If you’re a new start up business or you’ve been established for some time but not yet taken your offering online, you’re probably exploring all areas of digital marketing and deciding what is best for you and your business.
Digital marketing is such a broad term and encompasses so many things, basically – any type of marketing that is done over the internet or on a digital device comes under the term ‘digital marketing’. So where do you start? How do you know what you need to be doing for your business? As there are so many options we have listed below a few things that we feel are the important items to have in place that will benefit your online presence.
1 – Set up a business email account
This would probably be the first thing we would recommend if you haven’t done so already. Having your business name as a prefix to @hotmail.co.uk or @outlook.com just doesn’t have the same professional effect as having your business name. A business email account can be an inexpensive yet hugely valuable asset.
If you’re looking to start a new business and you have decided on a business name, then make no delay in registering your domain (what will be your website address) even if you do not intend to have a website any time soon still do this! Then, you can set up your professional email address(es) to have the same address as your domain. Example, [email protected] – as opposed to [email protected] If you already have a domain, then you can simply add an email address once you’ve chosen your provider.
There are several providers out there who offer business email accounts, prices can vary from being as little as £10 per year or £150 per year. At Lucid we use Google Suite and find this a great set up especially for working remotely as everything is online. Plus, with the entire G Suite available such as Google Docs and Google Sheets etc, you won’t need to pay for Microsoft Office!
Be aware of using providers which host lots of different websites on individual servers, this can cause problems when sending emails. As example, if one user on the server is sending lots of emails that are considered spam then they will be ‘blacklisted’ on a shared server this will mark all of the email accounts as blacklisted. These are the pitfalls of using very cheap providers. Get in touch if you’re not sure or need some no obligation advice.
2 – Set up a Google My Business (GMB) Page
This is a completely free and incredibly valuable tool for companies who want to attract local business. You will recognise GMB listings when you search for popular services such as a plumber, electrician or pub etc. As an example, if you were to search for a hairdresser, you will be presented with local businesses in the search results in the form of GMB listings with the hairdressers that are local to your area.
A Google My Business (GMB) page allows you to display and control all sorts of information such as your business opening hours, directions to your premises and photographs of your products, services, offices – whatever you like! Plus, you can make use of Google reviews. By receiving positive reviews from your customers your website rankings can improve. In addition, when a user clicks on ‘call now’ or ‘directions’ these actions can also boost your rankings as Google will see that you are a popular offering and will want to display your website in the results. (You do not have to have a website to make use of a Google My Business page but the value is tenfold if you do)!
For businesses that have been established for a while, a page may have already been set up automatically and so you will need to claim ownership of the page and prove that you own it. So if there is already a page out there, surely you’d rather be managing it than someone else? Make use of this great free tool if you can.
3 – Branded stationery and giveaways
Okay so not digital marketing, but we do have a lot of clients asking about creating physical branded items such as lanyards, pens or other plastic gadgets. In some cases, there can be items that are helpful such as T-shirts (particularly for some industries more than others) – but – we feel that in today’s digital culture you are better off investing your marketing budget into digital marketing primarily as opposed to branded giveaways which will likely end up in landfill, or flyers and leaflets where you have no solid evidence of whether users are engaging with them or not. Even USB sticks with information on are dying out, (does anybody really use USB sticks anymore)?!
Think about what branded items you wish to invest in for your business and what value they will bring. Business cards are always a good investment as you never know when you might bump into someone who is looking for a service that you offer. You can get business cards designed and printed on any budget, from very basic to very high end – there are many companies who offer great quality and eco friendly business card printing. Think about how much you wish to spend and shop around. Check out Moo where we at Lucid order our eco friendly business cards from.
Other than business cards, your digital marketing efforts are going to be a much stronger return on investment as you can track and monitor what you are spending and you can clearly see what is working and what isn’t. Services such as SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), PPC (Pay Per Click) social media adverts and email marketing can all be tracked and measured. Numbers don’t lie! Of course you don’t need to do all of these, or even any of these, at once. Set your goals, work out your budget and introduce new steps as and when you can. Then you can see what is working and introduce new steps as you see fit.
4 – Have a website
Whoever you are, however long your business has been established, whomever your audience is and however your obtain new business – a website will be of benefit in some shape or form. And without one, you are missing out on opportunities for digital marketing – thus more business.
If you are a well established company with a good amount of business ticking over, a website is an opportunity to create your shop window, reinforce your brand and offer you credibility. If you obtain most or even all of work from word of mouth, then chances are at least one of the people that are recommended to you will look you up online to see your portfolio, or look at your services and products, perhaps to find your phone number to get in touch – and by not having a website you could be missing valuable enquiries.
There are several types of websites out there to suit all budgets. There are tons of website builders out there that let you create your own for a very small cost (just look out for monthly subscription costs) or you can invest a little more and have something custom made. Again, if you’re not sure what will suit your budget please get in touch and we’re happy to advise.
5 – Social Media Pages
Another free tool here – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are all pages you can set up at no cost whatsoever. Having pages set up with your business name can be very beneficial for sharing content and increasing traffic to your website.
If you have a website then your social media pages should be there to support that by directing traffic to your site via posts you’ve shared (not the other way around)! Be careful of spending too much time on social media though, we’ve seen companies spending hours of time and resources posting updates on social media and having no return on investment because they haven’t directed the right content to the right platform at the right time.
Social media isn’t right for everyone. If your target audience is active and you are using this as a supporting tool alongside other methods of marketing however, then it can be very valuable.
- Identify who your audience is.
- Understand what their needs and concerns are.
- Plan content that is relevant and targeted.
- Stay up to date and relevant.
- Be prepared to reply – social media is not a one way street, so you need to make sure you or a staff member is able to reply to questions, comments and reviews.
6 – SEO and Paid Advertising
Once you’ve got all of the previous foundations in place, then you can think about increasing your visibility. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the ongoing process of driving traffic to your website organically, while paid advertising is where you pay for each time a user clicks on your advert to get to your website whether it’s via Google Ads or social media ads.
These methods will require a marketing budget. Particularly if you’re outsourcing these activities to a digital marketing agency. We’ve given a more in-depth description of what to expect from an SEO agency in our previous blog.
You don’t need to spend a fortune to get your business online. As you can see from the list above there are some great tools out there which don’t cost anything at all. Whatever your budget is, there is a solution for you. Digital marketing is an ongoing effort, you can always add to it, build on it – assess what is working and what isn’t and make adjustments accordingly. That’s the beauty of it!
Please get in touch if you’d like a no obligation chat about getting your business online or improving your existing online presence.