Invest in digital marketing to double your business growth

It is never too soon to start planning your business growth strategy for 2018. Using the right digital tools can help grow small business revenue. In this article you will learn why it is important to invest in your small business digital engagement strategy as part of your business plan. The second part of this article will give you a specific framework to help drive your desired growth.

Deloitte’s SMB Growth Study

In 2016 SMBs that leveraged digital tools to engage with potential customers enjoyed double the revenues per employee versus companies with relatively undeveloped digital presence, according to a recent study by Deloitte Connected Small Businesses U.S. It turns out that small businesses who invest more on their digital strategy are growing faster than other small businesses.

Deloitte defines four different levels of digital engagement:

Basic Digital Engagement Level

These small businesses don’t have a website and has no social media presence. They do use email, but they do not use social media, and they do not use online advertising.

20% of small business

Intermediate Digital Engagement Level

These SMBs are definitely a step or two ahead of those at the Basic level. Thus they have simple websites. They do use basic digital marketing tactics, such as local search directories, although they don’t sell products online, and their websites aren’t mobile-friendly.

30% of small businesses

High Digital Engagement Level

Their website is mobile-friendly, it includes e-commerce capabilities or offers online appointments. Businesses at a high level of digital engagement use a wide range of online marketing tools, including social media, mobile advertising, lead generation, directories, and more. In addition to marketing, however, they also use digital apps to run their businesses better. For example, they might use cloud storage, collaboration apps, or video conferencing.

30% of small businesses

Advanced Digital Engagement Level

At the top of Deloitte’s digital engagement pyramid, there are companies that use everything mentioned above at a high level of sophistication. Moreover, they often employ data analytics tools as well as develop and promote their own mobile apps.

20% of small businesses

How to plan for revenue growth in 2018

No matter which category your business falls into, you probably ask yourself how do I boost my digital marketing strategy in 2018? Here’s a general strategy planning framework. Follow these steps as you’re planning your business growth strategy for 2018.

Assess the current level of your digital strategy

Use this cheat sheet to determine the level of your business digital strategy.

Deloitte’s SMB Digital Engagement Levels
Basic Intermediate High Advanced
Use Generic Email Yes No No No
Uses traditional marketing (e.g. Post, Flyers) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Use Business Email No Yes Yes Yes
Has a Newsletter No Yes Yes Yes
Listed in Online Directories No Yes Yes Yes
Has a Blog No Yes Yes Yes
Has a Basic Website No Yes No No
Has a Website with Contact Form No Yes Yes Yes
Has an eCommerce website No No Yes Yes
Has online booking option No No Yes Yes
Use Online Payments No No Yes Yes
Has a Mobile Optimized Website No No Yes Yes
Has a Mobile App No No No Yes
Uses Social Media No Somewhat Yes Yes
Has Basic Online Advertising No Yes Yes Yes
Has Advanced Online Advertising No No Yes Yes
Use Basic Analytics No No Yes Yes
Use Advanced Analytics No No No Yes
Use CRM No No Somewhat Yes
Use video conferencing internaly No No Yes Yes
Use cloud software internaly No No Yes Yes
Use other Digital Tools No No Somewhat Yes
Use task management tools No No Somewhat Yes
Uses Mobile advertising No No No Yes

Identify gaps in your digital growth strategy

Consider the tactics used in the next level of digital engagement. If you’re currently at the Intermediate level, that would be the High level. Ask yourself:

  • How could each of these tactics benefit my business?
    For example, build awareness, increase sales, save time, expand to international markets, etc.
  • How costly would each growth tactic be to implement?
    Consequently, try to assess the Cost associated with the execution of each opportunity. Think of it in terms of money and time to execute.
  • What will be my ROI off of each tactic?
    While this is not an easy task, try to assess the potential return on investment by using tools like Google’s Traffic Estimator. Then, apply conversion ratios to guesstimate how many new customers you could get.
  • Do I have the right staff on board? Do we have the right skill set to execute our business growth strategy?
    Identify potential skill gaps. You may need to train your staff on new digital tools or hire new team members.
  • Which opportunities are easiest to implement quickly and which will generate the fastest revenue growth?
    Once you have your cost estimates and ROI projections, you can prioritize based on the possible benefit for your business.
  • Which tactics solve current business problems?
    Finally, identify action items that can help your business growth strategy directly by solving known problems in your business.

Prioritize

After all is said and done, set goals and dates for implementation. Assign responsibility to team members, and meet regularly to make sure you’re making progress towards your digital goals.

Remember: If you are going to boost your investment in online advertising be sure to “test before you invest”. Run small-dollar marketing and advertising campaigns first to minimize risk. Evaluate results and, once you’ve determined it’s working, dial up your ad spend accordingly.

Funds to Grow Your Business

All things considered, investing in your digital strategy will require some extra cash. Therefore, try to plan ahead. Where will this extra cash come from, so there’s no delay in your digital strategy execution. Make your working capital plan part of your 2018 strategy. For example, an alternative financing solution such as invoice financing can offer the necessary working capital to spend more on Adwords, or Facebook advertising, cloud infrastructure and more.

Rieva is a small-business contributor for Fundbox and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. She has spent 30+ years covering, consulting, and speaking to small businesses owners and entrepreneurs.