Small and medium-sized businesses are increasingly aware of the need for a digital marketing strategy to compete with larger enterprises, but for it to succeed they need to achieve a balance between seeking expert advice and building their own knowledge of the industry.
That was one of the conclusions of a BT roundtable held yesterday to discuss a survey of 7,200 SMEs, which found that 73 per cent regard a web site or some other form of online presence as being important to improving their business operations.
Attendees also concluded that SMEs need to devote more time to extending their technical knowledge in areas such as search engine optimisation and marketing through social networks, as well as to researching their competitors’ online strategies.
Small business owner and former Apprentice contestant Claire Young said she wanted a “one-stop shop” for digital marketing advice.
Young said there was a need for one-day digital marketing courses similar to those for accounting.
However, BT Business Digital Marketing Services general manager Ivan Croxford said SMEs should outsource rather than try to become digital marketing experts themselves.
“The strategy for one’s digital marketing approach, such as which social networks to work with, can be outsourced to digital marketing service providers as this gives SMEs technical experience fast,” he added.
“But SMEs should not outsource their reputation. You need to have an authentic voice when using Facebook and Twitter. Big companies have often struggled when they have used agencies rather than doing it themselves.”
Google head of UK operations, Matt Brittin, said SMEs should think about what they want to achieve and where best they can invest their time in the digital marketing space and then pick the areas of least importance to them to outsource.
Meanwhile, Ashley Friedlein, chief executive of digital consultancy eConsultancy, said SMEs should be very careful about what digital marketing strategies they adopt because there is a danger in doing too much.
Friedlein said his company had used web site videos to generate more interest in the research it publishes but the outcome was actually a decrease in traffic to the online reports because people judged the reports on how the author came across on video.
Forrester analyst Mike Cansfield said it is important for SMEs not to confuse social marketing and e-commerce.
“E-commerce has been with us for a decade and social media marketing is new. While digital marketing allows businesses to explore new channels to market and the connected world presents a huge opportunity, it is not the only one,” he said.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago