Digital Marketing Tips Every Small Business Owner Should Know
Running a small business invariably means marketing and, these days, marketing is digital. This is a good thing for you and your business - as a local or small business owner, the barriers of entry into the marketplace are minimised when compared to traditional forms of marketing. But the digital marketing space moves quickly and, at times, it can be difficult to keep up.
Here are some top digital marketing tips for small businesses:
1. Do your research
The first step in marketing is always to see what your competitors are doing.
Google Search is a great place to start. You can see how your competitors are positioning themselves within their ads. What are the key phrases they use?
For example, if you are an electrician you might see other local electricians using terms such as “No Call Out Charge”, “Fully Qualified Electricians” and “1hr Response”. These phrases are there for a reason – your competitors have found that they are great selling points and they work. Think about what your customers will type into Google to find you and then include them.
2. Create a USP
However, you can’t just copy what your competitors are doing. You need a Unique Selling Point – or in marketing speak, a USP.
This is a way to differentiate yourself from your competitors by appearing to do something a little different – something that will be remembered by your target market. Here’s another piece of old marketing wisdom - if you don’t have a USP, you need to invent one.
So, in the case of electrician’s again, you could offer a free callout – or a pensioners special rate – or 24 hours call out.
The choice is yours and will depend on your business and what you can actually offer.
It is always tempting to choose price – but undercutting your competitors will soon be copied and you will be in a race to the bottom, meaning your business will become unprofitable as a result.
3. Get your website right
So where do you feature your USP? The answer is everywhere – but most prominently of all on your website.
But you can’t just shout about your special service, your top product or your low prices. Online users are becoming increasingly demanding on what they expect from a website.
They want fast loading speeds and mobile optimisation...
Page speed or page load time is becoming ever more important as we shift to a mobile-first world where people use their smartphones to access the internet rather than a laptop.
Google PageSpeed Insights can test your website’s mobile speed and show you how you can reduce the loading time of your website.
They want instant answers to their questions…
You need to look at your website with the eyes of a user. It is not what you want to say about your business that you need to be including – it is what your site visitors want to see. Use someone else to check out your website. This is known as UX or user experience testing. It lets you know whether or not users can find what they are looking for when they come to your site – and whether they will bother to look for it if it is there.
They want your business to look trustworthy…
Someone who does not know you and has not done business with you before will only be able to make an assessment of your business from what they see on your website. It needs to look professional, as though it has been put together with care by someone who will take the same care when they do business with them. Avoid gimmicks, and use good design – and if you don’t know what constitutes good design on the internet, find an external supplier who does and leave the details of designing and setting up your website to them.
4. Use SEO
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – is the key to getting found on the internet. It means getting your website on the search engine page, the ones that you see when you put in a search term to Google, or Bing, or any of the others.
The objective is always to be the first result on the page – although the best you can hope for realistically is to be on the front page, under the paid advertisements.
SEO is a complicated technique and - like design - can require an expert to do properly. It means an investment if you need to call in an outside consultant, but it could be money well spent if it means getting more visitors finding your website, and more customers as a result.
5. Create useful content
A blog can be a powerful marketing tool, helping users find your business and helping position your business as an authority to be trusted.
A blog has two tasks to perform. It will improve your website’s SEO. The more quality pages on your site the better Google will rank your business. It also means you’ve got content to share with your audience on social media to drive traffic back to your website. Make sure you write and post regularly – several times a week if possible – about topics relevant to your business and of interest to your users. Got a new product? Tell the world about it. Tackling a new project? Share it around.
A blog should never be a pure sales message – people will not read advertising copy unless it is 100% relevant to their needs at that particular moment. Instead, it should be something between a conversation and education. Tell people about something they otherwise would not know, in language that is friendly, never condescending and always easy to read.
So, if your business is a small accounting practice, your blog should include lots of useful posts on tax returns, tax rules, accounting tips and anything else your clients would want to know.
Again, call in an expert if you cannot do it yourself.
6. Use social media
Social media is the biggest marketing advance of the past few years.
As a small business, you need social media to promote your business and spread the word about what you do. Instead of spreading yourself thin and trying to post on every social media platform, spend your time and energy on the one that’s right for your business.
Which platform is your customer base using? What format do your posts work best on? For example, if your business makes handmade designer jewellery, photos are going to be the best way to showcase them, and your audience is going to be a consumer on Instagram and Facebook, not LinkedIn. The choice might be the other way around if your business is an accountancy practice.
If you’re struggling to come up with ideas for blogs, look at what your competitors are doing and research ideas online. You can also test different types of posts to see what your audience reacts to – and always remember to manually check your social accounts and engage with your audience and their posts.
7. Consider Google Ads
Making sure that your website is at the top of searches is difficult. Google Ads will let you buy the position. Previously known as Google AdWords, Google Ads is an online advertising platform developed by Google, where advertisers pay to display brief advertisements, service offerings, product listings, video content and generate mobile application installs within the Google ad network to web users.
Costs are surprisingly moderate, and you can stop advertising when you start to be inundated with enquiries, which will help keep these costs manageable.
- Set your goals - do you want site visits, phone call or actual physical visitors? Who do you want them to be? You can be selective to make sure your advertising budget is only spent on web users interested in your services.
- Define your budget - how much can you afford to invest in your Google Ads?
- Choose your keywords - One of the key stages when creating your Google Ads Search campaigns is selecting appropriate keywords which will help bring in the potential customers you need to talk to. There is an automated Google Keyword Planner which has been designed to help.
8. Video is King
Over 1.9 billion users are logging into Google-owned YouTube each month. Video content is growing at an incredible rate and 97% of marketers say video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service.
You might not have the big budgets of major brands – who can shoot a TV-style promotional video whenever they need to, but you can always partner up with a talented local video agency/freelancer to get your own video campaign started.
9. Email marketing
Another digital strategy that is fundamental for your small business is email marketing. Emailing out to a subscriber list can mean talking to thousands of people for little cost – and can be a good way to keep your business top of mind with them, so even if they don’t respond on the first email, they might on the tenth or even the hundredth. Just make sure you send short, effective sales messages or content that is useful so they are worth opening.
10. Promote your business with an ad
Running a digital advertisement is the quickest way for your target customer to find out about you. Advertising will be expensive and the price will depend on who you want to reach and what platform you use – but you can set a budget to suit your resources.
Make sure your advert uses an eye-catching image and concise text to clearly demonstrate what you’re offering - and make sure it will only be seen by people who are going to be interested.
But, before you run anything, make sure your website can effectively capture the leads your advert sends your way – otherwise, you’ll simply be wasting your money.
11. Track your efforts
Using tools such as Google Analytics is a good way to measure your digital marketing efforts. Analytics can show you more than just the numbers - it can show you the demographics of the person that has been on your website or social media page and what actions they’ve taken as a result.
Have they read your blog? Have they come from a social media post? The more you know about your site visitors, the more you can fine-tune your marketing to them. If you can see what is working in the digital world, you can make it work harder for you in the future.
It can seem daunting to tackle every aspect of digital marketing, especially if you have lots of other roles within your business. It may take some time to find what works, but by remaining consistent and creative you should eventually see results.
Paying for it all
Some of the tips here can be easy enough to carry out yourself - but others will need you to call in some expert help.
You will need to pay for their time and expertise as well as for things like the cost of your keywords, and the PPC rate you have opted for. If you need help financing your digital marketing efforts the contact us at Rangewell. We can work with you to find the finance you need for your business to become an online success.