8 Essentials of Digital Marketing Strategy for Small Business

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03/13/2017
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Why is marketing so important to your business? It is simple: success of your business depends on the right marketing strategy. Marketing can bring you potential customers, increase your sales, build a solid foundation for your company’s sustainable growth.

Digital marketing strategy employs various channels to promote a brand. Nowadays this includes TV, radio, internet, social media and other forms. Digital marketing is closely intertwined with internet marketing, but it has also developed a number of techniques that allow reaching a target audience even while offline.

Why is digital marketing so popular? Here are just a few benefits you get:

  • Targeting. Internet allows us to differentiate the user on a variety of parameters, it makes an impact more accurate.
  • Price. Overall digital advertising is cheaper than the usual media sort.
  • High ability to track the performance impact.

There are several components that are essential to your digital marketing strategy success. In this article, we will show how to use them to your advantage.

Website design is your calling card

Web design presents your site. It is the first thing users see that can easily enhance or ruin the first impression. Trends in web design change from time to time. So in order to stay relevant, try to keep up with them. Do not forget to invest in your website’s redesign at least once in two or three years.

Use interesting images, colors, typography and shapes. A visually attractive web design increases the value of a product to the user. Nowadays there are a great variety of out-of-the-box and custom designs for any website, so tap it for unique ideas and solutions.

To improve user experience, follow these guidelines:

  • Web design should reflect a website’s main theme. Use appropriate images, colors, styles and trends. Users need to understand what website is about just by looking at it, otherwise it will confuse them and may even cause a bounce rate increase.
  • Modern web design trends require flat and minimal interfaces. Use the simplicity of flat design to make the interface more intuitive for visitors. Flat design includes simple shapes, fonts and dynamic colors. It keeps users focused on your website’s information and products.
  • Choose fonts wisely. Try to reduce the number of fonts to a minimum, two will be enough. One for headings – it has to be unique, custom and needs to stand out, the other one for body text – it should be simple so it would not distract a user from relevant information.

All in all, the first encounter with your site can make or break user experience. So keep in mind those simple steps to take care of your website’s visual appeal.

SEO: the smart way

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a series of techniques to optimize your website for search engines. Success of your digital marketing plan depends on your site’s search engine ranking. In order to boost your position, take care of the following elements.

Keywords: hitting the sweet spot

Optimizing keywords is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of SEO. In order to improve your keyword efficiency, follow these simple suggestions:

  • Make sure keywords match your website’s content.
  • Study your competition. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses will give you an extra trump card.
  • Strike the right balance between head and long-tail words.
  • Experiment and learn from your own data. Sometimes you may come up with ideas and techniques no one else has devised yet.

Read also: How to Do Keyword Research for SEO

Content is king

Whatever your marketing strategy, content is crucial. So make sure it’s high quality, which translates into relevance and interactivity.

Today the secret of success lies in diversity, text content is considered “standard”. Users need to see and interact with rich content. Therefore, it is necessary to add images, video and infographics as additional elements.

The content of social networks will be given increasingly more weight in indexing. Google has already signed important agreements with Facebook and Twitter, so when you look for some news reports in the search engine, you will probably run into a couple of tweets, among other search results. That means your posts on social networks will gain you value in the ranking.

Digital assistants: SEO’s tomorrow

Digital assistants will change our understanding of search requests. Modern search engines are getting more and more requests from the so-called digital assistants. Siri, Cortana, Google Now – after all, we are all familiar with these names. Voice requests are significantly different from text requests, and thus provide very different results. It is worth noting that this trend might give extra advantage to the pages, which have some voice content.

Indexed pages and Sitemap

The number of pages that are indexed by search engine should be proportional to the total number of site’s pages. Therefore, it could help you to appear higher in search results.

Update your XML sitemap when new content is added. Keep it clean, get rid of 4XX pages, non-canonical pages, redirected URLs. Remember that Google limits its sitemap crawls to 50,000 URLs.

Page speed

It is one of the most important criteria when it comes to ranking. If pages of your site take too long to load, users will instantly notice the disadvantage. To test your site’s speed you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Try to keep page size below 3MB. Minimize the number of HTTP requests. Loading speed of your website shouldn’t be more than 3 seconds.

Mobile friendliness

Not so long ago Google started the “mobile-first indexing of the web”. It means that they will index mobile versions of websites instead of their desktop versions. Therefore, you should test your site for mobile-friendliness. This trend embraces responsive web design. The main concept is to create a design for mobile devices first and then adapt it for desktops. This has become relevant because of the positive dynamic in mobile search.

Native Advertising: various shades of gray

Native advertising is visually similar to the editorial content, but scaled. It instills more trust and allows to bypass ad-blocking software, significantly increasing CTR. In other words, natural advertising is “embedded” within the main content flow and matches it by format and content, as opposed to traditional advertising placements, for which it is customary to have “banner blindness”. The purpose of such content is to create more natural and less intruding advertising appeal to increase the number of clicks, sales, and other targeted actions.

Advantages of native advertising:

  • Visibility. By contrast with traditional banner ads, native ads are not located in the zone of “banner blindness” and are shown among the core content of the site. Advertising does not interfere with the perception – the message is still readable.
  • Impossibility of blocking. Users cannot disable any of such advertisement using AdBlock.
  • The possibility to publish entire advertising material, supplemented with photos, videos, links, and other necessary advertiser integration. In addition, the possibility of sharing agreement in the social network.
  • Multiplatform. Advertising material can be seen both on the web version, and the mobile site or mobile applications where the usual large-format banners are harder to place.

Native advertising is currently trending in small businesses, being used by 41% of brands. Still, it remains a controversial issue and FTC frowns upon deceptive or unfair practices it may adopt. So if you plan on starting your native advertising campaign in US, make sure it complies with these standards.

More on various types of native ads in this article.

Social media presence

Needless to say, social media presence plays a decisive role in business success. How well your business marketing strategy is integrated with modern communication channels, will directly impact its success. Find new customers, increase the loyalty of existing ones, become an expert in the industry, and have a trustworthy opinion – all this can be achieved by choosing the right strategy of advancement in social media.

Steps for creating a social media marketing campaign:

  • Determine key goals and objectives in SMM strategy. Use the SMART framework for establishing your goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, which means your goals should fit these qualities.
  • Identify your customers. At this point, you need to understand who is currently interacting with your brand on social media and how this audience matches your target market; in which social media your target audience is present, what social networks your competitors use.
  • Analyze and objectively evaluate strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.
  • Choose social media. Do not create an account on every site, spend some time to research which social media your customers use the most.
  • Create a content strategy. Choose types of content, time and cadence of posting.
  • Analyze and adjust the SMM strategy. Profound understanding of the audience is crucially important for achievement of SMM strategy objectives. Use analytics tools to understand what type of content is more in demand with your customers. Study behavior of the audience, and identify the insights.

Blogging: keep your audience informed and educated

Blogging is definitely a core feature of today’s digital marketing. Maintaining a blog poses you as an expert or leader in your field by sharing informative and relevant content. It helps build a trustworthy audience. Rich media content can provide a better user experience. Here are the core advantages of having a blog on your website:

  • A blog can bring traffic to your website. Having a blog means updating your website with a defined regularity. Why should it matter? For one reason, primarily: it helps your website with showing up in search engines and drives traffic more frequently. Websites regularly updating their content rank higher in SERP.
  • It helps your social media marketing strategy. Creating new content means people can share it on different social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest). You will always have something to post on your social media. It helps present your website to new audiences.
  • You can improve customer relationships. Build a trustworthy platform by being a source of information. Make space for people to leave a comment or start a discussion. This allows you to interact with your customers. Do not forget to respond to comments, it will increase the level of interaction.

How to maintain a good blog:

  • Topics selection. Choose your content topics wisely. Analyze your target audience, find what can be relevant to them as well as your website.
  • Headline creation. Use unique and attractive headers. It should reflect the theme of a blog post and attract attention to itself. To create good headlines try to use numbers or triggered words, interesting adjectives, keywords, make a promise. You may also want to try the four U’s technique – make your headlines unique, ultra-specific, urgency-suggesting, and useful.
  • Compelling CTA’s. You can significantly improve interaction with customers on your website by using calls to action. It can provide communication with visitors and remind them that they can interact with you by answering questions and leaving comments. For example, use these kinds of calls to action: Ask a question! Leave a comment! Subscribe!
  • Interactive content. This type of content builds a relationship with a user. It engages him to share your content and even to leave his personal information. Interactive content can be presented as interactive infographics, scrolling parallax pages and digital quizzes.
  • Video. Users comprehend information through video better than text. Do not neglect this option, because your competitors might already be using it.
  • Podcasts. Almost 30 percent of your users comprehend information much easier through sound. So do consider the use of podcasts, it will also bring diversity of rich content to your website.

Paid advertising: best value for money

Paid advertising is necessary for businesses that are just starting up. It helps spread the word out about your products or services to a greater audience. It can also help get traffic that is more consistent. Therefore, you should definitely give it a try.

Let’s see how paid advertising works by looking at Google Adwords. There is a paid-per-click advertising app on Google. It gives you advantages in search ranking. Google Adwords shows your website higher in the list when people are looking for kinds of products or services that you offer by using keywords that you have selected.

Google Adwords has a number of advantages:

  • Measurability. Ability to measure success of your marketing strategy. With Google Adwords, you can identify relevant indicators and measurement method. For example: number of clicks, cost per clicks, conversion rate, etc.
  • Relevance. Google’s ad rank makes sure to show the most relevant ads. Therefore, your website should have a better user experience and relevance than your competitors’.
  • Targeting. It can provide targeting in different fields, like location targeting (you can choose specific geographic location), mobile targeting (target mobile device users), language targeting.

How to improve your Adwords campaign:

  • Use single keyword ad groups. If your ad group contains too many keywords, it can be hard to write adverts that are relevant to all of the keywords. It will lead to a bad match of what users want and what your ad suggests. Put one keyword in each ad group, it will help to create ads that are relevant and specific to each keyword.
  • Use the full set of advertising extensions. Most of your competitors use 3 or 4 ad extensions set up, use all 9 let it be your advantage. It will give you more space on the first page.
  • Use Geotargeting. It will create ads with the name of the city that you target.
  • Bid on your branded keywords. It will keep your competitors away from the search results.

Check this article for more insights.

Email marketing: a dying art?

Even though social media is growing constantly, does it mean that email marketing is dying? Not so fast! People still check their inboxes daily. With a bit of tweaking, you can give your email marketing campaign a new lease of life.

Creating an email marketing plan is as simple as that:

  • Determine your audience
  • Choose your content
  • Set your goals
  • Set frequency of sending
  • Make a schedule

But how to make it work for you? Here are some ideas of adding value to your newsletters by making them:

  • Personal. Pay respect to your customers, e.g., a letter from an executive can humanize the company, customers instantly feel like they matter to the top management.
  • Informative. Company news – anything that is newsworthy should appear in a newsletter.
  • Useful. Your customers are busy, just like you. Send only essential information that matters. Educational articles and your company’s statistics may be posted on your blog. Recap.
  • Interactive. Surveys will help to get important feedback from your customers.
  • Tempting. Special offers or coupons will melt anyone’s heart.

The right software tool will help with your email marketing campaign. For example, Campaign Monitor is a simple way to interact with your audience, it includes auto-responders, but does not have a third party integrations and live support. Just make a list of features you need and analyze the existing software.

Analytics: the power of knowledge

Why do we need analytics for our digital marketing strategy? It gives us awareness of which elements are working and what tactics need tweaking, changing or abandoning completely.

Make a list of your key metrics for the above mentioned components of digital marketing. Your ideal analytics execution should consist of these easy steps:

  • Capture data
  • Analyze data
  • Interpret data
  • Repeat after a certain amount of time

To measure your key metrics, you will need analytics tools. From a great variety of these tools we will mention just a few examples:

  • Piwik. An analytics platform that can monitor and analyze your website’s visitors and your marketing campaign. It is also free to download.
  • Heap. A tool that provides instant and retroactive analytics for web and iOS, it also does not require code.
  • Chartbeat. A real-time analytics tool that controls the story and can track a product launch.
  • Google analytics. The main advantage is that you can get this great analytics tool for free.
  • Adobe Analytics. It’s an web analytics tool that gives you a full view of your website and includes predictive and real-time web analytics.

After you have measured, your key metrics are analyzed and compared to the previous ones. You will see how well your strategy progresses. So you know what to change.

Conclusion

Developing a working digital marketing strategy is crucial to any business success. It is important to choose wisely from a set of these components. The choice depends on the theme of the site, business goals, characteristics of the audience, etc. In addition, it is necessary to find your strengths – a competitive advantage. Which components of your digital marketing strategy do you find the most efficient?

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