Having a comprehensive digital marketing strategy is key for building a positive reputation online. Digital marketing enables a business to build authority and trust by facilitating interactions with current and potential customers through targeted campaigns.
In the small business market in particular, an increasing amount of business owners and managers plan to use digital marketing to share their stories. 70 percent of small businesses plan to implement a digital marketing strategy by 2017 or later, according to a 2016 survey about small business digital marketing habits. Furthermore, 82 percent believe that digital marketing is important to their company’s success.
In particular, social media plays an important role for many of these companies. The same survey finds that most small businesses (73 percent) look to social media as a jumping off point for digital marketing.
However, social media is not enough on its own to carry a brand. How can you form a comprehensive digital marketing plan that uses social media as a star, instead of a crutch?
Identify the Target Audience
The first step entails pinpointing the audience you hope to reach. This target audience determines the content you create and where and how you promote it. Besides demographics, such as age, gender, and location, it is important to home in on niche characteristics that your ideal customers share.
Examples of good questions to ask throughout the audience targeting process include,
- What circumstances would prompt an individual to seek out my brand?
- Is there evidence of a shared characteristic that is not the norm?
- Do they follow pop culture?
- Where do they live?
The more you know about your audience, the better equipped you will be to craft appealing, useful content for them.
Align Online Habits with Digital Marketing Tactics
After identifying your audience, it is important to study their online behavior.
Determining online habits often involves trial and error. Some factors to track include:
- When they browse online;
- When they check their email most frequently;
- The type of articles they click on; and
- How they use social media.
Collecting and analyzing this data allows you to sync your digital marketing tactics with your audience’s online habits.
For example, if you publish a blog every morning, you can align your social media promotion efforts with your audience’s peak social activity. This strategy ensures that your blog posts get in front of the right people, at the right time
Optimize Your Content
Not engaging in strategic search engine optimization (SEO) means you leave being found online to chance. Surprisingly, half of small businesses with websites do not engage in SEO, according to a recent survey.
SEO is one digital marketing strategy that ensures business growth. In particular, creating quality content that earns links can help businesses establish themselves as thought leaders in a particular subject area.
Optimizing your content entails building trust by focusing on timely topics, matching the users’ intent, ensuring readability, establishing authority, and including calls-to-action.
Consult the Experts
Working with a digital marketing agency can be very helpful. But, this partnership is not for everyone. Your business’ priorities and the availability of human and financial resources determine whether an agency partnership is a good idea.
Digital marketing agencies or consultants may have varying levels of involvement in your company’s digital strategy. For example, a consultant may be on hand to answer one-off questions, or an agency may come in to overhaul your company’s digital strategy.
While social media is an appealing digital marketing tactic, especially for small businesses operating on a tight budget, it is important to remember that it cannot be your sole foray into digital marketing. Other tactics to consider include launching an email newsletter, creating quality content, and optimizing both on- and off-site features to ensure your products and services can be found online.