The emergence of the internet has added a new marketing channel for businesses of all sizes. These days, even offline businesses need online marketing to stay competitive in a market that is increasingly looking online for sales growth and brand expansion opportunities.
As a small business owner, you have surely used some basic online marketing tactics to promote your brand, services, or products. However, you are probably not familiar with what goes into developing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. This article will help you gain a complete understanding of digital marketing for small businesses and show you how to start your own digital marketing campaign.
What Is Digital Marketing?
In simple terms, digital marketing refers to all marketing efforts that rely on digital and online channels to target potential customers, drive sales, and boost brand visibility. These channels range from email marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) to social media marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
Digital marketing and inbound marketing are often confused. However, it's important to note that there is a key difference between the two concepts: Digital marketing is a broad term that encompasses all the components that go into reaching an online audience, whereas inbound marketing refers to a goal-driven, specific methodology that outlines the processes that marketers implement to reach prospective customers.
Digital Marketing for Small Business
Marketing needs and objectives vary from one business to another. The difference is especially noticeable when comparing small businesses to large corporations. As you would expect, implementing a digital marketing strategy for a small business involves different points of focus and a smaller capital allocation for a marketing budget.
Unlike large corporations, small businesses have to put in some considerable legwork to build a brand and boost their visibility to a new customer base. Moreover, the strategies adopted by these businesses should be more laser-focused, as their limited resources don't allow for extensive split-testing and large campaigns across all channels. Basically, small business marketers should identify their target audience and build their strategy around reaching them in the most cost-effective way possible.
Is Digital Marketing Effective for Small Businesses?
Digital marketing offers a wide range of benefits that complement and, in many cases, supersede the results obtained through traditional marketing efforts. Below is a brief overview of why digital marketing is effective for small businesses.
- It's more targeted. One of the advantages of leveraging digital marketing for small businesses is the ability to reach a targeted audience. For instance, marketers can build content around specific keywords to drive niche-specific traffic to their business website or use social media's targeting features to display ads to a custom demographic.
- It's a metric-based approach. When marketing through traditional channels, measuring the results of your campaigns can be a tricky proposition. Digital marketing, on the other hand, provides you with measurable data that reflects how effective your efforts are. When marketing through digital channels, you can accurately evaluate your strategy by analyzing metrics, such as video content views and engagement, social media shares, website bounce rate, and call to action (CTA) conversion rate.
- It's cost-effective. As a small business owner, keeping your operating expenses under control is crucial to your long-term viability. Implementing a digital marketing strategy allows you to focus your resources on high-yielding channels and run results-driven campaigns that can be halted or scaled at a moment's notice.
How to Start Digital Marketing for Your Small Business
Now that you are familiar with the basic principles of digital marketing, your next step is to start developing a strategy for your business. The sections below will walk you through the process of starting digital marketing for small businesses.
Create a Marketing Plan
Like any effective business strategy, your small business marketing efforts should start with a comprehensive plan. In this step, you will have to define your business needs by analyzing various aspects of your digital presence. This includes analyzing your website and assessing its usability, going over the quality of your blog and how frequently it's updated, checking your current Google search rankings, and measuring your presence across different social media platforms.
The next part of the plan should focus on outlining your strategies. This includes everything from your content strategy and social media posting calendar to your keyword research process and the SEO tools you will use to analyze your traffic.
Start With Improving Your Website
As your primary digital channel, your website is the first thing your audience will interact with. Ideally, it should reflect your brand's personality and convey everything your business stands for. Keep in mind that a positive first impression is the first step of customer acquisition, and you may not have the chance to make a second one.
Here are some tips that will help you improve your website:
- Make sure the site is optimized for mobile devices.
- Update the design of your website to match modern trends in your niche.
- Optimize speed and load times.
- Add video content.
- Fix 404 pages.
- Add social media share buttons.
- Add testimonials.
- Write high-quality copy and employ CTAs in your blog.
Enhance Your Social Media Presence
Social media is an integral part of your online presence. As a small startup, you can't afford to miss out on its ability to connect businesses to a wide audience. The first step of enhancing your social media presence is creating profiles on all the major platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Next, you should draft a content creation plan and decide whether you are going to post manually or rely on a scheduling and automation tool. Besides making frequent social media posts, your strategy should include some tactics that help boost community engagement. Examples of this include commenting on posts, posing questions to your followers, and sharing user content.
Start Content Marketing
The next thing you should focus on is content marketing. Start by creating content in the following forms:
- White papers
- YouTube videos
One of the keys to a successful content marketing strategy is to stay consistent and assess your progress to get an idea of which form yields the best results. You can then scale your content creation and focus most of your efforts on the type of content that drives audience engagement.
There are several distribution channels that you can use to market your content. Due to its simplicity and cost-effectiveness, sharing content on social media is the go-to option for most marketers. With that being said, SEO should still be kept in mind as an effective distribution option. Despite its long gestation period, SEO is a viable way to get your business in front of the right audience and drive consistent traffic over the long term.
Invest in Digital Advertising
Digital advertising is the fastest method to generate leads. For instance, a PPC campaign can help you land at the top of search engine results almost instantaneously. This is in stark contrast with SEO campaigns, which can take months or even years to deliver the desired results.
Social media channels provide another great avenue for digital advertising. Thanks to the targeting features of platforms like Facebook and Twitter, businesses can zero in on their target audience and get the most out of their advertising budget by displaying their ads to the most promising prospects.
Monitor and Adapt Your Digital Marketing Efforts
Implementing a strategy only gets you halfway to achieving your marketing goals. In fact, having a monitoring system that helps you track your results is just as important. Monitoring and tracking every aspect of your digital marketing efforts gives you an idea of what's working and what's not — enabling you to adjust your approach and further improve your campaigns. Here are some essential metrics you should track when monitoring your digital marketing efforts:
- Total website visits
- Unique website visitors
- Conversion rate
- Average time on page
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Web traffic sources
- Bounce rate
- Keyword rankings
- Website backlinks
Easily Control Your Small Business Finances With Skynova
Implementing an effective digital marketing strategy is a time-intensive process, and the success of your campaigns will depend on your ability to commit to a long-term plan and make adjustments on a regular basis.
Skynova's accounting software helps you tackle this challenge by streamlining financial management tasks and allowing you to focus all of your efforts on marketing and other revenue-generating activities.
Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is meant to be used as general guidelines and may not apply to your specific situation. Always consult with a marketing expert to ensure your marketing strategy is in line with industry best practices.