Owners of small and mid-sized businesses lead extremely busy lives and typically have multiple roles to play within their organization. Whether you’re running a restaurant, online retail store, a traditional bricks-and-mortar service provider, or something in-between, chances are you don’t have a designated department with staff hired specifically to handle all the various aspects of digital marketing – from social media to website maintenance to traditional and online advertising to customer outreach. So, what’s a smaller business to do when they can’t yet afford an in-house digital marketing team? Simply give up and ignore it? No way!
Digital marketing is a super important part of any business’ growth strategy, and when you’re a small to mid-size business, it’s one of the most important ways to get in front of potential customers. Here are three steps you and your business can take right now to enter the digital marketing arena and start increasing the number of quality customers that express interest in what your business has to offer.
DIGITAL MARKETING STEP 1 – Find your niche and reach your audience!
Look at all the different methods your business uses to keep in touch with current customers and entice new ones to give your offerings a try – are you providing interesting, useful, and relevant information that is appropriate to your target demographic? Every bit of content your business produces (website blog posts, e-newsletters, social media posts, online advertising…) needs to serve a purpose that aligns with your business goals AND is attractive to your customer base.
Here are two examples from our current clients that highlight the power of providing information that is appealing to customers while helping to define a business’ market niche:
Tommy’s Superfoods is a Non-GMO Project Verified frozen vegetable producer. How do they differentiate themselves from all the other choices in the frozen foods aisle? By sharing their business story and making a statement about their environmental concerns and committments:
Laura Monty, Esq.
Laura Monty Law, LCC Family Law Services sets her legal practice apart from the crowd by routinely emphasizing her services that are alternatives to traditional litigation – think divorce mediation, collaborative legal processes that put the wellbeing of children and the family structure first, and professional consultations for uncontested divorces that are less burdensome to the wallet.
Visual Content Marketing
In addition to writing text that conveys who you are and what your brand stands for, it’s also important to include photographs, images, and graphics that accurately represent your business. Visuals are a fun and appealing way to “grab eyeballs” on social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram, and help your message to stand out in the never-ending Twitter and Facebook news streams. Visuals can break up a lengthy blog post, or be included in an e-newsletter to grab attention. Whether the images you use are educational or promotional or of the sort that your audience would find funny, it’s important to include them on a regular basis and keep them current and updated.
Speaking of current, while social media features like #tbt (throwback Thursday) are a fun way to recycle old images, chances are you want to make sure that your website’s images are reasonably recent. Sure, it’s nice to have an old photo or two that illustrates the history and longevity of your business, but if you haven’t updated staff photos, product images, or infographics in over a year, chances are they might be looking a bit dated – and that’s a potential turn-off to new visitors who may not be familiar with what your business has to offer.
Here are a few businesses that we think really understand the importance of the visual aspects of digital marketing:
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Grammarly Cards Grammarly is an online proofreading and correction tool that offers a subscription based service for people who want, or need, a level of proofreading beyond automatic spell-check and grammar-check. Grammarly does a particularly strong job of creating funny, shareable memes that will not only make you smile, but might also teach you a thing or two (without having to use a red pen).
Whole Foods Whole Foods Market is one of the leading grocery store chains in the country, and they also lead the way when it comes to effectively using social media and digital marketing. In addition to promoting various products, store events, and community happenings, they also understand the value of visual storytelling and how to communicate useful information to their customer base. For example, how to correctly cut up a mango (especially helpful for those who do not live in Florida or Hawaii!)
Humans of New York Humans of New York (also known as HONY) is a wildly successful Facebook page started in November of 2010 by photographer Brandon Stanton. The page is devoted primarily to capturing the stories and photographs of people in various locations throughout New York City. With nearly 18 millions followers, HONY fans have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities supporting the homeless, veterans, refugees, schools, and more – and they’ve also put Stanton’s books on the New York Times Best Sellers list.
While creating effective marketing videos may take a bit more time, if your business is service oriented or can benefit from providing instructional content to customers, then it’s worth taking a dive and giving video creation a try. No, you don’t need to be the next Academy Award winning Hollywood film director to create an effective video, in fact, you often don’t need more than a digital phone and a stand to position it on (or a co-worker with steady hands). Take a look at this memorable and humorous offering featuring important legal advice from Waco, TX attorneys, Hutson & Harris, in their hit YouTube video:
As of the writing of this post, this video has over 335,000 views.
If you spend even a little bit of time on Facebook, chances are you have seen a number of shared videos from Tasty. Fast paced and easy to follow, these recipe tutorials are informative, illustrative, don’t require the viewer to read or understand spoken English (important if you’re looking to get your brand out to other countries or language demographics), and super easy to follow – and best of all? They’re TASTY. Try one and you’ll be hooked.
DIGITAL MARKETING STEP 2 – Measure your results!
If step one was all about being creative, and developing engaging text, visuals, and maybe even some videos to support and digitally market your brand, step two is about measuring the effectiveness of your efforts and taking a look at what worked, what didn’t and where you want to improve your outcomes.
As was discussed in our recent article about developing a content marketing strategy it is important to remember that digital marketing goals have very little to do with the number of likes, favorites, hearts, or retweets you may receive on Social Media. While having a popular social media account may give the appearance that your digital marketing strategy is “working,” if all that engagement isn’t moving your business toward reaching its financial or lead generation goals, then you need to look closely at why that is happening.
When you’re looking to gauge the effectiveness of your digital marketing strategy, there are a few different tools you can use. Which ones you use and the data you choose to look at from them will depend on what your business goals are. However, these suggestions should provide most users with concrete, valuable insights.
Chances are, your digital marketing strategy will incorporate driving some, if not all, traffic to your business’ website. Whether your goals are to sell items online, increase subscriptions, or generate leads, Google Analytics allows you to set up goals and track which of your marketing efforts are generating the most conversions. Additionally, you can easily generate reports about where your website traffic is coming from, who your visitors are (geographic location, devices they are using, whether they are new or return visitors to your website…), and what their behavior is once they arrive at your website. This information can be very helpful in determining the effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts – if you see that the majority of your social media followers are clicking a link to your website’s landing page and then “bouncing” off within seconds – you know that something on either end needs to be re-worked ASAP!
Social Media Analytics
In addition to Google Analytics, each of the top social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and soon, Instagram) has their own specific set of analytics tools.
Facebook provides robust demographic information about your page’s followers including gender, age ranges, locations and their engagement with your page. This information can be extremely helpful in crafting language and visuals that will speak to your Facebook audience. For example, you may discover that while men and women equally visit your retail business, your Facebook followers are mostly female – and that information may prompt you to create messaging designed to appeal to that audience segment specifically.
Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest also provide insights about the levels and kinds of engagement with your accounts. As with Facebook, it’s worth looking at these insights on a regular basis to make decisions about what messaging is effective at attracting attention. If you started your digital marketing campaign using multiple social media platforms, after 6 months you may want to evaluate which are showing strong performance, which need a bit more time, and which you may want to eliminate. After all, the time you spend on your digital marketing campaign is valuable and you want to put your investment of time and money where it’s going to yield the best return for your business.
DIGITAL MARKETING STEP 3 – Keep working it!
Once you’ve had the chance to look at your data through Google Analytics and the tools available through the social media platforms you are using, make a list of what has been working (because you want to keep doing that!) as well as any surprise “flops”. When something doesn’t work as you expected, you may simply need some minor adjustments (maybe change the time or day of the week you send your e-newsletter out), a different style of promotion (ask your customers where and how they want to receive information from you) or maybe you need to keep working it for a little longer.
Readers “of a certain age” may recall that Guns N’ Roses’ first album (yes, they were called albums back then) Appetite for Destruction was originally released in 1987 but did not come even close to making a dent on the Billboard sales charts until over a year has passed. Now, nearly three decades later, Appetite for Destruction is one of the best selling music titles of all time in the United States. Sometimes, success needs just a little patience…
Having a digital marketing strategy, even if it’s a basic one, such as a website and a social media account, is essential for all businesses, regardless of your line of work or how many employees you have. When you make the decision to create and launch a digital marketing strategy, you’re investing in providing the information that your customers want and need while simultaneously attracting the best qualified new customers that will be interested in your offerings and ready to respond to your marketing messages.
LET US HELP YOU!
At Road Warrior Creative, we offer a variety of digital marketing services including website development, social media communication, e-commerce support, and design, branding and corporate identity creation. Whether your business needs to create a complex digital marketing campaign or assistance with social media communication, just think of us as your in-house digital marketing department! Contact us to learn more about how we can help.