Digital Marketing Basics for Local Businesses
When it comes to promoting your local business online, there are certain fundamental tasks that must be at the heart of your digital marketing efforts. This article provides an elementary blueprint for digital marketing, tailored for startups and businesses that are just beginning to weave digital marketing into their larger promotional strategy.
Here are three vital factors to remember while devising a digital marketing strategy:
The components of your campaign should be low-risk. This encompasses a competitive price tag and a high probability of success. For instance, setting up a website, launching an SEO or PPC campaign, etc.
The elements of your campaign should be scalable - they should have the capacity to grow in tandem with your business.
You should have the ability to terminate any segment of your campaign with ease. This ensures you won't be trapped in long-term contracts for strategies that aren't yielding results.
Your marketing endeavors should be trackable. This will enable you to calculate your return on investment (ROI).
A successful digital marketing plan is cost-effective, adaptable to accommodate business growth, performance-trackable, and easy to exit if necessary. It's crucial that you get this right - an effective marketing strategy can make or break a business in its first two years.
Low risk, high ROI digital marketing plan
A website is non-negotiable. If you already have one, it might require a redesign to make it mobile-friendly, more informative and aesthetically pleasing compared to competitors' sites. Shop around for designers; talk with their clients; assess their portfolios; understand their pricing system. Rates vary enormously between firms and pricier does not always mean superior. A simple 20-page website that doesn't require complex programming should cost less than $3,000. Your designer also needs to be reliable and trustworthy - a website is an essential component of your digital marketing plan, and you cannot afford for it to fail.
Once you've chosen your designer, start looking for an SEO company. Many businesses wait until their website design is finished before they do this - that's a mistake. Your SEO company will make sure your new website is SEO-friendly from the get-go. If it's not, you could end up wasting time and money on a site that search engines can't properly index. Be wary of design firms that claim to be SEO experts - if they aren't prioritizing SEO services at the top of their list, they probably aren't as proficient as they claim.
Be thorough when selecting an SEO company. Unfortunately, most are either underqualified or disreputable - only about one in ten professionals have the skills necessary to do a good job. Speak with clients; ask for examples of how they've improved search rankings; get technical with your queries; don't just settle for sales spiel - make sure you're hiring competence. The rewards will be worth the effort - mastering SEO is an essential part of any digital marketing strategy because it generally offers the highest ROI compared to other components. It may take several months for a new website or business to see results, but patience pays off.
Next on your list should be setting up a PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Campaign using Google AdWords or a similar service. These campaigns can funnel sizeable business towards your company but can also quickly drain resources if not managed correctly, which is why we recommend hiring a professional. PPC serves two main purposes: (1) it drives immediate business, and (2) it enables you to dictate growth while slower methods like SEO take effect.
SEO and PPC should be your primary focus in digital marketing. If managed correctly, your business will thrive. Master these two solutions before moving on to other tasks.
Higher Risk Digital Marketing Tasks
Once you have a handle on organic search and PPC, you can explore other avenues of digital marketing such as Social Media, ReTargeting, Display Advertising (Banner ads), and Blogging. All of these elements have the potential to yield profit.
Blogging/Content Marketing - Having a blog increases the scope of your website. The more content you have, the more people can find you online. It also helps establish your authority in your field. High-quality content is crucial - it's even more beneficial if the business owner or key employees write it themselves. If outsourcing is necessary, make sure it's done by a company that can generate valuable content for your visitors.
Social Media - Few businesses successfully manage social media campaigns despite its popularity. While powerful in certain situations, it's not always a viable option for everyone. For instance, if a pipe burst in someone's basement and they need immediate help, they're likely going to Google plumbers nearby rather than searching social media platforms for one that they follow. However, social media does offer advantages like facilitating communication with your customers and encouraging happy clients to refer others to your company online. We recommend either hiring a high-end agency or managing social media in-house but remember that being active is crucial (at least two posts per month).
ReTargeting works well for complex sales cycles or larger companies with established brands but isn't usually ideal for small or new businesses - PPC usually offers higher ROI for them initially but retargeting can be implemented once growth beyond PPC is desired.
Display Advertising - Historically, banner ads based on CPM (Cost Per Mille) have performed poorly and aren't the best starting point. While larger companies tend to do better with these than small, new businesses, if you're interested in this type of advertising, we recommend Google AdWords where you pay per click instead of per thousand impressions. Also, make sure your campaign is trackable and you're monitoring the ROI for each display network you're using.
These are the fundamental elements of a digital marketing strategy. While there are many other options available, we advise focusing on mastering proven techniques before venturing into the unknown. Once you've mastered these components, you'll have a clearer idea of what works and what doesn't.
If you're yet to start your digital marketing journey, SharpNet Solutions is here to help.