One of the most common scenarios facing new small business owners is this: they know they need digital marketing but they simply do not know what it is:
“It’s just adverts, right?”
“I have a Facebook page so I think that should be enough.”
“My website cost £1500. Great value! Just gotta play the ‘waiting game’, now…”
I won’t lie, digital marketing is a b***lache. A veritable minefield, made even more treacherous since the advent of Web 2.0. The day we went full frontal “digital”.
“So long, Times New Roman and static imagery! Hello, cat memes and make-up vlogs!”
It’s fair to say, the old rules of commerce have well and truly left the building thanks to the modern day digital landscape:
• ‘Word of mouse’ has superseded ‘word of mouth’ – 81% of online shoppers conduct online research before buying. This goes up to 94% for B2B businesses.
• Increased connectivity due to the IoT (Internet of Things)- American Research firm Gartner claim there will be 26 billion devices contacted to the internet by 2020.
• The Internet never sleeps – Today people expect to be able to shop where and when they want, a shift in attitude driven by the popularity of smart phones and retail giants such as Amazon.
Simply put, if you do not have an online presence in today’s digital age, you are putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage. That said, it is remarkably easy to use digital marketing to get ahead online. There is a plethora of online tools and technology to get you started, most of which are free and easy to use!
Here’s our roundup of (arguably) the three most useful digital marketing tools new business owners can use to make the most of marketing online.
Originally conceived as an easy-to-use blogging platform, WordPress has morphed into the World’s most powerful and popular website creation tool and CMS (content management system).
Free to use, WordPress powers 27% of the internet. To put this into perspective, its nearest competitor, Joomla, powers a mere 2.7% of the web (followed by Drupal [2.2%]; Magento [1.3%]; Blogger [1.2%]).
Its popularity stems from its relative ease of use and the fact that it is built on open-source technology, curated by the millions of users & developers that champion the platform.
As a result, it is highly customisable-the HTML and CSS code that powers the themes upon which websites are created can be altered or removed completely. This is in stark contrast to drag ‘n’ drop platforms such as WIX or Weebly which are much more restrictive.
Furthermore, a plethora of free or low cost plugins (external pieces of software that perform a specific function or alter a website in a particular way) can be applied, further increasing WordPress’ range and flexibility.
However, if you have little to no digital marketing nor web design experience, do not expect to sign-up and instantly become the Bob Ross of open source website builders-the learning curve is steep and some basic HTML knowledge goes a long way. Many WordPress noobs (myself included at one point) find many aspects of the CMS confusing and difficult to navigate.
With some patience (and plenty of practice), you will soon be on your way to creating visually appealing, highly functional websites.
However, if you simply can’t get your head around the coding aspect of the platform, platforms such as WIX are more user friendly and as mentioned earlier adopt a simple ‘drag-and-drop’ approach to building a website.
Social media has changed the internet. Hell, even the World as we known it! It has also revolutionised marketing, offering businesses a dynamic means of connecting and communicating with people on a global scale. Through social media, business owners are able to:
• Showcase their brand – social media is an ideal marketing channel for brand awareness, relationship management and driving sales due its Worldwide reach and huge number of daily users.
• Establish an online community – people are tribal in nature and prefer to interact with brands they can form an emotional connection with. Positive engagement with satisfied customers creates brand advocates-this is crucial as people tend to trust other people over brands.
• Boost website traffic – social media channels provide links back to your website and can act as powerful lead generation tools; they contribute heavily to the amount of traffic your website receives.
Each platform serves a different purpose and depending on what you sell, you may wish to make use of a number of different social media channels. However, it can be difficult for the average business owner to find the time to manage day-to-day business operations and multiple social media channels at once.
Hootsuite helps combat this.
Hootsuite, is a powerful, real-time, social media account management tool. Through Hootsuite, users are able to manage multiple social media accounts under one roof and share the same post across all or some accounts simultaneously.
Other useful features include the scheduling feature, which allows you to schedule when and through what platform posts should be shared and integrated analytics software that monitors the performance of your posts, offering valuable insights.
These days, content is king. For most businesses, a robust content marketing strategy is key to retaining customers and keeping them engaged in your brand. The following quote provided by the Content Marketing Institute perfectly sums up the role content plays in your marketing strategy:
“Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behaviour.”
Content takes many forms, but some of the most common forms of content shared online include:
-Blogs (great for SEO & establishing yourself as a thought leader)
-Infographics (useful for communicating complex info in a visual format)
-Promotional videos (think Red Bull. Need I say more?)
-White papers (more of a B2B tactic, ideal for pre-sales lead generation)
The trouble is, most small business owners do not possess the graphic design skills required to churn out attractive visual material, such as those mentioned above, on a weekly basis. Furthermore, the design packages required are costly and notoriously difficult to use. Hence why Canva made our list.
From posters to business cards, flyers to infographics, Canva is a free graphic design tool that allows you to select from a plethora of pre-rendered designs and customise them as you see fit, utilising a user-friendly drag and drop format.
It also features over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. Used by both amateurs and professionals alike, Canva is easy to use, cost & time effective and should, without doubt, form part of your digital marketing arsenal.
For help in navigating the World of digital marketing and developing an online strategy that works for your business, get in touch for a free consultation – the coffee is on us!