Digital Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

Digital marketing offers small businesses a cost-effective means of successfully reaching their target market and boosting sales. With consumers around the world becoming increasingly dependent on the Internet to select products or services, small business owners can take full advantage of limited advertising funds by establishing an online presence.

Online marketing funds don’t require boring a hole through the annual budget. The Internet has, in many ways, leveled the playing field. It gives small businesses the opportunity to compete with bigger names in their industry.

Expand the reach of your business, build rapport with potential and existing customers, and increase quality leads and conversions with your limited marketing budget. Here’s a snapshot of what you can do with digital marketing:

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) can help you establish a strong presence on the Internet and bolster your lead generation. With the proper use of SEO strategies, you can dominate the search engine results page, placing your brand squarely in front of those looking to buy the products and services you offer.

What to Do:

  • Create a website (if you don’t already have one). Make it mobile-friendly so it is easily accessible to the large percentage of consumers using their mobile devices to search for products and/or services.
  • Do keyword research. When conducting searches online, users type in specific keywords to find what they’re seeking. Learn the type of keywords your target market uses to find the products or services you provide.
  • Write a blog. Use blogs to draw in customers with relevant and useful information and advice. Write about company updates, company events, news, tips, and guides related to the services or products you offer.
  • Register your business in online directories. Doing so makes it easier for both potential and existing clients to view your details and find you.

Note that SEO is a long-term strategy in need of constant attention and updates (largely due to the constant changes in search engine algorithms). However, the results are enduring and well worth the time and effort. If it is out of the budget (and you don’t want the time drain) to hire and train an in-house team, the services of an SEO company in North York, Toronto — or anywhere in Ontario.

There are a number of free tools you can use while you research reputable SEO companies in your area. They include:

  • WordPress – This is a powerful online website building tool used by several establishments (including a few Fortune 500 companies) and is arguably the easiest content management system (CMS) to date. It is versatile and can be used to create various websites — from the simplest blogs to e-commerce sites.
  • Google Analytics – Use this tool to gain the insight you need to learn if your strategies are successful and what you can do to improve them.
  • Google Keyword Planner – This tool allows you to discover keywords you can use for your online marketing campaign — and how effective they can be.
  • Google My Business – Another free Google tool; this allows you to manage how searchers view your business details and how you can place your business on the maps in search results.

Content Marketing

Provide your existing and prospective client base with a reason to rely on your business. Supply them with useful and relevant content they can use to solve problems, or provide answers to inquiries related to your business.

Though content marketing is a valuable part of SEO marketing, it deserves a specific mention; it is a powerful method that can make or break your business credibility. Build trust and stronger relationships with your target market with great online content.

What to Do:

  • Start blogging. If you’re confident in your writing ability, you can do this yourself. You can also choose to have someone else on your team do it or outsource it to freelancers (e.g. WriteJobs.info or ODesk.com), content providers like TextBroker.com, or a local SEO company that provides this service.
  • Post regularly. To maintain relevance and keep your readers updated, offer tips, articles, or company updates — and post at least twice a month.
  • Repurpose content. People digest media in different ways. Some may prefer reading while others prefer visuals. If you have the manpower and enough resources, you can create various media for one topic. Design infographics or create videos to reach a wider audience.

Free Tools:

  • Grammarly – This is an online proofreading tool you can use to correct grammatical and spelling mistakes in your content.
  • Google Trends – Use this to find out which topics are trending and get ideas on articles to write.
  • WordPress can also help with content creation.

Email Marketing

This is a direct marketing effort, enabling you to send information on your latest promos, announcements, events, and products via email to a list of contacts.

What to Do:

  • Build an email list.
  • Create a campaign. Make the message eye-catching and easy to read. Enhance customer engagement with visuals. Design it to be consistent with your brand. Be sure to dedicate as much as 80% of content to useful and relevant material and only 20% to promotions, ads, or sales pitches.
  • Time your campaigns. The optimal frequency of sending email marketing campaigns is once a month, but not much more often.
  • Analyze the results. Find out how effective your campaign was. Study the:
  • Open rate
  • Unopened rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Shares
  • Follow up on the campaign. Resend the campaign, targeting contacts who (for whatever reason) were not able to open your first email. Remove contacts with low or minimal engagement rates.

Remember, certain countries (like Canada) have anti-SPAM laws that require you to provide “unsubscribe” instructions (or a link) at the bottom of promotional emails.

Free Tools:

  • MailChimp – This online site allows you to create a campaign and send it to all the email addresses on your list. It also has tracking functions so you can ascertain the metrics (e.g. click-through rate and unsubscribe rate).
  • HubSpot Email Signature Template Generator – Using this tool, you can create a template for your business email signature, which you can attach to outgoing emails and responses.
  • HubSpot Sales Email Extension – Keep track of email activity and learn how recipients interact with emails (if they’ve been opened, remain unopened, or if the receipient clicks on a link to visit your site). You can document email correspondence to maintain communication with promising leads and determine their position in your sales funnel.
  • Newoldstamp – It is a powerful email signature generator that enables businesses to effortlessly create, customize, deploy and install email signatures across the entire company.
  • MySignature – MySignature is an online generator that allows you to create branded email signatures. It provides its users with a wide range of advanced customization and styling solutions.

Social Media Marketing

Take advantage of social media platforms to broaden your pool of potential customers, generate hype, and build customer relationships. Depending on the type of business you run — whether it’s product or service oriented (or both) — there is a social media platform for you.

  • Facebook – A versatile platform that allows for customer engagement. You can post photos, link to articles, share posts, and interact with clients.
  • LinkedIn – For businesses that specialize in B2B sales, LinkedIn is a great way to build a network of followers.
  • Twitter – Twitter allows for microblogging and is ideal for sending live updates and announcing the news, new products, and events.
  • Instagram – Product-centric businesses can showcase pictures of products, discounts, and promos using this tool.
  • YouTube – This is a free platform to display instructional videos, product information, and expert interviews, among other types of visuals.

Free Tools:

  • HootSuite – Schedule social media posts across many different platforms using this tool.

Influencer or Affiliate Marketing

Influencer or affiliate marketing allows you to “borrow” the authority that field experts or social media influencers have. You can use their influence and vast following to promote your products, services, promos or events on their websites or social media pages. Doing this allows you to cast a wider net and generate buzz around your business, improving brand awareness. (Of course, you need their permission first!)

What to Do:

  • Contact influencers or experts. Prepare your pitch. Be sure to include:
  • Your company information
  • Your goals
  • What they can gain from working with you (e.g. compensation, contacts)
  • How much time they are expected to invest in your campaign
  • For social media influencers: Wait. If they agree to the terms, the influencers themselves will generate the content featuring your business for you. This can come in the shape of a blog or a video posted on YouTube.
  • For industry experts: Schedule an interview. Have these specialists share their knowledge with your audience. Either film your interview, make a podcast, or write an article about it. This allows you to enhance your credibility and secure a more loyal following.

With the help of the Internet, small businesses have been granted as much opportunity and ability to expand their client base as big brands enjoyed in the past. Build a strong online presence and establish a network through digital marketing so you can improve your lead generation, increase sales, and get the best return on your investment.

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