Digital Marketing for Small Businesses

Digital Marketing for small business can be a cost effective and accountable way for the owner of a company to target a specific audience.

My name is Pat Hughes and I run a digital marketing agency that assists small businesses to get found online

Digital marketing is a much bandied around term these days but what are the core subjects behind it.

Digital Marketing for Small Buisness

Essentially, digital marketing for small business can be broken down into the following five areas:

1. Web design, (I use WordPress to design websites for my clients.)
2. SEO – search engine optimisation to improve the visibility of your company in the search engine results.
3. Social Media marketing.
4. Online advertising using Google AdWords and Facebook Ads.
5. Email advertising to encourage customer loyalty to your brand and website.

Let’s take a look at the first of these.

Web Design

The foundation of any digital marketing for small business strategy is to ensure there is a website in place to promote the business.

Creating a website was, in the past, quite a tricky procedure. Invariably it would mean that you would have to hardcode a website using a markup language such as HTML.

The option of creating your own website in this way still exists, however, there are now also a range of standalone software platforms that will also get the job done for you.

The most popular of these is a CMS (content management system) called WordPress.

If you choose to use a WordPress site for your business, then you won’t be alone.
26% of the World’s websites run on this platform (source https://w3techs.com/ )

The reason for the widespread adoption of WordPress is its unrivaled functionality and user- friendliness.

In order to build a WordPress website, you have to understand themes and plugins.

A theme determines the look or the graphical interface of a WordPress website. For example, my website is built on  a theme called GeneratePress.

There are two versions of this theme, one free and one paid for. I chose the paid for theme as it gives you more options in terms of how the website will look and feel

In addition to the theme, I have installed on the backend of the site a series of plugins that give the site it’s functionality.

For example, my social media channels were created using a plugin called Lightweight Social Icons. This plugin has allowed me to add my social media icons to the site without the need for any coding.

The next pillar you need to put in place for digital marketing for small business is to ensure your company is found by the search engines. This is a process known as search engine optimisation

Although there are a number of search engines available, the most important one to optimise your website for is Google as can be seen from the figures below.
Search Engine Market Share Worldwide – February 2018

Google 91.63%
Bing 2.71%
Yahoo! 1.94%

Source
http://gs.statcounter.com/search-engine-market-share

So what does it mean to have your website SEO ready in 2018

Here are some of the key strategies you should have in place:

  • Ensure you have carried comprehensive keyword research for the words your audience will target. The best way to do this is to use the Google Keyword Planner and check on search volume for keywords and phrases.
  • Have a link strategy in place with relevant companies in your industry. Google likes to see links from relevant companies because that tells it your site has some authority within your business space.
  • Ensure your website is quick to load. The slower it is to load into a browser window, the greater the likelihood that the user will move away from the page.
  • Make your site mobile friendly. The best way to do this in the WordPress ecosystem is to ensure that the theme your using is mobile responsive. In other words, the dimensions of the site should adjust whether you are viewing it on a desktop, tablet or mobile device.

This should now be a given with any new WordPress theme you purchase and is certainly the case with Generatepress. This isn’t just a theoretical point either: more people are now viewing web content on their phones so you want them to have the best possible mobile experience.

Social Media Channels

Social Media channels work for your business on two levels.

Firstly they provide you with a way to engage with your users in a fun, exciting and informative way. These channels allow you to infuse your website with some personality and let users have additional background on the sort person or company you are. This can be very important in building trust between you and potential customers

Secondly, they also provide your customers with another way of finding your website through external linking.

Having said all this, social media should not be used just for the sake of using it. For example, some social media channels may not be suitable for specific businesses. Let’s say you’re an artist, then to you having a major presence on Pinterest or Instagram may be of greater benefit than say Facebook.

However, all social media channels come with their own benefits:

  • Facebook has a huge user base,
  • YouTube is great if video is important for your business,
  • Instagram should be used if you need to display images,
  • Google+ is important not only as a social media channel but also for gaining your company a greater prominence in the search results pages.

As with anything else in digital marketing, it is important to know you are getting results.
There are a variety of ways you can measure the effectiveness of your social media activity. For example, each platform has its own analytics tracking software and there are also apps such as Buffer and Hootsuite that allow you to schedule your messaging at a time that best suits your customers.

Email marketing

Email marketing is considered by some to be old school when considering digital strategy. But there can be no denying it’s effectiveness at attracting and converting users into paying customers.

The spend on it is also phenomenal as the following statistics testify:
Email marketing spending in the United States is envisaged to grow from 2.07 billion U.S. dollars in 2014 to 3.07 billion U.S. dollars in 2019. (Statista)
By the end of 2018, worldwide mobile email users are expected to total over 2.2 billion. (Radicati)

So long as the email data is collected correctly (there a number of data protection rules you must adhere to when acquiring email addresses) it has shown to be of the best tools for individually targeting and converting users into customers .

Online advertising – Google AdWords and Facebook Ads

Where many of the of the digital marketing techniques above are free, they can prove to be a more difficult way of getting in front of the eyeballs of potential customers online.

An alternative approach is to pay for the traffic to reach your site. With Google AdWords you can, as an advertiser, allocate a budget towards keywords that you feel your audience are using to find your website.

This system can be very effective at driving customers to your offer. However, it is important to choose high converting, relevant keywords as well as writing convincing ads for your potential customers.

It is important to execute all elements of this Google AdWords correctly as it is easy to lose money very quickly as advertisers are charged each time an ad is clicked.
Google generates 90% of its income from AdWords. This includes both monies from its search and display networks.

So when looking at digital marketing for small business some or all of the above areas should form part of your overall strategy. Many can work in a stand alone capacity but invariably it is better to use them as part of an overall, cohesive digital marketing campaign.

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