15 Digital Marketing Tips for Your Small Business
If you’re an entrepreneur marketing your business online, you’ve probably already read a lot of the same basic advice, like posting regularly on social media for best results. And you’ve probably at least dipped a toe in ad tech options, such as Facebook Ads.
You’d like to do better with digital marketing, but you’re already wearing a lot of hats. Hiring an expert may not be an option. With that in mind, here are the latest digital marketing tips directly from marketing professionals who see them in action, and from the small businesses who are using them.
15 digital marketing tips to know
One overarching theme that emerges from the experts is the importance of knowing your customers – where they hang out online, what they care about, what their pain points are, and what kind of humor they find funny. That knowledge can inform many of your other marketing choices.
And remember, some of this marketing work can be set up on your morning commute. Many digital marketing tasks can be managed on your mobile device using apps.
1. Set up Google’s Search Console.
Digital marketer Raj Shah recommends Search Console, one of Google’s suites of business tools, because it’s free and insightful. Other pluses include the fact that it tells you keyword opportunities, if there have been any hacks to your website, or if your site has been penalized for not being mobile-friendly. “Sign up for Search Console and begin to peek in there every so often, even if you’re not an SEO expert,” Shah said. “It’ll get you to start thinking more about your customers’ interactions on Google.”
2. Double-and-triple-dip with your content.
“If you spend hours on a beautiful infographic and post it once, you’re missing out on easy ways to increase your reach,” said Kelly Miller, communications lead at Women Who Code. “Send it to your email list, post to all your social channels, give it a home on your website and then repeat in a week. If you feel a little spammy, you’re doing it right because only portions of your audiences will see the content each time.”
3. Yes, you should use video.
Think about your daily social media browsing experience. Do you pause the scroll to watch a captioned video, even if you don’t have the sound turned on? Chances are you do, and so do others. Tiger Fitness saw dramatic results after its viral video marketing campaign, seeing a 60% returning customer rate, which is triple the industry norm.
Video marketing can take many forms: how-tos on YouTube, Instagram’s IGTV (which can show videos up to an hour in length to your followers) and Facebook Live. Also consider animated videos to explain your product or service. Companies with a compelling story (and the means) can find new customers, build brand awareness and appeal to emotions by creating the “movie trailer” of your brand, like this one by Two Blind Brothers. Video can be costly to do well, but a quick and free way to use it is ephemeral video like Instagram Stories, where you can give behind-the-scenes glimpses to followers.
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4. Give in order to get.
Consider offering something of value using Facebook Ads to grow your customer base. Andrew Schutt of the agency Elevated Web Marketing worked with a chiropractic clinic to offer a free chiropractic adjustment, which resulted in 21 new leads in seven days. Schutt said this worked because people who saw the ad felt like they were missing out if they didn’t take action.
5. Zero in when they’re ready to buy.
John Lincoln, CEO of the digital marketing agency Ignite Visibility, recommends a strategy he believes far too many people are not using. In Google’s audience manager, or the Adwords interface, target people by “custom intent.” This identifies people who are about to make a purchase. In the example of buying a car, it’s someone who has gone from visiting car buying websites to searching for buying-related terms. You can make the search more specific with location and demographic information.
6. Protect data.
Make sure your website complies with all current regulations. That includes complying with the EU’s GDPR regulations and new data privacy regulations in California. “Most business people may think the GDPR regulations apply only in and to the EU members,” said Andy Abramson, CEO of the marketing communications agency Comunicano. “They apply to any organization or business anywhere collecting and sharing data from EU citizens.”
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7. Become an information leader.
Blog, be a guest blogger, share expert information and build trust. This is typically something a small business can do while a large one may be too busy for it. “Customers aren’t always ready to purchase, and every potential customer goes through a very specific process before they decide to purchase a product or service from a particular brand,” said Mike Sims, founder of the app development company ThinkLions. “When they begin searching for information to begin their customer process, the business that provides them with that information is often able to connect with them most effectively.”
8. Embrace artificial intelligence.
Everyone is talking about AI for digital marketing, which might sound daunting, but it really means doing things like optimizing websites for now-household names Alexa and Siri. “AI is revolutionizing the digital marketing space and playing an increasingly crucial role in marketing processes,” said Sarah Hancock, a content marketing manager for Best Company. “It can streamline workflows, enhance strategies and expand understanding of target consumers.” Hancock recommends starting with this list of AI optimization tools. One way to create exactly the content customers are looking for is by using the simple search function on Answer the Public, which gives you all searches related to your keyword. According to content marketing manager Izaak Crook, it also makes your site more AI-friendly when you use it to create content.
9. Let the bots work for you.
Facebook Messenger Chat Bots, assistants that respond to customers automatically, are also making waves in digital marketing. “The Facebook Messenger platform with Chat Bots is the next big thing. It’s already happening,” said Kevin Reynolds, founder of Handmaid Cleaning, which has seen 89-100% open rates with click-through from 40-80%. “Chat Bots are changing the game. The Chat Bot on Messenger is working for us around the clock, booking consults, tagging subscribers and sealing deals while we eat, sleep and travel. We feel like we should pay it or feed it.”
10. Follow those visitors.
11. Serve a “customer content cocktail.”
Content marketing specialist Chad Zollinger, also with Best Company, said small businesses are always going to be at a disadvantage to large companies when it comes to technology. But that’s not so with information and content. “As a small business, you are closer to your customers than any big business can be. You absolutely need to learn your specific customer journey as it applies to your brand,” he said. “Use that understanding to create what I like to call a ‘customer content cocktail’ tailored exactly to your audience (3 story-driven videos + 10 long-form articles + 1 eBook = a great customer content cocktail).”
12. Help the locals find you.
If your business has a bricks and mortar location, work on your local SEO by claiming your Google My Business profile. It’s free and it will land your business on maps, which can bring in more foot traffic and phone calls. Google shows that local searches lead 50 percent of mobile users to visit stores. That recommendation comes from “digital marketing geek” Jonathan Alonso, who said that when signing up, “Make sure to fill out all of the questions and add relevant photos to all of the categories. You then want to build relevance on your website and build directory listings that can establish even more trust and relevancy with Google.”
13. Be the answer to the question they’re asking.
Answer Quora questions for queries relevant to your business for new backlinks, to attract relevant traffic to your website, and to establish an authentic brand presence for free. “People appreciate answers that have images and specific advice that references their question,” said Julia Enthoven, who answers on Quora representing her company Kapwing. “For our video editing website, my answers to niche video-related Quora questions get more than 10,000 views per month. Because I link to Kapwing as a helpful resource, the answers refer more than 3,000 high-quality clicks per month to our website. Now that I’ve established some credibility by answering questions on Quora, my answers receive more views and upvotes. The answers have helped us establish domain authority and rank higher on organic searches.”
14. Ask and you shall receive.
Online surveys can be created for free and then shared on your social networks. They can not only add to your customer database with new email addresses, but you can use them to get to know the people in your target market better, said Fiona Adler, founder of the productivity tool Actioned.com.
15. Broadcast your business.
Appear as a guest on podcasts aligned with your target market. Business coach Christine McAlister has seen great success this way. “Doing so has resulted in a doubling of my email list size and revenue, as well as connections to high-level influencers who are now championing my business as well.”