Creating a DIY Digital Marketing Plan for Your Small Business
By Monica Montesa December 12, 2014
As a small business owner, you want to make sure you’re in the best position to attract new customers. One of the best ways to do so?
By kickstarting a digital marketing plan.
Online marketing is more than just signing up for Facebook and creating a website (although those are two important aspects of it!). It’s also a great way to promote your business without breaking the bank (i.e. no more roadside billboards) and can be easily measured.
Already having palpitations over the thought of starting a digital marketing plan? Fortunately, it’s less complicated than you think. Here’s a simple guide to help you get started:
Define your goals
Before you can begin shaping your digital marketing plan, you must first determine your end business goal if you haven’t already. With a goal to work towards, it’ll be easier to determine if a certain effort is worth investing time and money into. Will X help you get closer to your goal? If the answer is ‘no,’ you may need to consider an alternative plan.
A clear goal also gives you a benchmark to measure your success against, which makes it easier to track your progress. If you find that you aren’t making significant progress towards your goal, you’ll know right away that there are areas in need of improvement.
A personal trainer, for example, might set the following achievable goal: “I want to obtain 20 new clients from my website by the end of the year.”
Simply creating a new goal will spark a few follow up questions:
- How can I optimize my website to increase conversions?
- How can I expand my reach online?
- How can I nurture prospective customers and turn them into happy clients?
In this way, your goal becomes the beacon for every online marketing effort moving forward.
Identify your target audience
Before you can begin digitally communicating with customers and prospects, take some time to identify your target audience — i.e. the type of people who would benefit the most from your product or service. Hubspot uses buyer personas to identify your target audience to better visualize who your ideal customers are.
For example, if you own a local children’s bookstore, you might have two target audiences: Children who will read your books and adults who will buy them.
To help you get the wheels turning, here are some questions you can ask yourself to develop your target audience(s):
- What are their demographics?
- What are their goals?
- Who influences their purchases?
- How do they want to interact with your company (or competitors)?
- What do they want from you? What problem do you solve for them?
Once you know who you’re talking to, it’ll be easier to determine the best ways to communicate with them.
Create your plan
Websites are to brands like hives are to bees. They’re the central hub and source of information about your business.Websites are to brands like hives are to bees. Click To Tweet
This is a must-have for any business, and we can’t emphasize that enough. Whether you’re starting from scratch or simply updating your website, be sure to keep the following in mind:
Your website design should be easy to use and have a color scheme that is consistent with your branding and easy on the eyes of your visitors.
Throughout each page of your website, include searchable keywords. Keywords appease the search engine gods, making it possible for people to discover your business online.
Your homepage should clearly outline what your business is all about, and make it easy for visitors to contact you. Update content regularly to ensure it’s current and accurate.
Mobile devices account for 77 percent of all Internet users in the US, so your website should be mobile-friendly. There’s nothing more frustrating than visiting a website that cuts off the screen.
Want an easy way to stay connected with customers and prospects who visit your store or your website? Email is the way to go. Not only is it 40 times better at getting new customers than Facebook and Twitter, email can be easily measured and is known to deliver high returns.
Not sure if you have the time to dedicate to a robust email campaign?
With the help of an email service provider, you can automate your email campaigns so that communication is a piece of cake. Simply create a sign up form on your website to collect subscribers and follow up with awesome email content.
To reach customers offline, make sure you always have access to a sign up form whether you’re at a conference or selling your products face-to-face. To do this, use a tablet or smartphone with a mobile email sign up form, or go old school with a “pen and paper” form!
Content for your email campaign can include product updates (e.g. featured or discounted items), upcoming sales, coupons, and anything else you think your customers will want.
If you’re worried about being able to write the perfect content for your emails check out this “What to Write Guide“ which includes free email content templates to help you get started!
Maintaining an active presence on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter is a great way to engage with customers and raise brand awareness among prospects at low cost.
While it’s important for any small business owner to set realistic goals, (it can take years before acquiring 5,000 “Likes” or followers), remember that the more effort you put into engaging your social followers, the more you’ll reap as a result.
Contests, helpful tips, and discount codes are all great ways to encourage followers to interact with your business on social media. To further expand your reach, you might want to consider paid advertising and promoted posts on platforms that are most relevant to your brand.
As you set up your social media accounts, don’t forget to set up your online business listings (e.g. Google+, Bing, Yelp) as well. This will bring more credibility to your company and provide people with an alternative way to learn more about your small business.
On all platforms, however, be sure to also manage customer feedback — especially the negative kind. This is crucial to maintaining your brand’s reputation, as well as providing your customers with the personal interaction they desire.
Trust is essential to sustaining healthy relationships — and the relationship between a consumer and a brand is no exception.
Years ago, marketing was a one-way street. Brands told consumers what to buy and why to buy it. Today, consumers hold the power and determine where a particular brand fits into their individual lives. And a big part of that decision is based on trust.
While social media is a great place to breathe life into your brand and showcase your trustworthiness, you need to focus on other ways you can build relationships with your customers — such as your company blog.
By creating content that focuses on helping your customers improve their lives (while also remaining relevant to your brand and industry), you can work towards creating a trustworthy brand. As you develop a deeper connection with your audience, it’ll show that you want to do more than make a sale — you value those who purchase from you and remain loyal to your brand.
Not sure if you can handle the challenge of writing for your company blog? Here are some tips to help you get started.
Before firing up Microsoft Word, take some time to create an editorial publishing calendar. Why? Because coming up with something to write about three to five times a week is a lot harder to do than you think, especially when you’re brainstorming on the spot.
With an editorial calendar that covers at least three months of content, you’ll give yourself an opportunity to work ahead of time and establish a regular publishing cadence (which your readers will love and appreciate). It also prevents you from the occasional slip-up when you get caught up in other facets of your business and forget all about creating content.
As you’re planning, be sure to note upcoming company or local events, webinars, holidays, and any other timely event that’s relevant to your business. In addition to scheduling ideas for your blog, you might also want to include content for social platforms, emails, and newsletters.
We’ve overviewed a lot of great ways to boost your digital marketing plan, but how will you know if it’s truly influencing business growth?
To determine the ROI of your digital marketing efforts, set up analytics tracking to measure the effectiveness of your website, social presence, and general content. Pick a day each month to review your stats (add a calendar reminder if you must!). These statistics will be the vital signs for measuring the health of your digital marketing strategy.
Once you have your reports, use them to obtain insights on the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing efforts. You might notice underperforming areas that could use improvement, or successful tactics that you should continue to support.
Remember, no tactic is ever finished — there will always be ways to improve and continue nurturing your online business relationships!
What are some of the ways you’ve adopted a digital marketing plan? Share them with us in the comments!
Virginia Nicols12/24/2014 3:41 pm
Something like 60% of accountants don’t have a business marketing plan, much less a social media marketing plan. This is a good overview! I find that step 2 is often skipped over — to the detriment of the whole effort. So we are putting together more tools to help business owners get that step right before they move on to setting up the website, etc.