords. A computer peripheral brand could use general keywords like “keyboard” or “mouse”, while long-tail keywords could be “buy gaming mouse”. However, you want to take note of negative keywords as well – those keywords that prevent your ads from showing up if searched in that order. In this case, said brand probably would want to add in negative phrase match keywords like “pet mice”.

Once again, a successful SEM campaign also depends on other factors, like if your landing pages actually match your ads. Nothing is worse than frustrating a potential customer and losing them just because you were careless or lazy with putting in the correct landing page.

Misperception 3: Social media is for the kids

Did you know that 52% of online brand discovery happens on social media?

No, social media isn’t just for Gen Z and millennials. (Anyway, even if it were and your brand’s target audience include these groups, you’d definitely want to be on there.) Social media is a great way to increase brand awareness and visibility. If you already have a social media account (congratulations, you took that first step!) but still don’t see results, let’s move on to the next thing: content.

Content is king. Your social media content is going to say a lot about you. It’s similar to how blogging works, but more personable. Consumers these days are smart and easily bored, but enjoy reading content related to their interests. If you focus on producing constant, quality content that is specific to both your brand and audience’s interests, you are far more likely to capture their attention (think followers) and remain on their minds (think likes and shares).

Social media isn’t really the place for loud, blatant advertising – in the end, social media is, well, about socialising. When you reach out and make relationships with your target audience, and provide them with relevant content to soak up, they’ll start sharing your brand name for you.

This isn’t to say that advertising is completely frowned upon; just remember to tone it down and let your brand’s content speak for itself. No one likes being constantly bombarded with ads insisting they purchase [Amazing Item] because of [Endless Qualities]. People are estimated to be exposed between 6000 and 10 000 ads daily; sometimes they’d just like to read about top 10 getaways instead of being told they should book this holiday rental right now.

Misperception 4: I don’t need a plan!

With all the earlier misperceptions identified, it really is no use if there isn’t any strategizing or planning at all. Business owners sometimes treat marketing just as deciding where to place company money to put up ads, and hope it pays offBut without understanding where and what you need to market on, you may just be throwing money to the wind.

Do you understand where your business is in the business funnel – are you currently spending all your marketing efforts on sale conversions when you should be increasing your brand awareness instead? If you aren’t analysing data, how do you know what works and what doesn’t? Without strategy, marketing is just like sailing out to sea without a map. Though it may be your first time treading these waters, these are not uncharted spaces. A well-planned strategy can make the difference between a successful marketing campaign and a failure of one.

Misperception 5: I need to see results immediately!

If you’ve just started on digital marketing, or are just reworking your entire marketing strategy, there may be one reason why you’re not seeing the results you want: it’s simply too early. When your marketing efforts don’t seem to show through, it’s easy and understandable to get discouraged. However, marketing is a long game of experimenting, analysing, and trying again. You might have to give yourself more time for results to show through, but don’t forget to always analyse your data and keep trying.  

Marketing can be daunting. As local SMEs continue to digitalise and take the step towards digital marketing, they need to realise that while there is no easy path to quick results, correcting these common misperceptions can help to improve their marketing plan and in turn help to achieve the results they want. Start strategizing, use keywords, create quality content, and don’t underestimate the power of search engine marketing. Get out there and make your brand name stand out. You’ve got this.

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