- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On April 2, 2016
- Digital strategy
If you’ve bought into the program and decided you need to take your digital marketing to the next for level for your local business. Where should you start? There are so many options it can be quite overwhelming.
Here’s my best shot at answering that question. Here are 7 steps you should take to go from “zero to hero” with your digital marketing—in approximate order:
1. Get your website in shape
A lot of the other things in this post will drive people back to your website. Your website is your “shop on the Internet”. You likely care (quite a lot) about how your physical stores looks. You want to make a good first impression on people walking into your business for the first time. Your store conveys who you are and what you stand for.
Your website also conveys who you are. But unless your store is in Times Square your website will be seen by many more people.
Let’s say it’s a “sad fact” that websites need to be rebuilt every 5 years or so. Styles change and eventually your website is going to look old. An old website is going to convey that your business is not keeping up with the times. A bit like a shop that is getting a little shabby. You probably don’t want to convey that iamge.
2. Make your website mobile
According to Microsoft this is the year when more people will access the Internet on their mobile device (phone or tablet) than on their computer.
Today’s imperative is that your website looks good and functions well on a smartphone (iPhone, Android etc.) and on a tablet (iPad etc). You cannot assume your old website will be fine on a smartphone. If it’s more than a year old and you don’t know that it’s mobile optimized then it probably isn’t.
People don’t want to have to zoom in on their phone to see what you are selling. They don’t want links and buttons that are so small you need a pen to touch them.
Having your site optimized for smartphones is more critical for local businesses than anyone else. Roughly 50% all mobile searches are local, meaning that the individual who has initiated the search has done so with the intent of finding a local business. If you want to convert these mobile searchers into customers, a mobile optimized website is a must.
3. Use email to drive action
Maybe you’ve heard this before, but email is not dead. The ROI on email marketing is the highest out there There’s an over $40 return on investment for every dollar spent, on average, in email marketing.
Spamming is not where the ROI lies. ROI comes from building “opt-in” lists of customers and potential customers that want to receive information from you.
These customers and potential customers will only opt in if they feel they will get something of value so you need to offer that in your emails. This could be educational content or you could send offers such as sales or discount coupons.
4. Do some basic SEO
Google’s search engine alone has the highest number of visitors of any website on the Internet, with 153,441,000 unique visitors per month in the US alone (source: Go-Gulf). And search influences spending with research showing that 70-80% of consumers use search engines to support their buying decisions (source: Hubspot). On every website I’ve ever run the biggest source of traffic has been organic (free) search.
You must do some basic SEO if you want to be competitive in your space. Skipping SEO today is like saying you don’t want to be listed in the phone book.
The good news is SEO is becoming more intuitive—more human and less about tricks. However you do need to know the lay of the land before you spend a lot of time implementing approaches that will not work. SEO is probably still a good area in your business where you should hire an expert to help you–at least initially.
5. Get some immediate action with PPC
Organic SEO is very effective but it’s Achilles heel is that it takes time, you could say a lot of time. I’d say be prepared to invest for a year, at least six months, before you see significant business results from organic SEO.
Given this time delay a lot of businesses opt to “pay to play”. In “Googleland” this means buying ads on Adwords, or so called “Pay-per-click” (PPC) ads.
PPC makes a lot of sense to get the needle moving now rather than next year. It also allows you to test keywords that you can then deploy in your organic SEO campaigns—a big bonus.
For businesses with a reasonable marketing budget getting both PPC and organic SEO moving now makes a lot of sense. You can drive business right away with PPC and build for the future with your organic SEO work.
6. Start a blog
If you buy into SEO, than you should buy into blogging.
Blogging is one of the best ways to build web pages with the keywords you need for SEO. Once you’re blogging you’re constantly creating fresh content, a major factor in Google ranking.
Given today’s competitive landscape it’s going to be hard to rank at the top of your area without some effort to continually create fresh content. Blogging gives you this.
7. Set up lead generating offers
Say you’ve done all the hard work to get people to your website. Now you need to turn them into leads. When someone comes to your website they are anonymous. You don’t know who they are. Therefore you cannot follow up. You need something to entice them to fill out a form.
Today, people expect something in return for giving up their email address and name. They know you are likely going to market to them. To get their name you need to offer them something of perceived value, for example an educational ebook, a discount coupon or a free webinar.