5 must-have digital marketing tips for small businesses

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If we’ve learned anything about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that a surprising array of things can happen virtually: gym classes, meetings, networking events. It turns out that the company is particularly well suited to digital.

Social distancing measures between February and May 2020 resulted in twice as many online sales in Canada compared to the previous year. South of the border, Americans are seeing similar trends: According to IBM’s August 2020 U.S. Retail Index, the pandemic has accelerated e-commerce adoption by five years, while a McKinsey report from October 2020 found that the digitization of the supply chain and customer interactions and internal operations has been accelerated by at least three years.

These digital approaches lead nowhere, which is why it’s important to understand the tools at your disposal and how to use them to build a solid strategy. Enter Avery Swartz. Toronto-based digital marketing consultant and founder and CEO of Camp Tech, which provides digital marketing training to small businesses, nonprofits and individuals, she literally wrote the book on digital marketing (2020 premonitably titled Go Online: Grow Your Small Business With Digital Marketing). Here, she shares her insights on improving your SEO, building an audience on social media, and why you need to make email part of your arsenal.

Don’t put all your eggs in one digital basket

Digital marketing skills will continue to be relevant long after the pandemic, says Swartz, but there are many options for small businesses. “Online channels aren’t the only potentially available channels for marketing a business. Let’s look at it as a whole: there are so many amazing offline ways to potentially market, including events. Even when we look at online channels, the ideal strategy includes social media, search engine optimization, email marketing, and paid advertising.

Be smart about data

Most small businesses don’t need “mega dashboards” that track every possible metric, from Instagram reach to website bounce rates, Swartz explains. “I’m a big fan of scrappy. Take it to a much simpler level: where do you want your business to take your business over the next six months to a year, ”she says. From there, make a list of marketing efforts, then choose a metric to tell you if you’re getting closer to your goal. Congratulations, you now have a Key Performance Indicator (KPI)! Just make sure you’re following the right stuff. If you’re trying to increase your audience size with your existing subscribers, your KPI shouldn’t be the total number of new email signups; this should be the number of times each email is forwarded. Or, if your goal is to attract new customers outside of your current audience, you might want to track the number of clicks generated by a paid ad. “Trust is one of the biggest things missing in digital marketing. You want to be able to say with confidence, I have five new subscribers today and I know why. Data can give that confidence.

Own your audience

“Obviously, social media is great for starting a business if you put the time into it, but I see people doing it at the expense of building their own online space,” says Swartz, noting that businesses focused on social media are at the mercy of algorithm changes. Take, for example, the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018; After the consulting firm announced the misuse of Facebook user data, the platform began revamping user news feeds, de-prioritizing business page content in favor of business page content. family and friends. For many small businesses, post visibility has dropped and the same can (and happens) on other platforms.

“Social media is amazing until the focus of the social media platform changes and then you kind of find yourself on your knees. So, don’t build your castle on someone else’s land. Train customers to sign up for your mailing list, ”she advises. Swartz loves email because it’s generally less time consuming than social media, cheaper than serving ads, and most importantly, it gives you direct access to your customers, who are more likely to stick around if you send them helpful. , meaningful and engaging. messages. “There is a wealth of data that indicates that people who sign up for emails are more likely to stay on the mailing list,” she says.

Invest in SEO

It’s not very sexy, nor fast, but search engine optimization pays dividends, says Swartz. Here’s what to do: create a website. It doesn’t have to be a fancy website, but it does require email registration (see the previous point from Swartz) and sleek writing that speaks to your client in the language they use themselves. . Not “we offer the most innovative product,” she said. “Don’t center, center your customer.” It also needs a few keywords sprinkled throughout the copy.

From there, the savvy digital marketer should try to secure the backlinks. These are links on other people’s sites that point to yours. To illustrate how, Swartz offers an analogy using the movie Mean Girls. “So, [Lindsay Lohan’s character Cady] reveal. She’s been homeschooled her entire life, so she’s literally an unknown quantity. No one knows who she is. We don’t know if she’s cool or not. But she befriends the coolest kids in school and that makes everyone in the school immediately look at her and think, “Oh my God, she must be really cool, right?” -sign. If keywords tell search engines that you have the information their users need, backlinks are confirmation that other people agree. Getting listed on citation sites, like Google My Business, Yelp, or the Better Business Bureau, can “increase your presence in local search,” says Swartz. “Let’s say you’re a Toronto area pizza place. If you’re listed in a bunch of online directories that have your address, Google will be more likely to serve you in a result when a local searches for pizza, as opposed to a pizzeria in New York City. Being included in listings on sites like BlogTO or Narcity also helps, as does social media mentions.

Be strategic with your advertising dollars

Here’s the thing: online advertising is very fast. If you want 20,000 people in Toronto to see your wonderful new line of loungewear, you can do that quite easily with a Pay Per Click ad campaign on Google Ads. But it’s going to cost you money, and it might not be the best way to spend your money, especially if you’re starting your business. “You can spend a lot of money very, very quickly on Google ads. But if you don’t have a minimum to spend, you won’t see enough results to get the data you need to tell you whether it’s working or not, ”she says.

Swartz’s rule of thumb is to budget an expense of $ 1,000 each month for three months to get useful results. “If you’re more like $ 100 a month for three months, then go have fun on Facebook,” she advises. “And if you have a period of $ 100, or $ 50, look at niche channels. This means buying a classified ad or mention in a blog or newsletter, or potentially hiring an influencer, or running a contest. In other words, choose the right platform to make sure your ad spend is the most effective.

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