I was at a party the other weekend, walking around with a tasty Coke and a plate of tiny foods. My wife came up beside me as I was mingling with strangers. I was mostly avoiding conversation and occasionally yelling out The Office quotes — you know, trying to fit in but also seeking the spotlight sometimes.
“Jason,” she whispered, “work on your marketing.”
It took me a minute to catch up to her thinking. Then it hit me. Marketing is a lot like how I was interacting at that party.
I wasn’t marketing myself correctly. Sure, I have all the accepted accoutrements that a guy my age should. I have glasses that are ironic yet functional, I have an age-appropriate shirt, and I generally have a beard. All marketable, right? Right.
But regardless of what I looked like on the outside, I wasn’t engaging with people in the right way. So, none of that mattered.
Later that week, I thought that many small business owners may be struggling with the same question I am, “How can I improve my marketing?”
That’s the million-dollar question, and it’s one that every business owner struggles with constantly. Parties aren’t about avoiding conversation and occasionally reaching out to mingle with strangers. Neither is marketing. Mostly marketing is a living thing that shifts to the environment, interacts with the audience, and adapts to whatever works.
The digital landscape is the present and future of small business marketing. Customers expect to find businesses online, so you should be there. Be ready and present at the digital party ready to fully engage with your audience.
Maintain a High-Quality Website
You can’t improve your digital marketing strategy without a strong starting point: your website. It doesn’t matter what you sell or what services you offer. You need a website to be successful in this tech day and age. Since you’re looking for tips about how to improve your digital strategy and not flat-out start one, we’ll assume that you have an established website and that much of your marketing efforts are digital.
Traditional marketing techniques — like flyers and print ads — can be effective, but they’re not as dynamic as online marketing. A website gives you a 24/7 salesperson, available whenever your potential customers are searching. Just because you make an incredible product or provide high- demand services doesn’t mean your customers will find you or understand the solutions you provide.
A thoughtful website also delivers relevant, authoritative, and unique content.
Rule number one: maintain a high-quality website.
Formulate a Marketing Strategy
Regardless of whether you serve a local community or an eCommerce one, you need a marketing strategy. When crafting a marketing strategy, look at your value proposition. This is the foundation of your business and must be crystal clear.
Think of your target audience and what you have to offer that’s unique to your product or services. How can you make your customers’ lives easier? What can’t they live without? Your target audience is who responds to your value proposition. So, make it clear to them. Once you’ve perfected your value proposition, it’ll serve as the masthead of your marketing strategy. If you don’t have one, you’ll aimlessly target potential customers who may or may not convert. Always have a clear goal.
Additionally, each business has a different service or product to offer and the marketing strategy should reflect that. Every SEO, social media, paid ads, and media campaign needs to communicate your value statement. Begin by looking at your product or service. Really drill down into what you have to offer your customers. Establish your target market, create a set of goals, and never deviate from your original value statement. Every marketing decision you make should back your value statement, no exceptions.
Concentrate on Your Organic Presence
The key today for a strong organic presence is trustworthy, authoritative, and relevant content. Your content should be clear, concise, and informative. That may seem like a tall order, but the goal of your content is to establish your business as a trusted expert on your product or service.
Think of your content like a conversation with your customers. The cardinal rule for content is the E-A-T strategy. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Be an expert, establish yourself as an authority, and prove you’re trustworthy. Present the information as naturally as possible.
That said, the content should include focused keywords. Many inexperienced business owners or content writers attempt to stack as many keywords into a paragraph as possible. This may have worked in the old days, but the “SEO Wild West” is a thing of the past. Keywords naturally fall into content when written from an authoritative perspective since keyword phrases already match what you’re talking about. Excessive use of your target keywords can result in lower SERP rankings because there’s little value and context given to each term. Yes, it’s that important.
Business owners serving a local community should also be wary of excessive use of locations as a keyword. In the end, they’ll also foul up your pages and potentially make the content almost unreadable.
How many times have you seen copy similar to this: “San Diego’s number one plumber” followed directly by, “when you need a plumber in San Diego…” followed by, “Your San Diego plumber…” Yeah, we get it, you’re a plumber in San Diego. Go easy on the location keywords because they detract from the value of the content itself.
Use Organic Content and Paid Ads Together
Paid advertising always requires a recurring budget to pay for views, clicks, and some fees to the platform hosting the ad. But, this can be an effective way to appear in front of your audience.
A paid strategy alone is great, but not many people take advantage of an organic presence, which can actually boost the reach of your ads. Let’s be clear: paying for ads doesn’t directly mean your organic ranking will improve. However, it’s been my experience that, when running paid ads, focusing on producing content that supports those ads is the best way to maximize your ad budget.
You’ll yield exceptional results from an organic strategy that includes targeted page content directly related to your ads. This is mainly because the ad content is supported by the same message in the page content. Typically, this increases the quality score of the ad, which decreases the cost per click.
Ultimately, a goal for focusing on organic ranking can be to eliminate or decrease the budget required for paid advertising. When your organic traffic surpasses your paid traffic, you can dial back the investment in paid ads. You can also rely more on organic to build your audience base.
Establish KPIs and Track Them Regularly
Without analytics, marketing is like playing golf with a basketball. It may be the right shape, but once you get to the hole, there is no way it’ll fit.
Likewise, marketing without knowing how your efforts are performing is akin to throwing your money away. Tracking analytics in the form of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) adds to a marketing campaign and helps you avoid costly mistakes. The main driver for tracking analytics is to know exactly what works and what doesn’t. This information allows you to invest in the strategies that drive results.
Some informative KPIs to follow for a digital strategy are:
- site views
- conversion rate
- cost per conversion
- bounce rate
- top keywords
Of course, you can use more indicators to see if your marketing efforts are worth continuing or if you should switch things up.
Check your KPIs regularly (I recommend once a month), so you can gain an accurate picture of your marketing efforts. Though, if you’re trying out new campaigns, it’s helpful to check your KPIs every week. If you haven’t utilized analytics, the results can be eye-opening. If your efforts aren’t effective after a few months, change it up and reoptimize. A good place to start is with SEO title tags and meta descriptions.
Too many times, businesses find one marketing tactic and stick with it. But your business will never realize its full potential when you stay in one lane. Staying agile and experimenting with new strategies, campaigns, and ideas is the key to growth.
Social media marketing, for example, is essential when trying to grow your business in the current digital climate. It may be something new for older, more established businesses; however, the agility of digital marketing gives you the flexibility to try it out. It could turn out that social media may not be a viable marketing strategy for you. While that probably won’t happen, it’s an example of unplanned shifts in marketing that your business needs to prepare for.
This ties back into maintaining a high-quality website. A website should be dynamic. It should be frequently updated to keep up with the latest updates from your business, new products, or seasonal promotions. A relevant website is a key fundamental to an agile digital marketing strategy.
Keep it Simple, Stay Agile, Be an Expert
To improve your marketing strategy, follow the basics, have a dynamic website and coordinate your ads and content. Formulate a plan but don’t be afraid of adjustments. Above all, become a trusted expert in your industry. I’m confident that you can find success with these methods.
Of course, a thoughtful digital strategy generally takes effort. Marketing isn’t rocket science. Your digital marketing will be much more successful with patience, hard work, and a great website. With an improved marketing strategy, you may just find yourself to be the life of the party.
Our mission is to help small businesses grow. There are numerous successes through boosting organic value and paid search. Check out a case study by Marketing 360® about an eCommerce client who was stuck in the old hamster wheel of marketing – “like we’ve always done it” and ultimately transformed into a bountiful digital marketing strategy.