Your Complete Guide To Digital Marketing Strategies for Small Business

June 15, 2017 by in category Online Marketing tagged as , , , with 0 and 3
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In this modern era of business, undoubtedly a big part of your marketing strategy is digital. Both businesses and customers are almost always online nowadays, so reaching them online is definitely the most viable way. We can also easily observe customer’s behavior to see where they spend the most time online.

However, the thing about digital marketing is that it evolves faster than ever. So, following all the current trends and finding out the working methods can quickly become overwhelming. Agility is obviously the key requirement of the modern digital marketing, and achieving it is easier said than done.
So, this guide will help digital marketers to build their teams and ultimately, grow their businesses. We will share some of the working strategies, and how to fine-tune them to fit your business’ needs.

Let us begin with a crash course of the digital marketing concept.

What is Digital Marketing Strategy?

First things first, what actually is a strategy? It is a word we are all familiar with, yet a lot of us have a hard time defining the word ‘strategy’. Putting it in the simplest terms, a strategy is doing a different thing than your competitors, with the end goal to achieve more than your competition.

With that being said, we can define digital marketing strategy as unique ways to achieve our goals using digital and especially online marketing. Usually, an overarching strategy is divided into smaller action plans, which we often call a ‘campaign’.

For example, we can have a digital marketing campaign to promote our best content on Twitter for several months. We can also have another campaign to optimize the SERP of our website through SEO. Both of those campaigns are parts of our working digital marketing strategy.

So, before we delve further to marketing tools that can be used as campaigns, let us discuss the necessary steps to build a working digital marketing strategy.

Step-By-Step: Digital Marketing Strategy That Works

1. Know Your Customers

Understanding your demographic is the first step in any marketing strategy, offline and online. Here, you should find out who your ideal customer is by researching and interviewing your target audience. You should base this on real demographic data whenever possible, and avoid assumptions. Assumptions can be dangerous in the long run, as you won’t be able to make a clear direction for your marketing strategy.

Ideally, besides your customers, your research pool should also involve prospects and people outside your database that can be defined as a target audience. This way, you can keep your demographic research objective.

In marketing, we often define this step as finding our buyer persona. Here is a comprehensive guide to developing and using buyer personas.

2. Identify Your Goals and How To Measure Your Progress

Your marketing goals should always align with the fundamental goals of the business itself. For example, if the business’ goal is to achieve growth in revenue of 15%, your aligning marketing goal is to generate more leads, say by 50%. There are many channels you can use to achieve that lead generation, and we will discuss them further below.
Whatever your big and smaller goals are, you will need to know how to measure them. How you can measure your digital strategy’s progress will be different, determined by many factors such as your business model and goals. This guide might be a good place to start.
Nevertheless, it is vital to ensure you are able to measure your progress, as having the right metrics can help you adjust your strategy whenever necessary.

3. Evaluate Available Channels and Assets

In digital marketing, there are numerous channels you can use, which can quickly be overwhelming. So, to make things easier, let us focus on the big picture and divide the channels and assets into three big groups:

Paid Channels
The name ‘paid channels’ is pretty self-explanatory, referring to any channel that you spend money on to gain attention. So, this can include paid social media posts, advertorial, native advertising, sponsored posts, Google AdWords, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and many more.

Earned Channels
As the name suggests, earned channels are the exposure you’ve earned before. This can come in the form of content you have distributed on other websites (guest posts), the fruits of your PR work, customer reviews, and many more. So, earned channels or media are the recognition of your business. Shared content is the easiest and more popular way to get earned media.

Owned Channels
This one refers to assets your business owns. This can be your social media accounts, websites, content, and many more. Obviously, you will have more control on this media over the other two.
After we have understood the concept of your assets and channels, let us discuss specific tactics for some assets, and how to incorporate them into your overall strategy.

4. Utilizing Marketing Channels and Assets

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is still the most effective inbound marketing available. We already covered an in-depth discussion for SEO strategy, so we won’t repeat ourself here. Instead, you can refer to our SEO guide here (link to the previous article).
SEO is undoubtedly a long-term strategy that will require both time and effort. Ideally, you should run your SEO campaign side-by-side with your overall digital marketing strategy on a long-term basis.

However, there are some assets and channels you can incorporate to help the effectiveness of your SEO campaign. Here are a few:

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Paid Search

While with SEO our goal is to get organic page ranks, search engines also have paid search options available. So, when we type a certain keyword on the search engine, the paid search ad will appear on top. Paid search is often called CPC (Cost-Per-Click) or PPC (Pay-Per-Click) listings. These acronyms come from the way we are charged for this ad, where we will pay based on the number of clicks for the ad.

Google AdWords

With Google being the undisputed leader of search engines, our SEM priority should be Google’s own paid search program, dubbed the Google AdWords. Using Google AdWords might be overwhelming for beginners. However, this infographic will help you understand the AdWords auction better.
However, there are several things you should consider before you start using Google AdWords.

1. Be patient and steady. Don’t quit too early when you lose money on Adwords. Yet, you also shouldn’t spend too fast.

2. Set a fixed budget and stick with it. It can be as little as $30, a bare minimum to get started.

3. Keep it simple and stick to your goals.

A detailed Google AdWords guide by the marketing guru Neil Patel will definitely be a nice place to start.

Search VS Display Ads

In SEM, whether it’s Google Adwords or Bing Ads or any others, there are generally two different forms of paid ads: Search and Display. We often understood display ads as ‘banners’, and indeed it is one of the most popular forms of display advertising.

The thing is, both forms target users in very different scenarios, and measuring the effectiveness of both when you run them simultaneously can be really difficult. So, here comes the next questions: which one you should use? Will you be better off with using both?

The answer will vary with different business models and different marketing strategies. However, the best advice you can have is to choose one method with the best ROI depending on your available budget.

Social Media Marketing

In this era where everyone is lurking on social media every day, we can’t neglect the importance of social media marketing. Social media will especially benefit B2C businesses. However, that’s not saying it’s not a viable B2B digital marketing strategy, as we have discussed. (link to the B2B social media marketing article).
As with the SEO discussion above, the best way to achieve success in social media marketing is to gain organic following and engagements. However, there are also paid channels you can utilize, such as:

Facebook Advertising

Facebook might not be as popular as it was half a decade ago or so. Yet, Facebook advertising is still one of the most effective ways to generate leads through social media. There are countless success stories available, showing the effectiveness of this channel.
Facebook advertising is extremely simple to use, highly customizable, and the best thing: you can target the perfect audience out of Facebook’s 1.6 billion monthly users.

LinkedIn Sponsored InMail Ad

LinkedIn is the definite social media darling for B2B businesses. So, maximizing reach on LinkedIn should be an integral part of your B2B social media marketing strategy. The Linkedin sponsored InMail Ad works pretty similar to Facebook advertising and is also very easy to use.

How to maximize your Linkedin Sponsored InMail ad campaign? You can find some answers here.

Local Search Marketing: Maximize Google My Business

For brick-and-mortar businesses, local SEO is definitely the one to focus on. Thankfully, Google has recently implemented a very nice feature to maximize local exposure, dubbed Google My Business. In the past, we have discussed the importance to maintain consistency on your local SEO efforts, and Google My Business will also help you on that front.
This interactive guide by Simply Business will help you get started with Google My Business.

Content Marketing

We have often heard that ‘content is king’ without truly understanding the concept behind it. Content is undoubtedly an essential part of any marketing and especially digital marketing. We cannot approach SEO without content, we cannot do social media marketing without content, and even when we do cold calling -the simplest form of marketing- we will still need content.
So, contrary to popular belief, content marketing is not simply generating great content consistently. Rather, it is how we use that content to achieve our digital marketing goal. So, every content you make should have a purpose, and ultimately a contribution to your goal.

Another thing to consider when doing content marketing is your distribution strategy. No matter how good your content is, it will be useless when nobody reads them. Using influencer(s) is currently the most popular (and very effective) content distribution strategy, so you should definitely try to find the right influencer that fits your business. Email marketing and Social media are also very popular (and affordable).

Influencer Marketing

We have discussed how important influencer marketing is nowadays, and so we will discuss it a bit deeper. There are definitely many benefits of using the right influencer to promote your content (and business in general). Yet, arguably the most important advantage is how influencers won’t be affected by AdBlockers.
With traditional outbound marketing not being as effective as before, influencer marketing might just be the most viable outbound strategy nowadays. Here is how you get started.

Video Content

With the rise of video streaming technology and especially the popularity of YouTube, video content is increasingly important as an essential part of online marketing. Contrary to popular belief, using video in your content can also improve your SEO, increasing the chance of being on Google’s first page by 53 times!
Make your own video channels and make them a part of your owned media. Video content is projected to claim more than 80% of total web traffic by 2019, so it’s definitely a good time to start.

Remarketing YouTube Videos

With YouTube Remarketing, you can show targeted ads to YouTube’s millions of viewers. With YouTube increasing in popularity especially for the younger demographics, we can expect YouTube Remarketing to be just as effective as Facebook ads in the very near future.
Creating a video content might take more time and effort, but it will definitely be worth it, especially for certain niches and industries.

Mobile-Focused Website

Mobile is definitely the future. Not only Google has updated its search ranking algorithm to prioritize mobile-friendly sites, but we can’t neglect the facts that more and more people are exclusively mobile nowadays.

A mobile-responsive design is definitely a must, and should be the first thing on your list if your website is not yet responsive. Loading speed is also a very important factor not only for SEO, but also for the fact that you will lose many users if your site loads slowly.

With the rise of Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page), you should also focus your content and websites to be AMP-friendly.

Bottom Line: Bring It Together

You’ve done your research, learning the essential channels and skill sets, and you’ve done your planning. Now, it’s time to bring it all together and plan your grand strategy. Think long-term, something like a year period is a good place to start.

Remember that having a great strategy will be pointless when the execution is bad. Work with one of the best SEO experts in Toronto to bring your website in front of your prospects.

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