Digital marketing can seem super intimidating when you’re starting a new business — between SEO, SEM, online ads, blogging, social media, landing pages, and more, it’s hard to know what to focus on for the best results. We asked a few experts in the field what small businesses can do to kick-start or improve their digital marketing efforts. Here’s what they had to say:
Think Strategy Before Tactics
“Time and money are the two most precious resources a new business has. The best way to ensure that they’re used wisely in digital marketing is to start with strategy. What do you need to accomplish with your marketing activities – is it thought leadership? Establishing your market position? Acquiring customers? Retaining the customers you have? For a small business, I recommend limiting your objectives to no more than three at any given time. Once you’re clear on objectives, you can establish a strategy to achieve those objectives, which in turn will lead you to the tactics you need to implement.
Too many companies race to establish a social media presence because they view social media as “free.” It takes an enormous amount of time to fully engage on social media – with a strategy in place you can start with the channels that are likely to have the most impact for your business and build from there as time and resources permit. The same goes for other marketing tactics – content marketing, advertising, loyalty programs, etc. – if you align and measure everything against objectives, you’ll quickly get to the right set of tactics for your business.”
– Anita Brearton, CEO and Co-Founder, CabinetM
“Before you embark on any type of marketing strategy you need to understand who you’re trying to market too. Let’s be honest about this: if you start spending money on marketing without defining your buyer personas and target audience, you may as well throw your money in the waste basket.
Your ideal customers need to be profiled so your digital marketing strategy can focus on who you want to attract to your website. There are some amazing B2B buyer persona examples online, which you can use as a starting point to see how other businesses create their marketing strategies. Make sure you identify what your customers challenges are, what social platforms they use, and how they engage with different types of content. You’ll then be able to develop a marketing strategy that gives you a much higher return on your investment.”
– Sean Redfearn, Managing Director, Red-Fern Web Design Company
“You might think that you need to be on all the social networks, but that’s not true. Instead, you want to identify the networks that will help you reach your goals. It’s important to note that each network is different, and by understanding your audience and your goals, you can pick the ones that are right for you. So, how do you know which ones to select? You need to consider certain factors that will make your decision easier.
Consider the amount of time you plan to spend on the chosen networks. At a minimum, you’ll need to spend an hour a day on each network to start with, but once you get everything up and running, the time might diminish. Being realistic about the amount of time you can dedicate to social media will be a good indicator as to the number of networks you can master.
You should also consider the networks that your audience uses since you do not want to spend all your time on Twitter when your audience focuses more on Facebook. Using a tool like Sentiment Analysis, you can find out where your audience is most likely to spend its time.”
– Scott Sims, Co-Founder, Buzzlogix
Create Quality Content (and Repurpose It!)
“Content has become a commodity. Brands can no longer get by with churning out short blog posts, expecting to build meaningful relationships with their readers. Content marketing has become a race to the top in terms of quality, depth, and value. The success of your digital marketing efforts are now more closely tied to the transformational journey you’re willing to take your prospects on. Create in-depth, actionable guides that can help your readers accomplish a very specific goal by time they make it through the content. That’s how you’ll win over their relationships for the long-term.”
– Ryan Robinson, Content Marketing Consultant, Ryrob.com
“Business owners never have enough time, and when you’re a new business owner, you have even less time. With that in mind, my advice would be to limit time expenditure by using one piece of content in many ways. For example, from just one blog post many other types of content can be made. Our digital marketing team will take soundbites from a blog post and turn them into tweets; those tweets are stored so they can be used many times. Those soundbites can be turned into inspiring visual quotes, and we also use a great tool called Lumen5 to make a video out of a blog post and then share it on social media. From that very same blog post, a presentation is made and shared on Slideshare, which automatically links through to LinkedIn.
Remember that people absorb information in many ways, so we have to appeal to all senses. Also, repetition is the mother of learning, repeating the message in many different ways helps people to learn.”
– Julie Bishop, Founder, Jobhop
“For new businesses, content marketing is the lethal weapon, and they need to focus on both visual as well as written content. Any business needs written content for search engine optimization, but visual content can be the main source for driving traffic and leads. Everything from infographics, photos, and digital guides to presentations and how-to tutorials can become the ultimate way to generate new leads. Visual content will captivate your audience and at the same time written content will keep your audience on your site.”
– Varun Trivedi, Digital Marketer, Iconscout
Make Your Website Findable and Actionable
“Your website should put your customer first and your company second. Talk about your customers’ problems, pains, and needs, and present them with a solution in a way that clearly highlights the end results and benefits of what your product or service brings to them. Also, use testimonials! Show your prospects why or how other people have benefited from what you offer. You can also give away freebies like ebooks, infographics, guides, catalogues, checklists, coupons, or limited offers — put it behind an opt-in form and you’ll have a lead that will teach you what your prospects are looking for or need help with most.
Last but not least, CALL TO ACTION. Believe it or not, people need to be told what to do, directed where to go, and be told what step they should take next. Make this easy for them with big buttons, arrows, and pretty pictures that show them the way.”
– Karina Singer, Director, On The Maps
“Two easy things small business owners can do to help out their search rankings are to claim their Google My Business listing and set up a MOZ Local account. This way they’re building quality backlinks to their website while increasing their chances of being found in local searches at the same time! Make sure your business name, address, and phone number are represented the exact same in the footer of your website as your Google My Business listing as well — all of that helps with local SEO.”
– Kiley Peters, Co-Founder & CEO, Brainchild Studios
Learn and Optimize Your Social Media Channels
“Learning the ins and outs of your social media platforms is crucial to really growing your business online, especially Pinterest. Pinterest is such an underestimated tool but can be huge when it comes to generating traffic and sales. Pinterest alone sends my blog over 100,000 page views a month, and I generate 90% of my affiliate income, course sales, and clients from it as well! That is all from creating pins that attract my target audience. Invest in a good course, do your research, and take the time to learn about each platform. It will help you learn how to organically grow your audience and grab genuine followers and subscribers.”
– Megan Johnson, Owner & Social Media Specialist, LoveFamilyHealth.com
“If you want to stand apart, you need to focus on digital marketing. Social media can help you to create brand awareness, and there’s a greater chance of selling your products and getting leads for your services on targeted platforms like Facebook. Also, it’s hard to beat social media platforms in getting traffic and audience to your website quickly. In short, by optimizing your social media pages, you can effectively make your brand more popular, get leads, and generate traffic to your website.”
– Mohd Atif, Digital Marketing Manager, SEOheights.com