If you’ve run a successful rural business for many years, then you may think you don’t need to worry about digital channels. Enquiries come in through word of mouth; people from the area know who you are and what you do, and they trust you. Posters or sponsorship of local events mean that your brand is recognisable. But what happens when the way customers find, choose and buy the product or service they need changes forever?

Look around you right now – how many electronic devices are there? You’re probably reading this very blog on one! Like them or hate them, people love their computers, tablets and mobile phones and they use them for a lot. In fact, it’s changed the way we arrange our lives and how we communicate with our loved ones forever and, most crucially for you, it’s transformed how we shop.

See also: What is digital marketing?

Domino’s Pizza Group reported that 89% of their orders came in via digital channels last year, showing that their customers are abandoning the telephone in droves. High street shops are closing, and some online retailers have become all-conquering behemoths. It isn’t just retail that has been affected by the rise of online shopping, business to business lead generation is affected as well. People have so much information at their fingertips and have started to research products, services and suppliers before they make contact with a brand that it will become essential for you to have an online presence.

Customer behaviour shifts when you look at different age categories as well – the older a customer the more likely they will be to pick up the phone or read a business directory. The younger they are the likelihood is that they will look for you online, either Googling you or searching on social media. If you’ve relied on older demographics then, unless you think that your business only needs to exist for as long as your current customers are alive, you need to expect new, young customers to go elsewhere if you’ve not.

See also: Getting the right tone on different social platforms

That means investing in a website if you haven’t got one, possibly looking at social media too, and ensuring that your business’ online presence makes it easy to understand what you do and how to get in touch. How far you take digital marketing beyond that is up to you – SEO, Google Ads, social media advertising, blogging and more will all help your customers find you. There are some excellent benefits to digital marketing versus traditional channels too – it is measurable, affordable, quick and (if done well!) engaging.

Not sure where to start? Or perhaps you’ve taken the digital marketing plunge, but you think you need some help to get the ROI you want? I’m happy to spend a few minutes on the telephone chatting about your business and thinking about the digital channels that suit you best. Just drop me a line!

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