Getting Started on Digital Marketing

A digital marketing strategy is an important part of the overall marketing strategy of a business. This is true whether or not a company is doing business online. It is also true for a small, medium or large size company but especially true for a small company. Small business marketing for a local company can include many offline local advertising methods but needs to include a healthy portion of digital marketing strategies to be successful and maximize sales in today’s economy.

A small business that is doing most or all of its business online, needs to embrace a digital marketing strategy that helps it be seen by online users.

There are five main areas of online marketing that are of interest to a small business. Some of them are more important to local, offline businesses, while others are more effective with online businesses. Many businesses engage in all five areas of small business marketing on the Internet.

Search Engine Marketing

This portion of marketing is critical for a small business. It gives you a chance to compete with larger companies by being visible in search engines. Since people use search engines to find products both online and locally, it is important that your company place high in search results for words that relate to what you are selling. Professional Internet marketing firms offer this service under the name of search engine optimization.

They can make sure your site is visible to those looking for your product when using a search engine.

Local Search Marketing

This includes website optimization for search results, but in addition, integrates a search engine’s function of maps. This is especially true with Google, where your business can be listed with mapping and address information, giving a prospective customer what they need to visit your establishment.

Your phone number and website address can also be listed. Customer service will often be available to help someone decide if they are interested in your product or service.

Content Marketing

This strategy revolves around giving a prospective customer information about your product or service, as well as information in general. Everyone is trying to sell, but those that can inform are more likely to get sales. People will attribute a certain level of expertise to a company, and this instills confidence in the consumer. Content marketing in the past was often done with printed brochures and guide books, but today, this can be done with articles and other forms of information on a business’s website.

Social Media Marketing

This type of marketing can be tricky. Everyone talks about social media, but the truth is, it can be difficult for companies to integrate social media with their business. The type of media used, as well how it is used, is dependent upon the type of business you have. For some companies being in touch with their customers and giving them breaking news can be an important element of success.

Other business, such as a local restaurant, have seen success using social media by letting customers know of the latest specials and new additions to their menu.

The most important aspect of social media is to use it to strengthen your customer base to achieve repeat sales.

Email Marketing

This form a marketing is crucial to a small business online or offline. Essentially email marketing is about building a list of customers and prospective customers. This list of names and emails are people who are interested in your business, and you know this to be true because they have opted into this list themselves.

Perhaps they were offered future updates on products as well as coupons to sign up. As this list grows, it becomes more valuable. In fact, many marketing professionals consider this to be, in the long run, the most important small business marketing strategy in the long run.

If you have a small business, you need to take the above five areas of digital marketing into consideration.

Formulate a plan, and combine it with your other marketing efforts. Some of these areas of marketing will be more important and effective, depending upon your business. All of them you can have professionals help you with or outsource if you don’t have the manpower to handle it.

Online marketing strategies that are often outsourced include social media, search engine, and local search marketing, because unless you have time to dedicate it’s difficult to stay on the multiple changes that transpire when it comes to strategy. With content and email marketing, you can do much of it yourself, but it never hurts to ask experts for strategy advice to help get you started.

A small business that is doing most or all of its business online, needs to embrace a digital marketing strategy that helps it be seen by online users.

The Small Business Cheat Sheet for Cost-Effective Digital Marketing

Small business usually has less staff, fewer resources, and often lower budgets. It’s time small businesses capitalized on the digital revolution. The Digital Marketing Institute of Ireland has developed this cheat sheet to help you, the small business owner, learn more about cost-effective digital marketing tactics like content, SEO, and social media marketing.

1. Content

Want to attract people to your website? Start by creating quality content. Valuable content includes everything from engaging website copy and useful blog articles to eye-catching infographics and insightful videos. There are plenty of free WordPress blog templates available to get you started. Yes, producing great content is time-consuming but it also pays in multiple ways. Here’s a list of ways you can justify it to the accountant:

Benefits of Creating Quality Content:

  • It can increase your social media engagement by giving your fans something valuable to share and talk about.
  • It can also help you rank higher in search results. Google love fresh, relevant and quality long-form content.
  • It’s a great way to increase your credibility and position your brand as a thought-leader.
  • It helps you to nurture and generate leads. Try creating a landing page which asks people to give their contact details in exchange for access to exclusive content (e.g. ebooks and meatier reports).

Want to Learn More? 

HubSpot Academy

Go to: http://academy.hubspot.com/broadcasts/blogging/ The blogging section of the HubSpot Academy is a great resource for anyone eager to learn more about content marketing. It includes everything from selecting the right keywords and coming up with engaging ideas for creating an editorial calendar and tips on guest blogging.

For super-up-to-date content, tips check out what the experts at Content Marketing World 2014are saying.

2. Organic SEO

Some business is under the illusion that SEO costs a lot. While this can be true for paid search, there are also lots of steps you can take to help your website rank higher organically. Don’t panic, you don’t need to be a technical wizard. To get started all you need is a bit of know-how and some useful tips.

Organic SEO Tips:

  • First, assess your website’s SEO as it stands. To do so set up a Google Webmaster account. All you have to do is register, verify your domain name and follow the outlined steps. Google will give you tailored tips on the SEO elements your website needs to address.
  • When you’re creating fresh content make sure you’re filling in all the metadata Google asks for. Worth remembering: Google search spiders can only read and understand words so it’s important to add meta descriptions to your images too.
  • Google now looks for and ranks for longer tail keywords – each one of your website pages should have a specific theme or topic. And remember: never stuff your pages with keywords as you will be penalized.
  • Google prefers in-depth content and has indicated that longer posts of 1,500 to 2,000-word length are rewarded accordingly. However, quality is always key.

Want to learn more? 

Google’s Webmaster Academy

Go to: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6001102?rd=3 Google’s Webmaster Academy teaches you how to set up and use Google Webmaster and gives you plenty of tips on how to improve your search ranking and create a site that Google will love. It also includes some handy tips on how not to fall foul of a Google search penalty.

Moz 

Go to: http://moz.com/learn/seo The Moz learning academy contains an array of resources on beginner’s marketing from SEO and link building to social media. Well worth a look.

3. Social Media

Social media is a must-have for smaller businesses looking to increase their brand’s visibility. It’s a great way to connect with your customers. Used in the right way, it can be an effective customer service tool, allowing you to instantly respond to any problems or questions that might hinder purchases.

 

Social Media Tips:

  • Choose your social media sites wisely – it’s best for smaller businesses to concentrate on a few select social media channels. Any more and you might not have the time to manage them all. The only channels you should be using are the ones your customers are using.
  • Take advantage of free analytics. The major social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter give a quick and easy-to-understand synopsis of how your posts and pages are performing.
  • Identify with key influencers in your industry and engage with them. Those with a high Klout score are a great place to start. The goal is to eventually get people with a large social media presence to share your content. But first you’ve got some relationship building to do – try offering a favor and/or sharing their content.
  • Use a scheduling tool like HootSuite or Buffer to schedule your posts to send throughout the day. Choose the times that give you the highest traffic and social media engagement.

Want to Learn More?

Here are a few social media blogs worth bookmarking for future reading:

Keep tuned in over the next few weeks where we’ll reveal some cost-effective email marketing tips small businesses can implement.

Before you embark on your digital learning journey you might want to test your own digital skills.You can take our Digital Diagnostic test for free. It takes 15 minutes to complete and allows you to test your knowledge across the core disciplines of SEO, PPC, Email, Display, Social, Mobile and Analytics. Upon completion, you will receive an individual score along with a few suggestions on the next steps to take for your digital learning journey.

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