If you search for “digital marketing tips,” you’ll find approximately one quintillion online resources. Most of them highlight how quickly things change, the importance of staying on top of your organization’s marketing efforts, and almost without fail these resources end by trying to sell a course or ebook that will solve all your marketing woes. Digital marketing is important, does change quickly, and demands consistent effort. But, it doesn’t have to be as complicated as you might think. If you focus your efforts on five essential marketing fundamentals, you’ll establish a strong online presence and build the foundation you’ll need for your future digital marketing campaigns.
Here’s what it will take:
A Consistently Updated Blog
Blogging matters. Consistently updating your blog with new, useful content is essential for a few reasons. First, creating new content and sharing it reminds potential customers that you exist – and brings them back to your website. Once they start reading, they’ll naturally find themselves wowed by your professional expertise. Finally, a robust library of evergreen content makes sure you always have something to share across your social media channels. Blogging is time-consuming, and it’s easy to blow it off until “things slow down.”
But, let’s be real, do things ever really slow down? Building a blog audience takes time and effort. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you have new, exciting, and time-sensitive news to share in a blog post…but haven’t updated your blog since 2017 and the only person still reading is your mom. Start writing today, and keep plugging away every month. You’ll be glad you did.
A Professional Social Media Presence
There’s more to social media than Facebook. You certainly need a Facebook business page, but that page is just the starting point. If you’re a professional services organization, your clients are probably hanging out on LinkedIn. If you don’t have an active LinkedIn presence, then you’re needlessly getting in your way. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of Google My Business. It allows clients to leave reviews of your business on your Google listing and can help legitimize your organization to potential clients.
Once you’ve established your social media profiles, stay active. Engage with your followers, share interesting information (remember those blog posts!), and follow up with potential leads. Like your blog posts, your social media requires time to set up and consistent attention in order to grow – so make sure to get started on social media early.
A List of Organized Contacts
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I hate to disappoint you, but that pile of business cards languishing on your desk is not organized. At all. If you can’t quickly reach potential leads, then you can’t effectively market your services to them. Also, ignoring your past clients is an effective and easy way to avoid working with them again. Which is probably not your goal. You don’t need to over-solve this problem. If you’re just getting started, a simple spreadsheet might be enough to keep you organized. At the very least, you need a system that allows you to record:
- Who the contact is
- When you met them
- The date of your last contact
As your contact list expands, you’ll likely grow out of your spreadsheet system. Fortunately, there is no shortage of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions out there, at a price point for just about anyone. Seriously, some of them are free. There’s no excuse to neglect your contacts.
An Engaged Email List
At this point, if you’re taking my advice, you have regular blog content and an organized contact list. If only there were some way of sharing that blog content with your contact list on a regular basis. Oh wait, there is: a monthly email newsletter. This communication reminds your contact list of who you are, what you do, and keeps them up-to-date with all the exciting developments going on at any given time.
Just don’t be shady and please follow all relevant privacy laws. At the very least, give your list the chance to opt-in, and easily opt-out. Then, dedicate an hour or so every month to writing and sending an engaging email.
An SEO-Friendly Website
There are entire graduate-level courses designed around understanding and implementing SEO best practices. I don’t want to minimize how nuanced SEO can be or how often it changes. Having said that, there are some simple rules to follow if you want the SEO powers-that-be (Google) to look upon your site favorably.
- Make sure that search engines can see your site: By “search engines,” I mean “Google.” 90% of web searches take place on Google, so focus there. You can find out if Google is seeing your site by searching for site:yourdomain.com. Just swap out “yourdomain” for…well..your domain. If you aren’t on there, don’t panic. You can submit your site to Google Search Console and kick the process off quicker.
- Create good website content: It doesn’t matter if Google can find your website if your audience isn’t getting what it needs from the content on your site. Google pays attention to how people are using your website, so if they take one look and head elsewhere…Google knows. Google always knows.
- Use the same words as your audience: These might not be the words you use. Think like your audience. You might think it’s very obvious that you should be using the keyword “widgets in Washington, DC,” but if your clients are searching with “eco-friendly widgets in the greater Baltimore area” you’re going to be out of luck.
- Continuously improve: Your SEO isn’t going to change overnight. Except when Google changes its algorithm. So SEO isn’t a set it and forget it process. (noticing a theme?) You need to monitor your site over the long-term (3-6 months) to identify trends that are keeping you out of the top spots.
There you have it! A handy DIY guide to marketing your business. The most important takeaway? Marketing takes time. Time to set up, time to monitor, and time to improve. And while you certainly can implement these fundamental components yourself, time is one resource that many small business owners struggle to find.