Digital marketing is a key strategy for all small businesses. It's a tough decision whether to outsource part or all of it to a third party. Who can you trust? Will they do a good job? Can you afford it? All leaps of faith to a certain degree. But, there some key attributes ensure that they have. Our client Jeff faced these same questions. He dabbled, and he struggled. Even then, he still was not sure what was best. He, like all of us, has limited time and resources, so what did he decide to do? Well, that's where digital marketing comes into play and the three digital marketing services you should use.
Jeff runs a small boutique store in New York. He's had been successful with his brick and mortar location, but sales were starting to slow. He had some e-commerce, but it was extremely limited. He wanted to keep his growth going, but he wasn't exactly sure how. Most of his current business came from foot traffic and through his reputation as curator of unique and custom-made products from locally sourced material. Jeff, himself, had a great online presence through is Instagram account, but the business was less well represented.
Digital marketing requires some knowledge and skill to be effective. Some of the skills from traditional marketing are translatable. Some are not. There are great short courses on digital marketing basics at SCORE and Digital Marketing Institute.
Content marketing cover much of what we spoke about in our blog post on In-Bound Marketing. An example of content marketing is what we are doing right now. Good contact marketing leverages key words that your audience connects with your business. Valuable content is worth its weight in gold. It drives both engagement and search rankings.
Organic SEO is the holy grail of digital marketing. While it's the holy grail, it's the hardest to influence. Google spends millions on its algorithms, and they change constantly. It's time consuming, but not impossible to do yourself. First you need to see where you stand. This requires setting up a Google Search Console account. It's simple to do, but harder to manage. Google offers a SEO starter's guide, which is worth completing if you decide to try your hand at SEO.
We went through a whole section on social media in our blog post on Inbound Marketing. Social media can be a powerful tool for small businesses. This is the one area in which Jeff excelled.
Advertising on Google involves keyword bidding. This can be expensive for popular keywords. However, local search can be very helpful. Google My Business coupled with Ads can be helpful. Google Ads provides a Smart Campaign option that we've used, and it has been effective. The jury is out if it is more or less effective than a professionally managed campaign.
Jeff was a whiz at social media. We didn't need to hire an expert here, but he did need to make sure that he put the same effort into his business account as he did his personal. All the social media credit was going to his personal account, and if people didn't know he owned a store, he was losing them as potential customers and diminishing his chances of long-term success.
No one could write content about his business better than he could. What he needed was some help on which key words were the most productive. He didn't have time both to write and to do the research. As a result, we recommended that he hire someone to manage his SEO. With paid advertising, we decided to try the Google Smart Campaign. We didn't have the budget for both SEO and paid advertising managers. Therefore, we had to make a strategic choice to avoid wasting money.
The brick and mortar results were not instantaneous, but the web metrics were. Within the first month, he saw his web traffic quadruple. Once we had enough clicks, we turned on the remarketing feature. Within the 2nd month, we saw his online sales skyrocket. Let's put this in context. He had a very minimal e-commerce presence prior, so any change was dramatic. After 3 months, his local organic rankings started to improve significantly, and his in-store sales started to increase. It took roughly six months to see the full impact and his year-on-year in store sales were up +20%, with growth seeming to continue in that upward-swing.
If you are planning on including digital marketing into your mix or if you are doing it now, we would recommend that you look at each of the aspects above. We at ProStrategix believe it is a tool that can be used in all marketing plans. Every business is different and has a different set of needs. That said, a thoughtful analysis of how each of these tools can be put the best use for you should increase your chances of success.
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Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkenIn profile
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