How do you set up a Digital Marketing Strategy? A question that is widely asked by every business owner looking to get their business on the internet.
Considering the growth of the internet – which, in turn, fuelled the growth of Digital marketing. Knowing the right steps to strategise digital marketing is essential.
Why is Digital marketing important for businesses and startups?
Small Businesses and startups have survived for years on a prevalent yet underrated form of marketing called “word of mouth publicity.”
Since most of the time, they catered to nearby geographical locations, the word as they say, “spread fast.”
When they had to increase their reach to target a wider audience, they spent their money on traditional methods of marketing like TV, Newspaper, radio, etc.
It’s a known fact that TV, Newspapers, and radios were never affordable. Still, they raked in a majority of the marketing budget from clients because of a lack of a reliable alternative.
The word of mouth and the conventional methods of marketing were excellent and worked to an extent until Digital Marketing happened.
The introduction of Digital marketing changed the way marketing, promotion, and sales were made.
Digital Marketing for small businesses was never the same.
Digital marketing shifted the loyalty of small businesses and startups from the over expensive mediums they used, to an affordable and cost-effective medium.
Today, Digital Marketing in being allocated a substantial amount of budget from the marketing and sales budget of an Organisation.
In 2019, 51% of the total expense done by small and medium businesses on marketing and sales involved digital Marketing.
When it comes to investing in Digital marketing, Australian businesses are not far behind the rest of the world. Consider this, in 2019, 17 Billion USD budget was spent by Australian small companies and startups in Digital marketing.
According to GetResponse, 70% of small to medium-sized companies said they would increase their digital/web-based marketing budgets this year. (source: https://www.biznessapps.com/blog/small-businesses-digital-marketing-budget/)
Undoubtedly, Traditional methods of marketing have some serious competition from Digital Marketing.
However, the shift from traditional to digital marketing has not been smooth from SMEs.
There is still confusion with business owners on how to make the best of Digital Marketing.
Small Business and Digital Marketing
They have questions like: • How beneficial is Digital Marketing for small businesses? • How should I divide my budget in between so many digital marketing techniques? • Should I go for PPC? • What is content marketing? Should I invest money in content marketing or something else?
And the list goes on. I do not blame the business owners.
Digital marketing is a relatively new field of marketing and promotion (at least, when you compare it with traditional methods of marketing). How it is different from the conventional methods is because of the dynamicity.
It is so dynamic that every day, we see a new strategy, a new platform, a new technology, or a new approach to do digital marketing enter the world of marketing.
Another reason why small business owners have their doubts about digital marketing is the complexity that has unnecessarily cropped up around digital marketing.
For Small Businesses and startups, every penny counts, and every marketing budget (small or big) needs a clear ROI.
Therefore, Small businesses and startups must have a simple Digital Marketing Strategy to promote their business.
A simple, yet effective strategy that allows the business owner to spend their time and money wisely.
A clear Digital Marketing strategy for small businesses is what can help them better utilise Digital Marketing to grow their business. An approach that comprises of steps small businesses and startups should take to succeed in Digital marketing.
Here are seven simple steps to help small business and startups better strategise their digital marketing:
Research your Competition
Researching your Competitors is the oldest trick in the book of marketing and sales, and Digital Marketing is no different.
Trust me when it comes to digital marketing. There is nothing as useful as analysing, what your competition is already doing on the web.
Start by searching for the Competitor on google and social media platforms. Observe the Content they are posting on their website and all the other social media platforms.
Here are a few points to help you with the research:
Find Competitors’ existing Social media platforms. Filter the list to include social media platforms where they have a good interaction (comments, share).
This is an essential point as it will help you find platforms where the real traffic is for your business on social media. • Observe the frequency of Content posted by them (blogs, social media updates)
• Check the number of reviews they have on google local listing or the business directory they are listed in. (For example, you can refer to yelp for restaurants)
• Analyse the type of Content they are posting on their social media platforms and blogs. i.e., is it informative, sales/offers related, or customer reviews? This will help you with Content Marketing. Add to the above, the keywords they rank for in google. A simple method is to get competitor keywords is by looking at the page title of their posts and finding for keywords under h1, h2 and h3 tags to know the keywords they are targeting, in terms of priority. The above step can be a bit of a challenge for small business owners who are new to the web. I suggest you take help from an expert to help you with their keyword strategy.
Start with Google My Business:
The majority of internet users who perform local searches are on mobile. In 2019, 88% of smartphone users utilised search engines while looking for local businesses.
And guess what, on top of every localised search is “Google My Business.” Another benefit of “google my business” is the placement of Google My Business’ Listing when someone searches for your business name. Consider this, when an internet user searches your brand name on google, the google my business listing for business shows up on the left-hand side as the first result. To capture the top of Google Local Listings, fill all the relevant information in the “google my business” page and optimise it so that the business’s link is picked for the relevant keywords.
Time to activate social media accounts:
You already have the list of relevant social media accounts from the competitor research. Register on the relevant ones and build a content strategy. My advice is not to pick more than two social media platforms as it can get overwhelming to manage multiple social media profiles without any help.
To ensure the Content is posted regularly on the social media platform, use any of the social media content scheduling tools to schedule the Content for a week or month depending on the demands of your social media page.
Find the right discussion platforms:
You have the google my business listing, social media accounts and a website (I am assuming you already had a website), time to promote them.
A new social media platform or a new blog without any traffic can dissuade any small business owner from spending time and money on their web presence.
Here is how you can grow your new brand’s presence on the web:
• Find the discussion platforms where discussions related to your business are happening. The platforms could be channels on YouTube, pages on Facebook, relevant business categories on Quora, pages on LinkedIn, or individual profiles of users on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter who post meaningful and engaging Content regarding your industry. • Transform from a passive user to an active user by participating in discussions. As your social media profile grows, the popularity of your website will grow (I have used this trick to increase the subscriber base of my blog (Lessons At Startup) from zero to 1000 subscribers). The initial objective should be to build trust between web users who are in your industry and your brand. Once you have built the trust by participating in discussions and getting noticed, your brand’s followers will automatically increase on the internet.
Participate in Guest Blogging:
Guest blogging helps you drive a substantial amount of traffic to your business’s website. Find the relevant blogs in your industry. You can do this by typing “keyword” +” write for us” or “keyword” +” guest post” on google.
Replace keyword with relevant searches for your industry. For example, if you run a cosmetic store. You can find guest blogs which accept blogs in the Cosmetic Industry space by searching:
Cosmetic industry+ write for us or Cosmetic industry+ guest blog
Another simple method is to write for your city’s local business directory.
Initially, you might have to start a little low (websites which do not rank very high), but as your Content start getting famous, most of the popular websites across the globe will not have any problem in publishing your Content.
Align offline presence with an online presence:
The first step is to showcase the online presence of your business on every offline presence you might have. To start with, the visiting card of the company must have social media accounts shown on it. Now that’s the fundamental step. How we take it to the next level depends on your creativity and how you can use both the branding (online and offline) to complement each other. You can start by giving offers, freebies, discounts, coupons only on your social media platform, and to promote all these offerings; you can use the offline presence to route people to the online presence. The most significant benefit of such a strategy is the chances of the deal you are offering – going viral. All social media platforms today have options to share and comment on. A good agreement is bound to be shared by multiple people and will lead to more sales for the business. Do not forget to encourage business visitors to rate your business online. Thank those who give you good feedback and attend to the grievance of those who did not find your service satisfactory. Word spreads faster than fire online. Keep a check on the Online Reputation of your business by closely interacting with everyone.
Register on relevant Business Directories and Coupon Websites:
One of the most natural methods to gain more exposure online is by registering on all relevant business directories and coupon websites.
Most of these websites rank high on google, and there are good chances, the website visitors on these websites will send you queries or buy the coupons from these websites.
Once you have the lead details of the customers from these websites, you can nurture them further by giving them future benefits, offers, or just routing them to the social media presence of the business online.
Small Businesses do not need a complicated digital marketing strategy. They can easily promote their brand online by following the simple steps and spending something online communicating with their prospective customers.
Let me tell you a
story (an interesting one) on how I learned content marketing.
A few years back, I
started a blog (lessons at startup), which was about sharing my entrepreneurial journey
with the startup community across the world.
Like every blogger, I
started writing numerous blogs without realizing the essence of readership.
We, the bloggers, are
a passionate lot.
We, at times, do not
worry about the readership – We write to fulfill our insatiable desire to write
and share our views.
In between, we forget
that readers only come to read our blog, when we promote it to them — something,
which rarely happens as we are too busy to notice the value of readership.
Coming back to my
blog. Within a month, I had written three blogs with little or no readership.
And then the
predictable happened (I know it happens to a lot of bloggers. Thereby, I call
it “predicable😊 “)
readership, the enthusiasm fizzled out.
Since I was oblivious
to the power of digital marketing (i will go as far, so to say – I didn’t even
know the meaning of digital marketing), I gave up on my blog. Despite all my
love for writing, I was not interested in running a blog for myself.
In addition to the
above, it had become quite annoying for me to mention my blog in every family
meeting we had. I was desperate to get some readership and was blatantly promoting
my blog everywhere possible 🙂
Rather than writing
more blogs on my website, I started participating in discussions on platforms
like Quora and LinkedIn.
It did not take me
long to realize that there was a broader reach on these platforms than speaking
or discussing stuff with my family and friends.
And then, something
unexpected happened. The content I wrote on these social media platforms
started getting me a fan following.
Within a month, I was
one of the top writers in multiple categories on Quora (something I still love
to boast about).
Oh Boy! I could
write, and everyone loved it.
Since my profile had
my blog’s link, the users on these websites started visiting my profile after
reading my answers to questions.
The fan following started subscribing to my blog. Within a few months, I had around 350+ subscribers to my blog.
I still was clueless
about digital marketing. But as they say, “ignorance is bliss.”
My ignorance of
digital marketing worked here to my advantage.
Since I did not know
anything about digital marketing, I just focussed on writing good content (at
least that’s what everyone thought). The content, in turn, drove traffic to my
With time, the
traffic flow to my blog reached a decent number. A number that encouraged me to
write more blogs.
I had tasted blood.
The trick to getting the ever-elusive readership to my blog was now with me, and the method was minus all the heavy lifting, which comes with knowing Digital Marketing.
Soon I was trying different styles of writing on these platforms. For example, I would use my blog’s link in my profile, or at times, I would use my blog’s link as a reference inside my discussions.
The traffic invariably changed over time based on my experiments, but there was always something new to learn with every content experiment.
I had learned to
write engaging, simulating content without worrying about Digital Marketing.
involved something they refer to now as Content Marketing.
From writing on these
platforms to writing on my blog, I was trying everything in the book of Digital
content marketing without knowing what Digital content marketing is.
In between, I came
across a term called as Guest Blogging.
I sent a few of the
articles I had written to a few reputable websites, and guess what, they
accepted the articles and published them on their websites.
As soon as the articles were published, the traffic flow to the website spiked. Again, the content did the magic. My journey as a digital marketer had started.
Within the next few
months, I learned the finer details of digital marketing — especially SEO.
Although learning SEO involved learning a few technical things, it was
Within no time, from
planning how to find keywords to getting backlinks, I was trying everything in
Do you know what was
shared in everything I learned?
I was slowly and gradually learning – how content marketing worked. Digital Content marketing, also referred to as only “content marketing,” is an indispensable part of every single module of digital marketing.
For example, if I plan to start an SEO campaign, the steps would be:
as per the keyword
Two out of the four
steps listed above require – good engaging content. i.e., you should write good
content to engage readers to the website, and you also need an excellent
article to get decent backlinks to your website.
Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing
Content marketing’s relevance can also be seen in Social
When I started
learning social media marketing, every blog I read about social media marketing
only spoke about good engaging content.
The famous social
media marketers expected you to add value addition to discussions.
Wasn’t I already
It looks like I was already unknowingly a part of social media marketing.
Since we are already discussing Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing, here is what you must understand – Content Marketing is around the content you prepare and Social Media Marketing is your marketing method to promote content on social media channels.
Remember to personalise content for different channels as audiences are different on all channels with different target and purpose and schedule content as per time when audience is online.
The content marketing strategy mentioned below can be tweaked to meet your content marketing goals with social media marketing.
Everything I learned about digital marketing involved in Content Marketing – even SEO.
Content Marketing and SEO
forget that even when they rank high in google with lousy content, they are not
providing any value addition to their readers.
Sooner or later, the
bounce rate on their pages will be high, and Google will notice that the
traffic coming to the website is just bouncing off.
will push the website down the rankings.
My digital marketing
journey started only with content and is only moving forward because I give a
lot of effort to write good content.
I learned the other finer
details of digital marketing on the way, and they have all helped me, but my
love for writing simulating content is what has helped me be a better digital
For me, Content came
first -> Technicalities came in much later.
I am not saying; you
do not need to learn how SEO works, etc.
Steps like keyword
research, backlink building are crucial to SEO. Still, they cannot work in
isolation without good content.
On the contrary, you can have an article without keyword research and can promote it using social media promotion by participating in discussions, etc., but you cannot run an SEO campaign without relevant content.
The other day, I was
discussing the evolution of digital marketing with fellow digital marketers,
and we all agreed unanimously on one point “Despite Google’s algorithms
changing over years, content written with ingenuity has survived every single
The websites, which
have provided content with no intention of cheating google have done well in
They were and still
are the darlings of google.
How to create a Content Marketing Strategy?
Start by defining Content Goals: I usually set clear-cut goals with the Content that we generate.
Identify the platform for which Content must be generated: Once you have the goals aligned, time for you to look at places or platforms for which you plan to create the content. This step will help you understand the type of content you require. i.e., you will come to know whether you need infographics, Blogs, gif, or just an image.
Brainstorm Idea: Time to start bouncing off some ideas off your head. Think of out of box ideas which provide value addition to the platform you plan to post your content to — also, ideas that should engage users on different platforms.
Research: Once you have the idea with you, start researching the concept. You can look for similar content and think of the value addition you can provide to the topic. Please do not get overwhelmed by all the content on the Internet. Trust in your content creation abilities, and you should be able to carve out a niche for yourself.
Define Content Structure: Time to define a structure for your content. This is very useful when you are writing a blog with a lot of content in it. I suggest one of my blog art of blogging to help you learn – how to write a structured blog.
Create Content: Once you have the structure ready, create the content, keeping in mind all the steps of content marketing listed above.
Test and Proofread: Double-check the content for mistakes, errors, etc. Proofread everything in the content before promoting it.
Post and Analyze: You are all set to launch! (just kidding). Post the content on the platform identified and then wait for the stats to flow. You must analyze the social media shares, the traffic to your website, and other parameters to make sense of your content strategy.
Future of Content Marketing
understanding the importance of Content Marketing in Digital Marketing, the
future of Content Marketing looks good.