The top skills small business owners need to master in 2020 to ace their digital marketing


Ian Harris, founder of Search Laboratory, offers expert advice on the key skills small business owners need to focus on in 2020 to ensure an effective digital marketing strategy for your SME.


Mastering digital marketing is no easy task for small business owners. Changing algorithms, rapid industry updates and constant new developments can make keeping up to speed feel like a full-time job.

Put data in the driving seat

Business owners across the world have one thing in common – a desire to understand what their customers want and need. Nail this, and you can increase sales, improve customer satisfaction and ultimately boost business growth.

That’s why data should be a key priority for your business in 2020. By analysing the digital data you already have, such as your web and social analytics, you can begin to understand what’s working, what isn’t and where opportunities lie for your small business.

So, first and foremost, be sure to prioritise getting to know your digital data.

Invest in digital

It can be difficult to justify marketing spend when you are a small business but doing so is a long-term investment that can help grow your business both online and offline. If you have a tight budget, consider your core objectives and prioritise channels which will help deliver these. For example, PPC can deliver an instant ROI and is a great way to drive traffic and online sales if you are just getting started with your ecommerce site, while social media marketing or digital PR may be a better use of budget if brand awareness and sentiment are key goals.

Find and engage with digital influencers

Whether you’re a B2B company or you sell direct to consumers, influencer marketing should be on a part of your digital strategy. Finding online influencers who your audience follows and engages with, and working with these individuals on campaigns, can directly impact your target audience’s perception of your brand online. By teaming up with them, you can ensure that your brand is a point of conversation. This can result in increased brand awareness, enhanced reputation and even an increase in sales.

For an influencer marketing campaign to pay off, finding the right influencers for your brand is crucial. Invest in research to work out who is the best fit for your brand and how you can ensure an authentic partnership, avoiding anything overtly salesy or advertorial feeling.

Optimise your site for mobile users

With over 30 million Brits using smart devices to shop this year alone, businesses need to ensure their sites are optimised for the mobile experience to avoid frustrating and losing customers. Mobile optimisation can be as big as a full website redesign, or as small as prioritising key content on a page.  

Adopting mobile payments such as Apple or Google Pay is one way to improve and optimise the experience for mobile users – especially for B2C small businesses; mobile payments make it easier for consumers to purchase goods online and therefore reduce checkout abandonment, increasing sales, customer experience and repeat purchases.

Improve onsite user experience

Having a user-friendly website is a key aspect of SEO. Search engines want to drive users to relevant results on high quality websites which both answer their questions and provide a good user experience (UX). Creating a good user experience (UX) involves user testing and making UX improvements to provide a better experience for the customer. This might include optimising content so users land on the most relevant page for their query, improving loading times, or implementing an easy to navigate site structure so customers can easily find the pages they want. 

Ultimately when it comes to digital marketing it is essential that small business owners and SMEs work to prioritise their marketing activity in line with their business objectives. Don’t drown in a digital deluge, speak to an expert who can help you to focus in on your core business requirements and to make a real difference to your business performance.

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