Did you know that as recently as 2017, almost 2 million small UK businesses still didn’t have a website?1 And in 2018, research found that only 60% of British SMEs were using social media and just 42% had a blog2. That’s a huge trick to be missing in terms of brand awareness, revenue and, increasingly, reputation.
No matter what size or type of business you run, having an effective digital strategy in place is a ‘must.’ It’s the only way to take full advantage of online marketing opportunities for your company.
However, there’s a lot more to it than writing the occasional blog article or Twitter post. If your digital marketing activities are to work, they need to be planned, targeted and cohesive, and – above all – aligned with your wider business objectives.
Digital strategy example
A simple way to explain how your digital strategy should work is to compare it to building a house.
- Foundations. You can’t expect a house to be strong or robust without firm foundations. The same applies to your digital strategy, which means setting out aims and objectives for your online activities and putting a plan in place to achieve them. This is a key priority as you need to get the foundations of your strategy right before thinking about the more ‘cosmetic’ aspects such as visuals.
- Bricks and mortar. This is the keyword-rich content that binds the various strands of your digital marketing plan together to provide consistent, relevant and interesting messages that resonate with your target audience.
- Windows. Your online presence is effectively a shop window for your business. People will decide whether to find out more about your company and, ultimately whether to buy from you, from the strength and quality of your website, social media pages, email marketing and other digital communications.
- Décor. This is your visual brand, which should accurately reflect the nature of your business. As with content, your branding must be consistent across all your digital platforms to help build awareness and promote trust.
- Address. If local trade is important to your business, then promoting your physical location is key. That means using geographical keywords appropriately in your content, claiming your Google My Business listing and registering with good quality business directories in your area. These activities will help your business show up in local searches, including the coveted Google Local Pack.
- Welcoming visitors. Once you’ve settled into your new house, you’ll want visitors to be able to find you easily. The same goes for your new website. So, on top of the activities in 1-5 above, you’ll need to look at other ways to drive traffic to your site, such as additional keyword research, social media and email marketing.
- Maintenance. If you don’t maintain your online platforms, they’ll fall into disrepair just like a neglected house. So, as well as ensuring regular activities take place, you should also review your digital marketing strategy and plan regularly to assess what’s working and what needs improvement.
Key considerations for your digital strategy
Here are 4 digital marketing strategy steps small businesses can take to get the ball rolling:
- Identify your goals
- Assess your current situation
- Consider your ideal client base
- Create your digital strategy
- Identify your goals.
- Firstly, set out what you want your digital marketing activities to achieve.
- Do you simply want to tell prospective customers about your business and what you do? Or are you looking to generate enquiries, leads and sales?
- These are key questions as the whole direction of your strategy will revolve around the answers, which should at least broadly align with your overall business objectives.
- Assess your current situation.
- What digital marketing tactics are you using at the moment and how well are they working?
- Start by looking at your website: does it accurately reflect your brand and its values? Is it easy to find online or languishing in a digital wasteland?
- Use Google Analytics to look at the technical aspects as well, such as the number of visits and page views, the length of time spent on site and the bounce rate.
- If your website is performing poorly, you could look for ways to improve visibility and visitor numbers and keep people on the site for longer, such as updating the content, blogging regularly and increasing keyword depth and quality.
- On the other hand, it may be time to have a new website built and start again from scratch – especially if your branding looks tired and out of date. First impressions count.
- Once you’ve assessed your website, look at the other online tasks you carry out and how they’re performing. Tools such as social media analytics and MailChimp reporting for email marketing will help with this.
- This analysis will help you build a holistic picture of which tasks are worth continuing, and which need improving or even abandoning.
- Consider your idea client base.
- Do you know who you’re talking to online? And if so, are they the people you actually want to engage with?
- Take some time to build up personas for your ideal clients. Think about their lifestyles, aspirations, interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes, hopes and fears. You could give each persona a name and avatar to help you picture them whilst you communicate.
- Once you’ve identified your audience, you can decide on the best online platforms to target them with, such as social media, blogging, email, Pay Per Click advertising and so on.
- As well as looking at activities you already do, look at new tasks that could attract more attention to your brand (is there something your competitors are doing that’s getting great results?)
- At the same time, consider how to communicate with your audience – are they most likely to be attracted by written content, images and infographics, video, podcasts, or a mixture?
- Create your digital strategy.
- Once you’ve gathered this information, you’ll be in a position to create your digital marketing strategy and then plan how to make it happen. (You can read more about digital marketing planning here.)
- During this process, it’s important to set out how your digital efforts will work alongside your traditional marketing activities so they complement each other effectively.
How Imagine Digital Marketing can help
As a whole, your online presence – your branding, content quality, visuals, social proof and so on – will create an impression of the type of business you are. And if you’re not currently making the right impression, I can help.
My outsourced digital strategy services can take care of everything, from website audits and keyword strategy to ongoing content creation, to monitoring, measuring and refining your activities using powerful analytical tools such as SEMRush.
Like to know more? Get in touch today
Please contact me to find out more about how my digital strategy consulting service could benefit your business, either as a standalone project or as part of an Outsourced Marketing Services Package. You can book a FREE one hour consultation by calling 01636 922 747 or completing my online contact form.
Digital Marketer offering a personal and tailored web consultancy service to small business owners and self-employed professionals in Nottinghamshire. I formed Imagine Digital Marketing in December 2016 and I really enjoy helping my clients make the most of online opportunities.