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The digital world is a crowded space, so it’s important for small businesses to strengthen their online marketing strategies to ensure that their brand gets noticed online. Having a poor digital marketing strategy could mean that you’re missing out on customers buying your services, ultimately damaging your business profits and meaning your brand could often go unnoticed when placed amongst your competitors.

To help you get started, here are five digital marketing tips that as a small business owner, you can start executing to improve your brand awareness and sales:

  1. What channel is right for your business?
In the industry, we purposefully use a variety tactics to increase brand presence and drive traffic back to client websites, from social media marketing to search engine optimisation (SEO) and content creation to pay-per-click (PPC). But, the first step is understanding what these strategies aim to do, as not all of them may be suitable for your small business.

You also need to consider that some channels take a bit longer to see the effects of than others. For example, PPC allows you to place your brand at the top of Google search results almost instantly, but you have to pay a premium for it. Whereas SEO can take longer for you to appear at the top of Google and may not work out as expensive. There are pros and cons of both and ultimately, the answer for small businesses often lies in a combination of channels:

  • SEO - In its most simple form, this strategy aims to rank your business highly in organic (not paid for) search engine listings. People often ask us how we do this and the truth is, there are hundreds of factors that Google consider when choosing who to rank for certain keyword searches. We can distill it down to three main things though. Firstly you need a technically sound website which provides a great experience for your visitors. Secondly, you need great content which engages users and demonstrates your expertise. Thirdly, you need links from other websites which are high quality and relevant to what you do.
  • PPC - With this strategy, you’re effectively part of an auction with your competitors to try and appear in a search engine when your customers are looking for your products or services. You’ll pay every time someone clicks onto your advert and only then. The price can vary depending on the variables of the auctions and is generally driven by how competitive your industry is, but you can set a maximum price that you’re willing to spend and keep control of this.
  • Social media marketing - this connects you with existing and new customers through social media websites including Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. You can use budget to sponsor tweets and target your Facebook advertising to get your brand noticed or you can just run your accounts organically, but this is becoming harder to do, especially on Facebook. It’s important to note that not all social platforms are useful for every small business. For example, Facebook may work really well for one business but not another. So it’s important to choose the one where your audience are most active and are likely to engage with your brand.
  • Content marketing - This shares a lot of similarities with SEO as you’re creating content that can drive awareness of your brand and drive traffic to your website. This can also include blogging and creating content which engages with your customers at various steps along their purchase journey. For example, if you sell used cars online, you may create content about the pros and cons of certain models of car and their reliability / cost of running. This could be found by a potential customer when they’re at the research stage of the purchase journey.
  • Email marketing - You can use a database of potential customers email addresses and create targeted email content for your customers to engage with and visit your site. This can work very well because customers have opted-in to reading your emails and you have a chance to engage with them directly, sharing useful content, news and special offers.
These are just a snapshot of some of the digital marketing solutions that could help your business and as mentioned earlier, a combination of different channel activities often works best for small businesses.
  1. Get influencers on your side
To increase your SEO ranking organically, you need to share your newly created content with influencers that are likely to talk about it and more importantly link back to it. This can help if you’re a small business and don’t have access to a big audience already, so you’re effectively leveraging someone else’s audience. But you need to make sure that the influencer gets something in return and ultimately, that you make them look good in front of their audience. Research key bloggers and target publications taking the time to understand their blog posts and articles before pitching your content into them. It’s best practice to take an interest in their features, ensure you thank them for using your content as it means you’re more likely to have greater success when working with influencers again in the future.
  1. Choosing the right agency to suit you
There are countless digital marketing companies that you can use to create your strategy and support your activity, but it’s vital you research the agencies out there before committing to using one. You should take a look at their references, case studies and ask lots of questions. A good website doesn’t always mean that the company will be good to work with and that you’ll see a strong return on your investment (ROI). Be wary of any agencies who aren’t prepared to share client references or use NDAs as an excuse not to.
  1. Track your progress
If you have a small budget or would like to see an immediate ROI, then it’s vital that you make every penny count, knowing which approach works, and more importantly, which doesn’t. You can use tools such as Google Analytics (GA) to set up goals and see if you’re reaching them easily. Make sure you’re keeping a close eye on your analytics to help avoid unexpected dips in campaign metrics and wasted resources. If you’re unfamiliar with Google Analytics, watch some of these videos from Google to get you up to speed on the important points quickly.
  1. Evaluate your successes
It’s important to repeatedly examine your goals to ensure your digital marketing strategy is focused on achieving results. If you’re generating more traffic to your website but not seeing more revenue or leads, then you need to work out why. Perhaps the traffic you’re getting isn’t qualified or your website isn’t doing a good enough job of selling you and your business. Take a look at your target audience segments as your brand grows, and analyse marketing data to identify audience segments that offer a high return on your investment. You should also schedule regular audits to assess your brand’s digital assets, identify and explore new opportunities adapting your strategy accordingly.

By Paddy Moogan, Co-Founder of Aira