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How to Build an Online Marketing Plan for Your Start-Up or New Business
Every business owner knows they need to be online, but where do you start?
Marketing used to be a lot simpler. All you needed was some good copy; get it on the radio, put an ad in the paper, maybe a small television slot, and watch the customers roll in.
But in today’s world, digital marketing is taking over. With so many different online channels, it can be a little confusing. That’s what this guide is all about; helping you navigate the basics of digital marketing.
We’ll cover the basics and include links to help you get started while introducing you to more advanced steps when you’re ready—and a fun little analogy to help.
Digital Marketing Basics: What You’ll Need
- Strong website.
- Optimized “Google My Business” listing.
- Social Media presence.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
- Online Ads.
- Email Marketing.
Your website is the hub of all of your digital marketing.
Knowing your website is often the first impression someone has with your company, it’s imperative that you give your audience what they want! No one likes going to a website with almost no information and wondering, can this company do what I’m looking for? Are they trustworthy?
Before you start designing and building your website, you need to ask yourself this question— what is the purpose of it?
Clearly defining your purpose before you start designing your website is critical to your success.
Why? Because you need to be clear in what you want the visitors to your site to do. Make that clear and you can make it easy for them to take action.
Want to use your website to sell products or get leads? You need a Marketing Website. Want to prove you’re a legitimate business? You need a Credibility Website.
Check out this article to learn the difference between Marketing and Credibility Websites
Some questions you should ask:
- What content management system (CMS) do I use or want to use?
- Do I own the site?
- Do I have access to my Google Analytics?
Google My Business
Ok, so you’ve designed your website – now it’s time to get your business on Google, so people can find you. The first and easiest step is to sign up for Google My Business.
Google My Business is a free listing where companies can include their contact information, hours of operation, share pictures and videos, reviews, and more pertinent information. It’s a pretty helpful tool and relatively easy to set up.
One reason it’s recommended to do this before other digital marketing tasks is because it takes a few days to get verified and showing up on Google is one of the most valuable things a small business can do when just getting started.
If you’re an established business, it’s possible Google automatically created a Google My Business listing for you. If that’s the case, you need to claim it and verify it. To do that you should:
- Search for your business name, add city and state if there are other companies with the same or similar name
- Find your listing
- Click “Claim This Business” & follow the instructions
Pro Tip: Make sure you use the same Gmail address you signed up for Google Analytics with. It’s a lot easier when everything is tied to the same email address.
- Google My Business
So you’ve built the site, you’ve filled out your Google My Business, and now it’s time for you to fill out your social media profiles.
What’s that? You already filled them out before you even built your website? Not surprised. LOL.
It’s so easy to set up a social media profile, most people do it right away – but why is it number 3 on the list of things to manage then?
Probably because good social media accounts are linked to a good website—which means the site takes precedence. Google My Business takes time and is good for SEO, so we do that in one fell swoop (before we start treating it like a social media account—more to come on that) before moving to social media which is an ongoing process.
What’s the purpose of social media?
Just like your website you need to know how you’re going to use it and the purpose or intent of your social media platforms.
It’s a platform to create brand awareness for your company and show personality. It’s also a way to engage directly with your customers. For some companies, typically direct to consumer and lower-priced products, it can even serve as a sales tool.
For most companies, social media is a way to tell your story to people who are researching your company. Whether that is potential customers or potential employees.
Some companies use social media as a way to pitch products and services. I’ve found the most successful are lower priced items like clothing and urgently needed items like roof repairs after a storm.
There are dozens of social media platforms—how do I choose which ones to utilize?
This will change over time, but most companies can focus on one or a combination of; Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google My Business.
Now it’s time to get out there and start posting. Your social media presence is something that needs to be cared for and nurtured. You can’t just set it up and wipe your hands of it. You must make regular posts, engage with comments, and do outreach for people to find and follow you.
This is usually where a business owner will look at me and say, “What should I post, and how often?”
My answer, “Post what’s on your heart and post more than you’re even comfortable with. Give, give, and give some more.”
The response is typically, “What? I don’t get it.”
People go to social media to be entertained or learn something new. We hate getting pitched. So use your platform to educate your audience about yourselves and what you can do to help them. You can share your wealth of information and knowledge while also having fun and making them laugh. Tug at their heartstrings by being real, relatable, and sharing your failures, alongside your successes.
I then recommend they check out Gary Vaynerchuck’s content around social media. What he teaches is just go for it, you’ll make mistakes and that’s ok. Don’t worry about what others think, whether it’s positive or negative. It’s ok to document your journey, rather than pretend to be an expert. How to Grow and Distribute Your Brand’s Social Media Content
Search Engine Optimization
At this point, you’ve built your site and set up your social media accounts. Now comes the hard part. Getting your site to show up on Google (and other search engines).
Why is it important to show up high on Google? Well, simply put, that’s where people go to find companies. In fact, we now trust Google more than our buddy who we used to go to for all of our recommendations.
The thing about getting higher on search engines isn’t being the number one ranking website (although that’s a leading indicator of success)… the biggest part of this is getting leads!
Here’s the natural progression of how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) works.
- First, your keywords start ranking higher – you start showing up for terms like “my service in my city” (i.e. “roofing contractor white bear lake mn”)
- Second, you start seeing more visitors to your website.
- Third, you start getting regular, consistent leads from your website.
It’s a simple theory but takes time, effort, and discipline to make it work.
So, how does SEO work?
Now that you’ve got the basic systems in place to do the work of showing up on Google, it’s time to turn your attention over to ads to get that extra boost. You need to gain exposure to your audience through targeted ads that draw in more customers. This could be about the specific products you’re selling or the services you offer.
Ads can be awesomely profitable or a total waste of money. It just depends on how you set them up and where you send the people who click on your ads.
The top three online ad platforms today:
- Google (which includes YouTube)
- Facebook (which includes Instagram)
If you’re a home services provider, here are the 4 types of Google Ads I recommend trying and the order in which to do so.
After someone has engaged with your business, keep communicating with them!
Email Marketing is one of the easiest ways to stay in touch with people, just make sure you don’t overdo it.
Lead nurturing is one of the smartest ways to utilize email. Whether it’s a past customer or someone that asked for a free inspection, ask if you can put them on your email list. Then, when they’re ready to buy, they’ve already been seeing your name in their inbox for months and will think of your company first when looking for service providers.
One of the hardest things to do with email marketing is measuring success. For insight into how to measure the success of marketing campaigns, check out this article (How to Measure Email Marketing Success), courtesy of Mail Chimp.
Just like an apple orchard, your website, SEO, and marketing efforts all go hand in hand to create and maintain a beautiful website that draws in customers for the long haul. We hope the tools and resources we’ve given you, along with our fun analogy, helps you to get started with a proper marketing plan for your small business or startup.
The #1 thing we encourage business owners to do is OWN THEIR MARKETING. If you can’t own every piece of your marketing, or at least make an effort, you will have to work that much harder to see results. Solidify a good website, maintain your social media platforms, and secure a valuable email marketing plan. Once you do that, you should be in good shape.
For more information, reach out to us at Hook Agency and we’d be happy to aid you in your continued marketing efforts.