Small businesses live in their own world and ecosystem apart from the world of big business and corporations. The needs of a small business are much more “primal” than the needs of a big corporation. So what exactly are the “primal” needs of a small business in 2013? When designing and creating your digital presence, make sure you look at the whole picture to determine where you need to be versus where you can be on the digital front. Websites, mobile websites, social media, and compelling content are the “primal” digital needs. These factors all work together to create a user experience that can provide credibility and utility in the mind of the consumer.
In this era of technology there is no question that every business absolutely must have a website, especially with the emphasis that consumers put on it. It is the foundation for your digital presence and everything you do digitally resonates from your website. However, it is not sufficient to just have a website. The website needs to be well designed, clean, and easy to navigate. The user experience is everything. The look and feel of your website should be consistent with your brand and portray your company in a professional manner. A great example of simple but effective design is the Dewey’s Pizza website, designed here at LEAP.
In addition to a traditional website, small businesses need to have a presence in the mobile space. Mobile is one of the fastest growing industries. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 1 in 4 smartphone owners use their phone as the primary way of accessing the Internet. Mobile Internet is also expected to eclipse wired Internet by 2015 according to IDC. What does this mean for your small business website? It means that you need to have an optimized mobile website to create the best possible user experience. Viewing a website that is designed for a standard computer monitor on a screen that is much smaller creates problems. Mobile website designs alleviate these problems by adapting the design and content to be clean and easy to navigate, prerequisites for an efficient user experience, on the small screens of smartphones and other devices. These sites can be relatively inexpensive and easy to make. An example of a simple an inexpensive mobile site is a site that JUMP! designed for the Louisville Airport.
Responsive design is not listed as one of my “primal” needs at the beginning of this blog because it is actually a combination of my first two “primal” needs, websites and mobile websites. The basic premise of responsive design is that the website will adjust to the size of the screen on which it is being viewed. For a more in-depth look at responsive design, Christy Belden, VP Media + Marketing, explains it in her blog.
Content is the driving force of the Internet. Why is this important? Obviously you do not want to spend all this time and effort on a website that is empty. The purpose of your site should be to inform customers and make an impression. Relevant and engaging content accomplishes both of these. However, if you don’t keep the content fresh, then consumers will have no reason to return and will have nothing to recommend to other users. Referrals are not only important for search engine marketing, but also for word-of-mouth marketing. These are among the most cost efficient and most effective forms of advertising. Steve Rubel, EVP/Global Strategy and Insights at Edelmen, gives some excellent insights into content generation and why it is necessary.
When my small business clients hear the words social media, typically I see fear and confusion in their expressions, and for good reason. The social media scene is unbelievably vast, and if you do not know what you are doing it is very easy to get overwhelmed. The first task is to determine the social media outlets that will benefit your business, because not all outlets work for every business. In case you need some help, here is a crash course on popular social media from Mashable. The main purpose of these outlets is to communicate with your audience. This includes sharing the content that you generate from the section above as well as interacting with consumers when necessary.
These needs are exactly as stated, they are must have elements for your business to succeed in the coming years. They work together in a very efficient and hyper connected system that provides potential consumers with the interaction and value that they desire. Utilizing these elements properly will benefit you, your business, and your consumer, which is great for all involved. Now it is up to you to make sure that your business is built to survive by implementing these “primal” digital marketing needs.
Contributed by Sean Slattery, Jump! Account & Marketing Coordinator
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