The quickest and most simple way to never earn another customer is to stay offline. Online customers are your customers. You may not have an online business but I guarantee that your customers are online.  Below, we’ve dispelled a handful of myths which are costing small businesses customers: online customers, in-store customers, the works.

I don’t have online customers because my store isn’t online 

You may be happy with your current customer base but have you considered your competition? Regardless of your offline activities, the likelihood of your neighbor slowly but surely poaching your customers online is high.

Entrepreneur reports that 35% of all marketing spend among small business is dedicated to digital marketing—an umbrella that includes email, search engine optimization, and desktop and mobile display ads. The rationale is simple.

Digital marketing is responsible for the highest returns when compared to traditional print, TV, and radio ads because today’s customers are all online customers. Let’s replace the word customer with consumer.

Your competitors are out there charming online consumers with seamless native ads, beautiful social profiles, and helpful sharable content. They’re establishing a first impression that anyone can access.

You may not think digital marketing pertains to your business, but if your competitor is online it absolutely affects your business. You need to keep up. All of your customers are online customers.

Earning online customers is too resource-heavy

Your biggest marketing expense will always be the learning curve.

So, before you dedicate any dollars to your efforts, set aside time. The more research you put in upfront, the more money and time it will save you in the long run. You know your customers. The first step is to familiarize yourself with their online behavior.

Ask yourself: what channels are my customers on? What online publications do they read? Where do they get their recommendations?

Once, you’ve established a profile you have three parallel course of action: owned, earned, and paid media.

Think of media as the means by which your online customers find and engage with you. Owned refers to anything you own like your website and (free!) social media profiles. Earned refers to exposure you gain when a customer shares information about you online or finds your organically through search (again, free!). Earned media is essentially word-of-mouth marketing.

If you’re strapped for cash, this method costs little-to-none.

Lastly, paid media on social media is highly effective so long you know your audience. When your ads are targeted, really you can’t fail. All you have to do is put in the time and effort, trial-and-error, and get to know your customer base.

My customers know where to find me (in-store!)

Let’s try a little exercise in empathy. How often do you resort to Yelp or Google maps for a nearby restaurant recommendation? When you’re in need of a plumber, do you text your friend to ask for a suggestion or do you jump online and do your own research?

Regardless of your industry, be-it retail or service or B2B, your customers are programmed to do their own online research.

It takes a while to test the best methods for reaching your online customers. After all, the Internet is one vast collection of resources where it’s up to you to carve out your niche. But the task is less daunting than it sounds.

Try implementing direct feedback into your marketing efforts. Look at your Facebook Analytics. Your customers are online and even more importantly so are your prospects.

Omission of a digital marketing arm from your overall marketing strategy is a huge mistake.

Even if your goal isn’t to gain customers, you may be at risk of losing customers if you don’t rise to meet their expectation of an online presence for your brand.

Think of your website. If built on sound SEO practices and coupled with a strong content and social media strategy, that site is a honeycomb poised to attract your online customers.

With 5 billion daily Google searches and over 1 billion active Facebook users, it’s time you built your own honeycomb.

For more tips on how to continually drive traffic to your site that converts, check out these posts:

Colleen Patterson is the content marketing manager for Muses, the only digital growth app focused on building long­-term relationships. She’d love you to get involved.