The Small Business Owner's Digital Marketing Checklist

Digital marketing involves using marketing tactics that leverage digital technologies, such as websites, content marketing, social media, blogs, email and even mobile marketing. If you are a small business owner, chances are that having a digital marketing strategy will help you grow your business faster. There can be many components of a digital marketing strategy, depending on the type of business you have and how you interact with your customers. However, most digital marketing plans should incorporate five key areas in order to be successful.

1
Website

web design
Kohei Hara / DigitalVision / Getty Images

A website is the foundation of a digital marketing strategy; the place where you will direct traffic, collect leads and provide useful information about your company. Having a web presence doesn't have to be expensive or take a great deal of time to manage, yet about half of small business owners are still not online. If you fall into this camp, now is the perfect time to launch your digital marketing strategy by building a website. Consider these key actions as you get started:

  • Represent your brand: Your website should communicate your brand message consistently with a logo, colors and even the tone of your website copy.
  • Write a powerful about page: While the specific pages you have on your website will vary, a solid About page can do a lot to attract customers. Make sure you take time to make your About page interesting.
  • Start a blog: Consider adding a business blog to your website to boost traffic and build credibility.
  • Be mobile-friendly: Your website should be responsive, which means it adjusts to the screen size of different devices such as desktop, tablet, smartphone for a consistent experience.
  • Enable social sharing: Let visitors to share your website easily by having social sharing buttons displayed prominently. 
  • Collect and review metrics: It will be difficult to improve your website over time if you aren't able to track how your visitors use it. Use an analytics tool like Google Analytics so you can review metrics and make smart changes that will improve the performance of your site.

2
Content Marketing

content laptop
Photographer is my life. / Moment / Getty Images

According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and to drive profitable customer action. Content comes into play in more than one area of digital marketing (i.e., blogs, social media, email marketing), so it's important to have a thorough content marketing strategy. Incorporate these elements in your content marketing process:

  • Create a content calendar: Executing a content marketing strategy without a plan is likely to waste a great deal of time. Create a monthly calendar that outlines what content you will create and how you will distribute it.
  • Share via social: Your content will be wasted unless you can get the eyes of your target audience on it consistently. Have a plan for how you will share your content on your social media platforms.
  • Leverage your content: You can use (and reuse) your content in many different ways in order to get more mileage out of each piece of content. For example, create a series of blog posts on related topics, then combine them together to create an ebook. 
  • Consider guest posting: Two-way guest posting—allowing guest posts on your blog and writing for other blogs yourself—is a great way to expand your audience and get more traffic to your website. 

3
Social Media

social media
hocus-focus / Getty Images

Social media is an excellent marketing tool for many small businesses, especially those that are actively using content to attract the attention of their target audience. Not only does posting links to your content on your social channels increase traffic to your website and blog, but using social media also gives you a way to communicate directly with your customers and potential customers. Follow these suggestions as you get started using social media as part of your digital marketing strategy:

  • Choose one to start: Don't try to create a presence on every social platform at one time. Explore the benefits of each, then choose one or two that are best for your company and focus your time there.
  • Claim your brand on all platforms: While you don't need to be active on every social platform there is, you should register your brand name on each network in order to prevent someone else from using it.
  • Be consistent: When setting up your social profiles, use the same profile image, bio, banners and colors to strengthen your brand presence. 
  • Focus on conversation and engagement: Remember that social media is about the conversation, not blasting content and promotions to your audience. Aim to create a thriving community on each social site.
  • Create a social post calendar: You can incorporate your social post schedule into the content calendar you already created, or create a new one that outlines what you will be sharing, where and when. 
  • Collect and review metrics: Use the analytics tools available on different social platforms to see what types of posts perform best so you can increasingly engage your audience. 

4
Email Marketing

email marketing
Busakorn Pongparnit / Moment / Getty Images

When you are able to successfully use email marketing, you gain the ability to communicate with your customers on a regular basis. The key is sending messages on a consistent schedule that are relevant and interesting for your audience. It may take some time to build a quality email list, but it is well worth the time and effort. Start using email marketing with the action items below:

  • Choose the right platform: There are many email marketing platforms to choose from. Pick the one that has the features you need at the price point that works for your business. 
  • Create a newsletter template: Most email marketing platforms provide ready-to-use templates that you can easily customize with your logo and company information. Take the time to do this initially and you can reuse the template every time you send a newsletter.
  • Go beyond newsletters: While newsletters are a good option, there are many other types of email messages you can use to communicate with your audience. Try a few and see how your email list responds.  
  • Actively encourage sign ups: Promote your newsletter in multiple places (website, email signature, social media) to grow your email list. You may also want to offer an incentive for signing up, like a free download or discount, in order to encourage sign ups. 
  • Collect and review metrics: Use the analytics tools available in the email marketing platform you chose to see how many people opened your message and clicked on a specific link.

5
Search Engine Optimization

seo
Witthaya Prasongsin / Moment / Getty Images

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays a big role in digital marketing. If the content you create isn't optimized, you will struggle to get the right people to see it at the right time. If you are new to this, you may want to review some of the basics of SEO for small business first. Then, use the suggestions below to get started:

  • Do your research: Get to know how your website and your competitors' websites are performing first. Use Google and other search engines to see where you rank.
  • Choose the right keywords: Based on your research, choose the most appropriate keywords for your website, blog posts and all of the other content you create.
  • Use SEO tools: There are many free SEO tools available that will help you optimize your content. Pick the tools that are more relevant for your business.
  • Collect and review metrics: Use Google Analytics and the other SEO tools you've selected to watch how your optimized content performs so you can improve it over time.

You have probably already learned that you can't always be hands-on in every aspect of your small business; there are some areas that warrant outside help. Digital marketing may be one of these areas for you. If you are not experienced with each of these areas, consider outsourcing some or all of it to give you the time you need to focus on growing your business.