If you have your own business or are about to set out on a new venture then you’ll be sure to stumble into the world of digital marketing before long. For most businesses their website is an integral part of the overall marketing strategy. But that’s not all, you can build the best website in the world but if you have no traffic then it’s all a waste of time.
These conundrums lead entrepreneurs down the digital rabbit hole and into an abyss almost impossible to navigate efficiently for the newcomer. It’s also common for digital agencies to make things look as complicated as possible in order to draw as much money out of you as possible. Well it doesn’t need to be like that. In this article I am going to explain to you exactly how you can get started with digital marketing for your business when just starting out and on a budget.
You don’t need to splurge your hard earned cash on digital marketing agencies to begin with. Perhaps later on, this may be beneficial once you want someone with more experience taking over but to start with you can certainly grab the low hanging fruit by yourself, at low cost. I’m going to show you how.
- 1. Your Online Brand
- 2. A Website Built to Convert
- 3. Social Media Overview
- 4. Facebook
- 5. Instagram
- 6. Paid Social Ads
- 7. Influencer Marketing
- 8. Email Marketing
- 9. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
- 10. Re-marketing
- 11. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- 12. Content Marketing
- 13. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
How to Start Off Digital Marketing for My Business
Okay, so as a pre-requisite, we are purposely not going to go into huge technical depth through out this article. It is designed not for the marketeer but for the entrepreneur who wants to get everything rolling the correct way and start to test out some digital marketing options. I am not going to show you how to do each individual thing in a technical way, there’s tonnes of articles out there that will explain this to you. Rather, I will tell you WHAT to do so that you know exactly what to search instead of getting lost in the avalanche of marketing articles out there. That being said, let’s get going.
1. Your Online Brand
Claim Your Business Names Online
The very first thing you need to do as a new business is to claim your name in every space possible online. If your company is a nut company called BackFlipNuts then you don’t want all of your website, social names and handles all being different. You have to assume that your customers will follow the path of least resistance in searching for you online. That means, if your name is hard to search or find, or different on every platform, then you are going to lose a bunch of hard earned potential customers from your ecosystem.
The Golden Rule: Make it as easy as possible for your customers to do what you want them to do. Remove every obstacle. Let is be seamless and you’ll get the best results.
Key platforms to claim your name include but are not limited to:
- Website domain name
What if Your Name is Taken?
How to start digital marketing for my business if my name is taken? Don’t worry, this does happen more often than not. You’ll be a lucky person to get through that list without any hiccups. If you did then hurray, you have an original name! Otherwise, there are a few options for you. You can try shorten your name, add extra words on the end like ‘Official’ or use punctuation such as _ (underscores). As mentioned before, if you are going to do this then make sure you only have to do it once. At worst you can then limit your ‘names’ to two variations – so once you have made your decision, go check all of the online platforms for availability. If availability is lacking then get back to the drawing board and decide on another option.
2. A Website Built to Convert
If you’re trying to market your business online then you are probably going to need a website. Let’s hope that you have secured your brand domain name on as many TLD’s as possible. TLD stands for Top-Level-Domain and basically is the .com, .co.uk, .net bit added to the end of your website. Go ahead and buy every single one of them. Then pick the best one for your business and have your web team redirect all of the others to that one domain name.
Now, whether you are going to a web agency or you are trying to build this yourself, there’s a few important things to factor. If you are going to pay a web design agency to create this site for you then understand that they may be brilliant at making websites look nice but from experience in the industry, they have no idea what they are doing half the time in terms of conversion. Imagine having a beautiful glass high street shop with a design like no other. People flock to it. They want to come in but there is no door. What happens next? They turn around and go to the rival store which has it’s doors wide open and a nice warm welcome hand to usher them inside. Don’t be that glass shop.
Luckily, we’re going to go through a few things in terms of design here so that when you go for your meeting with the agency, you can tell them what you want and then give them their creative license to build the site assuming they include these features.
Above the Fold
Let’s first look at this concept of ‘above the fold’. Originating from broadsheet newspapers, above the fold refers to the area that a user will see when they first land on the website. Or, because newspapers used to be so big, readers would fold them in half. This means that advertising space above that fold would be seen first and so becomes more valuable. Same thing goes for your website. The very first thing a user will see when they hit your landing page (above the fold) is often the last thing they will see. In fact, you have just a few seconds to offer some reason for the user to stay on your site otherwise they will simply click that X button and leave without venturing down the page where all your fancy offers may be located.
So, above the fold you need to have some compelling headline, you need to have phone numbers, contact buttons, contact forms. You need to make it as easy as possible for a user to contact you without having ot move away from the first thing they see.
Same goes for the mobile experience or ‘before the scroll’, you could say. More important on your mobile version of the site is to have a click to call button in a sticky menu. If the user has a phone in their hand then you had better make it god damn easy for them to call you up.
Call to Actions
So many times I have been asked to help consult a business about why their site isn’t converting very well. The second I land on their homepage I can see no instant way to get in touch with them – I find this incredible. A web agency had designed this for them and has omitted placing even a phone number at the top of the page – it really is ludicrous.
Call to actions must be included in a very simple, easy to follow way. Have your phone number at the top and make sure it is click to call. Have a contact or email button at the top. Have some kind of offer that you can exchange for your users information etc.
This is vitally important and can make or break your ROI. Two key reason. Firstly, no user is going to wait around for a slow site to load. They will just X out and go elsewhere – simple. That’s potential customers leaving your site because it has been coded poorly or is on a slow server. Secondly, Google listen to what your site visitors are doing. If they are all bouncing off the site because it is too slow then Google see’s your site experience as poor and then guess what happens? You tank down the rankings losing both traffic and new customers.
Over 50% of your visitors will be viewing your site on mobile. So you need to make sure it works for them too. That means, all of the buttons are big enough to tap. The text and content is big enough to view without having to pinch and zoom in. AND your call to actions are adjusted for those viewing your site on the mobile experience. For example, making the call button clickable is a must as your user already has their phone sat in their hand. One tap of the finger and they could be talking to you – it is unforgivable to not give them that option if you are a service business in particular.
User Experience (UX)
Web designers are usually pretty good at this from my experience. This is all about giving the user a good and easy navigation throughout the site. You want them to be able to find exactly what they want with ease and you want to keep them on the site for as long as you possibly can. This all comes as a result of an excellent User Experience.
We will go into more detail on specific elements of the landing pages a little later in the Conversion Rate Optimisation section but these few points will take you a long way. Another key thing to think about is the Search Engine Optimisation of your site. That includes site architecture as well as the content and keyword targeting included in evergreen content. Now you have a Website made you need to send traffic to that site.
Theres lots of way to do this.
3. Social Media Overview
When asking how to start digital marketing for my business, social media is one of the first things you’ll think of. Social media is now something you can’t ignore (i’m sure you’ve heard this before). But really, social doesn’t stop at social. Your website rankings are linked to social. Your customers will be checking you out on social no doubt. You’ll be dealing with customer service on there. Social is not what is used to be. It is now a key part of almost all areas of your online presence.
Types of Content
When it comes to content it is firstly important that you post platform specific content. users on Instagram or Twitter are in a completely different mindset than when they are on Pinterest or Facebook. This means that they are going to respond to your content differently depending on which platform their are consuming it on.
That being said, if you are time conscious as many entrepreneurs are, you can write one post and then adjust it to fit in better with the space you are putting it out to. In general you can follow these guidelines:
When posting social content it is key to have the mindset of giving value to your users. Nobody wants to scroll through their feed being sold to on every post. If this is what you try to do then prepare for a very long, arduous journey to social media stardom (you’ll never make it there). Instead follow the rule of giving value 75% of the time and then 1 in 4 posts you can throw out there some offer or call to action that you’d like them to take.
A Note on Twitter
Short form & conversational content. This platform is VERY conversational. You are best placed following the audiences that your demographic follow. Interact and talk to people who may be trying to solve a problem that you have a solution for. Remember, there is a strict character limit with tweets (140) and so you need to be concise and to the point.
Make sure to include links in your posts to direct people to your website. As there is a character limit though, you don’t want to waste those beloved letters on stupidly long links. That’s where url shorteners such as bit.ly come in. They’ll shorten any link to one small bitesize link perfect for social posts.
Post frequency: 4 times a day is plenty fine. If you can’t cope with this much then to worry. By four posts we do not mean four spammy give me your money posts either. As mentioned before, still follow the 1:4 rule.
That being said, Twitter is not so great at lead generation. It’s strengths lie in customer service and nurturing leads by showing that you have a strong voice in your niche. I’d recommend if you’re starting out, make the Twitter account and post regularly BUT place most of your efforts in Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook works great for longer form content. It is a slower paces social media than the likes of Instagram and Twitter. You can also place your links into your posts which means that offering some form of teaser and then linking the user off to your website is always a winning idea.
How Often Should You Post?
Studies have shown that the sweet spot is around 2 posts per day. That’s enough to engage with your customers without annoying the hell out of them. Remember to follow the 1:4 rule and to keep that content value giving.
Video content also works great and is highly shareable. This has become more and more apparent over the past few years and is still a growing trend. Another thing to note with video is that a lot of your users are going to be viewing content in public or on transport where they don’t want the volume on. Luckily, Facebook have a very good built in subtitle creator. I’d advise adding those subtitles to any videos so that they are more accessible to those who don’t want the volume blurting out.
It’s very important to stay interactive on Facebook. If someone comments on your post, reply to them. Be in the conversion because people appreciate it and will comment again in the future. As people comment on your posts, Facebook see’s it has higher quality and so shows it to more people in their feed.
An incredible visual social media platform in which you can only really view content on mobile. Video is limited to 60 seconds, even more backing up the fast paced attention span of user whilst browsing the site. What does that mean? Your content must be snappy, it must grab the attention and it must be interesting visually.
The ideal amount of posts for Instagram would be 1.5 per day. You can add lots of content such as boomerangs, short videos and interesting images of your business.
Don’t forget to add hashtags that are relevant to your post. This will help you to gain a little more traction and traffic to your posts.
Something to note is that you cannot post links in Instagram posts but you can have one link in your bio on your profile page. I’d make that a link to your website or a prevalent offer you have on at the moment and then send people to that link from your posts.
A key area of Instagram is Instagram stories and we recommend updating on there throughout the day as often as possible. You can add others stories to your own, and also add highlights that potential customers may find helpful to watch in order to nurture them to becoming a customer.
6. Paid Social Media Ads
People can run entire businesses off paid social ads – they are hugely powerful for certain industries. That being said, you may not be one of those industries. The only way to be sure is to go out there and test. It won’t break the bank. Although you can experiment placing ads across almost every social platform out there, we are going to stick to Facebook and Instagram to start with. These are the most easily utilised platforms that can bring you the best ROI in most cases.
To get started with facebook ads you’ll want to set up your business manager account as well as your facebook page if you dont have one. You’ll need some idea of your demographic and their interests for your targeting. You’ll need to have an ad creative too and some kind of landing page or form for them to sign up to.
What’s great is that facebook bought out instragram and so you can simply include instagram n your list of placments and there you go – simple. In the long term you’ll find incresed conversion rates by making separate ads for instagram or native ads. however, to get yhe ball rolling and to save you time we cna do it this way.
7. Influencer Marketing
These last few years have seen such a rise in influencer marketing that people even do this for their full time jobs. Put simply, you find a social media 9person with a large following of which consists largely of your potential demographic for customers. You then pay said influencer to endorse your product in some way this passing on the marketing to their fans. You then get a bunch of clients that way. The hard part of this is to figure out exactly the roi of the project.
Influencer marketing works better for some brand than others. For example, clothes brand work great. You can pay influencers to wear your clothes brand. This is a subtle way of introducing their fan base to your clothing line. They then see it and see the person they look up to wearing you brand an they go ahead and buy it for themselves.
8. Email Marketing
I see a lot of people touting email marketing as the best form of marketing out there (because it is free). That given, the volume of leads you are going to pull through it is not necessarily big and so a lower cost per acquisition does not necessarily reflect on your profits. Email marketing is for sure a great way to resell to existing customers and to nurture new ones through the funnel. It plays a part but it is by no means an alternative to other marketing streams such as Social and Google Ads.
Which Email Software to Use
Firstly, you should choose which software you want to use. We recommend either MailChimp or InfusionSoft. MailChimp is much simpler and less expensive. It plenty good enough for most small businesses. However, some people say that they can feel a little constricted as they start to use email more and more. In which case you can switch to InfuionSoft. Both are great and i’d recommend checking them out and doing some research before jumping in.
A relevant email list is very valuable to a business and we recommend getting started with this from day one. Of course, at day one you’ll be on zero subscribers and it is going to take time to build this up. You want to link up your website and landing page contact forms with your email software first of all. This means that when someone enquires to your business, you can send them off into your email list for the relevant service they are interested in. Now, make sure to have a ‘double opt in’ as per the new GDPR rules.
Once this is done, i’d recommend adding some subscribe forms onto your website and then offering some value in exchange for them signing up. This could be a downloadable guide or free consultation. It could be a free book or ebook. Whatever you can offer at a low cost and a higher perceived value is ideal.
Another option is to do competitions on your site and social media to get new sign ups to your list.
Always set up autoresponders – they’re easy enough to set up in your email software. They are simply confirmation emails sent back to your customers. For example, if a customer filled in a contact form, it would let him know that you’ve received his email and will get back to him shortly.
A simple value proposition is the humble newsletter. It’s good to keep in touch with customers and send out new offers that may tickle their fancy. It’s also good to keep engaged with them and share any news that you might want them to know.
Segmenting & Automation
As you delve deeper into email marketing you will need to learn about segmenting. This is where you can section off particular users into particular lists. It is VERY powerful. Let’s say you send out a newsletter to all of your email list. You talk about three new products in there and have links off to each one in the email. Now, if one of your users opens the email and clicks off to a particular product you can track this action. You can then add this user into a separate bucket designated for those interested in the item they picked. You can then use automation to send out a series of three emails talking about the product they are qualified for and trying to get them to buy it eventually. See how it all maps together into a seamless funnel!
9. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
When it comes to digital marketing, in almost all circumstances, you must be doing paid search. Have you ever seen those ads at the top of Google after you’ve searched something? Well that is paid search or in this case, ‘Pay per Click’ marketing through Google Ads (formerly AdWords). Now, this is a very in depth topic and can run extremely deep when you get into the testing and optimisation that you can do.
You start off any PPC campaign by doing in depth keyword research. This must not be rushed or you’ll regret it further down the line when you are not getting the results you wanted. So, what exactly is Keyword Research? Well, imagine you are heading off to Google now to search for a product. What would you search in there to find that product? Now, go a level deeper. What would someone who knows exactly what they want and is ready to buy that product right now be searching into Google? And, what would someone who is moderately interested but is still not quite ready to buy be searching?
These questions are very important. As someone searching ‘Buy Mens Brown Shoes Size 10 Now’ is someone you’d be wanted to see your ad if you had mens brown size 10 shoes for sale at this moment. You take that keyword and you add it into what’s called an Ad Group. An Ad Group is a group of a few closely related keywords. You then create a very targeted ad for this specific Ad Group. Next you bid on each keyword in the ad group and if your bid is high enough compared to other people bidding, you’ll come up in the Google search when your keyword is queried. A click on your ad then takes them to your landing page or website where they can potentially turn into a customer. And, you only pay if the user clicks on your ad.
There is a huge amount of depth to this topic and i’m not going to be able to cover it all here. However, this is just to give you an idea of what is possible with PPC marketing.
The second largest PPC network is Bing Ads. There is less competition on here but also less users and so we usually recommend starting off on the Google Ads network instead. However, what we usually do is to bid on our brand words on Bing. This means that if someone is on Bing and is searching specifically for you then you are certain to pop up at the top of the search. This will be very low cost as your page will be so incredibly relevant to the searchers query. Usually you can get clicks this way for around 10p.
Key Factors in PPC to Lower Cost Per Click
The science of pay per click is deep and Google have an entire algorithm which generates a metric called ‘Quality Score’ for each of your keywords. Quality Score is ranked out of 10 and a 10 on the scale will give you a low cost per click on your keywords. A few of the most important factors influencing quality score are; expected click through rate, landing page experience, keyword relevance & ad text relevance. That being said, there are many more factors to take into account and to test.
When it comes to landing page experience, it’s key that you develop conversion optimised landing pages. We wrote an in depth article covering four of the most popular landing page builders that covers all of the details on the best one to go for.
Display network marketing are those image ads that you may see as you browse specific websites. Theres a section inside that which works to display those ads that follow you around the internet. That is called ‘re-marketing’ and we’ll cover that next. In the meantime we can look at display network. This works by creating a visual ad which has a specific resolution and you can then choose topics or even specific website that you’d like this ad to be placed on. Now if a use clicks your ad you then pay the cost per click that you have placed on the value of the ad.
This sends the user to your landing page in which they may or may not convert.
You can then take that list and integrate it with Google Ads to use display marketing. This means that those users will see your display ads show up as they browse the internet. Of course they are already qualified and so have a good chance of seeing your ad and clicking it. You can also integrate re-marketing lists with Facebook. This means that your ad can pop up in the qualified users feed for the exact type of product they expressed an interest in.
11. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The big wide unknown of SEO – it really is that big and you can certainly get lost to hell in it. This is a HUGE reason why so many business will try to take the easy option with their SEO. They’ll either hire cheaply or find some quick fix to get their rankings up. Well, sadly, although there may have been in googles past, there is now no quick fix with SEO. You really have to put in the time and effort. Any quick fix will be short lived and risks having your entire website placed o the black list and penalised leaving it demoted in the rankings. SEO must be played out long term now and that means a proper content strategy and a lot of work.
This topic is so in depth but we’ll give you some pointers here.
Step 1 is to optimise your website for SEO. That means you should make sure that as Google crawls your site it damn well knows what each and every page is about. You do not want it to be confused because then it will not rank highly. Each page on your site should be specifically targeted around a tight set of keywords. Just like those keywords you bid on in PPC, only this time you’ll be ranking organically for them.
You should look to add tags to your content in the form of headings. Include your keyword in as many of those tags as possible but more importantly the H1 tags. When google crawl your site it works in a specific way, looking at your title and H tags first and then working its way through the body. Adding keywords to high level title and H tags helps Google to understand what your content is all about.
Keyword density is the amount of times your keyword appears in the text compared to other words. A benchmark figure to aim for is around 3%. If you have any more than that, Google may suspect that you are spamming keywords with an attempt on manipulating the algorithm. This is not good for the user experience and so is penalised by Google’s algorithm – so stick to 3% max.
User experience again. Your content cannot be a jumble of words in a wall of monotonous text. Rather, you should make use of headings, paragraphs, images and not too long sentences. Use punctuation and line breaks to make the text more digestible.
Outbound and Inbound Links
It is important to include links to other valuable content across the web. Although it may seem counterintuitive, Google rewards you for being helpful and sharing other quality content. We suggest adding 2-3 inbound links to other relevant content on your own site and then 1-2 links to other content on other sites with a high Domain Authority.
Images and Alt Tags
Add images to help make the text more easily consumed. The type of imagery you’ll want to think about with relation to the industry you are working in. However, all images have an option called ‘Alt Text’. This text is used for blind people who visit the web and need to know what an image depicts. You should add some information text to this (and include a keyword if it works) and then this will be read out to the blind user as their speech software reads the web page to them.
This can vary hugely. A minimum of 500 is recommended but that really is the bare minimum. Ideally you want over 1000 and for a killer piece of content you may even stretch to a couple of thousand or more. However, don’t just add length for lengths sake. It’s how you use the words that matters (that’s what they say, right?).
One of the biggest factors in how well your pages are going to rank in search engines. A link is when somebody links fro their website to yours. It is them vouching for your content. The more links you have is not necessarily better for you. It really depends on the quality of the links. There is a metric called Domain Authority. Installing the Moz Toolbar will show you the DA of a site you’re currently browsing. You want to get links form as high DA as possible (40+ ideally). However, you do need some from all types of DA to show Google that you have a ‘natural link profile’.
A link from CNN or the BBC for example would bode very well for your page as they wold not just link to anyone. Google therefore sees them vouching for you and that makes your content very credible.
If you are a local business then you need to get on Local SEO straight away. You need to iron out what is called your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number). Your NAP MUST be identical on every single citation across the web. The more you can get the same, the better for your local SEO. Check out Moz Local or Bright Local for a list of directories that you should look to claim your business name and make that NAP uniform WHEREVER on the web it is. You can also add some structured mark up as well as having your name and address and writing location specific content with location keywords in across your site.
- SE Ranking
- Ninja Outreach
- Buss Sumo
- Moz Local
- Bright Local
12. Content Marketing
The buzzword that’s been going around the digital marketing forums over the past few years is – ‘Content is King’. Now, to me this is not necessarily true. In fact, the importance of content to you depends entirely on your industry. That being said, content marketing has changed dramatically over the past few years. Gone are the times when content was whored out with stuffed keywords to seduce Google algorithm. Those times have changed. Google became wise and now you’ll be penalised for that.
Content is now rewarded for being helpful, engaging and link worthy. This means that you need to put time into it – that or hire a good content writer to create it for you. You should aim to be creating something of value that people WANT to link to. Another key factor is the time spent on these pages. Google will look into that and see it as a sign of both relevance and quality.
Content should be seen as a multi-channel stream. That means, you share your content across social, through your email list, you post it on forums. If it is good enough then it gets spread, you get eyes on it, you get links, and you do well online.
13. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
This is something that is essential to the growth of your business. Here’s the thing, every single company is different. That means you will have certain types of wording and images and landing page layouts that end up converting better than others. This may mean that copying a rival company does not work quite as well for you.
This is why conversion rate optimisation is something you should get working on from day one and have this as a periodic task for your digital marketing. The most important way to do this is through A/B testing. This entails creating two versions of the same landing page, one having just a single thing different to the other. You then run some traffic through that and see which one converts best. Ongoing from this you remove the poor landing page and make a new iteration of your best page. As you continue to do this over time you’ll see you’re conversion rates continue to increase until you hit a plateau.
We use a fantastic landing page builder called Unbounce to build our landing pages. You can get free trial plus save 20% on your first three months using our partner link below.
You can test everything from your PPC ads, your FB page buttons and layout and your website landing pages. Not only this but there are a ton of great things you can test which include heat maps, adding social proof plugins and testimonials to your page and adjusting the amount of video, image, test and colours on your landing pages.
Whatever happens, one of my mottos is to ‘always be testing’, because when you are not, someone else is and they are the people going that extra 10% who are going to see the better conversion rates, lowers costs and more successful businesses.
And that is it for now. Let’s call it a three step process. Make your money platforms e.g. your website and any way you can sell your good or service. Then find your demographic and get traffic to said money platform. Once you start getting traffic you then use CRO to optimise everything from your content to your landing pages to maximise the level of traffic and conversions and thus gain the most ROI from your digital efforts.
We hope that the question of how to start digital marketing for my business has now been answered. Start your journey now and see how far you can go in just a few months time!
I hope that this article has been helpful to get you going on your digital marketing efforts. If you have questions relating to your business in particular then drop a comment in the box below or contact me and i’ll give you some advice.