We work with a lot of small businesses who want to make sure that they’re getting the most out of their digital marketing but aren’t sure where to start. Marketing is a lot more complicated these days than it used to be (or at least it can feel that way sometimes…) and the array of different marketing channels, platforms and networks that are available can feel overwhelming. How do you know where to start? How can you decide where to focus your efforts?
A good starting point is to do an audit of your existing situation with the aim of understanding what’s working and what isn’t. You can’t do everything, so you’re going to need to make some decisions and the best way to do this is by using the evidence you already have of what’s good and what could perhaps be improved or isn’t worth continuing with. This evidence-based approach is much better that determining your marketing strategy by ‘hunch’, which is a common alternative!
Here are some questions that will help you start to think more strategically about what’s working and what isn’t and give you the baseline of knowledge to be able to decide where best to focus your efforts.
- Can you get into the backend of your website? It’s vital to make sure you have access to the backend of your website. Even if you’re going to outsource all your web development and never plan to go into the backend yourself, you still need to make sure that you have log in credentials so that you’re able to get into the site and also to give other people access to it, should your relationship with your web developers come to an end.
- Is your website fit for purpose? Periodically it is worth doing a basic set of ‘housekeeping’ checks on your website to make sure that all the bits of it are working as they should be. For example, go through and submit all the contact forms – do the forms work? Are the submissions being received internally? Think about whether your website still offers a good user experience compared to other modern sites. Does it run quickly? Does it work well on mobile devices? Make sure the site conveys key information to people clearly. Can visitors easily see what you do? Can they get enough information on your site to help them decide whether to buy from you? If they can book or buy via the site then run through that process and make sure it works smoothly.
- Do you have good quality content on your website? Do you have enough to say? Do you have a blog on your site? Do you have an FAQ section on your site? Is there other content that you could add? Good quality content is the key to effective search engine optimisation so this is an important area of your marketing strategy. These days most people will look at your website before deciding whether or not to do business with you so it’s vital to ensure that it looks professional, is fit for purpose and contains the type of content that potential customers would expect to see. What questions are you most commonly asked when talking to potential new customers? Can people find the answers to these questions on your website?
- Have you got Google Analytics installed? If you do have it installed then make sure you have access to the account and that you’re looking at it from time to time and using the data there to understand how your site is performing, what’s working and what isn’t. Getting a really good handle on your Google Analytics so you can see where your traffic is coming from and what works for you is the key to making sure you’re investing your time wisely when it comes to digital marketing. If you don’t have Google Analytics installed then set up an account and install it! Check out our video guide to installing Google Analytics here.
- Do you have a Google My Business account? For any business that relies on local custom, a Google My Business account is very important. Make sure you have access to the account and that it is set up and accurate. For example, are the address and contact details correct? Are the opening hours correct? Have you filled in all the different bits of the profile? A rich and well-used Google My Business account can really help with local SEO so it’s worth investing a bit of time in making sure you’re making the most of it.
- Are you using social media? As with Google My Business, go through your social profiles and make sure they’re up to date and accurate. Google triangulates the information from your social profiles and your website to better understand who you are and what you do so make sure that everything is congruent and looks like it’s coming from the same business. Do an audit of your social media posts, both organic and paid (if you’ve done any paid advertising), to try and understand what type of content is resonating and getting engagements and what is not. If you’re doing paid advertising, do you have a measure of the cost per lead and a sense of whether that cost per lead is acceptable or not? Think about how often you’re posting organic content. Look at the options for scheduling your posts so you only do it once a week or once a month even. All the main social channels offer the ability to schedule posts in advance, and you can also invest in a social media management tool like Hootsuite or Social Pilot if you want to manage all your channels in one place. Cut out any ineffective social channels – it’s better to do one or two things well than to spread yourself too thin.
- Are you using social media tracking on your website? If you have a Facebook page for your business then it’s a good idea to install the Facebook Pixel tracking code on your website so that Facebook can see who is visiting your site. If you then decide to do any paid advertising on Facebook, you will be able to target your ads at existing website visitors and also to other people who Facebook identifies as having a similar profile to your existing visitors. Both LInkedIn and Twitter offer similar tracking codes.
- Where are your existing customers coming from? Have a look through your last few months worth of sales and really dig into where those orders came from (word of mouth, Facebook posts, Twitter, organic search, google pay per click, newsletter/email shot etc). This will then give you an idea of what the most important channels are for you to concentrate on. At the end of the day, you need to invest time (and potentially money) into the things that most effectively generate new customers for you. If you don’t have the right data to know where your customers are coming from then go back to your Google Analytics and look at configuring it for future tracking
- What are your competitors doing? Firstly, do you have a clear idea of who your key competitors are? Once you have determined this, then take a look at their websites. Get on their mailing lists. Follow them on social media. Understand where and how they are selling. Keeping an eye on your competitors can be a very useful way of generating new ideas for digital marketing yourself.
- Do you have budget for advertising or other forms of paid promotion? You can do a great deal of digital marketing for free these days (or just with the investment of time) but most businesses will probably want to do some form of paid promotion at some point. We’re quite often asked how much someone should spend on digital marketing. The answer to this question depends almost entirely on understanding what an acceptable cost per lead is. You need to know how much it is worth spending in order to get a new lead for your business. To know this you need to know what your average order value is and what percentage of leads convert into orders. Then you can work out how much you can afford to spend to get a new lead. Once you’re up and running with some paid promotion, tracking the cost per lead of each communication is the key to understanding whether your marketing activities are working or not.
Sign up for our free Introduction to Digital Marketing webinar to find out more about how to put in place an effective marketing strategy for your business.
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