A digital strategy is so important for any small business, and the pandemic has shown just how vital online marketing has been as businesses adapted and pivoted to changing circumstances.
But where do you start with digital marketing if you’re on a budget? Even if you don’t have the capacity to hire a team of professionals, there’s plenty you can do to amplify your message without breaking the bank or sacrificing your valuable time. Equipped with free tools, courses, and some technical know-how, you’ll be well on your way to spreading the word online.
In this guide, we’ll help you to start building and improving your plan so you can engage with current and potential customers online. Whether you’re aiming for increased brand awareness or those all-important sales, you’ll develop a clear direction to reach your goals.
- free social media planner
- easy to follow checklists for key areas of your digital strategy
- 10 ways to create a successful online advert
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What should be in a digital strategy?
A digital strategy is your plan to achieve your goals and build your online presence. You might be an e-commerce business looking to boost your visibility, or a bricks and mortar shop wanting to attract more footfall.
Before we jump into how you can improve your strategy, let’s look at the different channels available to you. You’ll find even more hints, tips and tasks for each of these areas in our free guide.
Click each section to find out more:
Whether you’re running an e-commerce business, accept additional orders or reservations online, or simply want to display information for potential customers and clients, a well-designed and thought-out website is often central to your online presence.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a great option if your business is looking for results on a budget. You can advertise on social media platforms with Facebook Ads, or on search engines like Google or Bing.
Grow your digital footprint with search engine optimisation. SEO is the process of designing your website and its content so that it appears near the top of the list in search results. Search engines use an algorithm to rate websites based on several factors, including relevancy, speed, and authority. It does this to give searchers the results that best match their question or search term. The better your website meets these criteria, the more likely it is to appear higher up in the results.
Email marketing allows you to communicate directly with your customers and potential customers, keeping them in the know about your latest offers or launches. There are several platforms online where you can build emails using a simple template. Lots of emails land in our inboxes every day, so how can you break through the noise, win the attention of your customers and, most importantly, convert them?
If your customers leave glowing reviews on Facebook, Google, Trustpilot or other platforms, share this to build trust in your brand and show off your customer service skills. Online reviews are also a great opportunity to turn a negative into a positive by showing how you handle complaints with excellent customer service.
How to boost your online presence on a budget
1. Do your research
As you can see, your digital strategy will relate to a lot of areas in your business, from selling online to your marketing plan.
Start by asking yourself:
- Who is your target audience?
- Who are you currently communicating with?
- Are you talking to the right people?
- Are you clear about your offering and what you want to share?
- Who is your competition? What’s working well for them?
You can then apply this to where you concentrate your efforts in your digital marketing strategy. For example, there’s little point in doubling down your efforts on posting on LinkedIn if most of your target audience is using Twitter and Facebook. Setting goals and key performance indicators (KPI’s) will allow you to:
- keep track of your progress
- make the most of any opportunities
- spot areas for improvement
2. Plan, plan, plan
Have you ever reached the end of a busy day only to realise you forgot to post about your new offer on social media? Or maybe you’re always sending out rushed newsletters at the last hour or forgetting to set up a new paid advertising campaign? Planning your content and digital communications in advance is an easy way to save time and cut down on the stress of last-minute posting.
Whether it’s your Twitter feed, website or email newsletter, a plan for your digital communications means you’ll:
- Have a regular feed of fresh content for your target audience
- Stay on top of trending topics, seasonal events and other opportunities
- Always serve valuable and high-quality content
- Improve your SEO by having up to date content
- Link in with your overall marketing and business objectives
3. Test and measure
Step back and look at what you’re communicating online. What performs well and how can you replicate that? Many platforms have basic analytics built-in that can give you valuable insights into when your followers are online, which pages of your website are the most popular and how many people clicked on the offer in your last email.
Unfortunately, not everything goes to plan, so if something doesn’t resonate with your audience, what can you learn from that and do differently? Measuring your reach and engagement gives you an indication of how you’re performing and if your strategy is turning clicks into conversions. For example, are people visiting your website, making a booking, or buying your products because of your online activity? Or are you losing them somewhere in the journey?
Keeping a close eye on your data means you can be savvy with your budget and understand how best to use it. You might need to invest in website upgrades, or it could be as simple as crafting a clear call to action.
4. Improve the user journey
On a similar note, think about if there is anything that might frustrate or confuse a potential customer on your website, which might cost you a sale. Could your e-commerce checkout process be a couple of steps shorter, so it’s much easier to complete a sale? Could you add a direct link to your latest offer in your Instagram bio, rather than just a link to your home page?
Questioning your own online presence in this way can help you improve parts of it that you otherwise might not have thought about. It can help you spot site errors, broken page links or overly complicated journeys, which could otherwise slip through the cracks. You should also be left with a more efficient, easier to use, and better designed website.
5. Take a free course
There are lots of free digital marketing resources online to get started with, pitched to all abilities. You can test the waters with a beginner friendly course or stretch your skills with more advanced resources. If you prefer to learn in a collaborative environment, search for free events near you.
Our beginner-friendly social media marketing series, hosted by Be More Social, is a great place to start. Social media is a key tool for small businesses, and the best part is that it’s mostly free. You’ll learn how to curate Twitter lists, level up your LinkedIn skills, and boost your presence on Facebook. With on-demand videos, tasks and further reading for each lesson, it’s ideal for busy small business owners.
Want to learn more?
Brush up on your business knowledge and dive into in-depth resources on everything from social media marketing and business finances to managing a team and getting paid on time. With downloadable guides, on-demand webinars and more, our skills hub is home to valuable resources and guidance for small business owners.