5 STEPS TO CREATING A SUCCESSFUL SMALL BUSINESS DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY

So, you’ve decided that you want to build a digital marketing strategy for your small business, but you’re not sure where to start. I’ve put together a Five-Step Get-Started Checklist for you to jump into the digital marketing world.

1. BRANDING

Your brand is critical in the digital world. If it isn’t polished, simple and cohesive, your message can get lost in the noise of your competitors. Your logo is the anchor of your brand and the best place to start. Make sure your current logo is the one you want to represent your company. Ideally, it is simple and clearly identifies your business. Once you’re comfortable with your logo, make sure that all the visual aspects of your marketing message (website, colors, fonts, social media pages, etc.) have a cohesive look and feel.

2. WEBSITE

A business website is a nonnegotiable component of a digital marketing strategy – it is quite literally the foundation of a strong digital marketing strategy. Don’t skip this step by assuming that your Facebook page or Instagram account is all you need. That’s like having two legs of a stool – it’s not going to hold you up. Whether you are a huge corporation or a small, local shop, your customers expect you to have a website.  

3. CREATE CONTENT

Think of content as the product you deliver with your digital marketing strategy. Your followers, customers, and potential customers don’t want to be bombarded with sales propaganda. They want valuable information and enticing photography. Your job is to create that content and post it on your website (blog or video) and serve it to them through social posts (and down the road email marketing). By using a of 80% useful information and 20% promotion, you should keep your followers happy.

If your stumped on coming up with content ideas, think first about your customers pain points and offer solutions to alleviate them.

4.  SOCIAL MEDIA

Once you have your branding and website updated and cohesive and you’ve developed some good, useful content, you are ready to jump into social media. Before you take the plunge, some research is in order. Don’t assume that your customers are on the same platforms that you use personally. You need to figure out what platforms your customers are using and create business accounts on those. If you’re not familiar with a platform, there are endless resources (books, videos, and online training) to get you up to speed. Be sure to keep your personal posts and business posts separate. Your business followers want to know about your business, not your new puppy.

It is important to maintain your cohesive branding with the same fonts, colors, images, icons, etc. on your site as well as social pages so as customers look for you online, they see a consistent brand across every platform. 

 5. SCHEDULE AND AUTOMATE

Soon after the excitement of your new digital strategy turns into another chore, it is all too easy to slack off and become inconsistent with website updates and social posting. Luckily, there are several applications that can help you schedule posts and cross populate your platforms – this means your Instagram automatically posts to Facebook and vice versa.

Set aside time every week to tackle your content development and social posting to maximize your productivity and ensure that your efforts pay off down the road as your followers hear from you consistently with valuable content.

If you follow a road map, you can be up and running with a successful digital marketing strategy in no time and enjoying the rewards of your efforts with increased business.

5 REASONS SOCIAL MEDIA CAN’T REPLACE YOUR WEBSITE

In my consulting work with small business owners, it always surprises me when an owner chooses not to have a website. Often it is because they use social media - usually Facebook - as their online presence. Is this a good idea? It’s a fair assumption, after all social media pages reach millions of potential customers, are essentially free to use, and not difficult to set up and maintain. But let’s consider some of the drawbacks to this strategy.  

1.     EVER CHANGING SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS

Do you remember MySpace? Once thought of as the answer to the personal web presence, it was quickly swallowed up by Facebook. So, what about Facebook? Isn’t it the gorilla of social media? It can’t be going anywhere soon. Well, not if YouTube and Instagram have anything to say about it.

The point is, when you rely on social media for your web presence, you are at the mercy of social trends, and you risk having to start over every time there is a shift in algorithms, rules, and the whim of the masses.

Having a website means you are in control of the content and the message. Your message on your terms.

2.     YOUR CUSTOMERS EXPECT IT

That’s right, your customers, even your loyal ones that have been shopping with you for years, expect you to have a website. For consumers, a website offers several conveniences ranging from product/service information to details such as hours of operation and location. Expecting your customers to pick up the phone and call for answers to these basic questions is can be a show stopper.

But your hours and location are listed on your Facebook page - that should be enough, right? Sorry not good enough. Consumers don’t want to look up your Facebook page to find basic information. Today’s consumers expect convenience and when you make simple tasks difficult, you will lose them.

3.     YOU CONTROL THE MESSAGE

The more you grow your followers on social media, the more you risk negative posts. That is true for any business and, although disheartening to read, negative comments are just part of an interactive platform. All companies deal with this issue, but the difference between a company with a website and one that relies on only social media is balance. Having the keys to your website means you can fill the pages with engaging content and testimonials from your loyal fans. Control equals balance. 

4.     THE POWER OF GOOGLE

When properly optimized, your website can be prominently listed on a Google search – the ultimate prize. And while it is true that your Facebook page can also be found through a web search, it just doesn’t provide the same search control as a website. There’s that word again, control. Your website gives you the control to customize your content to match the phrases your customers are most likely searching for. Facebook – or any social platform – just can’t compare on searchability.

 5.     COMPLETE DIGITAL STRATEGY

Think of your website as your gatekeeper to your online strategy. It is the landing place of all your digital efforts – including social media. The goal of digital marketing is to move your customer to your website. Whether it is an email message, a content piece (such as a blog post), or a social post, your goal is to lead the visitor to your page where you control the message and have the best opportunity to convert them to a paying customer. When you leave out the most important aspect of a digital marketing strategy (your website), you are missing your biggest opportunity.

I hope you can see that while participating in social media is definitely a good use of your time and energy, it isn’t enough to replace the power of a website. To create a true digital business presence, a well-designed website is simply not negotiable. Bottom line - it puts you in CONTROL!