Digital Marketing for Beginners – Prosperity SEO
Digital Marketing for Beginners
Prosperity SEO helps you figure out where to start
I don’t know if it is the same everywhere around the US, but here in Austin, TX, I am amazed at the number of amazing men and women who are starting their own businesses. From therapists to real estate agents and so many other industries in between, I have been fortunate to meet many people who are defining work on their own terms and becoming business owners. The idea for this article on digital marketing for beginners, came to me from some wonderful interactions with business owners that I have spoken with recently.
Starting Your Own Business
Starting your own business is both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. You have the rush of excitement around finally bringing your product or service to the public and the simultaneous terror of not knowing if anyone will actually buy your product or use your service. Every single individual that I have met has truly had something amazing to offer the world but most of them have one thing in common. Often small business owners simply don’t know how to market their product or sell it. Now, Austin is definitely home to a large number of start-ups so I thought I would take a look at the challenges that some of these companies are facing to get their businesses up and running.
Small Business Facts
Here are some interesting small business facts according to PR Newswire:
- More than 99% of the US employers are small business owners.
- 6 in every 10 small businesses have yet to establish an online presence and get a website.
- 35% of small business owners feel that their operations are too limited to warrant a website.
- 83% of the small business owners with a website feel they have a competitive advantage on those without a website.
- 71% of small business owners do their own digital marketing, instead of leaving it to experts.
- Email ROI is 122% – 4x higher than social media, paid search, and direct mail.
- Only 17% of marketers had plans to create a content marketing strategy this year.
What does this mean for small business owners?
So what I am seeing among the clients that I have connected with recently, is that their small business has not reached its potential because owners simply do not know how digital marketing really works, how to effectively use social media to get results for their business or how to optimize their content so that it gets found.
“We have a marketer that loves writing blogs.”
“I have someone on the team who likes to do Facebook posts.”
“My business has a guy who does our website for us.”
These are some of the marketing “strategies” that people have shared with me recently.
What Should a Start-up Spend on Marketing?
So the greatest catch-22 that many small businesses face when they start out is that they need to grow their business and market to people but they don’t have any money? Quickbooks recommends that companies that have been in business for 1-5 years should be allocating between 12-20% of their gross or projected revenue towards marketing for the year. Often this number does not seem to be attainable for small businesses since there are so many other expenses that take priority. But another question to ask is, “Can I afford NOT to invest in marketing my business?”.
Branding and website will take up a big chunk of your initial spend but it shouldn’t stop there. Having an inexperienced person handling your content creation and social media platforms can actually set your business back instead of helping to move things forward. Most people will invite their friends to like the business and then just post to those who have liked their page. This means that you are really just marketing to people who already know about your business and may not even have a need for your products and services.
If you have a truly savvy intern or staff member then you are fortunate but for most people starting at $1,000 – $2,500 a month on a freelance community manager or small agency will give you the ability to have regular posting, advertising, ad spend reporting and even custom or lookalike audiences to improve your reach. They can take an omnichannel approach and post on multiple sites because the days of only posting on one platform are over.
This has been another area of digital marketing that seems to be misunderstood. The internet runs on content. But it takes high-quality content to really get your company noticed. Not only that, but your content needs to be optimized in order for people to actually find your quality content – otherwise you are really just writing for your closest friends who would love and support your business anyway. Often, businesses get one of their talented marketers to write the odd blog here and there. But true content marketing needs someone’s full attention in order to create an effective strategy that actually brings results for your business.
Content Marketing Results
The future of digital marketing is quality content and it is not just limited to blogs. Videos, infographics and podcasts are also rising in popularity. Choosing the right content marketing agency (usually charging around $2000 per month) can have a dramatic ROI on your investment. According to the Content Marketing Institute the number of companies giving importance to content marketing is increasing. Companies are now allocating 32% of their marketing budget for content.
How Does My Small Business Compete?
Okay, so I know what you are thinking (or at least I think I do) since so many people have asked me the same thing. “I just don’t have the money since I am a brand new business.”. “A social media consultant or a content creator sounds awesome but I just don’t have $5000 per month to spend on digital marketing.” So what are the essentials and what can you do on your own?
What to Watch Out For
Sadly you often get what you pay for. There are many “free” software options on the market that can help you set up your website or manage your social content but Google often penalizes business for doing blanket blasts to multiple sites. You can get some quick backlinks to promote your content but did you know that many companies are using what they call Black Hat links? Using Black Hat links, if you get discovered, can result in Google penalizing you and dropping your website down the rankings? If this happens it can be extremely difficult for your small business to recover. Using someone who is reputable and knowledgeable can save you significant time and money in the long run. My dad always used to say, “If you pay peanuts, your are going to get monkeys.” I am not sure that saying still holds, since technically monkeys are pretty smart, but you get the idea…
Digital Marketing Basics for Beginners
So here are my top 10 tips if you are starting on a budget and you simply can’t afford a consultant right now:
Get the Yoast SEO plug in for your website to make sure that you (or someone on your marketing team) is writing content that is optimized to help your website rankings. It is no good if people can’t find it unless they are going directly to your site.
If you don’t want to use Yoast know that your content needs to be precise and to the point. Sentences should not be too long and paragraphs should be succinct too. Also, probably don’t use words like “succinct” since apparently your message needs to be able to be understood through the eyes of an 11 year old.
Make sure you take advantage of Tags, Meta tags, meta descriptions and Alt Text for images. Having optimized keywords for your site is highly important.
Pretend you don’t know what your business is called. Could you find it through the information you are sharing? Is the content you create helping your business to be identified in your industry?
5. Video Content
Spend time creating videos. Video content is big and it will only get bigger. Your videos do not have to be long or complicated. Just ensure that they are meaningful and regular.
Add captioning to your video. Most people watch videos with the sound off (unless you are my husband, he seems to love blasting them right as I am falling asleep!).
Ask companies who might be in the same situation as you if you could link to their sites and reciprocate the favor. Giving people options to find services benefits everyone.
8. Landing Pages
Invest in a landing page to maximize leads from people coming to your website. This will help you to remarket to them as well as creating a more personalized approach to your marketing efforts.
Customer reviews are golden (as long as they are favorable, obviously!). Gently ask customers if they have a great experience and would like to share that experience online. Google loves to see when businesses are doing a great job.
Google is where it is at. If people are ready to buy they are going to Google to either research their potential purpose, find out where to click to your website or get your phone number or location. Advertising on Google is going to get faster results than targeting individuals who are on Facebook or other social channels and are not looking for services right now.
For more ideas check out my blog on 5 Tips for Healthcare Marketing which is not just for healthcare providers but for any small business just getting started. I hope that helps you have some idea of where you can get started when creating a digital marketing strategy for your new business. What happens if you have read through all of this, or if you try everything you can do on your own but you are just not getting results? Contact Prosperity SEO and get a free analysis of your site and we can discuss a specific digital marketing strategy for your business to help it reach its full potential.