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Digital Marketing Opportunities and Tools Guide for Small Businesses

As a small business owner, you likely feel you should be doing more online and implementing more digital marketing opportunities.  Having a digital presence is one of the best ways of building brand awareness and reaching a broader audience to grow your business sales. When you are just getting started, it may seem overwhelming to know where to begin and how to “up your game.”  

Digital Marketing Opportunities and Tools for Small Businesses

In this Halftime Mike Podcast I’ll share key online marketing opportunities in this post and give you key tips on how, why, and when to use each.  

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Digital Marketing Opportunities and Tools Guide for Small Businesses

Diving into the Details:

Digital Marketing Opportunities

The internet keeps growing, as does the number of digital marketing solutions. The variety of opportunities can leave you overwhelmed and confused about which ones to use. Here, I will break the key options down and give you an overview of each digital marketing opportunity, followed by the tools.

Social Media Marketing

Social media has grown beyond a place for sharing vacation photos and funny videos. It has evolved into a powerful business platform. Tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube can offer extremely targeted marketing and a way to connect in a ongoing way with your ideal potential customer audience.

If you have a specific audience you are targeting, social media marketing can help you find more of that audience, build rapport with that audience, and ultimately offer opportunities for buying from you to that specific audience. Information shared by users makes it easier to market to them according to age, gender, occupation, and other demographics. If you have a much younger audience your targeting it is likely important to be on Instagram, while if you have more of an adult audience or older audience it would be best to be on Facebook.

There is not just one social media platform to be on. Usually, it benefits businesses to be on multiple platforms based on where their ideal customers spend time on social media to be found in many different ways but it all depends on the target audience and goals for your business’s social media marketing strategy.

Social media marketing is generally free (other than paid ads) but does take time and strategy to post regularly, answer comments, and be creative in what you share so that it is engaging users.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

You can get your brand in front of the ideal potential customer demographic by paying search engines to place your ads on top of search engine results pages (SERPs). Every time people search a term associated with your business, they’ll be shown your Ad as a top option. You have to bid to appear and the more competition for the term, the higher you have to bid and be willing to pay.  It can range from as low as $.30 per click to nearly $8.00 in high cases. Google AdWords is the key here and Bing Ads is the other of the most prominent players in this field.

SEM is one of the most effective ways to reach new customers and ultimately grow your business. When people search on a search engine they tend to check out the top results first, making it extremely important to be in that top spot. Now you can’t just rely on the paid ads, but when other businesses similar to yours have an SEM strategy it is important to invest to stay in the game.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

As opposed to SEM, SEO attempts to have your website rank in search engines naturally, or organically. It’s a long term process that involves posting relevant content, optimizing keywords, and having quality backlinks. The best way to increase the rank of your website is to have the most relevant and helpful content for your consumers with SEO optimized pages that focus on specific keyword phrases that would-be customers are searching for in Google and Bing. SEO is a very important tool for businesses to consider and spend money on.

Content Marketing

Content is anything that can be posted online including text, images, audio, and video. There are various ways of marketing content such as blogs, YouTube channels, social media pages, infographics, and ebooks. Video content is expected to keep growing due to its effectiveness.  I personally use content marketing via blog writing and in doing so it is related to your SEO work.  The more quality content you have on your website the better your search ranking. It’s just key to optimize the content for SEO purposes.

Writing a blog is not the end though!  It has to be shared and re-shared on social media, as well as connected to partners and influencers so that they will also hopefully share it with their audiences.  Good content is key, then getting good content seen is the next focus!

Display Advertising

This is similar to the SEM area but specific.  This shows banners (images or videos) advertising your products to people visiting various websites. By tracking their online habits, search engines can show users suitable ads wherever they are on the internet. This retargeting spreads your brand visibility across the web.

You can do display advertising within Google Ads manager but also via Facebook Ads manager and any site that sells ad space on the site.  

Influencer Marketing

This is a newcomer to the marketing arena that is growing fast.  Influencers are people who have a significant following on social media and online (blog/website). When you contract with them and hire them to help, they will do some agreed upon shout out, telling their fans about your product and promoting it. It’s a good way of marketing using a more natural approach to marketing that has the value of the trust factor of the influencer sharing it.  The more they are trusted by their audience, the more your product will be trusted. Its effectiveness can be harder to track than established marketing methods like SEM. The key is the right influencers and the right pitch by them that is natural and helpful.

Email Marketing

Most small businesses don’t think of email, even though it remains one of the most effective ways to market. It has a proven conversion record that guarantees you a positive ROI.  In fact, email is one of the best online ways to sell that there is! People read their email and they will buy from email.  

This needs integrated with your website so that you offer a way for web visitors to sign-up on your site

Affiliate Marketing

Through this method, you can allow anyone who meets certain conditions you set to market your products online. This allows you to essentially grow sales with a salesforce made up of affiliates who sell you product.  Once a customer referred by them makes a purchase, you pay an agreed amount as commission to the affiliate. It makes business sense because your services are marketed for free across the web, and you only pay after making a sale.  Obviously, this might not work for all small businesses as it requires the company to have resources for the affiliate and ability to deliver the end product to the affiliates customer.

Chatbot Marketing

This a newer and evolving marketing tool.  You’ve likely “chatted with a bot” via Facebook Messenger or on a website.  Chatbot marketing can be used to answer initial questions, qualify leads, and for much more!  For example you can have a sign-up just like you would for a email list and then send “chat-blasts” to the subscriber list.  These are having much higher view and click through rates than email in many companies.  

Also mentioned in the podcast, creating online courses with Thinkific.

Digital Marketing Tools

Depending on the digital marketing method you pick, you’ll need specific tools to make it more effective. These include:

Social Media Marketing Tools

You might need to maintain many social media profiles and brand pages, which can be overwhelming. Some tools can manage all your online interactions in a central place, without you having to log into each account.

They include Agora Pulse, Lately, and Hootsuite. One benefit is the ability to schedule posts, which makes it look like you’re always active online.

This social media management tool supports five major networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube. It has solutions tailored for organizations of any size. Its main features include the ability to schedule new posts, as well as reschedule popular posts. Agora Pulse works great for people creating unique social media posts. You can post to multiple channels at once, tag people, add photos, videos, and so much more. The user interface makes Agora Pulse easy to use.

It aims to make the best of both human and AI marketing skills to give your business an edge. It can auto-generate social posts from a few keyword suggestions. By linking it to your website and other online assets, it will come up with various resourceful marketing ideas. This is a great resource for people who have little time to create posts. This is especially useful for posting on Twitter.

Consistently ranked the most popular digital marketing tool, HootSuite is a robust social media analytics tool. Its engagement reports are easily shareable among teams, which makes collaboration more effective.  It’s been around quite a while, has a loyal and large user base and continues to roll out new tools to help you stay effective

Search Engine Optimization Tools

Since SEO is important to stay up with the competition and rank higher in search engines two SEO tools that you can utilize include:

As an SEO tool, it gives you everything you need to dominate search engine rankings. Its analytics tools can accurately tell you how well your posts, as well as those of competitors, are performing.

As noted earlier, SerpStat is a one-stop shop for SEO, SEM, and keyword tracking solutions. Its strong points are accurate backlinks analysis, comprehensive site audit, competitor research, and SERP research.  You can identify and track keywords and how you fair in ranking for them over time.

  • ALPS

Take your SEO methods to the next level with ALPS enterprise SEO tool!   ALPS uses AI (artificial intelligence) to help your business by providing data-driven insights into how search can lift your overall acquisition efforts. The platform houses enterprise SEO tools that align and optimize organic strategies.  By benchmarking your URL against high-ranking competitors, ALPS allows you to uncover insights and optimization opportunities.

Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research is central to any SEO campaign. It gives you insights into what customers are searching, as well as your competitors’ SEO strategy. Some of the best tools are Ubersuggest, SEMrush, Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and Serpstat.

Ahrefs crawls 5 billion web pages every day. It also has a database of 16 trillion known links and 3 trillion known URLs. This means it gives the most accurate keyword analysis results. It makes it easier for you to understand your competition’s online strategy through its competitor keyword analysis.

Championed by SEO guru Neil Patel, this is arguably the most effective and affordable keyword research tool. Entering a keyword on the site gives you ideas for writing your next viral content.

Website Analytics Tools

For your digital marketing campaigns to work, you should have statistics on how many people they’re reaching. This also shows you their conversion rates. They include Google Analytics, Moz pro, and Hotjar.

Email Marketing Solutions

These allow customers to sign up for services while making it easier to reach thousands of subscribers with new offers. They’re also perfect for conversion because you can notify customers about various releases, from blog posts to new products. Examples are MailChimp, AWeber, and ConvertKit.

Chatbot and Facebook Messenger Marketing Solutions

One of the most trusted and fastest growing is Mobile Monkey.  With template to help you create Q & A’s, qualify leads, sign-up subscribers, send chat-blasts to subscribers, and run Messenger Ads, Mobile Monkey is a robust tool that can quickly help you get started and scale your chatbot marketing.  Other chatbot tools are reviewed here.

Design and Video Production Online Tools

If you want to produce quality social media, you are going to need to have tools to create graphics, customize images, edit/create videos and more.  One tool that can assist is Renderforest.  This online video making tool offers a range of features to help you improve branding and easily create animations and video.

Get Started

The above are some of the best digital marketing opportunities and tools available to small businesses. Their biggest advantage is scalability, so even as your business grows you’ll still be able to enjoy their benefits.  You are likely doing some of these but not all of these and that’s OK. The key is knowing which pieces will help you the most. Often times your business can best benefit from a digital marketing agency that are pros at what they do, understand and are versed in these opportunities and tools, and can help you make the best decision on where to spend your time and money.  

That’s a wrap this time!

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Why the Halftime theme Mike? 

I’m an Indiana Hoosier native where basketball is the top sport. Every team heads to the locker room at halftime to evaluate the first half and create an updated plan for the second half. That plan includes adjustments based on reviewing what worked and what didn’t. The “halftime” is a key review point where the game stops, the team pulls away to huddle in the locker room away from the fans, and they come out prepared and ready to succeed in the second half.

That’s what this podcast is all about, taking the time to pull away for a bit to evaluate, learn, and set some strategies for your business to succeed in the second half. Join me by subscribing and let me be your “business halftime” to help you find great success going forward!

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Social Media Camp, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada (largest social media conference in Canada!)

Social Media Week Lima, Lima, OH, in June (largest social media conference in the Midwest!)

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