A lot of small business owners hear about the latest trends in online marketing—AI, paid marketing, marketing automation—and begin to feel overwhelmed. There are already so many channels and tactics to consider, and it seems like there are new ones each day.
Of course, in an ideal world, your business would be taking advantage of all the available channels. But there’s no point in trying to jump ahead to the latest and greatest technology if you don’t have the basics under control.
That’s why I propose a specific model for marketing maturity. Made up of three stages—build, grow, and ignite—it encourages businesses to start with a solid foundation and work their way up to the final stage where all channels are being used, and you’re optimizing and maximizing your existing marketing assets.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the first stage, build. What goes into building the foundation of a business’s online marketing presence? There are five key elements you must include, and we’ll go through them here.
1. Marketing Website
The first step to getting online is building your website. A small business can’t survive today without one. It is the hub of your business’s online presence. And it’s not just about creating any old website, it’s about building one that is modern, accessible, and gets your story out there.
Websites today must be mobile friendly. Mobile sites are getting indexed first by search engines, and the vast majority of searches are now happening on mobile devices. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you’re starting at a deficit.
Once you have cleared that first technical hurdle, you need to ensure that your website clearly articulates your promise to solve the greatest problem your audience has. It needs to tell the story of why your audience should trust you to do the job. If those most essential elements are missing, you shouldn’t pass go.
The other key to creating an effective website is having your full editorial plan and SEO approach in place before you begin the design or build process. Your website, content, and SEO techniques have all risen to the strategic level in terms of marketing importance, so your plan to get your website up-and-running must seamlessly incorporate those three critical elements.
2. Approach to Content
Your content must all work to tell the story of why a prospect should choose your business. This means leading with that value proposition on your home page. Each subsequent core page should build upon that message, and include video to tell your story.
A review funnel should also be a central component of your content program, particularly if you are a local business. These funnels are a way to stop bad reviews from being posted across various sites, and they make it easy for your happy customers to share their thoughts on Google, Yelp, Facebook, or any other platform of their choice.
Once you’ve built your content, you want to make sure the meta data (the titles and descriptions that display on search results) are keyword rich. It should be clear exactly what you do in your title tags, so that prospects looking to solve a problem understand immediately that you offer a solution.
3. Search Engine Optimization
SEO sounds confusing, but in reality it’s pretty simple. The most essential SEO component for any local business is making sure your business’s name, address, and phone number are correct on your website, and that that information is the same as what’s displayed on your Google My Business page. Just go onto Google and claim your profile there to make the appropriate changes and keep your information up to date.
If your business has moved, you’ve changed your name, or you find that there is conflicting information online, you can use a service like BrightLocal to ensure that your data is correct across all of the directories out there on the internet.
4. Social Media
The first step to building your social media presence is making sure you’re present on the major networks where your customers are. Claim your profiles, make sure your branding is all over it, include links back to your website, and ensure that it’s a good experience. Even if you don’t plan to be active on social media, these profiles still must be claimed and established, because they’re going to show up in searches related to your business.
In order to tackle the branding aspect, a free tool like Canva can help you create images that are the right dimensions for each kind of social media profile.
Once you’ve got the pages established, claimed, and branded, you can begin thinking about putting out some basic content. If you have promotions, products, or sales that you’d like your audience to know about, a channel like Facebook can be a great place to tell them about it. You don’t want every single post to be a promotion, but you can begin to get the word out there on social media.
You can also begin to show off a bit of your brand’s personality. I like to call these culture posts. How can you start talking about a “day in the life” of your business? Show off how a product is made. Share posts about the office birthday party of one of your colleagues. This allows your audience to see the real people behind the brand and builds trust with your audience.
5. Email Marketing
You already have a list, but what state is it in? Before you begin thinking about marketing campaigns, you need to do some list hygiene: how old is the list, how long is the list, and how relevant are the names on it?
If the list is full of people who haven’t purchased from you in five years, it’s time to get rid of those names. If there are people on there who have made a purchase in the last 24 months, those are contacts that are still valuable.
Once you’ve cleaned up your list, you can run a reengagement campaign. What’s the best way to reach back out to those who have bought from you in the past, to either get them to buy again or get them interested in doing something new (passing on a deal, referring us to their friends, or otherwise reengaging them)?
You also want to think about how to grow your mailing list. That’s where having calls to action on your website come in. And I don’t mean a tiny box at the bottom that says, “Sign up for our newsletter.” I mean offering up valuable information, which visitors can access if they share their email address. How about a free evaluation, comparison, or checklist?
You should also provide a variety of calls to action on your site. Multiple calls to action are ways to engage people no matter where they are on their individual customer journey. Different calls to action address the different needs of your various prospects or clients.
These are the basics of the build phase of the model for marketing maturity. In subsequent shows, I’ll talk about the grow and ignite phases. Once we have the foundation built here, we want to address paid lead generation, sales enablement, and the customer experience component—the factors that go into growing your marketing. Then once we add those, we’ll start talking about data, CRM tool, marketing automation and even AI. Stay tuned over the next week for the next two installments.
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