Better content can increase your online traffic by 2000%. An impressive statistic, and one that certainly solidifies the idea that content most definitely is King – but what's considered ‘good’ content, and how does one create it?
Creating a digital marketing strategy for your business is essential if you want your content to make any kind of an impact online. But there’s nothing friendly about the phrase ‘marketing strategy’, and the thought of conceptualising how you’re going to promote your business online for the next three months and beyond can be a daunting one.
Fear not. Gorilla has devised a handy guide to walk you through the best digital marketing strategies for small businesses. We’ll spotlight some examples of strategies already used by successful startups and provide you with essential hints and tips to kickstart your strategy to success.
This article will cover:
- How to plan a digital marketing strategy: step by step
- Top three digital marketing agencies:
- Our hints and tips for a successful digital marketing strategy
- Digital marketing examples: startup success stories
- Next Steps
How to plan a digital marketing strategy: step by step
Online marketing strategies take time and consideration to plan. Follow these five steps to get well on your way to creating a strategy to be proud of.
Step 1: Understand the marketing funnel
The marketing funnel is a method whereby you can visualise the customer journey, breaking it down into each individual step. From the first awareness stage, to the point of purchase, each part of the customer’s engagement with your brand can be plotted, and therefore strategised.
The funnel works by combining marketing and sales strategies, the buyer’s decision-making process is then guided towards purchase, transforming prospects into customers.
The funnel will help you to direct certain marketing strategies at certain people, depending on their previous experience with the brand. For example, the way in which you market to a customer just learning about your brand will be very different to the way in which you market to a returning customer.
Step 2: Get to know your target audience
This step involves the creation of a buyer persona and streamlining your marketing tactics to accommodate for the consumer habits of your identified customers. Done correctly, this will increase your audience reach and drive sales.
To do this, you must:
- Conduct market research to find out who you audience actually is.
- Carry out competitor research to identify what other businesses in your field are doing, and think about how you can do it better.
Create a persona template (a document that captures all aspects of your target market’s persona). This document should include information such as:
Location (urban, suburban, rural)
Challenges and goals (primary and secondary)
Fears and values
Level of digital competence
Preferred news sources
Blog, website and other brand influences
Most used form of social media
To gather this information, you’ll need to carry out a consumer insight poll or survey to reveal the habits of your existing consumer base. Survey Monkey is a useful tool for this task, and you might be surprised by the answers your customers give!
With the consumer information you gather, you’ll be able to streamline your marketing strategy. For example, if your consumer research reveals that your customer’s preferred social media platform is Twitter overall, then you’ll know to put more energy into your Twitter feed as this is how you’ll reach more of your ideal customers.
Step 3: Evaluate your existing digital marketing efforts
This might seem obvious, but it’s a very effective part of any successful strategy. By taking some time for some self reflection, you’ll be able to see what’s worked well for you in the past, and what hasn’t. Armed with this information, your future campaigns can be created to replicate your successes whilst avoiding any failures.
To carry out an evaluation, take a look at:
The number of social media shares previous blog posts have received
The number of followers you have on social media
Reviews on Google and Yelp
Website traffic from social sites
Conversion rates generated from social traffic
These kinds of stats will help you to shape future marketing moves, revealing what you do well and what areas of your strategy might need a little TLC.
Step 4: Decide which digital marketing channels you will use in your strategy
Internet marketing strategies vary massively, but the best way to connect with your customer directly is via social media. When it comes to social strategy, there’s a plethora of platforms to choose from, and it’s important that you choose the most appropriate social network for promotional purposes.
|Social media||How to use|
Create a page for your business, on which you can post information, offers, photos, details of forthcoming events and so on.
More than 50 million small businesses use Facebook to connect with their customers worldwide. Four million of those businesses pay for social media advertising on Facebook.
Twitter is great for building up a following amongst potential and existing customers.
People often go to Twitter to give feedback. Note: 78% of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour.
This could be a good opportunity to research what your customers think of your business, and recognise any weak spots.
|LinkedIn A really useful tool for connecting with other professionals in your industry.|
Use to write articles and share interesting posts. Also good for scouting out potential recruits as your business expands.
A very popular visual tool, especially if your business has anything to do with food, travel or design.
Pinterest isn’t a ‘chatty’ form of media, so strong imagery works well here.
It’s also a really good source of creative inspiration – with Pinterest, you can ‘mood board’ without the mess.
|Instagram If you’re trying to tap into the Millennial market, this is the one for you. With 90% of Instagram users younger than 35, Instagram is ‘the’ social media tool of today.|
Visually promote your product and create stories that will help your audience develop a personal relationship with your brand.
Create a dedicated YouTube channel for your business. Videos are a clear and engaging way to communicate with your customers, putting a human voice to your brand.
While a ‘how it’s made’ video would build interest in your product, a ‘how to’ video will ensure customers use the product correctly, whilst providing customer support without the need for someone to be ready to take a call 24-seven.
Step 5: Decide whether you need an agency to help you
Whilst digital marketing isn’t the most costly of in-house operations, it’s very time consuming and reliant on some serious digital know-how.
Due to the time and skill a successful digital marketing campaign will require, it’s worth considering bringing in the help of an agency if you don’t think you digital skills are quite up to scratch. Using an agency has many advantages, most notably the time it will save you.
To keep the costs down, it’s possible to delegate some (rather than all) of your marketing tasks to an agency. This will cover the aspects of the campaign that you find most challenging, whilst keeping control of the bits you’re confident you can handle.
Top three digital marketing agencies:
Finding the right agency for your business can be a daunting task, so we’ve compiled a list of the top three:
|Digital marketing agency||Best for||Cost estimate|
|Yell||New and small businesses||£600 pcm (for a very small business on basic services)|
|Add People||Personalised service||Quote available on request|
|Revive Digital||An all-round marketing service||Quote available on request|
The cost of going out-of-house for your digital marketing depends entirely on the nature of your business, which is why most agencies will only provide costing information once you’ve requested a quote directly. Fortunately, we’ve developed a free, quick, and easy quote finder that’ll put you in touch with agencies perfectly matched to your business.
Head to the top of the page and fill in our short online form. It’s simple – you provide the answers, and we’ll provide the quotes.
Our hints and tips for a successful digital marketing strategy
- Know your business, audience and demographic (plus that of your competitors)Okay, yes, this sounds like a no-brainer, but having a clear message that you stick to is so important, we can’t stress it enough. So, when it comes to what your business vision is, who you’re targeting and what you’re competitors are doing, we suggest you run a very tight ship.
- Build upon your buyer personaIt’s not enough to simply identify who buys your product and leave it at that. You have to nurture your buyer persona, as, as your business develops and grows, so will your audience. Keep your marketing streamlined and targeted by updating your target audience every three to six months – this’ll keep your messaging fresh and relevant.
- Authenticity (tell your story, create a narrative)Although this might sound cliche, keep it real. Each and every day, the consumer is flooded with marketing campaigns from a variety of brands, meaning that the consumer can spot fake news from an authentic message a mile off. Make sure you’re being clear and accurate in your messaging and create a narrative that’s both true and interesting.
- Make it Mobile (top consumer platform)Making sure your marketing is mobile friendly is a must. Mobile phones are a top consumer platform and most customers will digitally engage with your brand on at least one platform before choosing to purchase your product or service.
- Make it personal with blogs and videos People are nosy beings. With the hit BBC 1 programme Inside the Factory accumulating an average of 2.5 million viewers per episode, it’s fair to say that us BritsCreate content that shows what makes you tick, how your product is made, or who’s part of the team. People love a human story, so start telling yours!
Digital marketing examples: startup success stories
To really understand what it’s like to manage the marketing for a small business, we caught up with two small business owners that have taken different, yet equally effective, paths down the digital marketing road.
Read on to see what they had to say:
James Carfell works for Collier Roofing, handling the marketing and managing the business relationship with its SEO agency. Here’s his advice when it comes to digital marketing strategy:
“The one thing I will quickly highlight to any brand that is thinking about getting an agency is working out whether you want to sell nationally or locally, where your audience is and this will shape your marketing strategy quite significantly.
“What we have learned is that local SEO is incredibly different to overall SEO. The same can be said with PPC efforts, plus social media campaigns. If you are a plumber or a builder, then you really only want to target potential visitors within a certain area. This will mean the potential conversion rate is vastly higher, while it removes the chances of irrelevant leads.
“It is also important to have a big brand mentality, even if you are going for local targeting. It is easy to scrimp on the marketing budget, just as many other small businesses in your industry will be doing, but this is one of the most important elements in the success of your business. With a small amount of smart investment,, you can see your sales quadruple.”
We also spoke to Joseph Valente, founder of ImpraGas – a top boiler installation company – on his decision to stay in-house when it came to digital marketing. Here are his words of wisdom:
What prompted the decision to keep your marketing in-house?
“I have worked with agencies before but wanted to build an in-house team who understood our values and disruptive marketing culture – this is very difficult to get across to a third party.
“We wanted an agile team who could post immediate wins, share daily success stories, build relationships with our customers and B2B direct and who really understood what great targeted content looks like by being fully integrated with the sector and business.
“Our customer acquisition and customer offerings also need to be very fluid. An in-house team can immediately action changes needed to reflect the demands of the business, making an in-house department the most efficient option for us.”
Do you have any top tips for startup businesses looking to create a successful digital marketing campaign?
- “DO your research – understand your customer and their customer journey, their profile and where to find them. Who are they? What do they want? And how do you target them? This will help you choose the right content and images when marketing to your ideal customer.”
- “Focus on what you are good at, and what you know.”
- “Keep targeted and use your budget wisely. You don’t have to do everything at once or start with a massive budget.”
- “Be agile to changing your images and messages – in the early days there may be trial and error. Split testing campaigns, as this is the best way to see which ones work best.”
- “Keep an eye on your competition. What do they do well, or not so well and how can you do it better?”
Now you know what digital marketing strategy is, and the steps you need to take to fully (and effectively) strategise your campaign, it’s time to practice what we’ve preached and get that marketing ball rolling!
One of the most effective ways to do this is to hire a digital marketing agency able to handle as much, or as little, of your marketing campaign as you wish. And, as running a business is time consuming enough, being able to place this responsibility into safe hands will provide great peace of mind.