Digital Marketing Strategy for Small Business

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Digital Marketing Strategies - Hands with a mobile phone
Christine LeeChristine Lee
October 14, 2021
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Whether you’ve just unveiled your startup to the world or you’ve been in business for years, marketing is always a huge commitment. While it’s helpful for business growth, many business owners don’t realize that marketing requires more than just a budget, especially when considering a digital marketing strategy for small business growth.

If you’re throwing dollars at marketing but not seeing results, you may simply need a strategy to tie it all together. These strategies below work for all kinds of business goals, including sales growth, brand awareness, social media growth, inbound marketing, and much more.

Does Digital Marketing Work for Every Business?

Digital Marketing - Laptop, mobile, e-mail, SEO, video, social network

In today’s digital landscape, marketing is pretty much all digital. There are a few businesses that can still get away with direct mail, telemarketing, and event marketing, but there’s still an element of digital marketing attached to many of these strategies as well.

For instance, you may be looking for local growth and send out a direct mailer to zip codes nearby, but the first thing many consumers do is go online to conduct research. If your business isn’t set up to take advantage of this traffic, you’ll miss out on a lot of opportunities.

The cornerstone of any good digital marketing strategy is your website. Every business today has to have some type of digital command center, where all marketing flows through.

If your website isn’t getting any traffic and you’re not showing up in Google even with different types of searches, it’s time to look at your audience and build a user experience that is going to enhance your products and services.

At the end of the day, digital marketing is all about showing the right content or product at the right time of the customer’s buyer journey. Since these journeys start online most of the time, your digital marketing strategy should include:

  1. What value do you provide your customer, aka your value proposition
  2. Your buyer personas or the types of customers typically purchasing your products
  3. Inbound content or what offers will excite customers to visit your store
  4. Their buyer’s journey or how they find your products
  5. User experience issues or how convenient it is to purchase from you
  6. Returning customer strategies or how to keep customers coming back
  7. Online reputation management or how you’ll get positive shares and deal with negative ratings online

The key to your success with digital marketing isn’t just about one platform either. It isn’t just having a Facebook profile or setting up Google search ads. You have to be able to see how your entire marketing strategy helps your business, as well as your customer.

Tips for a Strong Digital Marketing Strategy for Small Business

The following guide gives you a look into what different strategies, whether it’s SEO or Facebook advertising, can do for your business and how to plan to push the needle forward for your business. We’ll share the benefits of these strategies as well as what businesses get the most of each one.

1. Search Engine Marketing and Inbound

Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing, AKA SEM, refers to any marketing activities that bring you traffic from search engines like Google. For example, Google Ads or pay-per-click advertising is a form of SEM where you bid on keywords that people search related to your business.

Your business pops up in sponsored search after you become the highest bidder on a keyword or phrase being searched. It’s helpful if you know that your customer starts their buyer’s journey in Google Search.

About 35% of all product searches start on Google Search.

You can promote your website, services, products, events, and much more using Google Ads.

SEM is different than SEO, or search engine optimization. While SEM promotes your website using advertising, SEO organically bumps up your rank in Google so that you appear in relevant searches without having to bid on keywords.

It’s important that you conduct keyword research first and note the cost-per-click (CPC) and average conversion rate, in addition to keyword search volume. You want to pick keywords that you can afford and that will convert for your business. Higher volume keywords are harder to bid on due to competition.

2. Social Media Marketing

Mobile with social media icons popping

Build a Facebook Business page and they will come, right? In some cases, if you’re growing your following through one network or already have a lot of customers, adding a Facebook or Instagram page is a no-brainer. However, many businesses don’t start with this strategy because it’s difficult to manage your social media marketing strategy, in addition to answering comments and monitoring reviews.

However, you should still have profiles on networks that are relevant to your audience. Billions of people per month use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and it’s clear that people start their day just by checking in on social apps with their phones. That’s why it’s critical for businesses to have a social media marketing strategy.

It’s also about knowing your customer and what channels they like. For instance, a manufacturing business that relies on B2B sales probably would use social media networks like LinkedIn or something more relevant to their customers.

The key is to use these platforms to connect with your audience and build your brand awareness, increasing visibility and getting more website traffic from these profiles.

Some things to consider when setting up your social media strategy:

  1. Choose social networks where a majority of your target audience is active. Instagram is a better choice for a t-shirt company to market and sell products on than LinkedIn.
  2. Test Facebook advertising if you want more reach in a faster timeframe. Facebook also allows you to advertise on other networks and Instagram.
  3. If video is more appropriate for your audience, then look at platforms like YouTube and TikTok.
  4. Create content and social that speak to your audience, which means understanding your buyer personas and knowing what they’re looking for--as well as what their problems are.
  5. Start with a small budget on each platform and test to see engagement and volume of leads or sales.

3. Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing - Content, SEO & Social Media

Inbound marketing is a strategy that was developed around content marketing. While it’s true that content is still king, many businesses still don’t have the right content on their website. For example, small businesses may forego a blog section because it takes too much time to figure out topics and write something that people will actually care to read.

However, blog content contributes to a ton of inbound organic traffic, for free, especially when you build content around the right keywords and buyer personas. You’ll want to create content that people can use to do something. That’s key to getting more traffic and shares.

Attract - Engage - Delight

You’ll see a variation of this message with any inbound marketing strategy. It defines the key steps to this strategy where your content attracts a buyer, you engage that buyer, and then delight them with the product or service experience.

Inbound marketing benefits any company that can develop a content offer relevant to a customer.

A major component of content is to include a lead magnet and sign-up form, where you collect contact information about your customer.

This will generate more marketing qualified leads that you can turn into sales qualified leads through email marketing and follow-up sales contact.

What Are Content Offers?

Content offers should be based on things your customer needs to solve a problem that could lead to a purchase of your service or product. For example, if you’re a remodeling contractor, you may offer a “100+ Action Item Checklist for the Perfect Remodeled Bathroom.”

This may seem counterintuitive. Why give away the secrets to your customer? Well, usually when a customer is thinking of a DIY project, they’re in a planning phase. Once they see your perfect checklist with so many items (and you also provide the right sales contact within the offer), they’ll reach out to your remodeling service instead of trying to do it themselves.

Inbound content typically requires a full understanding of your marketing and lead generation funnels. You’ll want to know where customers are coming in at the top of the funnel and how they’re reaching your website. At this time, you’ll want to provide the perfect content offers to assist with research.

4. Email Marketing and Automation

Man holding his phone checking emails

Everyone knows about email, right? You probably open a number of emails each week from companies you’ve subscribed to, offering you all kinds of discounts and new products that you’ll enjoy. Any time you don’t enjoy this content, you probably unsubscribe or send the email straight to spam.

Email marketing is very beneficial for small businesses that have people who can manage it, such as an e_marketing agency. That’s because today’s digital generation really tries to control what comes through in their inbox, and if you send any kind of spammy emails, you’ll quickly get an unsubscribe.

However, email is a part of every lead generation strategy for all business types. You want people to sign up with you so that you can send them more information and hopefully get them to transact with your business.

In other cases, email is essential to the customer experience, where they need order information, shipping details, and follow-ups to ensure that they’ve had a good experience.

What is Email Marketing Automation?

You may think that email marketing is too difficult to do, but there are a ton of email service providers (ESPs) out there that provide automated email marketing programs.

For example, a customer just purchased from you. Without email, they probably have to rely on your website or customer service team to help if there’s an issue with your order.

With an automated purchase email series, you can set up an email to send with the details of their order, as well as shipping and delivery information. You can also include other emails in this series, such as how to use the product or service they bought, and you can even request that they review their purchase after a period of time.

Email automation really helps small businesses look like larger businesses and engage with their customers to keep them happy and coming back. It’s also a great way to market new products, send promotions to your loyal customers, and provide “community” information to build up your brand awareness and visibility.

Some key things to do when building your email strategy:

  1. The first step is to always build your email list. You’ll need to set up a form and call-to-action (CTA) on your website or even your social media page.
  2. Nurture email subscribers with an automated email series, such as a welcome series if they’ve signed up via a content offer or something other than a purchase
  3. For purchases, create an auto-responder with their order details, but also consider going further with an email series that gives them more information and even sends reminders when their package has arrived.

5. Create an Affiliate Marketing Program

Affiliate Marketing - Join, Promote and Earn

If you knew someone who could sell products for your business 24/7, what percentage of the sale would you provide? Affiliate marketing relies on other businesses, people, and online websites to market and sell your products.

You don’t have to do very much to create an affiliate marketing program thanks to some of the tools out there.

How Affiliate Marketing Works

At the base level, affiliate marketing is when someone else markets and sells your products for you. As payment, you offer this affiliate a percentage of the sale or even a flat rate for every sale they make.

Amazon offers affiliate marketing programs to sell all kinds of products, and it’s the largest one. To create an affiliate marketing program, you simply have to join an affiliate marketing service and list your products, as well as the percentage you’re offering per sale.

Affiliates will start to sign up for your program and will list your products on their site or even on social media.

One caveat of affiliate marketing is that you need to be careful about who you allow to market your products. You don’t want scammers or less than scrupulous websites listing your products because customers will not trust your brand anymore.

That’s why it’s important to check out any businesses signing up for your affiliate marketing program and create an approval process. You’ll want to check their traffic scores, website experience, social media channels, and any reviews before accepting them as an affiliate of your business.

Grow Your Business Today

There are many other tactics to building more visibility online and growing sales from digital marketing. If you creating a marketing strategy that hasn't grown your sales in the past, why not get a free e-marketing consultation to see what's possible? It could change things around for your business and help you achieve even more in 2022 and beyond.

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