It’s 2018, and if your small business doesn’t have a digital marketing strategy by now, you’re already behind the competition.
That’s why we put together this list of digital marketing ideas to get your business headed in the right direction - read on to learn some essential online marketing strategies that will put your business ahead of the competition this year and beyond.
1. Local Search Marketing
Nothing rivals a solid local search marketing strategy for small businesses.
Local search marketing consists of claiming and optimizing your business’s online listings so that you show up in relevant local searches. There’s a lot of elements to local search optimization, but when it’s done right, it can put your business on the map so local consumers find you when they need your products or services.
Local search is complicated, and the results won't happen overnight or that you can do once and forget about it. It’s best left to experts.
2. Optimize Your Website for Humans and Search Engines
Does your small business website still look like it’s from 1997?
Time to fix that. It’s 2018, and consumers are impatient. We want instant results. We have short attention spans, so if your website is unattractive, slow to load or confusing to use, we’re going to leave and check out your competition.
Make sure your website loads quickly because consumers will abandon your site. And make sure your site is easy to navigate. Don’t forget to also add clear calls-to-action that tell the customer what they should do - for example, you can put a button in the header of your main page that says “Get Directions” or “Call Today”.
Mobile optimization is extremely important too - Google will penalize your website if it isn’t optimized for mobile so make sure yours is.
3. Engage in Link-Building
Link building is a great way to show search engines like Google that your website is popular.
If you build links the right way, getting a few high-quality links (rather than a bunch of low-quality spam links) you’ll prove to Google that your small business’s website is relevant (and high-quality), so that it knows you're worthy of showing up in a local search.
Find local business owners and bloggers who are willing to link to your website if you return the favor or write a guest post for a local blog.
Don’t forget about local news sites that might run an article that links to your website if you have a special promotion or event coming up.
4. Take Advantage of Keywords
Keyword research should be a mandatory part of every small business digital marketing strategy - you can use your business’s keywords for so many things.
And, it’s a great way to find out exactly what terms people are using to search for your business’s products and services. Use a tool like Google AdWords Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Keywordtool.io or even search recommendations (when Google tries to help you complete a search) or the “People also search for” box at the bottom of the page to find relevant keywords for your business.
You can then insert those keywords into the pages of your website (try to make it natural so that they make sense within your content) or in blog posts.
5. Ask for Email Addresses
I can’t remember the last time I went through a line in a retail store and the cashier didn’t ask me for my email address - and you know, I never say no.
It’s that easy - at check-in or check-out, ask your clients or customers for email addresses.
Once you have the customer’s email address, you can send them messages to let them know about new promotions, specials and products. You can also use those emails to ask for more online reviews.
Since online reviews can help you show up in local search results, and could even make customers spend more money at your business, you really can’t afford to skip this simple step. Start collecting those emails and give your business the boost it needs to stand out from the competition.
6. Monitor Your Online Reputation
Reputation management isn’t just for big brands - small businesses need to know what their customers are saying about them too.
Set up a Google alert for your business so that you know when new articles which mention you are posted - and don’t forget about social media monitoring tools too.
If you're aware of the chatter, you can become part of the conversation, fix problems that arise and keep your business’s reputation as squeaky clean as possible.
You should also be aware of the reasons customers complain about businesses, so that you can better protect yourself from public backlash.
7. Use Online Networking Sites to Expand Your Network
LinkedIn can be a great platform for connecting with local consumers as well as other small business owners. Not only can you network on a personal level, but you can also build more awareness for your business by creating and managing a business page.
LinkedIn will suggest friends of friends with whom you can connect. You can also join groups on LinkedIn and Facebook to boost your local presence.
8. Get More Event Attendees with Facebook Events and Eventbrite
Hosting a special event or sale? Create a Facebook or Eventbrite event to reach more people.
When you create a Facebook event, you can share it with your followers, and it will also show up in the events section for local consumers when they go looking for events in your area. With Facebook putting increased focus on unearthing community events, this should be a key focus for local marketers moving forward.
Eventbrite will do the same, making people who may have never heard of your business aware of your event.
9. Speaking of Social Media, it’s Time to Build a Better Social Strategy
It’s 2018. You can’t avoid social media anymore.
Everyone uses it, and at the very least, your small business should have a Facebook Page that you keep up-to-date with business information and hours. You should also be posting regularly (at least a couple of times a week) to keep your business fresh in the minds of consumers.
But, you should also consider Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, depending on your industry and typical customer.
Make sure to also tailor your social media messages to each social platform - consumers want to see custom messages for the social media platform they’re using.
10. Try Facebook Ads
Ready to put your small business in front of more customers? Facebook ads are where it’s at.
Facebook has many ad types that can be used to help increase local awareness, drive visitors to targeted landing pages and even get you more followers. No matter your goal, there’s probably a Facebook ad type that will work for you.
11. Give Live Video a Try
Live-streaming can be a great way to add a human element to your small business marketing strategy. The option enables you to connect with customers on a more personal level if, for example, you give them a behind-the-scenes look at your business, and you can also show off new products, services or promotions in the meantime.
And, as a bonus, if you go live on Facebook or Instagram, your followers will get a notification that tells them you’re live so they should watch before the video ends.
12. Add Video to Your Google My Business Listing
Google recently announced that small business owners can add videos to their listings, which means your business’s videos will show up in the photos right in your Google listing, giving you more control over what customers can see about your business before they make a decision.
This is a great place to ease hesitations or answer common customer questions, so if you have informative videos that'll help people get to know your business a little better, add them to your Google listing.