For small businesses with limited resources, allocating time and money to digital marketing can be costly. Without basic knowledge and data from the many different components of digital marketing, companies can be throwing thousands of dollars down the drain. As a small or medium-sized business owner, how do you make digital marketing work for your business? Our goal for this article is to summarize it all into digestible elements and point you in the right direction if you’re seeking more information.
Building a foundation:
Most small businesses primarily employ SEM such as Google AdWords or AdRoll as an initial investment into the digital marketing world. This isn’t a totally bad idea but jumping straight into any campaign no matter what the platform can lead to less than desirable results in the long run without doing a little bit of research first. Here are the 5 things you should take a look at before embarking on any digital marketing campaign:

  • Demographic Research: Who are your customers? It doesn’t make sense to cater your ads or content to a target market that are not interested in your product. The best place to look is in your sales data. Who exactly are buying your products and where are they located? What’s the age range of customers that visit your brick and mortar? When you’re creating small talk with them, what do you usually talk about? Knowing some of these items can help you create multiple persona profiles (we’ll link it here once we write it up) and help create framework for all of the content that you push out.
  • Narrow Your Digital Channel: The biggest mistake that a lot of companies make is trying to be on ALL of the social media and digital advertising channels. I’ve seen companies with social media icons on their website that led to empty profiles with very little to no content. Not only are you straining your social media specialist thin (whether it is you or an employee), you’re also creating an image of neglect in the eyes of a digital visitor. With many search engine companies prioritizing user experience, it is important to stay proactive in preventing any negative perceptions or experience of your brand. After performing a demographic research, you can usually narrow down what channels your target market employ.
  • Create a Blog: Content is now king and all search engines now have search algorithms that reflect it. Since you and your employees know your customers best, it would be best to write articles or create posts that would cater towards your target demographic. This doesn’t mean you should only post a bunch of content that showcase products. Creating a variety of content that you think your target demographic would either be entertained by, empowered, or educate is important in driving traffic to your site and making your content relevant for your brand. Search engine companies now link brands to keywords organically which makes creating relevant content more important than ever.
  • Fix your code: Out of all the investments you can make, a website audit is probably the best bang for your buck investment you can make. Most companies offer this for free so this can be considered a low-risk investment. The results will tell you exactly what is wrong with your site in terms of your code and give you a list of items that need to be fixed. These items are what search bots scan over and determine where your site should be placed in a search engine results page. If there are a lot of errors, then your site will be ranked a lot lower since the bots are predicting a negative user experience.

Don’t just take my word for it. Here is a great article from Sara Flick about “The 7 Bad Digital Marketing Habits” and things you should try your best not to do. Here is another great article about the best SEM practices that can take your digital marketing campaign to the next level which is written by Josh Dreller, “Re-Examining the Top 10 Paid Search Practices“. To help you or your employee manage your social media campaigns better, here is a checklist from the people over at Webpage Magazine.

While SEM is great, it’s never a good idea to pour all of your resources into it without building a digital marketing foundation first. Creating a blog, shoring up your HTML code, and doing your demographic research can set up your digital marketing efforts for success in the long run. What most companies find is if these things are set up before a marketing campaign is launched, the foundation fills in the gaps and make your marketing efforts more holistic. Tell us what you think and shoot your questions below. We would love to hear your thoughts!