“I post new articles regularly. I’m active on social media. And, I’m trying to keep up with SEO best practices. Why don’t I see any result?”
A lot of the small business owners we talk to feel that, in spite of their efforts, the needle doesn’t seem to be moving. The problem in most cases is that they don’t have a clear plan of action. They have a vague idea of what they want to achieve (more customers, more sales, or more engagement,) they know what tactics they need (blog content, social media posts, search engine optimization) but they don’t have a tactical plan.
According to a recent study, 46% of companies don’t have a defined digital marketing strategy while 16% of them have a strategy but have yet to implement it into their marketing activities.
Here’s the thing: if you don’t have a clear plan in place, how can you expect to grow. Without a strategy, you’re just throwing darts in the dark hoping that something will stick. This approach is not only time-consuming but also extremely ineffective.
So, here’s how to create a digital marketing strategy blueprint for your small business.
Develop Buyer Personas
Whether your business is online or offline, the first thing you need to establish is who you are selling to. A lot of small business owners treat this aspect superficially and only have a generalized profile of their target audience. But, the best online marketing strategies are built upon detailed buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer. You can create these detailed profiles by surveying, researching, and interviewing your audience. The advantage, businesses that use buyer personas have is clear: every action they take is based on precise, accurate data instead of just making assumptions about what prospects want.
Here is some of the key information you need to focus on to create buyer personas:
- Location: Use Google Analytics to identify where most of your traffic is coming from;
- Age: This variable is not always relevant. Gather data from your existing customer database to identify any relevant trends;
- Income: This information will help you come up with a better pricing strategy;
- Goals: Depending on the problem your product/service is solving, you probably have an idea of the goals your audience is trying to achieve. However, it’s better to cement your hypothesis by speaking to customers;
- Challenges: Determine the challenges your audience faces when trying to accomplish their goals;
- Interests: Knowing your customers’ hobbies, you can create content that sparks their interest;
Establish Your Goals & Identify the Tools You’ll Need to Achieve Them
One of the main reasons small businesses struggle to grow is that they don’t have clear marketing goals. They have an idealistic vision of what they want to achieve, but no plan of getting there.
Keep in mind that your marketing goals must be aligned with your business ones. For example, if your business goal is to increase online revenue by 25%, your marketing goal should be to generate 50% more leads via your website or e-commerce store.
Another great tip for an effective digital marketing strategy is to ensure that your goals are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
Determine What Differentiates You
Understanding who your audience and competition are is one thing. Figuring out how to connect with your audience and differentiate yourself from your competition is an entirely different story.
While your sales reps might know how to approach prospects and send the right message to them, is your online marketing team able to do the same with content?
Analyze, practice, and document the ways you can position your content to engage with prospects online and make it clear to them why they should choose you instead of your competition.
Here are some of the main questions you should ask yourself in this process:
- What type of consumers are you targeting?
- Who is the decision maker? (for example, sippy cups are for kids, but the buyer is the parent)
- What are the challenges they face that you can help them solve?
- What benefits can they enjoy from choosing you?
- How is your solution different from your competitors?
Find out Where Your Audience Lives Online
You know who your audience is and what type of content you need to create to connect with them. Now, the obvious question should be: where do you publish this content?
Look at everything from blogs and websites to social media and forums. Create a list of potential places where your audience might be. Then, focus your attention on these mediums.
For example, it would be a waste of time, money, and energy to create content for Twitter when the majority of your audience is active on Instagram.
Create a Content Calendar
One of the biggest errors small business owners make is that they jump into content creation without creating a plan first. Most of them rush into this step because it makes them feel as if they’ve accomplished something. However, the results will be insignificant if you haven’t dedicated the proper time to do your research.
Look at your goals and establish the appropriate course of action that could help you achieve them.
Let’s say that your marketing goal is to get 50 qualified leads per month. Now, ask yourself: how many articles do I need to write to make this happen? How many lead generation offers, such as whitepapers and e-books should I use?
Create a “Promotions Plan”
Your job isn’t ready the moment you hit the “Publish” button. Now, it’s time to focus on promoting your content.
More than two million blog posts are written every day, so you need to help your target audience find you. Share your content on social media to drive them to your site and persuade them to sign up or buy your products.
In a Nutshell
Phew! Finally, you’ve got to the end. There’s a lot of work you need to do if you want to set yourself up for success. So, keep these key points in mind when you’re building your digital marketing strategy.