Small business owners like you often have big dreams for their future – and a small marketing budget. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the growth that comes from a strong, strategic marketing plan. Digital marketing presents a huge growth opportunity for small businesses. That’s because it’s both highly effective and inexpensive, when it’s done right.
But too often, business owners waste their time and money focusing on the wrong things and don’t get the growth they need. With this guide to approaching digital marketing for small business owners, you’ll learn everything you need to know to get real results for your company.
Start with a Digital Marketing Strategy for Your Small Business
It can be tempting to just jump into the digital marketing world head-first. After all, it’s quite easy to get started on one or more pieces of digital marketing with just a few clicks. And starting as soon as possible is best, right?
But jumping in without a clear plan is, at best, a waste of your time and money. As a small business owner, you can’t afford to spare much of either on approaches that don’t work. By beginning with a complete marketing strategy, you can work towards your marketing goals more efficiently.
Begin your strategic thinking by considering your business goals.
Are you trying to grow in your current market, explore new markets, expand your product line (or services), or become more profitable?
Your whole online marketing strategy should come directly from those goals.
After solidifying a strategy, think about what your marketing goals are.
Do you want to increase your:
- brand awareness
- lead generation
- conversion to sale rate
Focusing on one particular goal will help you narrow down what is really going to deliver the business results you need. It might be tempting to aim for all three goals, but you need to focus your limited time and budget on the most critical one first.
Digital Presence is Everything
One big mistake we see small business owners make all the time is launching a digital marketing campaign without a solid, professional online presence. If you’re spending hours perfecting your new email marketing campaign, and it gets lots of click-throughs, that’s good – unless those clicks are going to an outdated, confusing, slow-loading business website.
Start with the basics first to get the most out of your marketing. Creating a well-designed website with a clear call-to-action that works seamlessly for your visitors means you’re not losing those conversions. You want to make the experience for your prospective customers friendly and easy – remove any friction getting in the way of a conversion.
Don’t underestimate the importance of your Google My Business and Yelp or other social media platforms, either. Just getting them set up and making them look consistent with all your other channels is a vital first step to an effective marketing plan.
Don’t Get Distracted by Trends
The digital marketing world is always full of the next big trend – the new social media channels, the fanciest marketing technology, a hot email automation system. But jumping on trends too quickly isn’t going to pay off most of the time.
Instead, evaluate the new trend against what really works for your business. Sure, TikTok is the hottest new social media platform right now, and they offer advertising. But if your target audience is executives who are 50+, TikTok is not where they spend their time. So any time spent filming funny videos and money spent on ads there isn’t a good bet. Focus on what works for you, even if it isn’t the cool new thing.
Focus on the Most Productive Activities
Let’s get into the concrete marketing tactics that will offer the biggest return on investment for small business owners like you.
There are multiple ways to spend little to no money and still see growth from your marketing efforts, as long as you operate thoughtfully.
1. Content Marketing
Content marketing can be a powerful growth tool for small businesses. If you’re a decent writer, or you have one on your team, you can see results from content marketing by investing just your time.
Creating informative and engaging content like blog posts, articles, or videos certainly takes time. But with the technology available today, it’s simple to do yourself if your budget is small or your business is just getting started. Writing your own content can seem intimidating, but you’re already the expert on your business. If you can write pretty well and provide great information, it can be enough to make a start.
Need help on what to write? Read this informative blog post about types of blogs to give you some ideas.
There are also plenty of skilled freelancers available to help you create content on sites like UpWork and Fiverr. They can take the writing off your plate without having the commitment of a full-time staff member.
2. Search Engine Optimization
SEO (search engine optimization) can seem intimidatingly technical to the beginner. And sure, getting into the minute details that really optimize your website and content for search engines can involve a lot of work and technical knowledge that your average small business owner just doesn’t have the time to master.
But there’s great news: with just a little insight, you can take advantage of many of the benefits of SEO yourself.
You can start by reviewing our SEO guide for small businesses. The basics of SEO for small businesses is this: find the easiest and most effective ways to make your website easy to find and read for search engines, and helpful and engaging for the people in your audience.
- Ensuring your website contains plenty of content that relates to the products or services you’re selling
- Paying attention to your meta description, title, and headlines
- Doing a little basic keyword research to find what your audience is looking for in their Google searches (Google Keyword Planner is a great free resource)
- Keeping your website and your content up to date
- Creating new content on a regular basis
A little knowledge of SEO can have a big payoff over time. SEO benefits take a while to kick in – 9-18 months, usually. But once your website is ranking in search results, you have a free, consistent source of traffic and leads coming in every day. That’s important to the future of your business – so get started today.
3. Email Marketing
Email marketing is both incredibly effective and very low-budget for small businesses. Once you’ve made the initial investment in your email software of choice, you can communicate with your customers and prospects whenever and however you want. And for small businesses, that initial investment is usually a manageable cost.
Email marketing lets you communicate with your audience on a flexible basis, while still reminding them of what you offer and how your business can improve their lives.
You can set up:
- a nurture campaign to get reluctant prospects to a sale
- a welcome campaign to thank your new audiences for joining your community
- promo emails for sales or special events
Set Your Small Business Digital Marketing Budget the Smart Way
Digital marketing for small businesses doesn’t have to be expensive – but you will probably have to invest at least a little bit of money to see real results. But how much can you afford to spend – and how much do you really need to spend?
Finding the right marketing budget is easier if you have the right tools, like our free Marketing Budget Calculator.
Setting a clear marketing budget is a good start. But you should also know how much you can reasonably spend to attract one customer, while still getting a good return on your investment.
Your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is the total net profit your business will make from any one customer. Calculating this number helps you decide how much money to spend on marketing to attract new customers – or to retain existing ones.
You can calculate your CLV by dividing your total revenue by the total number of customers. If your CLV is $200, then investing in $300 worth of content marketing and paid ads isn’t worth it. But if your CLV is $2,000, then that initial investment of $300 is well worth the cost. In any case, you won’t know until you do the math.
Measure Your Digital Marketing Results Regularly for Your Small Business
Measuring and monitoring your results regularly is key to the success of any business. But it’s especially critical to small businesses, where every marketing dollar matters. You want to be sure that you’re investing your time, and your money, wisely when it comes to your digital marketing efforts.
Fortunately, digital marketing provides plenty of data you can use to measure your progress. Checking vanity metrics like views and open rates isn’t particularly helpful – that just tells you that people are looking at your content or website.
What you really want to know is how often your audience is taking action – signing up for your email list, asking for an initial consultation or chat, or purchasing your product.
You should be measuring how your conversion rate for prospects has gone up, if sales are rising, and where your new leads are coming in from. CRM (customer relationship management) software can help you track most of this data, and companies like Hubspot offer low-cost options.
But the most critical part of measuring your success?
Actually setting regular time aside to review your results. Digital marketing trends change quickly – you need to know what’s going on to make quick adjustments so you continue seeing results. Consider setting aside a block of time on a weekly basis for a quick check-in, and set up a monthly review to go in-depth with your latest results and make any needed adjustments.
Get Expert Help with Digital Marketing for Your Small Business
Small business owners looking to invest in digital marketing usually don’t have a big marketing budget to work with – but they don’t have a lot of free time to invest either.
You may consider hiring a digital agency to help you focus on the most important parts of your marketing approach. While the investment might initially be a lot, if you hire the right help, you’ll see an ROI far beyond your original costs.
If you’re looking for an effective, efficient digital marketing agency that works with your business and your budget, get in touch with ContentFirst.Marketing.
Schedule a free business review here to find out how we help small businesses grow. You can use these insights for inspiration, and let us do the marketing for you.