Most small businesses aren’t sure where to start when it comes to their digital marketing. And to make things worse, many are spending time and money on tactics that simply don’t work.
As small business owners ourselves, we know how hard small business leaders work and understand every budget and starting point is different. This is why we’ve outlined the digital marketing process we use for our clients.
Read on to learn how you can build an effective small business digital marketing plan of your own.
Phase 1—Build a strong foundation with a customer strategy, website, and search engine optimization (SEO).
When you want something to last (like your house), you begin by building a strong foundation. This is exactly what the first phase of our digital marketing plan will do for your small business.
There are three key areas to building a sustainable marketing foundation and include:
- Customer Strategy
- Strategic Website
The first and most important step in any marketing strategy is to identify who your best customers are. Once you do that, you can create marketing campaigns that capture their attention and solve their problems.
We’ve outlined six things you need to do in order to understand who your best customers are:
- Learn who they are. What is their age, income, or gender? Work to understand what they value, what their opinions are, and what they’re interested in. You’ll also need to determine where they live—or determine if that even matters. And finally, find out how they like to be communicated with. Are they on social media? Do they want to talk to a live person? And the best part is, you can do all of this by asking your best customers!
- Determine what they want to accomplish. Do your best customers want to save time or money? Build a stable business? Feel more independent? Have a comfortable pair of shoes? What is the thing they really want help finding or achieving?
- Identify what problems they’re facing. Most people put stumbling blocks in their own path when it comes to solving their problems. For some, it’s a lack of time or knowledge, fear of spending too much money, or even a negative mindset. You need to figure out what is the most pressing issue your customers have, so you can help them solve it.
- Understand how these problems make them feel. When you know how the problems make your best customer feel, you can help them overcome these challenges. Based on the problems you outlined in point number three, do your best customers feel frustrated, overwhelmed, or out of control?
- Offer a clear solution to your customer’s problem. How can your product or service make their lives better? You must tell them what they need to do in order to solve their problem.
- Describe what happens when they follow your advice. If I choose to work with your company, what will they get in return? More time or money, less frustration, a pair of shoes they will love running a marathon in? Answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”
Based on this information, you can create messaging that talks directly to your best audiences and solves their problem. And when your messaging follows a specific formula (see bonus below), you’ll easily help them to want to do business with you.
When creating clear messaging for your digital marketing campaigns, you’ll first want to state a problem then show empathy, provide a solution, tell them what to do next to solve their problem, and remind them if they do, what they’ll get in return.
Your website is your small business’s most powerful marketing tool and is the powerhouse of your marketing efforts. However, if you don’t invest in a strategically built and written website, you will likely:
- Forfeit the income a strategically-built website can bring you.
- Limit your business’s ability to grow.
Essentially, not having a strategy-driven website for your small business wastes time, wastes money, and prevents growth.
That’s because you only have eight seconds to get a customer’s attention; if your message doesn’t resonate with them right away, they’ll leave your site.
When someone lands on your home page, it should have the following sections:
- A header—this section needs to answer these questions in eight seconds or less:
- Who are you, and what do you do?
- How can you help the customer?
- What does the customer need to do next?
- The main body—this section should include:
- Pain points
- Empathy and authority
- Description of product or service benefits
- The closing—this section should contain:
- Steps for success
- Call to action
This blog—4 Things Your Website Needs to Attract Customers—will walk you through the sections and how to develop the content necessary for building a lead-generating home page of your website.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the process of convincing search engines like Google to display your website when someone searches for something that you do or offer.
Because tackling SEO by yourself can feel a little overwhelming, we’ve outlined the most important SEO tactics that will make the biggest impact on building a strong SEO foundation. These tactics include:
- Developing an SEO-friendly website
- Creating and maintaining a Google My Business Listing
- Submitting your business information to online directories
- Developing and managing brand awareness ads on Google
- Writing and publishing SEO-based blogs to your website
- Asking customers to give you positive reviews
By completing keyword research and following the steps above, you’ll build trust with search engines. This allows Google and others to feel more confident that your website or content will provide the answers someone is looking for.
Phase 2—Reach your best customers with social media & targeted Google advertising.
After building a strong foundation, it’s time to add strategic social media posts, social media ads, and Google ads into your marketing plan. By doing this, you can quickly reach your best customers.
However, simply uploading blogs to your website or randomly posting to your social channels won’t produce the results you want.
Here are seven things to remember when using social channels and Google ads to reach your audience:
- Do your research. What does your audience want and what are your competitors doing?
- Ensure you’re posting on the right channels.
- Utilize paid digital advertising. You can’t rely on unpaid posting alone to drive new business.
- Post things that your audience wants to know about or is interested in.
- Review your ad and post-performance analytics. You need to know what’s working and what's not.
- Don’t just rely on social media. Google is a great place to post brand awareness ads, especially if you’re a new business or do not rank on the first page.
- Be smart about who you let manage your social media and Google accounts. Just because someone knows how to use social media doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to grow your business with it.
Your marketing goal is to get your content and messages out in front of your best customers with little to no effort on their part. This is why tools such as social media and Google ads are great ways to go after that low-hanging fruit.
As a digital marketing agency, we suggest spending $75-$100 per social media ad for local advertising. Google ad budgets are more complex—but $200-$250 per ad set is a good place to start for local marketing.
Phase 3—Drive more customers to buy with sales funnels & content marketing.
Content marketing is based on the understanding that people prefer to interact with the information they want—not what you want them to know. And they want to do it on their own time.
The goal is to attract customers by creating and promoting content that is relevant and helpful, not interruptive. Content such as blogs, videos, and downloads should pique curiosity and guide your prospects to do the thing you want them to do.
If you think about it, you want your website and marketing plan to be your hardest working employees. This is why we love content sales funnels. They work even when you’re not!
However, it is important to create sales funnel content based on how people think and buy things—not on what you think they should know. There are three levels to developing a sales funnel, and they include:
- Awareness—I'm aware that I have a problem or I need to be made aware of something.
- Consideration—I'm considering how to solve my problem.
- Decision—I’m deciding on a specific solution.
Content and sales funnel marketing will help automate answering common questions, give people an idea of what to expect, show them how your product works, and tell them how you can solve their problems. This will free up time and give potential customers the information they want—helping to make one-to-one customer interactions much more productive.
Read this blog and avoid the six most common content marketing mistakes.
Most small business owners and leaders aren’t sure where to start when it comes to their marketing and end up wasting time and money on marketing tactics that don’t actually work. This is why, as a marketing agency that focuses on helping small businesses, we love digital marketing. It’s measurable, trackable, and responsive—meaning you can easily learn what works and what doesn’t without wasting a ton of time or money.
By following the three phases of digital marketing, you’ll be able to build a strong foundation, reach your best customers, and develop a marketing plan that works even when you’re out of the office.
Using proven marketing systems, we take the guesswork out of marketing—helping you save time and increase profits.
Treefrog Marketing is a marketing agency in Lafayette, Indiana focused on helping small businesses grow. We specialize in strategic marketing and advertising, digital marketing, graphic design, web design, social media, SEO, and more. For more information, please visit our website. You can also connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.