What is SME digital marketing? A complete guide for B2B 

We know how difficult it is to market your SME on a small budget. But, we know exactly how to drive results to get the most out of what little you have and we're sharing our top tips with you.

Digital marketing has completely changed the marketing landscape for small and medium sized businesses. SMEs make up 99% of all UK businesses and, when you first start, the main goal is to get the first customers through the door. 

Many SMEs rely on traditional advertising methods such as print ads or outdoor advertising for their lead generation. 

However, the development of digital technologies mean that there are so many more opportunities to reach the right customers when they’re browsing online and the potential pool of customers available to every business has grown. 

In fact, 60% of SMEs use paid digital advertising and 81% of SMEs use half of their revenue on digital marketing.  

If you’re an SME, there’s no way you can overlook digital marketing as a way to generate leads and conversions for your business. 

But what exactly is SME digital marketing and what are the best practices you should follow to make sure your business is successful? 

What is SME digital marketing? 

Just because you have a small or medium sized business, it doesn’t mean you have to do any less marketing than bigger brands. You might have a smaller marketing budget and fewer resources but online marketing is the perfect way to get your brand name out there and compete with the bigger players.

The best thing about digital marketing is that it’s completely levelled the playing field for small, medium and large businesses. While digital marketing requires some budget and resources, it’s not always about how much money you have to put into a digital marketing campaign. 

A carefully thought strategy that allows you to reach your target customers when they’re online will help you to compete in your market and drive customers to your website. 

SME digital marketing includes anything small business owners do to reach your target audience through channels such as: 

  • Social media 
  • Content marketing 
  • Conversion rate optimisation 
  • Email marketing
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO) 

Top 4 best practices for your SME B2B digital marketing strategy 

So, what are the best practices we recommend when planning, running and optimising your digital marketing strategy?

🎯 Know who you’re targeting 

If you want your digital marketing strategy to be successful, you’ll need to know who you’re targeting. 

This is particularly important for SMEs because you have a small budget to play with so you want to get the most from every activity. That means targeting the right people in the right places, instead of taking a scattergun approach and hoping your marketing will resonate with at least somone. 

Research your potential customers, look at who your competitors are targeting and what they’re offering, understand what their pain points are and how you can help them. Build out detailed profiles of your customers and think about where they’re likely to find information about you and where. This is key to getting the best ROI from your digital marketing strategy. 

In fact, research from Gartner shows that 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and B2B buyers will occur in digital channels by 2025. So, knowing what your customers are searching for online, the questions they’re asking, and making sure you’re answering will be key to SME success over the next decade. 

🖥️ Take a multi-channel approach 

Being found online by your potential B2B customers means meeting them online on the channels they’re using both to actively research products and services to help them do their jobs but also while they’re browsing generally online or using social media platforms. 

The B2B buying cycle isn’t linear and involves a huge amount of user research before they even speak to a sales rep. So, this means you need to meet them on the channels they’re using and you’ll need to make sure you’re visible on a number of channels so that they keep seeing you and understand what you can offer them. 

Many B2B buyers will turn to search engines for their initial research but then they might be particularly active on social media so you need to make it easy for all buyers to learn about your business and what you can offer them. 

📚 Nurture and educate your leads 

The B2B sales process is much longer than the B2C sales process and usually involves more than one decision maker rather than individual consumers. 

As a result, once you’ve engaged with someone once, they’re not going to immediately make a purchase from you. This means you’ll need to nurture and educate these leads until they’re ready to buy. 

Provide educational content in the form of blogs, whitepapers, videos and product demos and make sure they’re easily accessible to your potential customers. You can either provide these for free to add value to your potential customers until they’re ready to purchase from you. Or, you can gate the content to collect contact details and set up automated email campaigns based on their interests and create a highly personalised lead nurturing strategy.

When you’re on a low budget, making the most of the leads you drive through your digital marketing activities is key to getting the best ROI. It costs more to keep driving leads than it does to keep them engaged over the long term so it really pays to keep your leads engaged until they’re ready to buy from you. 

📏 Measure your results 

To make sure you’re getting the most from your marketing channels, it’s important to measure everything and understand which activities are working and which aren’t. This way you can put more of your efforts into the activities that are driving the most value for your business and drop or optimise the activities that aren’t working as well. 

You can collect data on how long it’s taking to close deals and how much it’s costing you to get there. This will help you to see what’s working and which of your customers are driving the most value for your business. 

How can a digital marketing strategy drive results for your SME business? 

You know which best practices to follow but what are the benefits of a digital marketing strategy for SMEs? Let’s have a closer look…

Compete with bigger businesses 

You might think that, because bigger businesses have a bigger budget, they will have a better chance of appearing at the top of the search results or building awareness of their business online. 

However, this is not true. With digital marketing, having an understanding of your target audience, the way they’re searching online, the journey they take before they buy from you, and providing them with educational content is much more valuable than than the amount of money you have to spend. 

This means it’s viable for SMEs to challenge bigger companies for web traffic and market share online. Digital marketing levels the playing field and, as long as you get your targeting and content right, compete with the big players. 

Expand your audience and increase online visibility 

63% of B2B customers need to hear company claims three to five times before they believe it (Edelman Trust Barometer). So, by increasing your presence online through SEO, Paid Search, Content Marketing, Email or Social Media, you can make sure you’re reaching your B2B buyers across the sales cycle and provides you with plenty of coverage so that your brand is front of mind when they’re ready to get in touch. 

In addition, an online presence means you’re not just limited to customers who are based in the same location as your business. You can target customers globally if it suits your business which means you’ve got a much wider reach and pool of potential customers. 

Make sure your potential customers can find you online 

If your potential customers or existing customers can’t find you or anything about your business online when they’re searching for solutions, they’re likely to go to your competitors instead. 

In today’s climate, if someone wants to know more about your business, they’re going to conduct research online. Consumer expectations have evolved over the last few years and most B2B customers will start their research online with a search engine. With absolutely no presence online, you won’t be able to compete. 

Use a cost effective way to promote your business

Unlike traditional marketing methods such as television or billboard adverts, digital marketing is a more affordable and cost effective way to build brand awareness and drive traffic to your website. 

It’s also more targeted than just getting an ad out there and hoping it will find the right people. Digital marketing helps you to target the people who are actively looking for your products and services so are more likely to convert and buy from you. 

This means that many of the struggles associated with starting up an SME and continuously driving new customers and the financial stress it can put businesses under is alleviated. All of which is especially important in a challenging economic environment. 

Key takeaways 

Marketing your SME business doesn’t have to cost the earth and it doesn’t have to put financial strain on your business either. By following these best practices, you’ll be able to reach a wide range of customers in your industry and make sure your brand is found in a crowded market place. 

If you’re struggling to get your B2B marketing strategy off the ground, why not request a free digital marketing audit from our team of experts? 

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Blog written by

Amy Ward