We all know and understand the importance of creating the right impression with customers, and with more of those first impression starting online the need to have a creative and credible digital presence is now a requirement very few businesses can afford to ignore. But let’s be honest most business owners did not set up their company so they or their staff could become experts in digital marketing. After all, understanding and implementing digital campaigns is a specialist skill set and a full-time role.
Knowing how to build and maintain websites, create compelling content and target the right customers requires marketers, developers and creatives to name but a few, so it should come as no surprise that many SME’s struggle to succeed. So what can SME’s do to enhance their chances of delivering compelling online customer experiences? The choices are relatively simple but not easy when addressing the need for digital expertise?
Digital Marketing professionals are now at a premium, and any business could expect to allocate around £60k in the first year to cover recruitment, remuneration, pension and other associated internal costs. However it does not end there, your new addition will still need support from creatives, copywriters, web designers and developers to implement the required activity. There is also the additional risk of making the wrong appointment, or you appoint the right person, but they move on to a more attractive role putting you back to square one within a few months.
Developing existing in-house teams skill sets is always a worthwhile endeavour and can have many direct and fringe benefits. However ensuring you have the right training partners who fully understand your company, your staff and their associated needs can be tricky. Matching training to individual ability and then tracking that training through to implementation needs to be managed and supported. All of this takes time, colleague buy-in and is costly to implement without any guarantee that your digital objectives will be achieved.
There are thousands of agencies and freelancers operating in the UK at present, all of whom offer a wide range of services. Some are good at creative, some at social and others at website development their specialisms and associated costs are wide and varied. Making sense of whether they can help with strategy, planning or implementation is the first hurdle to overcome. Many agencies can assist with implementation but without a credible plan that is tied to strong customer insight how do you ensure that the online experiences you produce will engage the customers you want to attract.
There are no right or wrong answers to this dilemma, and each solution has its own positives and negatives. The one piece of advice we believe is fundamental irrespective of the route chosen is to know your customers better than your competition. Spend the time to develop a rich and immersive understanding of their needs, aspirations and their online preferences and develop your online activity by following these insights.