Digital Marketing for Small Businesses: An Introduction

This introduction to digital marketing is designed for small businesses owners who are limited on time, but want to make a start. We’ve covered some of the basic principles and given you 9 valuable actions to take away.

March 5, 2019
Content Strategy
Social Media
Web Design
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Jordan Chammings

Digital marketing; a myth to some, a mastery to others. Regardless of your experience, you can’t ignore that consumers are buying more online than ever before. It’s true that elements of online marketing require a lot of time, expertise and creativity, but there’s still a lot you can do as a small business.

The great thing about digital marketing is that it’s an umbrella term, meaning there are many approaches you can take to suit your resources and goals. The actions you take will retain their value over time, and you should consider your digital strategy as something you gradually progress. Here's our introduction to digital marketing for small businesses.

Digital presence

Growing your digital presence is an essential step for every business. Without it, potential customers won’t be able to find you, and you won’t be able to benefit from all of the good stuff that comes from being found.

Google My Business & Bing Places

Creating a business profile for Google and Bing is a must. We use search engines to find pretty much everything online, and creating these accounts puts you in control of the information users see about your company.

It serves as a way to communicate important information to your customers, such as your opening times, contact info, images, reviews, location etc. Whenever your details are being shown to customers, you’re taking up more of their screen display. Get your name in their face and make your presence known!

Tip: Set yourself up on Google My Business first. Bing has a function to import the data across (efficiency is paramount for small businesses!).

Social media accounts

You’ve probably heard the message before ‘make sure your business is on social media’. This is true, but for a small business, you can’t commit to them all.

The key is to identify which social media platforms your audience are using, and what makes sense for the services you offer. Don’t be the accountancy firm trying to make numbers visual on Instagram; you’ll just be making things hard for yourself. Here’s exactly what social media can do for your business:

  1. Presence: You can bet that your competitors have social accounts, so make sure you’re up there with them competing for customers’ attention.
  2. Communication channel: Social is a great chance to get to know your audience. Engage with their comments and turn an otherwise business relationship into a personal one.
  3. Availability of information: Online customers come from a variety of sources, so having your information in multiple places is never a bad thing. It’s all about capturing the users’ interest in the moment, which you can’t do without a presence in the right places.
  4. Exposure: The more people following your profile, the more people you’ll have to listen when you’ve got something to say. Having a large following gives the ability to reach a much wider audience.
  5. Future marketing: When you come to running paid adverts or launching a big digital campaign, you’ll be thankful that you’re not starting from scratch. As we said before, growing your digital presence over time is important for future digital marketing.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

It can be easy to complicate SEO, but buzzwords aside, there are some simple things you can be doing to boost your organic ranking straight away.

SEO is important for your business because it means you’re more likely to attract people to your website. The first step is to identify the keywords and key terms your customers are using. Here are the first places you should be implementing those super valuable terms.

  • Meta title
  • Meta description
  • On page content
  • Image alt tags
  • Anchor text

Import your keywords into excel and assign them tags such as ‘generic’, ‘question’ and ‘purchase intent’. Customers will use different keywords depending on what part of the purchasing process they’re at. So, mapping them out like this will help you to decide which should be used on what page. Got a generic page full of information? Go for ‘how to’ keywords. This makes a great start, but there's some really advanced SEO tactics out there too. If you're thinking of focusing on this area of digital marketing, we advise getting in contact with an SEO agency.

Content marketing

Content marketing means a lot more than just writing a blog. Content can be time-consuming at first, but consider it as an asset that retains its value over time.

Content, in all its forms, is a great way to give something valuable to your audience for free. It can be used to answer questions, show your expertise in a subject matter, or simply as an announcement tool. In return for this, you’ll benefit in the following way:

  1. More website visitors: If you’re creating content that’s useful for a specific audience, it’ll attract them to your website, and encourage them to stay there.
  2. It’ll give you something to share: Creating content gives you something natural to talk about on social media, it’s precisely the sort of thing you should be sharing. (This is where you’ll benefit from having a large following).
  3. It shows your expertise: If you’re creating and publishing content, then it shows that you know your stuff. This’ll help visitors to trust your business.
  4. Link building: You might create a piece of content so useful that you find other people, or businesses, linking to it. Known as backlinks, this can do wonders for your organic page rank.
  5. SEO: Your content needs to be optimised for SEO, and it’s a great way to hit your valuable keywords without trying to stuff them into a 70 character space. Make sure you’ve done keyword research before publishing anything.

User experience

So, once you’ve managed to increase your digital presence and attract users to your website or social pages, how does your business benefit?

The online business environment is fiercely competitive. Think how easy it is to open up 5 competitors websites and scan them all before making a decision. Your goal is to keep them on your page and encourage them to take valuable actions.

Availability of your information online

Without a digital presence, you simply have nowhere to display your most relevant information. Make sure that when someone does come across you, they’ve got everything they need to make a purchasing decision.

The last thing you want is a user to find you, but struggle to find all the information they need. Keep in mind the following as you create profiles and build your website:

  1. Who you are: A customer may have found you through organic search results, but if they don’t get the feeling that your website aligns with what they’re after, they may head to a competitor who is doing this. Make it clear who you are, what you’re offering and the value you can provide them.
  2. Contact information: Make sure it appears on all of your social pages and prominently on your website. Your Google and Bing organic business listings will cover you for the most common search engines.
  3. Additional info: Is there anything customers should know before getting in touch? I.e. is there a deposit they need to make, a limit on party size or a time restriction? Be transparent with your users and avoid negative backlash.

Website design

When it comes to website design, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You should, however, make sure you’re following some basic best practices.

It’s not just about how a page looks on load. It’s also about making sure your customers are landing on the right page for what they’re searching for, and are greeted with everything they need once they get there.

  • The right keywords for the right page: Help your users land on the page that matches their search term. If they’re after information, send them to an explainer page. If they’re showing intent to purchase, send them to the product page.
  • Mobile & desktop: Google has stressed that it’ll penalise websites that don’t work correctly on mobile. Even without this worry, you want your users to have a great experience regardless of their device.
  • Site structure: How easy and intuitive is it for a customer to get from one page on your website to another? You want to avoid them having to make extra clicks or getting lost. You can test this yourself. Pretend you’re a customer trying to get to a particular page on your website. Start from the home page and map out the path. If you’re struggling as the business owner, you can bet your website visitors will too.
  • Clarity and simplicity: Don’t stuff a page with information. Make it concise, easily digestible and space it out nicely. If they’re met with clutter, they’ll likely head to a competitor.

Social proofing

It’s quick for users to seek out 3rd party review websites to form an opinion on your business. But what can you do to combat this? Give them everything they need to know on your site.

Social proofing is the act of giving your users confidence to purchase, based on the opinion of other users. As a new business, it’s unlikely you’ll have many (if any) reviews yet. If that’s the case, get your business listed on a 3rd party website and encourage your customers to leave a review, or offer a service so fantastic that they do this without a prompt.

Here’s hat to feature on your website once the 5 stars come rolling in:

  • Business review: Has someone applauded your customer service or the way your business operates? Feature this on the generic pages of your website.
  • Product/ service reviews: When someone’s really impressed with your product, make sure other potential buyers see this before they get to checkout.
  • Social sharing: Share your reviews on your social accounts and be sure to thank whoever it was who left a review. If your other followers see this, it might encourage them to leave a review themselves.
  • Social posts: It’s not just 5 star reviews. If someone leaves a positive message on Twitter, Facebook etc. why not include it on your website?
  • Paid advertisement: Should you look into paid advertisement, displaying your rating is a great way to draw users attention to your ad, and it’ll help you to convert.

Call-to-actions (CTAs)

Your digital presence is ultimately just a way for your customers to find you. Much like walking down a high street, you might visit a shop because it’s there, but a CTA is what plays upon your purchasing impulse.

  • Buttons: CTAs are often buttons such as ‘learn more’, ‘buy now’ or ‘contact us’. What they all have in common is that they’re directing a user to take a specific action that’s valuable to your business.
  • Positioning: Have you CTAs in a place that makes sense. Have you written a pitch on your website that explains the service you offer? Including a CTA at the end is a natural way to end the page.
  • Encourage them to take action: It’s great if you get a website visitor, but this won’t bring much to your business if they aimlessly browse and leave. Having a CTA is your way of securing leads.

Google analytics and Facebook Pixel

We haven't delved into analysing website data and using this to make digital marketing decisions - because that’s rarely the first step for small businesses. But, that doesn’t mean you won’t look to do it in the future.

Adding Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel into your website code will gather useful information about your visitors. The sooner you add this in, the more data you’ll have to work with in the future. We highly recommend that you do this, even if you then don’t touch it for 6 months!

  1. How to set up Google Analytics tracking
  2. Guide to installing Facebook Pixel

Checklist for small businesses to get started with digital marketing

It’s all well and good reading about digital marketing, but it’s the actions that benefit your business. We’ve saved you the time of traversing back through this post and summarised what you should have taken away:

  1. Create search engine listings.
  2. Decide which social media platforms are most valuable for your business and create profiles. Make sure you’re updating them with your business information!
  3. Perform an SEO audit and map out which keywords you’re targeting for each page.
  4. Start to consider how you can turn your services or customers questions into useful content.
  5. Make your information readily available for potential customers (website, social and anywhere else).
  6. Design your website with the user in mind. Put yourself in the shoes of a customer and run tests.
  7. Add social proofing to your website, or start to build up a review profile.
  8. Make it easy for website visitors to convert into paying customers - add CTA’s and encourage user interaction.
  9. Install Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel onto your site.

There’s a lot more to Digital Marketing

We’ve only scratched the surface of why and how digital marketing contributes to the growth of your business. For every organisation, there’s many untapped opportunities to be had through online marketing tactics. If you want to learn about more advanced methods, or you can see the value of outsourcing this service, your best bet is to get in touch with a specialist digital marketing agency.

Fancy working with a results focused digital agency?

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