Welcome to my first missive for 2015. I hope the break finds you refreshed and raring to grow your business – especially digitally.
We all know that a proper plan entails much thought and consideration and if you have the budget, clever consultants to help you plan your business path for the year.
Ideally our business plans would drill down into marketing plans and in turn digital marketing tactics and website development requirements.
But as much as we would all love to have beautifully written and presented white papers on such plans, the reality is that we are lucky to find time and resource to come up with a simple digital wishlist.
So this blog is an attempt to help the time-poor business operator at least have a rough plan of attack for their digital requirements in 2015.
Digital Marketing Tactic #1: Your website
Who? Every business
How much? From $1000 plus monthly charges
Why? As much as websites seem oh so last millennium to the digerati, they are in fact more important than ever as the hub of your business’ digital world. Whatever you do in the online world, all roads lead back to your website as the place to inform, engage and ideally sell.
And customers now use websites as a measure of how professional your business really is. Lose them at the website and you lose the sale. It also should be ‘responsive’ to adapt to all kinds of devices.
Importantly, it should also be as ‘extensible’ of future-proof as possible to keep your future website improvement costs down. Many smaller business operators fall into the common trap of having a website created in such a way that future improvements might cost more than the original website!
Digital marketing tactic #2: Search engine optimisation
Who? Every business
How much? From $100 a year, depending on how competitive your line of business is
Why? Very few purchases are made these days without at least some interaction with a search engine to find out what to buy, how much to pay and where to buy it. And if your business isn’t prominent when these searches are carried out, you miss out on valuable, qualified and low cost leads.
Obviously your goals for optimisation will vary on your market and size, but at the very least you should aim to be coming up on the first page of Google et al search results for your line of business in your locality or coverage area. If it doesn’t, it’s a good idea to get some professional help as soon as you can or watch your competitors get the business instead.
Digital marketing tactic #3: Search engine advertising
Who? Most businesses, particularly if ‘natural’ search results are competitive
How much? From $100 per month
Why? One of the real benefits of search engine advertising is that it is performance based – you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. This means that you can run a search engine advertising campaign alongside your ‘natural’ search engine optimisation knowing that all clicks are clicks you wouldn’t have got otherwise. Clearly users wouldn’t click on your ad if your natural result caught their attention first.
The other benefit is that you have real control over your search engine presence. If you aren’t appearing prominently you can increase your bid or improve your ad or landing page to have immediate action – unlike SEO which can take weeks or months for a similar improvement.
Digital marketing tactic #4: Social networking
Who? Most businesses
How much? From $0 but can be time consuming if DIY
Why? Social networking has so many different aspects to it; it’s difficult to cover all the benefits in this ready reckoner. For example, there is your business page and attracting Likes, there is Facebook advertising, LinkedIn networking and, of course, special interest Groups.
The results will differ for every business although it is pretty much a mainstay in entertainment and hospitality industries. But by now you should have thrown some budget or resource into trying this exciting and low cost medium.
Digital marketing tactic #5: Email marketing
Who? Retailers and high information businesses
How much? Depends on in-house resources, but from $0 upwards
Why? Whilst social networking attracts much of the hype these days, its one significant flaw is that your message can be missed by your target market. Email on the other hand, sits patiently in their inboxes till they can either read or delete it. Even with the latter, your message and your name has got through to them.
In fact, email marketing remains the most cost-effective direct marketing tactic there is and so should be used hand in hand with social networking rather than as an alternative.
Digital marketing tactic #6: Blogging
Who? Businesses with sufficient new content opportunities
How much? Mainly time
Why? Blogging or article writing is a sure-fire means of raising your profile among your market for little more that the time spent writing your piece and of course growing your audience. But it rarely works in isolation.
Blogging works best when it is part of the website/email/social network content funnel that when distributed correctly can command audiences radio stations would be proud of. Even better when your blog is featured by a prominent website or publication like the one you are reading.
There are of course a range of complementary digital marketing tactics like apps, banner advertising and so on, but the above selection will provider smaller businesses an excellent return on investment if planned and executed strategically and professionally.
Which tactics should you be implementing in 2015?
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.