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An SME's Guide to Leveraging Online Tools and Services For Digital Marketing A strong online presence for any ambitious business today is no longer an option but a critical necessity.

By Ronak Samantray

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In recent years, there has been a paradigm shift in the consumer behaviour from bricks to clicks. One of the biggest challenges faced by physical stores today is the competition from e-commerce websites. An online presence for a business acts as a powerful marketing and communication tool, an incredibly cost-efficient platform, and a standard requirement today.

A strong online presence for any ambitious business today is no longer an option but a critical necessity. In the last quarter of a decade, internet usage has grown and permanently changed the way communication takes place. Businesses have long started to use the internet as a leverage to further their objectives. If you have a marketing plan in your mind that can increase the brand value for your business by boosting sales and attracting more customers and are looking for a way to pitch the idea to your boss, you'll need to step into his shoes and walk a mile first. Anticipating the kind of questions, he might ask will help define your goals and strategies better towards an implementation stage.

Here are some methods you need to consider to leverage the best of digital technology to boost your business:

Social Media Strategy

Social Media is basically free advertising. It offers a good platform to determine and assess where your audience is and what kind of content they really appreciate and identify with. The most overt benefits of social media include being able to connect directly with and understand your target audience. Old style advertisements on banners, radio and TV are majorly one-sided. On social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, brands get the opportunity to make direct connections, continuous communication, address grievances and monitor consumer sentiment live. It also offers an open platform to monitor competitive forces.

Setting Up A Blog

Content consumption has evolved radically over the past two decades. Creation of compelling blog posts has taken over the traditional content marketing methods. Newspaper and Magazine articles and ads might have helped establish authority in specialized area/category, but online blogging has this and so much more to offer. It helps the company create a brand field identity and build networks based on trust and relevance. With optimized content on the blog, you can effectively drive traffic to the company's website. It can also offer a good conversion rate to make paying customers out of site visitors if the right call-to-action button and message is given.

Paid Digital Advertising

"Is it profitable to allocate the marketing budget to digital advertising and if yes, how?" is going to be a certain question from your boss when you pitch the idea of online advertising to him/her. Pay-per-click advertising can be tricky but with an expert's aid, the profits will far outweigh the risks. One, it is relatively cheaper than other forms of advertising and since the amount is calculated in small units, you have more power over how much you want to invest. There is no harm in starting small. The benefits, among many, include higher online visibility, highly targeted and consistent traffic to the website and an ROI (return on investment) that is maximized to your marketing efforts.

Local SEO

Local SEO is a branch of digital marketing which concentrates on pulling local customers to the business at exactly the time they are looking for the product or service provided by you. It makes local businesses visible to local customers when they search for the services/products online.

Most search engines take into consideration the location of the user before showing any search result. The job of Local SEO methodologies is to make sure that the business listing or website shows up when a search happens.

The NowFloats Boost app has an auto-SEO technology at its core, primarily helping your business with organic SEO and local discovery, other that having all the other features necessary to execute end-to-end digital marketing for your business.

Analytics For Digital Marketing

You need to have some digital marketing analytics set up in order to measure the success of your marketing efforts. There are various free and paid tools like Google Analytics, Moz and Webmaster Tools available online to help you in this activity. They can help determine your user demographics and study customer behaviour. You can analyse your web traffic to demarcate what content is most opened, liked and shared, as well as what content needs revision. With a detailed knowledge of how your ads are performing on various websites that host them, you can improve your ad performance and take control of your brand image.

Implementing online marketing for your company does not have to be an expensive and time-consuming investment, so it shouldn't be too hard to convince your boss of its necessity.

Ronak Samantray

Co-founder & Chief software architect, NowFloats

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