The Best Digital Marketing Strategies and Trends for SMEs in 2022
The world is becoming more digitalized by the minute, and if you run a business or company this is something that can’t be ignored. Big companies invest millions of dollars in strategies such as branding, social media presence and keyword-bidding for higher ranking in search engines. However, if your business is small to medium-sized, perhaps this might lead you to think that an effective digital marketing strategy is something that can only be achieved with a huge budget. Luckily this is not the case at all! Many new techniques can be implemented on a smaller scale and this can have a big positive impact on your sales, website visits and conversions. For this reason, we would like to present you with some of the best digital marketing strategies and trends to boost your SME in 2022.
The World of Inbound Marketing Strategies and SEO
Although we have already mentioned inbound marketing strategies in a couple of blog posts before, we would like to mention it constitutes the basis of the approach to digital marketing that we focus on here at Wombat. Inbound marketing is an umbrella term that refers to a whole new way of doing marketing which, to a great extent, has been made possible by the new digital tools that have appeared in the last decade and a half. It defines itself in contrast to traditional outbound marketing strategies and techniques in several ways. In very general terms, the main difference between outbound and inbound marketing strategies is that, whereas the latter attempts to force itself upon the attention of an audience, the former tries to earn it in a more organic, approachable and relatable way. This is done by way of fine-grained digital consumer targeting techniques, branding, meaningful content, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies.
SEO is another topic that we have mentioned previously, since it is one of the cornerstones of inbound marketing strategies and something that any business, but specially SMEs, should take very seriously. Unlike forms of paid advertising, SEO focuses on achieving a good ranking in organic search results by implementing techniques such as keywords, schema markup and site content. The reason why this is important for an SME is that, unlike other forms of paid advertisement, SEO does not imply an upfront investment on things such as keyword-bidding (which can be quite pricey) and pay-per-click (PPE) but rather focuses on a holistic redesign and revamping of your website so that it can reach the specific audience that you want to target. Having said this, there is a new trend in SEO that is gaining popularity and which will be the main focus of this post: local SEO.
Go Local With Your SEO Strategy
Arguably, local SEO is one of the biggest things that has happened to small businesses lately. How does it work? Perhaps you have noticed that, when doing a Google search, besides the regular organic list of 10 webpages (plus a couple of high-profile paid advertising right at the top), you also get a map with three listings beneath it. This is called the “map pack”, and what it does is to show three businesses located in your geographical area which offer something related to your search. Google has done this by including a proximity factor in its search algorithm, which takes your location into account whenever you search for a keyword. In other words, it’s as if every one of your queries includes a city name or a “near me” in it.
It is hard to overstate how managing harnessing the power of local SEO can imply a huge advantage for any business that operates locally, such as restaurants, service providers, hardware shops, beauty salons and many more. Showing up in this list means that you are right up there in the very first search results for potential customers in your area, with the additional advantage that they will immediately know where your business is located.
Tricks to Improve Your Local SEO Ranking
There are many tips and tricks to improve your local SEO strategy and appear in that exclusive map pack. What they all have in common is that they attempt to play with how the algorithm itself works through small (and usually quite inexpensive) actions. Think of it as a game where you are trying to make yourself noticed by a hyper-complex algorithm that is perpetually combing through a massive amount of data from several sources and correlating this with the keywords that you use in every query. In the case of local SEO, what the algorithm shows you are the 3 most relevant and popular local businesses that relate to what you searched for, and it updates this shortlist constantly and automatically.
There are several ways to achieve this, and some are quite surprising. One of the very first things you should do is to list your business on pages such as Google My Business and Bing. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that Google uses algorithms called “spiders” which crawl through the web following links in pages and storing information on its servers. If you have a local business, it is very important to keep details like address, phone, etc updated at all times. If you have a business with several locations, it’s also essential that you build local landing pages for each of these and link them together. The same goes for profiles on other websites (such as social media, sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp and Foursquare). These should be linked back to your main website. The point is to build a robust network between all your profiles so that you can achieve a higher ranking in the Google Index.
Photos, Reviews and Geolocated Data
Getting reviews is also very important for your inbound marketing strategy! A business with many positive reviews is immediately ranked higher. It is also important to reply to all of these reviews. Here is another curious insider tip as well: reviews are geolocated, so the Google algorithm will notice where these reviews come from geographically and will assign a certain ‘size’ of local relevance to the business that is being reviewed. For instance, if your clients are reviewing your restaurant on-site, the algorithm will assign a very localized or neighbourhood-scale relevance. On the contrary, if your clients write their reviews when they are back home (perhaps in a different district or suburb), the scale of this relevance will be larger. There are clever ways in which this can be achieved (such as sending a review request by email rather than on-site). Something similar applies to navigation apps such as Google Maps and Waze. The algorithm will notice if your clients come from close by or far away.
The photos that you or your customers upload are also geolocated and it can help to verify your locale. You can also hire a verified Google photographer to take 360º pictures of your business or office. This is an easy and inexpensive way to boost your position in the local listings. Incredible as it may seem, these kinds of small details can have a big impact!
Online Events and Influencer Marketing
Moving on to other kinds of digital inbound marketing strategies for SMEs, there are a couple more things we would like to mention. Online events such as product launches, webinars, workshops or meetups can be a very effective way to make your business known and to build a customer base. Virtual events are clearly the less expensive alternative when compared to on-site events. However, if you can manage to organise the latter, this will also greatly contribute to the local SEO ranking that we just mentioned.
Influencer and micro-influencer marketing is also a trend that has become popular in the last years and that is most probably here to stay. The reason behind this success lies in the fact that social media influencers are a new kind of public figure who distinguish themselves from ‘classic’ celebrities in one very important aspect: a closer engagement with smaller audiences. Influencers can be thought of as “next-door celebrities” who cater to a much more specific audience. Likewise, it is this enhanced familiarity that makes people feel much closer to them than to larger celebrities or to brands. Working with the right influencer can be very beneficial for an SME since it can be a direct way to make yourself known by an already-constituted audience of people who are more prone to be interested in your service or product. In this way, influencer marketing dovetails nicely with inbound marketing strategies.
Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality
Artificial intelligence is already present as a backdrop in many of the things we have mentioned (particularly in the hypercomplex Google algorithms). However, as an SME you can also deploy AI on a smaller scale. One good example is chatbots, which are pieces of natural language processing software that can reply to customers’ queries automatically. AI is also being used in influencer marketing for such things as analyzing influencer audiences to align with your brand, predicting influencer performance, and sifting out the fraudulent ones. Some companies have even created highly-successful virtual influencers who have been moulded and designed for specific audiences using AI-powered analytics!
Another trend which is just starting to be glimpsed on the horizon is that of virtual reality (VR). Although virtual reality and augmented reality (VR and AR) have been around for a while, the recent announcement by Facebook (now called Meta) to start actively using a great number of their resources to propel these technologies means that we will see enormous changes for inbound marketing strategies and paid advertising in the near future. Although as of today we can just speculate about how this might unfold, it is worth keeping this trend in mind for the following years. (Also, keep an eye out for our upcoming blog post where we will write a bit more about this topic).
Many of us are not aware of the environmental costs of everything we do on the internet, from checking our emails to searching for something in Google. As we explained in a previous blog post, there are many ways to create eco-friendly websites, such as optimizing the design and content and making it more findable by way of a solid SEO strategy. However, the preoccupation with digital sustainability is even broader, spanning many of the industries that have a digital aspect to them. The main trend that we are experiencing is a shift towards eco-friendly (or ‘green’) web hosting. In short, this relies on web hosting providers which are now using renewable energies and carbon offsetting. Several of the largest companies in the world are making this shift: Facebook, to pick a remarkable example, has achieved to support 100% of its operations on renewable sources of energy since last year.
Here at Wombat, we have placed environmental concerns at the forefront of our digital marketing practice since the start. Therefore, rather than seeing it as a trend per se, we see the promotion of eco-friendly websites as our responsibility!
Boost Your Inbound Marketing Strategy For 2022 With Wombat Digital
The end of the year is approaching, and this is an ideal time to plan your next moves for the upcoming one. Here at Wombat, we are ready to assist you with any of the inbound marketing strategies mentioned above. We can help you design a local SEO strategy, implement a chatbot, or choose the best influencer to promote your brand or business. Take a look at our range of services or get in touch with us so we can make it happen.