The evolution of the internet and technology has completely changed the way we grow our businesses. Today, social media and all sorts of digital mediums exist to help promote and monitor your marketing efforts — and the best part is most of these are available for free! However, this convenience also means the good old days of word-of-mouth marketing and passing out flyers to advertise your small business has become significantly less reliable and efficient. Of course, this doesn’t mean it's the end of the world if your business still hasn’t made a digital footprint.
Trust us when we say it’s still incredibly important to make sure your business is leaving a positive impact on your customers! Building a strong relationship with your customers often encourages them to share their experiences with their friends, and this may begin a snowball effect! However, provided today’s competitive landscape, if you’re really hoping to take your business to the next level, you’ll want to be sure your business has a digital marketing plan.
Whether you’re doing your marketing in-house (on your own) or seeking help from an external team of marketing specialists, an effective digital marketing strategy can accelerate the growth of your small business! In this article, we’ll discuss the essentials of digital marketing and provide you with all the information you need for an edge over your competitors!
Table of Contents
- What Exactly is a Marketing Strategy?
- Implementing a Digital Marketing Strategy into Your Business
- Social Media Marketing
- Content Marketing Strategy
- Search Engine Optimization
- Website Content & Keywords
- Produce Fresh New Ideas
- Backend Configuration
- Popularity & Link Building
- Local Listing
- Google Ads
- Google Search Ads
- Google Display Ads
- In Conclusion…
What Exactly is a Digital Marketing Strategy?
Before we get into what a digital marketing plan is, you’ll need to understand what digital marketing is itself.
Digital marketing refers to the use of the internet and its ever-growing variety of social platforms to help reach consumers. Put simply, it’s the process of marketing your business to new and existing customers, but online (or digitally).
That being said, today, digital marketing is really just a general term we refer to since it has grown to become such a broad field of marketing that encompasses so many unique marketing channels. For instance, digital marketing also refers to attracting customers via social media, content marketing, email, and more.
From a more technical standpoint, digital marketing takes advantage of various digital channels to provide your business with valuable insights into your target customers. This data is used to help guide future marketing decisions, allowing you to better communicate your brand’s value to consumers and effectively capture more of the market!
We know that might seem like a lot, but don’t be intimidated. You’ll be surprised to learn you can actually begin implementing a digital marketing plan for your business today. It doesn’t take a marketing wizard to engage in some degrees of digital marketing and communicate the value of your brand. In fact, if you’re reading this, it’s likely that your competitors have already gotten a head start 👀.
Digital Marketing isn’t rocket science. Some of it is quite easy to do!
With thousands of tactics and strategies to choose from, even the simplest of marketing plans can effectively make the difference between your target customers choosing your brand over your competitors.
But where do you start?
Lucky for you, we’ve prepared the ultimate beginner’s guide to digital marketing, based on our years of experience and expertise with proven strategies. We’re here to provide you with a strong foundation and understanding of digital marketing to have you dominate your market in no time!
Implementing a Digital Marketing Strategy into Your Business
Regardless of whether you’re about to launch a new business or hoping to grow an existing one, digital marketing and the development of a strong online presence are vital for any small business hoping to successfully promote its products and services.
Digital marketing is the most efficient and consistent form of marketing there is, and a majority of basic tactics are things that you yourself can do as a business owner, regardless of your background and experience with marketing.
In this beginner’s guide to digital marketing for your small business, we’ll discuss 4 core digital marketing strategies that are essential to every marketing plan:
- Social Media Marketing (PPC)
- Content Marketing Strategy (Blog Posts & Email Newsletters)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Google Ads (PPC)
We’ll break down each of these core categories and guide you through the basics of what your small business should be doing to stay ahead of the competition. Many of these strategies are easy to implement alone, whereas some of them may require assistance from a trained marketing professional — but we’ll be sure to pinpoint exactly when and where you’ll benefit from seeking marketing help!
1. Social Media Marketing (difficulty 3/5)
If you aren’t on it already, your business NEEDS to be on social media.
Social Media Marketing is another simple, yet effective way to market the value of your business! There are 2 main forms of social marketing – organic content, and running ad campaigns.
In the present day, procuring prospects with organic reach on its own is becoming increasingly difficult due to the amount of competition in existence, though that doesn’t mean you should slack on it. Instead, many smart brands now combine their posts with boosted ads, which are responsible for driving new eyes onto their profile, giving their carefully crafted posts a chance to shine.
While the most important part of creating social posts is to remain authentic and consistent in the content, deploying ads requires some technical knowledge of the ad platform to be successful.
Social media ads allow you to promote your ads to people with interest in your service in an organic manner. Essentially, you can target prospects before they even begin searching for your service or products using Facebook’s invasive algorithms. 🙊
The best advertisements use “native ads,” such as humour-driven posts or entertaining videos on Facebook and Instagram. Native ads seamlessly integrate a product or service into the media format it appears on; matching the function, feel, and look of every other post on a given platform. Users are likely to interact with these kinds of posts because they don’t really come off as the typical “ads” we’re all used to.
Social media provides a variety of marketing opportunities. For instance, businesses may choose to use social media influencers and other reputable individuals. This strategy takes advantage of marketing products and services to their large social followings; these followings may also consist of your target audience. Digital marketing strategies like this often lead to increased engagement, as it takes advantage of the influence these individuals have over the following.
The Verdict for Social Media Ads:
Social media ads are considered pay-per-click forms of online advertising and can become costly, but rewarding nonetheless. Even without ads, posting organically on social media is a great way to maintain a digital presence in an engaging and unexpected way.
Effective social media marketing can be difficult for business owners with little graphic design experience. Specialized marketers and creative agencies can help businesses curate and design various graphics and content specifically for social media. These digital marketing experts typically help small businesses monitor, create, and facilitate all social campaigns.
2. Content Marketing Strategy: (difficulty 2/5)
With digital marketing, there are so many creative and engaging ways to increase the awareness and exposure of your brand that other forms of advertisement simply cannot provide. But in order to effectively manage your digital efforts, it’s imperative for you to develop a content marketing strategy.
Your content marketing strategy can be used to further engage existing and potential clients with your business by building credibility, authenticity, and relevance around your brand. While content marketing strategies can take many forms, they generally concern a codified plan that details your marketing plan across various channels,
With the goal of building, growing and maintaining an audience, a content marketing strategy helps organize and outline the frequency and details behind the content you plan to distribute. A content marketing strategy will help ensure a consistent brand message is communicated, in hopes of turning strangers into fans, and fans into customers.
From eye-catching videos and graphics to capture the interest of potential customers to holding webinars and digital networking events, the possibilities of content marketing strategies are endless so long as you can invest the time and energy!
The Verdict for Content Marketing Strategies:
Content marketing strategies are essential to outlining your marketing goals and content distribution across various media channels such as email newsletters, blogs posts, and social posts. In many ways, content marketing strategies act as the backbone for all marketing campaigns and as the driving factor behind distributing relevant, valuable, and consistent content to retain and attract your target audience.
Posting to social media is essential for businesses working to build authenticity and establish a more personal relationship with consumers. While it’s relatively simple to outline and create a content marketing strategy, many businesses often employ a team of marketing specialists to further optimize the design and execution of their digital presence. Marketing specialists help monitor and analyze the results of your content to make necessary improvements and changes in ways that establish trust with consumers — unlike stock and doctored photos.
3. Search Engine Optimization (difficulty 3/5)
When your website is always ranking near or at the top of each Google search page, growing your business is easy!… But how can you guarantee this?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing the pages of your website to help them reach a higher position in the search results on Google and other search engines. The difference between PPC ads and SEO-related tactics is that SEO focuses on organically improving the results page rankings for each of your web pages – SEO doesn’t rely on paying for advertisements. Rather, it focuses on building your brand’s digital authority and trustworthiness.
Google assesses various criteria to determine your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ranking. Here, we’ll focus on 4 key factors:
I. Website Content & Keywords: (difficulty 2/5)
Generally, the more content and keywords you have, the better you will rank. Website content & keywords concern the pages of content you write and the keywords you use throughout the site. For example, incorporating keyword-heavy copy (the writing on your website) and various meaningful pages on your website will strengthen your SEO rankings.
This is relatively easy for small business owners to administer themselves.
II. Produce Fresh New Ideas: (difficulty 1/5)
Google will look at how often your website is being updated and the amount of activity there is as a result of this new content. For instance, you can improve your SERP rank by creating new blog posts or by adding relevant pages to your website.
As long as you can stay on a consistent schedule of updating site content, designing and implementing effective content marketing strategies is quite simple. Refer to the Content Marketing section to get the full cheat sheet.
III. Backend Configuration: (difficulty 4/5)
Backend configuration concerns the technical aspects of your website. Ensuring your website and SEO tactics fall within Google’s requirements and rules for what’s appropriate for ranking on their SERP. The more accurately aligned your website is with their requirements, the better you may rank
Backend configuration typically requires a more intermediate understanding of SEO; this has to do with site load speeds, plugins used, organic settings, and other backend configurations.
IV. Popularity & Link Building: (difficulty 4/5)
Google determines how popular your website is based on the number of quality and relevant links that are directed towards your website. For instance, your website may rank higher if Google notices there are many links across relevant, high authority websites in your industry directing traffic to your site. Your site would be considered “popular,” and your SEO ranking would improve as a result.
While it’s relatively easy to gain links from leveraging relations with other businesses and websites, consistent link building requires dedication to see fruitful results.
V. Local Listing: (Difficulty 2/5)
Local listings allow you to leverage Google My Business to gain organic traction in your area. This specific marketing strategy is great for businesses that serve in a local geographic location. To really improve the effectiveness of local listings, you may opt to invite customers or friends to leave reviews for your business to build up credibility.
Local listings are best if the review contains keywords.
The Verdict for Search Engine Optimization:
The better your SEO is on your website, the better your web pages will rank on results pages. SEO is essential to ensuring your business is easy to find when it’s searched for. Moreover, SEO is amazing because it can easily be done by any business for little to no cost, up to a decently competitive level. Similar to Google Ads, however, you may choose to work with marketing specialists to take advantage of their experience and knowledge of SERPs and how to optimize your web pages to the top of the results page.
4. Google Ads (difficulty 4/5)
Google Ads are the brief advertisements, service offerings, product listings, and sponsored videos that Google allows you to promote to your customers. With millions of active users and billions of searches each day, Google Ads is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies to help gain new customers and grow brand awareness.
How Do Google Ads Work?
Google Ads are considered “pay-per-click” ads (or PPC) and can significantly increase lead generation (the number of interested customers) for your company’s website; this can ultimately lead to revenue growth! There are 2 key ways to run Google Ads:
I. Google Search Ads:
If you’ve ever searched for anything on Google, chances are you’ve come across a Google Search Ad – in fact, you’ve probably even clicked on them. Google Search Ads are the advertisements that show up at the top and bottom of a Google search results page. When properly implemented into your digital marketing plan, businesses typically experience an increase in leads and user traffic.
Google Search Ads require a “budget” which is used to pay Google for ad space. To enhance the effectiveness of your campaign, marketing specialists help select keywords that are best aligned with your business. These are handpicked to maximize the clicks on your ads. Here’s an example:
If your business sells gourmet pizzas and you’re hoping to generate leads to your website, Google Search Ads can be optimized by running advertisements with industry-related keywords. The best keywords would be words that people are most likely to search for when looking for pizza, such as “best pizza” or “pizza near [your city name].” From here, an advertisement for your pizza business would likely show up if a user were to search for something like “the best pizza restaurant around me” — potential customers are likely to select a link to your website over others!
Google Search Ads are proven to help increase visitor traffic to your site and work to almost guarantee you new leads once optimized!
II. Google Display Ads:
These are image ads created with eye-catching graphics reflecting your business and the brand itself. In terms of targeting, Display Ads offer businesses a multitude of ways to reach their ideal audience. The most popular is through “Remarketing” or “Retargeting”. This type of ad is targeted at people who have visited your website in a given period of time to remind them of your brand and your products/services. The major benefit of this type of targeting is it allows you to reach a demographic who are already aware of your brand, for much cheaper costs than other types of targeting methods.
Google Retargeting Ads help increase exposure and conversion rates of potentially interested customers. Similar to Google Search Ads, it’s likely you’ve already been exposed to hundreds of these! For instance, if you recently visited a website for a company that sells water bottles, and now you seem to notice ads for that exact water bottle on the same website, those are most likely Google Retargeting Ads.
The Verdict for Google Ads:
Google Ads are relatively simple to understand and can be implemented by business owners with zero background in marketing. However, the difficulties of Google Ads lie in creating successful ads. The reason we did not give Google Ads a higher rating is because, while you don’t need any professional training to use them, effective targeting and optimization are difficult to achieve.
While it’s relatively simple to create your own Google ad campaign and follow account recommendations, structuring campaigns properly to account for split testing while also being mindful of account scalability is where things get tricky. On top of that, the account may burn through a lot of ad dollars before the ‘algorithm’ finds what works for you.
Since companies “bid” for the best spots on Google’s pages, you’re going head-to-head with your competitors. Inexperience often leads to underperforming campaigns, as Google Ads is a much more competitive platform when compared to Social Media and Content Marketing.
For this reason, we recommend working with a dedicated marketing specialist, professional agency, or reaching out to an acquaintance with experience in Google Ads. Marketing specialists work to help you identify who the target demographic is and how you can optimize your ad campaigns to best reach them with minimal budget spent on learning and testing. By having pre-existing knowledge on your industry of ads or even just account management in general, your strategist will be able to improve the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, subsequently limit the amount of money you spend to maximize your return on investment (ROI)!
These fundamental digital marketing strategies are things you can implement as a business owner today, regardless of your prior experience with digital marketing! While these basic marketing tactics can help you set yourself apart from your competitors, if you’re still looking to truly differentiate your brand from its competitors and send your small business to new heights, you may want to consider consulting a specialized marketing agency.
Marketing specialists stress the importance of measuring your success and work to maximize your ROI in ways that are difficult to attain without their knowledge. They generate customer analytics reports, SEO ranking reports, and monthly marketing reports to help analyze the effectiveness of current tactics. Their familiarity and expertise with digital marketing campaigns also enable them to pinpoint your existing marketing weaknesses and strategize for optimized results.
There’s no shame in seeking help from marketing specialists, such as Big Fish Creative, to grow your business. In fact, you’d be surprised by how common it is for small business owners to work with a team of expert marketers to accelerate their growth, even after they’ve implemented our basic digital marketing plan!
We work to help you close the gap between you and your competitors, and eventually, dominate your marketplace! Tell us a bit about your business goals and we’ll see how we can help take your business to the next level!