• Emma Pratt

Digital marketing - SMEs are you on the back foot?

Updated: Nov 11



Online marketing started in the early 90's but it wasn't until Google launched its platform in 1998 that digital marketing really took off. Scepticism followed and so did the burst of the .com bubble when profits failed to return on investors support for .com start-ups.


Today it is the norm for companies to add digital marketing to their marketing strategies. However, those that have not yet embraced it are now looking to do so. Fuelled by the Corona Virus pandemic and a second lockdown, business owners are looking for new ways to survive further lockdown restrictions and digital marketing is giving them a lifeline. But is it?


In this article we look at what is marketing and how both traditional forms of marketing and digital marketing can support your business. But first let us look at some stats.

According to Statista:

  • Ad spending in the Search Advertising segment is projected to reach £109,724m in 2020 with an increase of 2.4% year on year.

  • The average ad spending per internet user in the Search Advertising segment is projected to amount to £24.37 per user in 2020.

  • Ad spending in the Social Media Advertising segment is projected to reach £70,935m in 2020.

  • In the Social Media Advertising segment, 83% of total ad spending will be generated through mobile in 2025.

  • In the Social Media Advertising segment, the number of users is expected to amount to 3,399.4m by 2025.

Online marketing methods are on the up. Whilst we realised a quick decline in advertising spend during the first lockdown, SME's who have been used to selling their products and services online are now focussing spend via social platforms and paid for advertising.


Small independent retailers however, who have never used online marketing before are now:

  • Working hard to design and develop a website in order to bring their businesses online, in the hope that they may regain some sales in the run up to Christmas and beyond.

  • Trying hard to learn to manage their social platforms and are having to do so quickly. Especially if they have had to make marketing staff or freelancers redundant.

  • Realising they are on the back foot notably having to restructure their businesses for an online audience.

  • Trying to garner online traction for their products and services because an internet user’s customer journey is very different to the hight street experience.

  • Competing with more well-established online business who understand the complexities of digital marketing, SEO, social media, paid for advertising and user experience.

  • Realising that attracting potential customers to their new shiny website requires something other than pressing the launch button!

Managing to get an existing business online in a matter of weeks is nothing but admirable but SME's will be missing out if they don't invest in expert search engine optimisation, content marketing, email marketing, social media, press, and direct mail and paid search otherwise known as ppc advertising.


Without proper marketing consultancy or marketing management SME's could see good money go after bad especially if they don't know what they are trying to achieve let alone what they are doing.


A combination of both digital/online and traditional marketing activities is what is needed in order to make a business robust against the pandemic and a potential decline in consumer spending as redundancies become part of everyday life.


Whilst time is of the essence in the lead up to Christmas trading, it is important to spend some time reviewing or at least creating a marketing plan that encompasses both your digital marketing strategies and social media strategies. These plans should look very closely at the social and digital channels you are wanting to use and why.


SME's who have already nurtured their client data and kept this up to date, will no doubt be ahead of the game, as they will be able to utilise email marketing with a lot more ease than those who have no client data to work with.


Marketing in today’s world is complex with many moving parts. No longer can business owners be complacent believing that they don't need online digital marketing to survive. I remember someone saying to me over 10 years ago 'marketing is digital' and whilst I am both a digital and a traditional marketing expert this saying has never been truer than it is today!

What is a social media strategy?

Your Social media strategy should be in line with your marketing strategy. The social strategy or plan looks in detail at what you want to promote via what digital platform. It outlines your target audience, your tone of voice and what you want to promote where for instance your product and service offering, your corporate social responsibility activity and your company culture.

What is a Social media content plan?

A social media plan is a document you can use to compose your messages for each social media channel. It can be done in word or excel – the preference is yours. Use the plan to outline the links to website pages, blogs and news items, hashtags, people you want to tag in and the schedule time for each of your posts.


Benefits of using a social media content plan:

  • multiple campaigns can be drafted well in advance

  • easy to collaborate between teams to gain insight, ideas and sign off – Microsoft teams is excellent for this as you can clearly see mark ups and amends in one place, with version control

  • you can see how congested or empty your social media feeds will be at a glance

  • saves time

  • social media activity is not just ad hock anymore, it is well planned and in line with your marketing plans

What is a digital marketing strategy?

Like your social media strategy your digital strategy should also be in line with your marketing strategy. However, this encompasses not just your social media activity but the wider digital picture. Digital marketing strategies will outline your overall objective, target audience, sales targets, geo reach, user demographics, and the digital channels you will use to make this all happen.

What is a Marketing Audit?

Designed to assist you review your existing marketing strategy, a marketing audit will highlight areas of profitability as well as uncovering any aspects of your plan that may require some love. In an economic environment where margins are tight, retaining you marketing spend may seem counter intuitive. However, removing this simple route to market may prove to be a more costly exercise when it comes to reinstating your marketing plans when times are better.

Marketing audits will very quickly tell you where you are and what you need to do.

Benefits of carrying out a Marketing audit

  • Audits help you to define your objectives. This can be very useful when you know things need to change or need to improve. Having an understanding of where you need to be is a good starting point.

  • Evaluate the market – this is an opportunity for you to estimate the size of your current market and any expected growth or contraction. Carrying an environmental PESTLE would be a good idea given the climate we are currently in.

  • If you are looking to new markets or ways to reach new marketing like implementing digital marketing for the first time define the different markets your business competes in and estimate any projected sales for next financial period.

  • Audits will also enable you to define your target audience and their needs. Evaluation of your existing clients and conducting research to identify new customers/clients and their needs is really important.

  • I love a SWOT analysis. This looks at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Clearly the pandemic is a threat to many and opportunity for others. It won’t be hard to know where your business sits here but doing a SWOT will help you plan out your next steps.

  • Competitor analysis can be a scary thing, but we have a great tool to help us work out your competitor’s online activity.

  • One of the most important activities is to review your marketing mix – the 4Ps (Product, Price, Place and Promotion). Or if you are really up for it the 7Ps just add in physical environment, people and process. The what, when and how of your business and its marketing activity. Given the climate now a good time to review, evaluate and make changes where changes are needed. If it ‘ain’t broke’ however, ‘don’t fix it’.

Once you have carried out your marketing audit make sure to put together SMART marketing objectives (Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant time bound) activity list for you or your teams to work through.

Marketing Tips

Remember marketing takes time to think, plan and execute so delays in collaboration and sign off can have a lasting impact especially if product or service launches or responding to clients and environmental challenges makes it time sensitive.

Don’t give up. Measure the results and keep a constant eye on what is going on.

If you would like help with your marketing strategy or need to up-skill then speak to me about my 121 marketing coaching sessions. Call me today on: 07710689446.

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