15 Digital Marketing Essentials For Your Small Business
One of the most important things you can do to increase business is investing in your website. There are many different ways you can do this. And most of what you’re going to do falls under the blanket term ‘digital marketing.’
Here’s an analogy: Think of digital marketing as a piece of music, and each instrument is adding additional depth to the composition. Imagine that the digital marketer is the conductor who decides how much each instrument contributes and when. Now, your role, the role of the business owner, is to work with the conductor ensuring everyone plays their part and that the final piece suits your goals.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the musical instruments, that is, some of the digital marketing fundamentals that go into this broad term so you can better understand how to maximize your results.
Digital Marketing Essentials Website: The Cornerstone
One of the most important things your small business has is its website because it can showcase everything about your business in one spot. This includes offering deals or promotions, answering questions, showing off your portfolio, or introducing yourself/your staff, to name a few.
Remember, your website is your platform. It’s your own personal Facebook or LinkedIn feed. All of the time, effort, and money you invest in it will always belong to you. And that, in our opinion, is the number one reason your website should be where you put most of your online.
Blog: Content Is King
Search engines like Google and Bing have one job; that is, they exist to provide you with the best possible search result(s). Search engines use many different algorithms to determine which results best suit your search criteria, but one of the most critical algorithms decides whether your website provides high-quality, original content (after all, what’s the point directing people towards your website if it provides little value above your logo, a generic picture of a happy face and a phone number).
Your blog/article is the avenue that you use to highlight specific aspects of your business/industry. While they often don’t become valuable landing pages, they do contribute to your website’s overall search presence. You’ll get the best results by creating and sharing high-quality, original content that matches or expands on questions asked by real people.
We really want to stress real people. Writing for search engines (in the industry you’ll sometimes hear it refered to as ‘writing for robots’) is an extremely poor way of doing things because it won’t be written well, that is, it won’t be written in a way that promotes bookmarking and sharing. So, the better your content is, the more traffic you will receive over-time.
Social Media: Share, Like, Repost.
It helps to think of social media platforms as unique destinations or places, with each having their own audience catering to specific needs and crowds. Certain platforms, like LinkedIn, have a reputation for leaning towards business-minded people. Others, like Facebook and Instagram, tend to lean towards family and friends. It’s important you understand which platform caters to who so you post to the right people. The more you understand about the platforms, the more likely you are to target an audience that will engage with your business.
One last thing about social media platforms: who they’re catering to changes over time, that is, what is initially popular for business-minded people will more likely shift as time goes on. For example, businesses were highly popular on Facebook for a long time. You would see businesses investing a ton of money and time into Facebook because of it. As time went on, it shifted more towards family and friends.
Businesses were less looked at by people using Facebook. And businesses who didn’t invest into themselves (aka, posting that content on their own website first), lost their audience.
A landing page is a point of entry on your website. Your homepage (in a perfect world) is the entry point for your brand/business in general. A product or service page (again, in a perfect world) is the entry point for that specific product/service. So, make sure the page you want to be your entry point contains enough information on it to be considered a landing page. Make sure it showcases benefits and features. Provide examples if possible, and link out to your portfolio and blogs/articles that support this page by providing additional depth that doesn’t quite fit in the page itself. And, lastly, make sure you include a call-to-action (CTA) so people contact you for more information or purchase something from you.
Understanding the core pf your brand’s identity allows you to promote your business and attract new customers through consistency. A few ways you can maintain consistency is through visuals, such as fonts, colors, and images. Your tone (or the voice of your business) also has a consistency that should be adhered to as much as possible. For example, brands like Disney will maintain a very PG tone.
Another aspect digital marketers need to remember is that their online media assets should also remain consistent with their offline assets, such as print.
Knowing who your target audience allows you to tailor your messages specifically to them. And this means much more than just being aware of the demographics of your existing clients. You need to understand everything about your ideal client (which is based on what value your business provides) and how that matches up with your current clients.
Here are seven questions you should consider:
- Where do they hang out online?
- What websites do they frequent?
- What message boards do they follow or use?
- Are they loyal?
- Will they remain loyal?
- What are their pain points?
- Are their problems you solve that they or you are not aware of?
- Understanding your audience pays off.
Information is unbelievably valuable, which is why analytics is included in monthly reports (whether or not you want to read them!). Now, your website can provide you with a surplus of information if it’s hooked up to analytics. You can find information like who and where your website is being browsed from, what kind of device they used (mobile, desktop, or tablet), how they found you and what they searched for to find you online.
That’s one of our specialties: we use various tools to track where you stand against your competition, an idea of how much effort it will take for you to outrank or at least compete with them, and a rough time-line. In other words: we provide SEO services.
Data runs the world. It’s often a rabbit hole of information if you don’t know how to read it, but the information is there.
Agency & Freelancers:
Many businesses rely on others to build their websites for them. There are a number of reasons for this. And they typically boil down to two things: time and knowledge.
In truth, there are a ton of web development agencies out there and even more freelancers doing something or another in between. If they’re good at their job, they’ll provide you with a well-designed website, a solid SEO strategy, a good digital marketing plan. Just make sure that you understand some of the jargon and terminology web design/development has so you can hire the right people.
One of our blogs: Know the Jargon: A Hiring Managers Guide to Basic Web Development/Designer Terms.
Increase your web traffic and page rank with SEO:
We find that this is a touchy topic with some business owners. A lot of this has to do with a lack of standards surrounding SEO, which means it’s difficult to gauge what success is if you’re not extremely knowledgeable about the field (which also led to a lot of business owners being burnt). Additionally, some agencies misrepresent SEO by lumping it together in the same category as Paid Ads.
But here’s what you should know: a well-run SEO campaign has a long-lasting effect on your web traffic and page rank. Where nearly all of the traffic paid ads generate stop immediately when the pay-per-click(s) stop.
A Bit More About Pay per Click (PPC) Advertising: Often known as an AdWords campaign, a PPC campaign is a sure-fire way to get to the top of the paid list on any search engine as long as you have the money to buy and maintain it. One key advantage is the ability to turn the campaign on and off as you see fit. But like most advertising campaigns, consistency is best.
One disadvantage is the cost per click. Many popular keywords for common business niches run upwards of $20 - $40 PER click. So, make sure you have a clear idea of how much you’re willing to spend to stay at the top of the paid charts. And remember, not every click leads to a sale. Factor that into the budget.
Keyword Data: The Cornerstone of SEO:
The success of one website over another often comes down to a) how much keyword research was done and b) how well the keywords are weaved into the website’s content.
Understanding keywords is part art and part science: knowing what keywords to pick comes from understanding the data supporting your choices; naturally weaving those keywords into your content is art.
This is where an important decision needs to be made: you can either learn how to do SEO yourself or hire an SEO agency.
Optimize for speed:
You’ll want to make sure your website loads as fast as possible, as it’s one of the many organic ranking factors Google uses. Different aspects of your website affect it differently. One thing you can do is make sure the right image is loading on the right device, that is, make sure you optimize your images for mobile, so smaller file sizes are served up to your users. The way it’s coded is also a factor. The slimmer the code, the faster the website. We’re often talking milliseconds here, but milliseconds do count.
Offers and Deals:
Creating incentives for clients is nothing new. Everyone likes saving money or getting a bit more for their purchase. If you use an offer, just make it’s easy to redeem. Also, we receive a lot of junk mail. So, make sure that you don’t spam in return for a purchase. Make sure your promotional emails, if any, are straight to the point, easy to read, and easy to opt-out of if they’re uninterested. And please, don’t over-do the fine-print.
Social Media Ads:
Advertising on social media can be very useful. They often have the tools needed to narrow-cast your audience built-in. Just make sure to identify whether your industry is an instant-buy or a delayed-buy. Also, consider the platform you’re on and tailor your ad to it. Most importantly, track your failures and successes.
Referrals & Reviews:
Having your personal walking brand ambassadors shouting from rooftops that you’re the best business in the world is the goal, but how do you get there?
Ask your clients for referrals and reviews.
If they’re happy with what you’ve provided, they’ll usually be happy to provide you with a review. But make sure to be specific with what you’re asking, that is, make it easy for them.
Business referrals happen all the time. Reach out and connect to the people in your community whose business is similar but are not directly in competition with you. Support each other, share each other’s posts, and recommend your clients if it’s appropriate. Just make sure that the partnership isn’t a one-way street. It also doesn’t hurt to track what you provide for each other to make sure you’re both benefiting.