Digital marketing is a big world, and it can be a bit intimidating for many small business owners. In fact, it can feel like standing on the edge of an Olympic diving board, staring down at the waters beneath you. You need to take a dive into the unknown before you can see any success. This can be even more daunting if you don’t spend a lot of time online yourself – but don’t worry!
Nobody starts at the deep end, and no one knows quite what will work for them when they first start out. But since digital marketing is an essential part of running your business, you need to at least dip your toe in the water.
That’s what we’re here for! Today’s blog is a bit of a beginner’s guide to digital marketing for small businesses, so you can know what you need to do and maximise every opportunity.
What Is Digital Marketing?
Before we get too far into the nitty-gritty of digital marketing, let’s look at some basic definitions:
This is the umbrella term used for any kind of online marketing effort. This includes digital channels like:
- Search Engines like Google (SEO)
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Digital brochures
- PPC advertising
- Content marketing
- Affiliate marketing
- Native advertising
And more. In short, if it’s online, it falls under this umbrella. The internet is a big place, and there is an almost unlimited number of channels you could choose to reach your customers online, and strategies you could use to do it. The best digital marketers know which channels their audience uses and have a clear picture of how each asset supports their goals.
This is about using marketing techniques to bring potential customers to you, rather than having your marketing fight for their attention. It’s also known as ‘pull’ marketing, since you are ‘pulling’ your customers towards you. Inbound marketing is all about creating and sharing content that your prospects will find valuable, creating a ‘magnet’ to draw them to your business. We have written a whole blog post on inbound marketing.
The opposite of inbound marketing. Outbound marketing is all about you finding your customers, reaching out and starting the conversation yourself. It’s often seen as the more traditional form of marketing, and includes things like cold calling, cold emailing/spamming, direct mail, event sponsorships, networking, TV advertising and even print advertising.
As you can see, digital marketing is a bit of an umbrella term that covers anything you do in the other 2 sections that’s done online.
How Does Digital Marketing Help Small Businesses?
We think it’s fair to say that digital marketing has completely changed the way that businesses promote themselves, connect with their customers and win new business. Digital marketing presents a huge opportunity for small businesses.
Rather than only being able to sell to people in your immediate circle, you can now reach out to people all over the country, or even the world, in a cost-effective and measurable way. It also presents you with the ability to interact with your prospects in a new way, creating a two-way conversation that builds trust and encourages brand loyalty.
This conversation also allows you to get to know your customers in an entirely new and more intimate way, which means you can build more tailored and targeted marketing strategies in the future.
Digital marketing also has the upper hand over traditional marketing because it’s trackable. Pretty much all digital platforms come built-in with analytics tools, which gives you access to detailed information about who your customer is, how they behave and where your strengths/weaknesses lie.
All of this information is a goldmine that you can use to refine your marketing efforts and make sure each campaign is compelling, reaches the right audience and encourages conversion.
So, now it’s time to get started with your own digital marketing strategy! Don’t worry if it still all seems a bit much, it will take time to narrow down what works for you and your business. But to set you off on the right foot, here are a few tips from us:
Set SMART Goals
A dream without a plan is just a wish. And in business terms, that means you need to set yourself goals in order to plan a digital marketing strategy. SMART is a good rule to use when setting yourself goals, which means your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and have a time frame. Set yourself goals for your marketing strategy and it will help you be a lot more successful. For example, if you run a plumbing company, your goal might be to increase your boiler maintenance customers by 15% – and so you can build a marketing campaign around raising awareness of this service.
Know Your Audience
If you don’t know who you’re selling to, then you can’t design a marketing strategy that will get their attention and deliver a message that’s relevant enough to convince them to buy. The easiest way to do this is to create buyer personas so that you can create targeted campaigns. Think about who your customers are and group them into 3 or 4 buckets, and then create a fictional character from each. Give them a name, a photo, a personality and a few favourite hobbies. List what their challenges are, what they like about your service, and what their goals are. All of this information will help you develop the perfect digital marketing strategy.
Know Your Brand
Knowing what your brand stands for means you can position yourself in the market effectively, and showcase why customers should choose you over your competition. What’s your USP, your distinct benefits, your value? Quiz yourself on what makes you special, ask your customers why they choose you, and use all of that to inform your marketing content.
Keep an eye on the Competition
Your competitors aren’t just those who offer a like-for-like service. They can be direct competitors, but you should also look at brands that offer different products but compete for the same space or budget as you, or who have a similar look and feel, or who target the same customers as you. Know what you’re up against, and learn from their successes and their mistakes.
Build Your Social Media Presence
Social media is one of the biggest tools you have in digital marketing. The average person in 2022 spent around 151 minutes on social media every day, which makes it the perfect way to reach your customers. Around 88% of small businesses invest in social media, and if done properly, you can see a great return. It can also be a valuable distribution network to get your message (and other forms of marketing) out to the right audience.
Track and Measure
The biggest mistake most small businesses make is not keeping track of their digital marketing. Like everything you do in business, digital marketing works best when you plan your strategy, track its progress, and measure the results. This way, if something isn’t working, you can find out and either change your approach or move on to a new strategy instead. This is also where your goals come in – as you can measure how well you’re doing against where you want to be.
What are the benefits of digital marketing for small businesses?
Digital marketing provides small businesses with a number of benefits, including:
- The ability to reach a wider audience more quickly and easily than traditional marketing methods.
- The ability to target specific customers based on their interests and needs.
- The ability to track the success of campaigns and measure their ROI.
- The ability to create and share engaging content that attracts attention and drives traffic.
- The ability to connect with customers and build relationships through social media.
- The ability to create a more personalized experience for customers.
- The ability to automate marketing tasks and save time and money.
- The ability to integrate digital marketing into other business functions.
What are the different digital marketing channels for small businesses?
There are many digital marketing channels that you can use to reach and attract customers, including:
- Website – This is your starting place. It is crucial because all your other digital marketing efforts will link back to it, and it is the one thing you have complete control over.
- Social Media – using platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to share content and engage with users. You can also pay to promote your content or use influencers to promote your brand on their channel.
- Email – sending automated messages to subscribers or manually creating personalised messages.
- Video – sharing recorded or live videos online. You could showcase your product or service.
- Display Advertising – promotional ads on websites and applications.
- Remarketing – showing ads to users who have previously visited your website.
- Content Marketing – creating content to attract and retain visitors.
- Google Ads – paid search advertising.
Digital marketing can be expensive and takes time to achieve the results you want, but once you’ve identified a campaign that works for your business, the costs can decrease over time as you continue to implement it.
Why is digital marketing important to small businesses?
Digital marketing is important to small businesses because it enables them to reach more people and build a larger customer base more quickly and cost-effectively than traditional marketing methods. Digital marketing also provides more targeted and measurable results, allowing businesses to track their performance more accurately and efficiently. Additionally, digital marketing can help small businesses engage with their customers in more personal, meaningful ways, allowing them to strengthen relationships and increase loyalty.
Where do we recommend small businesses should start with digital marketing?
We recommend that small businesses start with digital marketing by establishing a strong online presence.
The first things a small business should do are:
- Create a professional website with SEO-optimised content that is aimed at your audience
- Set up social media profiles
- Claim online business listings like Google Business Profile
- Start tracking your positions for your targeted keywords.
- Set up analytics so you can see how users reach your website and how they interact with it.
Once these are done, focus on your target audience by creating relevant and helpful content, you can also create targeted online advertising campaigns and engage with customers through email marketing or online customer service.
It is important to start with a solid foundation and gradually expand digital marketing efforts based on the business’s goals and resources.
If you have the budget get a professional digital marketing agency to research and build the website for you, they will also be able to help you grow the traffic to the site and report on the progress being made.
For most small businesses we have found that the fastest route to success is a good website, SEO, and Pay-Per-Click advertising. This method attracts targeted traffic immediately while also setting the foundations for organic growth in the future. At Lion Spirit Media, we have special packages that bundle SEO and PPC together and these ensure success for our customers. Get in touch if you would like to learn more.
At Lion Spirit Media, we specialise in creating digital marketing strategies for business owners, helping them discover their roar and project it loud so they can be heard among the whole pride.
Our methods can make sure you stand out above the competition and achieve your goals – whatever they are. If you would like some help and support with your digital marketing strategy, or you just have a burning question you need answering, just get in touch with the team today.