Let’s face it—there’s nothing more frustrating than having an exceptional product or service that won’t sell. You could embrace Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom’s ideology that “great products sell themselves” all day long, but it won’t lead you anywhere without including digital marketing.
For small business owners, digital marketing can feel like working on a time machine. You don’t know where and how to start! Should you try search engine marketing? Should you build a website? How big of a website should you make? Facebook? LinkedIn? Email marketing? Content creation? Oh, where do you even begin!
Digital Marketing for Beginners
My point above is that digital marketing can be overwhelming, especially when so many practices today claim to be the best. However, none of them is because digital marketing, to be effective, is all about the right fit.
You can try selling that rocket-powered pogo stick on LinkedIn with really cool specs to deliver the most value and spend thousands on advertising. Still, you’ll have zero conversion simply because you aimed at the wrong place. Do that again on Instagram, and the entire story changes!
If you’re one of those struggling how to begin marketing your product or service online, let this article enlighten you. I’ll give you a rundown of what to do in the most logical sense. However, it’s going to be a crash course, and I can’t include all the tiny details.
What I can promise is that after reading this guide, you’ll at least have a strategy and a roadmap that can propel you to selling your merchandise without any outside assistance. Of course, asking for help from a digital marketing agency will provide incredible marketing benefits. But if you want to start cheap, continue reading below.
Start With Research
Before you even begin establishing your online presence (building a website, creating a Facebook page, producing advertising materials, etc.), you must do your research. As a small business owner trying to make an impact on the internet, you’re going against established businesses that already control most of the audience base.
As a beginner, you need to ensure that your digital marketing efforts will produce results. To do that, you can’t afford to be aimless. Here are simple digital marketing research methods that you can do without spending money:
List All the Relevant Topics About Your Business or Industry
Start by categorizing the keywords you wish to rank for into general categories. Identify at least three to five broad categories about your business, and then utilize those categories to generate more specialized keywords later.
For example, if you’re a financial consultant, you can start with:
- financial advisor
- wealth management
- equitable advisor
- investment consultation
People who will be searching these keywords above will, of course, look forward to meeting one. In essence, if you rank well for all those, you would be generating leads.
Now, don’t confuse yourself with content creation and mere keyword research and analysis. Although both can work together to give you impressive results, each one can stand on its own in digital marketing.
For now, let’s focus on:
Now that you have the gist of why knowing your category is imperative to gaining leads, let us get down to specifics. Categories are broad and incredibly competitive.
If you’re looking for a doctor, you wouldn’t just search “doctor,” right? Google would spout definitions, videos, and articles about doctors.
However, specify that a bit, and you’ll get what you’re looking for, e.g., “ENT doctor near me” or “doctor for throat problems in Miami.”
Write all of these down, and Google them one by one. If your list of keywords and key phrases provide results that show your competitor, you’re moving in the right direction.
Choosing Your Online Base
One of the most challenging things when it comes to digital marketing for beginners is probably choosing a platform. Why? Well, choosing where you want to plant your seed is an investment. Even if you say that Facebook, Twitter, and some web 2.0 sites are free, it would still cost you time and energy to set them up. Moreover, creating content for your platform is also expensive (whether you do things yourself or hire an assistant or a freelancer).
Now, think of the big picture. If you want to succeed and dominate the market, it will take years! Years’ worth of content could easily translate to thousands and thousands of dollars or hours’ worth of work!
So how do you choose your platform and not regret anything in the future? Well, here are three things to consider:
- Know your target audience and where they stay online
- See what platforms your competitors are using
- One platform is enough, two is okay, and three is too much
How about I just dive into each platform? Well, you can do that. However, the problem is the resources you need to pull that off. Sticking to just one and seeing how it goes is the safest approach.
Should You Build a Website?
The short answer is yes. Every business must have a website. Why? Because not only does it inform your audience, but it also boosts your brand recognition, driving sales! It also increases your control, flexibility, and credibility.
“However, I don’t know how to code!”
Well, gone are the days when you have to know coding to make one. A simple solution is to go straight to WordPress.com and try their free version. Or you can also ask a digital marketing agency to make a simple, single page for you that’s blank. Yes, some agencies accept small projects like that, which will only cost you a hundred or two.
It can be difficult for your business to have social media as your only platform. In fact, 84 percent of U.S consumers believe that businesses with websites are more credible than others. Not only that, I can assure you that your competitors are aware of this and have their website. That is why it is essential to start building yours too.
Benefits of having a website:
- Attract new customers
- It makes your business more credible
- Proper showcase of products and services
- Encourages customers to reach out
- Ensures success over the long term
- Higher Google Search ranking
Sure, building your website can seem challenging, but the pros outweigh the cons. Furthermore, plenty of modern website builders like, again, WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace can help you build your website from scratch without any coding knowledge.
Content Marketing: Email, Social, and SEO
Providing value to your audience influences conversions and helps them connect with you. Creating content through articles, social media posts, and others offers a great deal and helps your business build a relationship with your audience.
Moreover, when you create value for your audience without taking anything in return, they are more likely to trust your advice and recommendations.
Keep in mind that one of your goals here is to gain your audience’s trust. And once you have that, they will end up having positive associations with your business and leave reviews that will improve your brand’s reputation, which is one step closer to becoming a successful business.
How Do You Execute Content Marketing?
As the name suggests, it’s all about content. If you have a website (which I strongly recommend that you do), you can publish everything there.
From your website, you can share the content via:
- Email (get as many of your target audience’s email)
- Social (establish social pages and share or advertise your website blog posts and landing pages there)
- Search (here’s a bit technical, learn about SEO and digital marketing in general)
End With a System
By combining all of the above—the right research, having a website, and proper content marketing—all that’s left to do is maintain consistency.
Marketing consistency establishes your credibility, builds trust, and strengthens your reputation.
It is one of the many factors determining your business’ growth and success. Consistently marketing your brand to all platforms will give you steady growth and generate more and better leads.
Create Digital Assets That Represent Your Business
Digital assets are essential due to the rise of social media platforms.
Use this to your advantage and create your digital assets to grab your audience’s attention. Make sure you stand out from the rest, build your branding that once people see it, they will know for sure it’s yours.
Logos, posts, videos, infographics, slide presentations, and websites are all assets that help connect your brand to people and form the foundation of your brand identity.
Benefits of having digital assets:
- Build brand awareness
- Influence a consumer’s purchasing behavior
Deliver These Assets to Your Target Audience
Once you have created your digital assets, it is time to deliver them to your target audience. You can reach your target audience faster by using paid and search ads, sharing your assets to different social platforms and communities, and proper SEO.
You can always ask them to share your assets if you have connections with other pages or influential people. If not, you always have the option to pay them. Nowadays, a single sponsored post on Instagram is around $40, coming from someone with just over 10,000 followers.
There are many ways to spread your brand. Think paid ads (search, communities, social). However, the only thing that you have to accept is that it requires research, time, money, and a lot of patience. Nonetheless, you will get returns.
Engage and Encourage Your Audience to Share
After sharing your content and spreading love, there’s more to do. And that’s engagement. Engaging with your audience increases participation, enhances learning, and enhances satisfaction.
Your customers will post their experiences on social media. They become your brand ambassadors, sharing what they learned from your content to their friends and social media, creating free marketing for you.
Engaging your audience also makes them feel important and valuable. Your brand’s activities will be more effective when you proactively engage with your audience and do not leave them hanging. As a result, they’re more likely to become recommend your brand.
Benefits of engaging with your audience:
- Improves your brand’s reputation and credibility
- More positive feedback from your audience
- Generate more and higher-quality leads
- Better traction on social media
- Gain a loyal following
Again, there’s no trick to this. You just have to spend an hour or two of your time every day to act as if you know every follower reacting to your content as real friends. It’s hard work, sure, but that’s the way you grow your business online.
Starting Is What Matters Most
Digital marketing is crucial if you want your business to grow and succeed in the 21st century. But remember, there is no perfect way in digital marketing. What matters is that you start taking action. Planning and learning the ropes will do you good, but you have to execute, which is the part where most people fail.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2022 John Emerson Conde