The challenges of digital marketing for small businesses are manifold but generally associated with financial constraints. To begin with, not every small business finds it expedient to use digital marketing, and research suggests that almost one-third of small travel agencies do not invest in digital marketing tools at all (Sharma, Sharma and Chaudhary, 2020). When they do, some tools, as advertisements on high-traffic sites, remain essentially inaccessible to them due to high costs (Cole, DeNardin and Clow, 2017). The lack of funds also complicates using automated systems or specifically-qualified digital marketers, meaning small businesses need to resort to in-house resources (Kingsnorth, 2016; Ritz, Wolf and McQuitty, 2020). Finally, small businesses are also underequipped in terms of cyber security and, thus, less capable of dealing with the threat of cyber fraud inherent in digital marketing (Sharma and Chaudhary, 2020). These constraints may prove to be serious obstacles for a small business seeking to market its products or services digitally.
However, there are ways around them because small businesses have an effective array of non-costly digital marketing tools at their disposal. First of all, social networks provide a robust vehicle for enhancing the company’s digital presence on the market (Peck, 2020). Skilled use of social media not only increases brand awareness but can also “encourage… existing customers to act as advocates” for the business (Chaffey and Smith, 2017, p. 239). Apart from that, the company may set up a Google MyBusiness account to create and customize the panel that appears when the business name is searched via Google (Pellechia, 2020). Given that there are ways to enhance the business’s digital presence without the outstanding expense and that the vast majority of companies are using them, the benefits of digital marketing generally outweigh its challenges for small and local businesses.
Chaffey, D. and Smith, P. R. (2017). Digital marketing excellence: Planning, optimizing, and integrating online marketing. 5th edn. London: Routledge.
Cole, H. S., DeNardin, T. and Clow, A. E. (2017). ‘Small service businesses: Advertising attitudes and the use of digital and social media marketing.’ Services Marketing Quarterly, 38(4), pp. 203-212.
Kingsnorth, S. (2016). Digital marketing strategy: An integrated approach to online marketing. 2nd edn. London: Kogan Page.
Peck, A. (2020) 7 digital marketing tips for small businesses.
Pellechia, N. (2020). ‘Implementing a digital marketing campaign at a small business and its short-term impact during COVID-19.’ UWL Journal of Undergraduate Research, 23, pp. 1-10.
Ritz, W., Wolf, M. and McQuitty, S. (2019). ‘Digital marketing adoption and success for small businesses: The application of the do-it-yourself and technology acceptance models.’ Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, 13(2), pp. 179-203.
Sharma, A., Sharma, S. and Chaudhary, M. (2020). ‘Are small travel agencies ready for digital marketing? Views of travel agency managers.’ Tourism Management, 79(8), 104078.