How True Digital Marketing Could Have Saved Main Street Retail During the Pandemic

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on January 4, 2022

Many small and mid-size businesses had to close their doors for good because of the pandemic. With people highly conscious of the need for social distancing and self-quarantining in their homes, an enormous volume of shopping dollars shifted to digital channels. Looking back, we wondered if there were alternatives to this fatal end game.

Imagine if these “main street retailers” had employed a successful online digital marketing strategy. Could things have been different? Could some of these retailers sustained sufficient volume to cover costs and weather the Covid-19 storm?

According to research published by WebFindYou, the opportunity to create digital strategy exists for all, but 92% of businesses in the U.S. don’t have the budget to afford what it terms “True Digital Marketing”.

Apparently, small, and medium-sized companies are losing out to bigger companies with larger budgets and resources to do digital marketing the right way. With inflation just reported to be at a 30 year high, main street retail will struggle even more in the coming months, and the availability of marketing dollars needed to compete with online giants will become even more scarce.

The ability to create and maintain an effective digital strategy is not only about reaching out to customers to generate sales. Another huge benefit is the ability to protect the retailer’s brand from over reliance on the dominant social media aggregators like Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Recently, these channels experienced a global outage with millions of businesses financially impacted due to their heavy reliance on Facebook and Instagram Ads as their main source of lead generation and Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp as their single line of communication with new and existing clients via their website.

A more holistic approach to digital marketing protects against these outages, meaning when one digital channel goes down, businesses still have other digital channels available to generate leads and maintain communications.

Defining True Digital Marketing

We wanted to dig deeper on the meaning of "True Digital Marketing" and gain more insights into the research conducted by WebFindYou. We reached out to Robert Blankenship, founder and CEO of WebFindYou, to get some answers.

Wise Marketer (WM): You did some research which returned many interesting findings, among them: 92% of businesses in the U.S. don’t have the budget to afford True Digital Marketing. Can you share more about the research and share key insights?

Robert Blankenship (Robert): According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 30 million businesses in the United States. This number consists of both non-employer businesses (80%) and employer businesses (20%).

Non-employer businesses (80%):

  • Average Annual Income: $43,000
  • Digital Marketing Allocation: Typically, $58 - $126 per month

Businesses with 0 to 4 Employees (12%):

  • Average Annual Income: $400,000
  • Digital Marketing Allocation: Typically, between $540 - $1,170 per month

Businesses with 5 to 19 Employees (5%):

  • Average Annual Income: $1.6 Million
  • Digital Marketing Allocation: Typically, $2,160 - $4,680 per month

Businesses with 20 to 500+ Employees (3%):

  • Average Annual Income: Between $7.6 Million and $1 Billion
  • Digital Marketing Allocation: Typically, between $10,260 – $3.2 million per month

Doing digital marketing the right way requires the proper resources, people and technologies, which at a minimum will cost an average of $3,000 to $5,000 per month. With this data, it is clear to see why 92 percent of businesses cannot afford True Digital Marketing.

WM: Why is having a well-constructed and executed online digital marketing strategy so important for main street retailers? Could it have really made a difference in their fortunes during the pandemic?

Robert: Having a well-executed online digital marketing strategy makes a huge difference when it comes to increasing leads, sales, conversions, and ultimately, revenues.

Even before the pandemic it was important to have a good online presence. COVID escalated the need for this and in most cases, the businesses that had an established online presence and a solid digital marketing strategy fared better than the ones that didn’t.

The problem is, many of these small and mid-size businesses are working with small marketing budgets and can’t compete with large companies with large marketing budgets.

The purpose of WebFindYou is to help businesses implement digital marketing in the right way and at a price point that fits their budget. Their budget shouldn’t affect their ability to be successful online. My vision when creating WebFindYou was to revolutionize the digital marketing industry because there are too many companies selling a bag of goods to people and not delivering on their promises. I want to help businesses get on the right path with digital marketing.

WM: Tell us a little about WebFindYou. What do you do and how do you do it?

Robert: Our mission is to make successful digital marketing simple and affordable for everyone. Equally, we want to fix the tainted digital marketing industry that often gives businesses only pieces of the complicated digital marketing puzzle based on their budget restrictions.

In our opinion, the digital marketing industry has become complex, time-consuming, costly, and oversaturated with “influencers,” “experts,” and “gurus” who make a lot of promises for a paycheck but often produce little to no results. In short, the digital marketing industry has become tainted. And it’s only getting worse — with more paid ads dominating Google Search, Apple iOS privacy updates making Facebook Ads less efficient, and the list goes on and on.

My vision was to create an affordable technology that small to medium size retailers could understand and easily put into practice, even with no or limited digital marketing experience.

WM: You use the term True Digital Marketing in your work. What does this mean to you and how do you apply it to help small businesses so that when one digital channel goes down, businesses still have other digital channels producing leads?

Robert: True Digital Marketing means doing everything digital, and it is required to maximize the true power of the Internet for any business. This allows each element of the complete digital marketing puzzle to support and help maximize the other. Without True Digital Marketing, businesses miss out on having a steady stream of leads and sales that they can rely on, especially in times of crisis.

As a business owner, you need to make sure to build a solid infrastructure for your business. You never want to put all your eggs in one basket, because when that basket drops, you're left with a mess. In some cases, a mess you can't recover from. If social media is a big part of the day-to-day function of your business, you can’t risk these unexpected outages.

We provide tools to ensure that your social media experience will never be interrupted when a social media platform unexpectedly goes down, a post is unexpectedly removed, or a social media account is temporarily suspended.

WM: How can main street retailers learn more about affordable digital marketing?

Robert: True to our digital approach to marketing, we offer online classes. We recently held a Digital Marketing Master Class. Anyone interested in watching the class can get immediate access here. By the way, we will also be hosting classes covering more in-depth information on ecommerce, content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, paid search, social media, how to start a digital marketing business and more, with dates to be announced later.