The Small Business Cheat Sheet for Cost-Effective Digital Marketing

Ireland’s small businesses have far lower digital skills than other organisations, according to our recently published Digital Skills Report. We tested the skills of 622 marketers with a set of 52 questions across the core digital marketing disciplines of SEO, PPC, Email, Display, Social, Mobile and Analytics. The result? Small businesses scored a shocking 25% lower than medium-sized businesses and 22% lower than start-ups.

It makes sense: small business have less staff, fewer resources and often lower budgets. But with Irish consumer spend up 54% year on year, it’s time small businesses capitalised on the digital revolution. We’ve developed this cheat sheet to help you, the small business owner, learn more about cost-effective digital marketing tactics like content, SEO and social media marketing.

1. Content

Want to attract people to your website? Start by creating quality content. Valuable content includes everything from engaging website copy and useful blog articles to eye catching infographics and insightful videos. There are plenty of free WordPress blog templates available to get you started. Yes, producing great content is time consuming but it also pays in multiple ways. Here’s a list of ways you can justify it to the accountant:

Benefits of Creating Quality Content:

  • It can increase your social media engagement by giving your fans something valuable to share and talk about.
  • It can also help you rank higher in search results. Google love fresh, relevant and quality long form content.
  • It’s a great way to increase your credibility and position your brand as a thought-leader.
  • It helps you to nurture and generate leads. Try creating a landing page which asks people to give their contact details in exchange for access to exclusive content (e.g. ebooks and meatier reports).

Want to Learn More? 

HubSpot Academy

Go to: http://academy.hubspot.com/broadcasts/blogging/ The blogging section of the HubSpot Academy is a great resource for anyone eager to learn more about content marketing. It includes everything from selecting the right keywords and coming up with engaging ideas to creating an editorial calendar and tips on guest blogging.

For super-up-to-date content tips check out what the experts at Content Marketing World 2014 are saying.

2. Organic SEO

Some business are under the illusion that SEO costs a lot. While this can be true for paid search, there’s also lots of steps you can take to help your website rank higher organically. Don’t panic, you don’t need to be a technical wizard. To get started all you need is a bit of know-how and some useful tips.

Organic SEO Tips:

  • First assess your website’s SEO as it stands. To do so set up a Google Webmaster account. All you have to do is register, verify your domain name and follow the outlined steps. Google will give you tailored tips on the SEO elements your website needs to address.
  • When you’re creating fresh content make sure you’re filling in all the meta data Google asks for. Worth remembering: Google search spiders can only read and understand words so it’s important to add meta descriptions to your images too.
  • Google now looks for and ranks for longer tail keywords – each one of your website pages should have a specific theme or topic. And remember: never stuff your pages with keywords as you will be penalised.
  • Google prefers in-depth content and has indicated that longer posts of 1,500 to 2,000 word length are rewarded accordingly. However, quality is always key.

Want to learn more? 

Google’s Webmaster Academy

Go to: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6001102?rd=3 Google’s Webmaster Academy teaches you how to set up and use Google Webmaster and gives you plenty of tips on how to improve your search ranking and create a site that Google will love. It also includes some handy tips on how not to fall fowl of a Google search penalty.

Moz 

Go to: http://moz.com/learn/seo The Moz learning academy contains an array of resources on beginner’s marketing from SEO and link building to social media. Well worth a look.

3. Social Media

Social media is a must-have for smaller businesses looking to increase their brand’s visibility. It’s a great way to connect with your customers. Used in the right way, it can be an effective customer service tool, allowing you to instantly respond to any problems or questions that might hinder purchases.

Social Media Tips:

  • Choose your social media sites wisely – it’s best for smaller businesses to concentrate on a few select social media channels. Anymore and you might not have the time to manage them all. The only channels you should be using are the ones your customers are using.
  • Take advantage of free analytics. The major social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter give a quick and easy-to-understand synopsis of how your posts and pages are performing.
  • Identify with key influencers in your industry and engage with them. Those with a high Klout score are a great place to start. The goal is to eventually get people with a large social media presence to share your content. But first you’ve got some relationship building to do – try offering a favour and/or sharing their content.
  • Use a scheduling tool like Hootesuite or Buffer to schedule your posts to send throughout the day. Choose the times that give you the highest traffic and social media engagement.

Want to Learn More?

Here are a few social media blogs worth bookmarking for future reading:

Keep tuned in over the next few weeks where we’ll reveal some cost-effective email marketing tips small businesses can implement.

Before you embark on your digital learning journey you might want to test your own digital skills.You can take our Digital Diagnostic test for free. It takes 15 minutes to complete and allows you to test your knowledge across the core disciplines of SEO, PPC, Email, Display, Social, Mobile and Analytics. Upon completion you will receive an individual score along with a few suggestions on the next steps to take for your digital learning journey.

Watch the Digital Diagnostic video below to find out more:

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