Small Businesses and startups have survived for years on a prevalent yet underrated form of marketing called “word of mouth publicity”. If they cater to a nearby geographical location, the phrase as they say, “spreads fast”. When they had to increase their reach to target a wider audience, money was spent on traditional methods of marketing like TV, Newspaper, radio, etc. It’s a known fact that TV, newspapers and radios have never been affordable. Yet they have raked in the majority of the marketing budget from clients because of the promises they showed.
All this happened until Digital Marketing happened. Introduction of digital marketing changed the way marketing, promotions and sales were made. Digital marketing shifted the loyalty of small businesses and startups from the over expensive mediums they used, to an affordable and cost-effective medium. Today, digital marketing allocated a substantial amount of budget from marketing and sales budget of an organization. According to GetResponse, 70% of small to medium-sized businesses said they would increase their digital/web-based marketing budgets this year.
Undoubtedly, traditional method of marketing have serious competition from digital marketing. However, the shift from traditional to digital marketing has not been smooth from SMEs. For instance, entrepreneurs have questions like:
- From all the platforms available, which ones should I target?
- Should I go for PPC?
- Should I invest time and money in content marketing to get the best Return on Investment or focus my time on other opportunities?
And the list goes on. When you compare digital marketing with new fields of marketing promotions, digital marketing is a relatively new field of marketing and advertising. Digital marketing is so dynamic that every day we see a new strategy, a new platform or a new technology entering its space. For small businesses and startups, every penny counts and every marketing budget (small or big) needs a clear ROI. Therefore, small business and startups must have a reliable Digital Marketing Strategy to promote their business – a strategy that is simple, effective and optimal. In the free online entrepreneurship development course, it is explained in depth how businesses can implement a simple digital marketing strategy.
The strategy can be broken down into seven simple steps for small businesses owners. These steps (not necessarily in a chronological order) will help run an effective digital marketing campaign.
7 simple steps of digital marketing
1. Competitor Analysis
Researching your competition is the oldest trick in the book of marketing and sales. Trust me, when it comes to digital marketing there is nothing more useful than analyzing their activities online. Start by scanning your main competitor on google and social media platforms. Observe the content being posted on their website and read reviews. Here are a few points to help you get started:
- Facebook “pages to watch” can be your best friend for scanning your competition and monitoring their activities.
- Observe the frequency of content posted (blogs, social media updates) on all platforms.
- Check the number of reviews they have on google local listing or possibly on various business directories (for example, refer to yelp for restaurants)
- Analyze the type of content they are publishing on their website and blog. Sign up for their newsletter and digital content. This will help you brainstorm the right marketing strategy for your startup.
Another simple method to snoop on in your competitors is competitor keyword search. Competitor keywords are the keywords your competitors are targeting to achieve search engine rankings. You can do so by looking at the page title of their posts and finding for keywords under h1, h2 and h3 tags. This can be a bit of a challenge for small business owners who are new to this concept. I recommend doing your own research before embarking on the ‘keyword snooping’ step.
2. Start with Google My Business
Majority of internet users who perform local searches are on mobile. As per a recent report – 60% of searches today are completed via mobile. And guess what, on top of every localized search is Google My Business. You can even take advantage of the Google Reserve opportunity. Watch this 15 second clip to see how Google reserve can work for your business.
Another benefit of google my business is the placement of Google My Business’ Listing when someone searches for your business name. Consider this, when an internet user searches your brand name on google, the google my business listing for business shows up on the left-hand side as the first result. To capture the top of Google local listings, fill all the relevant information in the “google my business” page and optimize it so that the business’s link is picked for the relevant keywords.
3. Time to activate social media accounts
If you are following the steps along, you should have a list of applicable social media accounts from scanning competitors. Register on the relevant ones and build a content strategy. My advice is not to pick more than two social media platforms as it can get overwhelming to manage multiple social media profiles without help. To ensure content is posted regularly on all platform, use any of the social media content scheduling tools to schedule the content for a week or month. Please note – content scheduling depends on the demand of your social media page. For instance, Hootsuite and Buffer are two of the good solutions to use.
4. Find the right discussion platforms
You have the Google my business listing, social media accounts and a website (I am assuming you already had a website) and now is the time to promote exponentially. A new social media profile or a new blog without traffic can dissuade any small business owner from spending time and money on their web presence. As a result, grow your brand presence on the web by:
- Finding discussion threads where communication related to your business is activated. Platforms could include channels on YouTube, pages on Facebook, relevant business categories on Quora, pages on LinkedIn or individual influences on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Transform from a passive user to an active user by participating in discussions. As your social media profile grows, the popularity of your website should evolve.
The initial objective should be to build trust between web users within your industry and your brand. Once you built credibility by participating in relevant discussions and being actively engaged, your brand’s followers will automatically increase on the internet.
5. Participate in guest blogging
Guest blogging helps drive a substantial amount of traffic to your website. Find the relevant blogs in your industry by typing: ‘keyword’ + ‘write for us’ or ‘keyword’ + ‘guest post’ on google.
Replace keyword with relevant searches for your industry. For example, if you run a cosmetic store, you can find guest blogs which accept blogs in the cosmetic industry space by searching: Cosmetic industry+ write for us or Cosmetic industry+ guest blog.
The internet is bursting with opportunities. For instance, using resources like Ahrefs will provide website ranking and domain authority for any URL. This will help you filter high ranking websites that have a “write for us” section. As a result, you can create a professional email template and pitch relevant topics! It’s that easy.
6. Align offline presence with the online presence
The first step is to showcase the online presence of your business on every offline presence you might have. To start with, the visiting card of the business must have social media accounts shown on it. That’s the fundamental first step. How we take it to the next level depends on your creativity and how you can use both the branding (online and offline) to complement each other. Start by giving offers, freebies, discounts, coupons exclusively on your social media platform. To promote them you can use the offline presence to route people to the online presence, for instance. The most significant benefit of such strategy is the potential of the superior offerings going viral. Offering a hot deal is bound to be shared by your target market and will attract new revenue.
Don’t forget to encourage visitors to rate you online, possibly offer a Starbucks gift card for every positive review? It is as important to cater to the negative reviews by communicating to the grievance of those who did not find your service satisfactory, as well. Word spreads faster than fire online. Keep a check on the online reputation of your business by closely interacting with everyone.
7. Register on business directories and coupon websites:
One of the most organic methods to gain online exposure is to register your services or products on directories and coupon websites, like Honey. Majority of these websites have a high ranking on Google and a plethora of web traffic. Once you obtain lead details of potential customers, nurture them by providing additional offers and rout them to your social media platforms. Registering on an all in one solution software and offering online booking will boost your business.
Wrapping it up
In conclusion, small businesses do not need a complicated or costly digital marketing strategy. By following these simple steps, they can easily promote their brand and develop a strategy for success.
For instance, understanding customer demand, scanning for upcoming trends and analyzing your competition can result in evolution for your startup.
This is a guest post by Jasmeet- founder of Lessons at Startup.