If you aren’t yet using digital marketing to help grow your business, chances are you’ve considered it. New technologies and tools, and vast improvements in digital marketing services, make it easier than ever for local and small businesses to reap the benefits of online marketing. Before you invest your time and money in digital marketing, here are some tips to determine if your business is ready to start an online marketing campaign.

Tip One: It Isn’t About the Size Of Your Company or Your Budget

The size of a company or its budget aren’t the most critical gaiting factors in determining if it is ready to begin a digital marketing campaign. Instead, a company should consider its goals when gauging if it should start an online marketing campaign. If your only objective is to promote a sale for a one-week period, then a digital marketing campaign isn’t right for you. Marketing, both online and off, requires more than a 7-day period to make an impact. On the other hand, if you want to consistently generate a certain number of leads each month, or build and sustain a brand, then your goals are well-matched to the results that are attainable with digital marketing.

Once you’ve established your goals can be met using online marketing, budget size can be determined. You don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars annually to develop and execute an online marketing campaign that will grow your leads and sales. Budgets can start small and increase as results are realized. The Museum of Life and Science in North Carolina is a good example. The organization had initially created a search engine marketing campaign to promote its Museum offerings only. Mid-way through its fiscal year, The Museum noticed its venue rentals weren’t on track to meet projections. Working with our company, The Museum added a short-term budget for a venue-rental campaign that netted it a 24% increase in lead generation.

A digital marketing company can help you map out and solidify your goals, and help you reach those goals with a tailored marketing plan and budget that aligns in size with your goals.

Tip Two: It Is About Realistic Expectations

One of the biggest mistakes a company can make when it comes to online marketing is to have unrealistic expectations. This can play out across a number of aspects of digital marketing. For example, businesses shouldn’t expect overnight results from marketing. As I mentioned previously, results come only from a disciplined and consistent effort. In fact, it typically takes 3-6 months to see the real benefits of an online marketing campaign.

It’s important for you to be knowledgeable and realistic about the type of results that your campaign is, or isn’t, designed to deliver. If you launch a new website, but don’t concurrently run any sort of advertising to draw traffic to the site, you can’t reasonably expect leads to start flowing.

It’s also naive to think that a marketing campaign run in a vacuum will make your business succeed. True, online marketing plays a crucial role in getting leads which can turn into customers, but those leads won’t convert without follow-up and follow-through. In fact, a Harvard Business Review study recently found that 50% of consumers choose to do business with the company that responds to them first. Despite this, a ReachOut Small Business Survey found that only 31-35% of email or website inquiries are returned in less than an hour. If you aren’t committed to lead follow-up, you may be throwing your marketing dollars away.

Finally, it’s unrealistic to expect that your budget and results will be similar to those of other businesses running comparable campaigns. The costs and outcome of an online marketing campaign can vary based on a number of factors, including objectives, location, type of business and media mix.

Tip Three: Include These Items on Your Check List for Digital Marketing Success

  • A responsive website or web presence to help convert prospects to customers. What good is a marketing campaign if prospective customers have nowhere to go to learn about you?
  • A digital marketing company that regularly measures your campaign’s success in meeting your goals and helps you understand which aspects of your campaign are working and which aren’t. Look for a company that will meet with you regularly to discuss your campaign’s progress and that employs data analytics to measure results that include real leads and conversions, not just traffic.
  • A trusted expert to advise you and help manage your digital marketing efforts. Most business owners are focused on running their day-to-day operations and don’t have the time or expertise to develop and manage an effective, ongoing online marketing campaign. Look for a partner that is dependable, invested and communicative and one that has experience in your particular industry.

At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all set of rules that define organizational readiness for online marketing. If you have a goal in mind, set realistic expectations, and commit to the follow-up and follow-through needed to ensure that leads become customers. You’ve now set the groundwork for digital marketing success. By adding an optimized website, data analytics-based measurement tools and a trustworthy digital marketing expert, you can feel confident that your business is ready to reap the benefits on an online marketing campaign.