As so many small business owners know, staying ahead of the digital marketing game can be a challenge. With more and more consumers turning to the internet and social media to find brands and products to fill their needs, figuring out the best way to reach these potential customers has become a necessity. However, combing through all the different resources available without a background in marketing, advertising, or tech can feel particularly daunting. While many still view a digital marketing strategy as time-consuming and expensive, the reality is that digital marketing for small businesses can be cost-effective and have a much higher ROI than traditional forms of marketing -- when done right.
Here are the five most important tools to use when creating your digital strategy, as well as the resources that can help you along the way.
A fresh and engaging website that can be easily updated and measured
For small businesses, a website should be the central component of an effective digital strategy. This is how current and future customers are going to find and connect with your business. So, given the vital role your website will play, it is important to make sure that you build a site that is optimized for success.
WordPress is a great tool available for small-business owners on a budget. The online, open source website creation tool is one of the most powerful content management system (CMS) available today. From a simple blog to a full-blown website, WordPress allows users to customize the service to suit their needs. Easily choose from thousands of plug-ins, widgets and themes to enhance your site and extend your users experiences.
Once you have the website finalized, measuring the engagement will be critical. Google Analytics is a free tool that will help to measure the success of your inbound marketing efforts. You can view the volume of website traffic, track where your users are coming from and where they are going, and learn how and why your users are visiting your site. Google Analytics will also analyze visitor traffic and paint a complete picture of your audience and their needs. By tracking the routes customers take to reach you and the devices they use to get there, Google Analytics helps you to meet them in the middle and provide a better end experience.
A social media platform to simplify account management
Consumers are increasingly turning to social media to not only interact with friends and family but also brands. In order to effectively leverage social media to engage with current and future brand advocates, you need to have the right tools in place to easily monitor all conversations across a variety of channels.
Hootsuite is a social media management system that helps to track and manage all of your different social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, WordPress, Foursquare, etc. This tool allows you to monitor what people are saying about your brand and then respond instantaneously straight from the Hootsuite dashboard. Hootsuite also builds in the option to allow multiple people to manage the accounts, allowing for increased response time. Weekly click reports make it easy to see how social media is working for your business.
Enhanced email marketing
While you always have the option to send weekly newsletters and announcements through your personal email address, most platforms were not built with email marketing campaigns in mind. These platforms can't make sure your email gets to the inbox over the spam folder and won't track the level of engagement. If you are spending the time to create the email content, why risk the success rate?
Mail Chimp is a web-based email marketing service that will help you to design email newsletters, share them on social networks, and track your results. In addition, Mail Chimp ensures that all emails are registered as safe and approved and tracks if the intended receiver is reading your mail. Through Mail Chimp you can track individual subscriber's activity and monitor the success of each email sent. Mail Chimp also provides guides to help you navigate your way through the land of email marketing, ensuring that you use the service to its full potential.
Video content marketing
Although video has the ability to engage an audience faster than any other form of content marketing, it doesn't make sense for every small business. If after taking a look at your business messaging you've determined that video marketing makes sense for your company, Wistia is a great tool at your disposal.
Upload a video to Wistia,, and it will automatically encode both Flash and HTML5 versions for improved visibility. You control each and every detail -- from video placement to social sharing -- making sure that your videos match your brands messaging. Wistia will also alert you at the point that viewers drop off of your videos, allowing you to really hone in on the style and format that your viewer's enjoy most. All of these features make it easy to use videos to truly enrich your digital marketing strategy.
Optimized local SEO
Ensuring that your business listing is complete and accurate plays a large role in determining whether customers can move forward with contacting you. Moz Local makes it easy to create and maintain your business listings on the sites, apps, and directories that factor most into local search engine results. Simply upload your location data to Moz Local to push your business listings to the four major data aggregators -- Infogroup, Neustar Localeze, Acxiom, and Factual. Moz Local will help to establish a consistent business listing by ensuring that your data is accurate.
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