Digital marketing can be your competitive advantage – part two

Following on from part one where we discussed the importance of knowing how your brand performs online, this month we look at the magic of integrating your digital tools and the real benefits for your business.

Providing a seamless online experience makes a difference. Creating an integrated journey between your social channels will be more powerful than using the channels separately. A multi-channel strategy which leverages a variety of platforms is more likely to drive users towards a specific ‘call-to-action’ and collect insights that help you qualify the ROI for different campaigns.

According to the latest Making Western Sydney Greater results, the top three industries using social media are – Hospitality & Tourism (92%), Professional Services (91%) and Education (89%). For some industries they’re barely active on social media while others are benefiting from digital tools such as LinkedIn’s website demographic to reach their audience. Social media can initially appear more suited to a B2C scenario, or more personal/individual buying situations, however, it’s reported that B2B ecommerce sales are expected to outgrow B2C ecommerce sales by 2020, according to the latest HubSpot marketing statistics.

The latest report identified manufacturers as one of the industries with the lowest social media usage, sitting at 46 per cent, followed by Transport & Distribution at 33 per cent. This is expected to shift with many B2Bs realising the benefits of digital channels to educate customers, boost brand awareness and enhance relationships. With the average B2B company on six social media networks, those that don’t embrace it will find themselves falling behind their social media savvy competitors.

With mobile social usage on the rise (2.9 billion users worldwide and increasing), you can make use of in-app messaging, geo-targeting and other opportunities to connect with your audience. Today’s buyer wants to be able to use different services and various channels to interact with businesses. Social media has affected the customer experience and regardless of which channel they use, they want to be able to access information easily and fast. Online digital tools are playing a key role in communicating with customers with 11 out of 50 of the fastest-growing B2B companies are using a live chat widget to provide responses quickly on their website (Drift).

Before you start using social media, the most important step is to know which platforms appeal to your target market and support your digital marketing KPIs and optimise conversions. Focus on two to three channels that will have the strongest impact and that are the best fit for your brand and message. Here’s a snapshot of a few social media platforms:

  • Facebook – Good for targeting baby boomers and generations X and Y. Great channel for reach, engagement and driving traffic to a website;
  • Instagram – Highly visual channel, popular for using ‘influencers’ to promote products and services to drive brand awareness and build relationships. More suited to lifestyle industries such as design, fashion, food or beauty;
  • YouTube – Great for a wide range of industries, video content is becoming a leading channel to advertise and communicate your brand story. Over 85 per cent of businesses now have staff and resources to produce in-house videos with High Tech and Manufacturers publishing the most new videos;
  • LinkedIn – A network hub to access people, jobs, news, industry updates and insights. Mostly used to connect with professionals and share educational content. Primed for B2B, it’s the best channel for targeted campaigns based on industry or job role;
  • Twitter – A broadcast channel designed to communicate real-time updates to a global audience. A great way to engage in conversations about a topic or connect with industry leaders. A common channel for expressing positive and negative views.

What’s holding businesses back?

Although business owners understand that digital marketing can provide a range of benefits, many highlighted that they don’t have a defined strategy and are not effectively measuring ROI. Developing a digital strategy, choosing the right technology and platforms and having the expertise to make it work can require skills that sit outside the core competencies of most business owners. Lack of resourcing and in-house capabilities were the main reasons behind businesses feeling that they don’t have a strong social media presence. Large Businesses had a more positive result position on ROI reporting, reporting (45 per cent compared to 18 per cent for SME Businesses), but given they have access to a broader workforce they may have the staff with the skills to manage these activities.

Navigating your way through the digital marketing landscape isn’t easy, especially if digital isn’t in your background. With technology advancements and buyer expectations for fast and easy connectivity, most businesses and industries are quickly realising that social media is no longer optional – it’s now an important part of the overall business development strategy.

When it comes to building a high converting digital marketing strategy, there’s no one-size-fits-all. You need to select the right metrics for your goals and prioritise the platforms that work best for your business and your audience.

Making Western Sydney Greater is a collaborative project between William Buck, St.George, Western Sydney University, and Western Sydney Business Connection. Analysing the experiences of business owners and managers in Western Sydney helps us to identify the important issues and priorities for businesses and drive positive change in the region.

Access the latest report to find out more about the benefits and obstacles of strong digital marketing strategy, the impact of better connectivity and new transport networks, and the growth and employment outlook for businesses in Western Sydney.

Quick facts – digital in Australia:

  • Over 21 million internet users, 17 million active social media users and over 19 million mobile users;
  • An average of 5 hours and 34 minutes is spent on the internet every day and approximately 1 hour and 39 minutes on social media;
  • Based on the average monthly traffic, the top websites are Google, YouTube and Facebook;
  • The most active social media platforms are Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.