• Shaun Bateman

Small businesses need to think of digital marketing in a new way to unlock its potential

All too many small and medium businesses in South Africa have become disillusioned with digital marketing platforms such as search and social media because they are focusing on the wrong metrics and goals for success. But those that focus on the right outcomes can drive significant return on investment from digital marketing.

That’s according to Grant Lapping, Managing Director at DataCore Media, who says that many entrepreneurs have concluded that platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and programmatic display are overhyped. The reason for this is that they are focusing on ‘engagements’ or clicks as the measure of value.

“When a business owner mentions ‘engagements’ it sets off alarm bells for me,” says Lapping. “It indicates that the business is using only a fraction of the power of these platforms. Many think that digital platforms are an electronic answer to ads in a local newspaper or a way to boost their social posts when they are so much more.

“And they are not using conversion tags and optimising campaigns for sales or even landing views because they believe it is expensive and too complex to get it right. A lot of small business owners I talk to say they can’t use algorithms to target the most relevant user based on their behaviour because they don’t have the budget to work with an agency that can help them with the tech and the data.”

Lapping says that this is a misconception since most of the major platforms have worked hard to make their toolsets more accessible to non-expert users, including the small business owner. The hard part is to correctly set up the small business’s accounts with each platform, configure the relevant tracking and optimisation tags, and link them to Google Analytics for effective goal tracking.

“You don’t need to be an expert with data and algorithms to find the most relevant customers for your product and target them with the right message,” says Lapping. “If you have tags correctly implemented on your websites, the algorithms will be in place and ready to do the heavy lifting for you.”

Lapping says that digital platforms give small businesses the ability to talk directly to customers and prospects on their smartphone at the right moment and with the right message to drive an outcome such as an impression, video view, click, lead, app install, or conversion.

“When done well, it’s highly measurable and extremely effective,” says Lapping.

“The challenge for most small businesses is getting started. This is why we have come up with a new solution, where we partner with startups and small businesses to get up-and-running on the right platforms, then empower them to run their own campaigns.”

This reduces the barriers to entry that have kept many smaller companies away from digital marketing, giving them access to many of the same tools and features that their larger customers take for granted.

Some tips for small businesses to get started:

• Make sure that Google Tag Manager (GTM) is correctly implemented across all of your web pages.

• Facebook advertising is a powerful channel, especially for business-to-consumer companies, but it only really works if your tags are linked to GTM.

• Link your Google AdWords account to your Google Analytics account to ensure all data is synced.

• Once your tags are in place, set up the campaign to automatically optimise for your desired end-goal, which could be a sale, a lead or even a visit to a store locator page.

• If your sales volumes are low, the platforms’ algorithms won’t have the data they need to effectively optimise your campaign for final sales. You could instead optimise for another step in the customer journey where there is more data available – such as a customer adding a product to the shopping cart.

• Don’t get distracted by the hundreds of different targeting options across the various social and programmatic display platforms. Let the artificial intelligence find the most relevant audiences for your company. Segment only when you need to reach a narrow niche, for example, professionals with a four-year degree.

• Create multiple custom audiences using existing data from customer lists, page visitors or data purchased from third parties. Also, create lookalike audiences of people with similar profiles to your best customers.

• Use custom audiences both to include your target consumer and to exclude people outside your audience. As an example, don’t target people, who have recently purchased the product you’re advertising.

• Use Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) strings, which are an addition to URLs that allow you to easily see the source of each conversion in your analytics tools.

• Use Google Smart Display for a quick library of creative options – it combines your existing web assets—headlines, images, and more—to create responsive display ads.

This saves you from paying for creative development and ensures optimal bidding and targeting strategies.



Lyme Park



South Africa

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