Digital marketing can really work…

… with the right strategy at the right time

In the past 10 years working as a digital marketing strategist helping small businesses grow, I repeatedly find some expensive mistakes businesses make implementing their digital strategies for online growth. Many small businesses start off creating a social media presence or doing search engine optimization without a strategy, goals and measurements to support the investment decisions along the way. As a result, I hear business owners often say, “Does it really work?”

If you have asked that question at some point, some simple strategies can help you be successful. These can be effectively applied whether you’re in the B2B or B2C space.

Do you know your number?

This chart maps out how digital strategies evolve with respect to time and investment. As a new business, you are most likely in the stage 1 or 2 for the first two to three years of your operation. You need a basic web presence, where your website is a brochure to help you showcase your products and services. At this stage, your marketing may also have been at its early stages.

As your business grows, you face competition from bigger firms with bigger marketing budgets. Therefore, your online strategy should effectively evolve to distinguish yourself and drive leads at a lower cost and on a regular, sustainable basis. The cost of lead acquisition is often lower than other traditional advertising channels such TV, radio or billboards.

If your business has survived beyond the startup stage (congratulations) and your web presence is still at a stage 1 or 2, you have some catching up to do.

At stage 3, the website becomes an important arsenal in your marketing mix and drives leads from all of your marketing channels, whether offline or online. Successfully turning your website into a lead generation machine requires a shift in culture — making your website an integral part of how your business operates.

Evolving your online business from stage 2 to 3 could take up to two years. Authority website, or go-to website (stage 4 or 5) means buyers in your industry seek your website out as a thought leader, obtaining education and information from you on a regular basis. Moving from stage 3 to 4 requires significant content development and marketing.

Strategies to get you there

Now that you know your current number and where you would like to be in three, five or 10 years, what digital marketing channels and investment will it take to get you there? Various marketing channels and content marketing efforts at different stages can help you advance as a thought leader.

But while defining your online strategy, it is also important to measure the search volume, lead quality and online competition that your website will face.


Sumithra Jagannath is the president of ZED Digital, a digital marketing and software design firm that is one of only a handful in the country capable of providing web personalization and big data aggregation solutions.