No easy button for digital marketing: Make it a priority & listen to your analytics

Are you listening to what your analytics are telling you?

When it comes to marketing your small business, digital tools can offer you valuable insights about your company and can help you assess the performance of your digital marketing efforts. But to do digital marketing right, you need to have someone, internal or outsourced, who is knowledgeable, focused and dedicated to steering  your digital marketing strategy.

 “Many small businesses look to do as much as they can and may be focused on getting in the game and quantity versus quality.  Some have knowledgeable internal staff or outside agencies while many use a DIY approach and cannot devote the necessary study and time required to stand out in the digital world,” says Don Silver, COO of BoardroomPR, a statewide public relations and integrated marketing agency.

For starters, your website needs to be up to date, mobile ready and delivering a satisfying customer experience that reflects your brand. But what can analytics about who’s visiting your site, what are they seeking, how did they get there and how long are they engaging tell you about your business and what’s working (or not)? A lot. And times are changing: Having an effective SEO strategy isn’t about gaming Google anymore. High quality content is king – and that goes for newsletters too. Newsletters, done well, can be one of your most effective marketing tools.

GrowBiz talked with Silver about some digital best practices any growing small business can utilize to boost their brand and sales.

What are a few best practices for email newsletters?

First, design at least two templates consistent with your company branding, one for single-item advisories or alerts and the other for a more comprehensive traditional newsletter.

Then focus on developing a comprehensive database breaking down different “audiences” to target with appropriate news and upload it to high quality email service such as Constant Contact or Mail Chimp.

Develop an editorial calendar with ideas and news your target readers will appreciate.  Make sure the stories are well conceived and written and include great visuals like photos, infographics and maybe video.

Also very important is checking the analytics to see the percentage of people opening your email, what they are reading and Unsubscribes.

 What are a couple of ways a small business can strategically use its website to market and gain customers?

A business website is the mother ship.  All digital communications must all link back to the website.

Businesses should implement a search engine optimization campaign targeting geo-targeted keyword phrases that people use to search for their products or services.  The other is paid search.  For specific products, services or promotions, you can pay Google to be in the top 3-5 listings.  This is known as pay-per-click or Google Adwords campaign.

It is most important to have skilled professionals run these campaigns, otherwise, it is not difficult to spend large sums of money with poorly conceived campaigns that do not achieve the desired results.

It is not unusual to hear from prospects that they tried a campaign themselves and it did not work.  It may be that they simply didn’t know what they were doing.  It is a professionals’ market.

What are your tips for SEO strategy?

Having great organic rankings on Google is a goldmine, for those who invest in an ongoing SEO campaign.  This includes treating your site like a living, breathing animal by constantly improving everything and closely monitoring the Google Analytics to see what’s working and what is not.  This includes adding tightly focused new pages, taking care of backend titles, alt descriptions, generating internal links from your blog and key product and service pages and undertaking an off-site link building campaign.

 How should a small business best utilize social media campaigns and how can they measure performance?

Fielding a comprehensive social media campaign can be a great way to engage existing customers and clients as well as generate new ones.  First, you have to choose the right platforms for your campaign and do comprehensive research to define the right audiences to reach, properly set up your pages and profiles and develop a winning social media campaign.  Also, it’s not a bad idea to look at what your competitors are doing right and where the opportunities might exist.

Just as with the website and e-newsletter, you need to key in on what your audience is looking for.  It may be entertainment, education, news, trends, but you have to incorporate great visuals with well written copy and catchy or hard-hitting headlines to get them interested.

Remember, with the trends going the way they are going, if you don’t have a budget for paid boosts, ads and other options, you will only be talking to yourself.  That’s how these companies are making money.

As with most digital platforms, all the major social media platforms offer exhaustive analytics for you to judge your performance.  There are also third-party apps you can use to run your campaigns.

Doing social media right is labor intensive.

More generally, what is your best PR tip for small businesses?

I believe it’s all about engaging and pleasing your customers, those that brought you to the party.  All the digital and traditional marketing and PR in the world won’t get you where you want to go without delivering a great customer experience and standing behind your product or service.

GrowBiz is produced by Florida SBDC at FIU. Please send GrowBiz topic suggestions and feedback to GrowBiz@FIU.EDU


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