Having a strong online presence is vital for any brand — whether you are an established company or a start-up just getting ramped up. Developing a digital marketing strategy is often overlooked or deprioritized with other business-related tasks to accomplish. But every small business that is focused on improving their bottom line needs to keep a pulse on their digital marketing presence in order to succeed. Hiring a digital marketing agency is certainly a way to address these needs (shameless plug, but feel free to contact us for more info!), but first there are some steps that every small business can take to better assess their digital marketing footprint and see what needs improving.
Before we list out some top strategies to keep in mind, let’s first briefly talk about what digital marketing is — because it can encompass A LOT. There are countless textbooks, articles and blog posts that talk about what digital marketing is and why it is so important. I actually used to teach a class on digital marketing, and have countless presentations and worksheets detailing different forms of digital marketing that always needed to be updated because it is an ever-evolving landscape. But since you aren’t taking a 12-week course with a mid-term and final, we will keep it simple.
According to the AMA (American Marketing Association), Marketing is defined as the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large. Essentially you are communicating with your target in the right place at the right time. So 'digital' marketing is essentially the same idea but online.
The online universe is vast, from search engines to social media platforms to review and informational sites to email to apps and more. And digital marketing encompasses all of these and then some. According to a joint report done by We Are Social and Hootsuite, 1 million new people are going online every day. You read that right, and there are no signs of it slowing.
So, take a few minutes to review the list below and think about what digital marketing strategies you are currently employing, what ones you can start to develop and implement on your own and what ones you may need to go to a digital marketing agency to help bring to fruition.
You may have heard the term 'responsive design' before, as it refers to web pages that render well on a variety of screen sizes, windows and/or devices. Essentially you want to avoid the old 'pinch and squeeze' method of early mobile devices where you had to resize the pages so that you could read them properly on a mobile device.
Not only are we looking to ensure that the people have a good user experience with your website (on any device, in any window size) but Google also takes mobile usability into account. Google utilizes 'Mobile First' indexing, which means that they will be looking at the mobile version of your site (not your desktop version) when crawling for rankings.
So if you manage your own site, or work with a partner to do so, make sure that you are on a responsive platform to ensure that you don’t get dinged because of mobile issues.
We could write countless blog posts about the importance of following SEO best practices. There are also tons of 101-type online tutorials to get more familiar with SEO in general (we like Moz and SEMRush, personally). But a good way to promote your brand and get more people to come to your website is to ensure that there is relevant and robust content for them to consume. Write content for users, not search engines, but keep best practices in mind.
What keywords you should focus on will vary by industry, but a good rule of thumb is to focus on 2-4 top keywords (a keyword is not just one word, but can be a multiple words together) and use them throughout your website, in headers, in meta descriptions and URLs. You need to be mindful of keyword stuffing and creating content that doesn’t make sense to actual users — as Google and other search platforms do not like that. In general just write content for users, not search engines, but keep best practices in mind.
This goes along with building up relevant content on your website, but blogs can provide a great way to increase searchable, relevant content and bring users to your website. Typically you would want to post on a regular cadence to keep content fresh and also to continually expand relevant content that is housed on your site.
Keep SEO content and keyword best practices in mind, and write relevant blog articles that focus on specific themes to help boost your appearance in search results. There are lots of blogging SEO tips to keep in mind (HubSpot has a nice little checklist). Make sure you are utilizing internal linking within your blog post (to link back to products or services on your site) as well as using optimized headlines. Once you post your articles to your blog, you can then promote on your social channels, drive to them within regular emails you send to customers or boost with paid media to drive even more traffic to posts.
Before you boost your recent blog posts on your social channels, you need to make sure you have proper profiles set up on relevant social platforms for your business. And you will want to engage with users (and potential users) on a regular basis. Social media can be a great tool for building brand awareness and loyalty, but you need to make sure you put the time in on the relevant platforms for your business in order to succeed.
Not every social channel is going to be appropriate for every brand. More visual/product-related brands could benefit from platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, while brands that are geared towards a B2B audience would be better suited for LinkedIn. Each platform reaches a different kind of user, and offers different ways to engage with them (profiles, boards, pages, etc.). So you will need to tailor your approach and how frequently you engage with potential customers accordingly.
Being able to track what marketing tactics are working, and which ones aren’t, is invaluable for any company. But this is often an area that is overlooked or implemented later in the game. However, the best thing to do is to implement digital analytics tracking as soon as you launch a website so that you have access to historical data from the very beginning.
I’m a data nerd, so maybe that is why I value analytics and measurement so much. But I have worked with too many companies that have no idea what channels are driving traffic to their website or which ones are converting for them. The more you know about how your website performs, what types of users come and convert and what pages and content are producing the results you are looking for — the better you can tailor your strategies and approach moving forward.
There are free services and paid services within the tracking and analytics space. I tend to recommend Google Analytics for our clients as it is easy to implement (you don’t need to be a developer to do so), has helpful how-to articles to read up on how to use the platform and integrates with other Google products (like Google Ads and Google Search Console). No matter what platform you choose to go with, just make sure you implement some kind of tracking and use the data to inform your marketing decisions.
There are plenty of digital marketing techniques, tools and tricks that you can implement as a small business owner that do not cost money — just time to implement. There are many others that I did not cover in this post as well. But a tactic within digital marketing that can certainly help bring new customers to your website to convert is paid media. Not all paid advertising opportunities are going to cost you an arm and a leg. There are many opportunities for small businesses, with lean budgets, to allow them to dip their toes into the advertising pool without going broke.
Social platforms all have opportunities to target users via paid placements — and usually they can be run on smaller budgets where you pay based on user action (click, conversion, engagement, etc.). Paid Search (also called SEM) is another great option for small businesses to get their brand name out there to the masses in a targeted fashion while people are actively searching for a brand/product/service online, but you only pay for actual actions (clicks).
You don’t have to be an advertising professional to run these kinds of ads — you can technically just set-up accounts with a credit card and email address. However, if you do plan on spending money on advertising on a consistent basis, I would recommend working with a consultant or agency in order to ensure you are getting the most out of your budget. Whatever you decide to do in the paid media space, I would recommend the test and learn approach. Test out a platform, with a set budget, for at least 2-4 weeks. Monitor performance, track what is working and take those learnings to continue growing.
Being a small business owner is not an easy job. There are always a million things to think about and priorities are constantly in flux, as you are pulled in a different direction from day-to-day. Having the time to focus on digital marketing may not seem like a priority, but in reality it can have a huge impact on your business, your brand awareness and your revenue. By focusing on a few key strategies within the greater digital marketing universe, whether on your own or by hiring a digital marketing agency (again, shameless plug), you can improve the online presence for your brand.
As Humble Meteor’s Director of Digital Marketing, Krista helps connect audiences with helpful brands and their killer websites. With more than 13 years of inbound marketing and paid media experience, she never shies away from investigating a new digital marketing innovation to help bring a client’s brand to the next level. When she isn’t knee-deep in researching and writing blog articles, optimizing campaigns or conducting social media audits — she loves to bake all things yummy and hang out with her family.Contact me →