Digital Marketing Tools and Tricks for Small Businesses

Let's face facts, if you own a business, whether it's a B2B or a B2C company, and you don't have an online marketing strategy, you're doing it wrong. In fact, you're doing it incredibly wrong. With over 28 million small businesses in the United States alone, odds are you've seen the competition out there, and know you need an edge if your business is ever going to be successful.

According to reports from Bloomberg, nearly 80 percent of businesses fail within the first 18 months. Those aren't promising numbers, and for business owners that have failed to embrace the Internet, this statistic should be sobering. Your business won't survive much longer without some sort of digital marketing campaign in place.

Digital marketing is similar in many ways to traditional marketing; in fact, many traditional marketing tactics have evolved to match today's digital platforms. For anyone in business, interested in beginning a digital marketing campaign here are few tools and tips to take in stride before you begin your campaign.

Email marketing technology is one of those "new" digital marketing trends. Actually, it's a marketing trend based on a more traditional direct mail marketing approach. Email marketing targets consumers through their email, instead of their physical mailboxes. This approach is helpful in data mining, and connecting with the customer base. Currently, more than 80 percent of B2B and B2C companies use email-marketing strategies.

Here's how email marketing works, typically an organization or business builds an email list. The list is used to reach, inform, and promote to both established and future customers. Business owners would not only benefit themselves, but their customers as well if they were to invest with software specializing in email marketing campaigns. One such software is MailChimp, founded in 2001. MailChimp is the top email-marketing provider in the world.

MailChimp remains the best for a number of reasons, first, it's one of the oldest companies to use email marketing and second, it offers a free plan for those companies with less than 2,000 subscribers and who don't send more than 12,000 emails per months.

It wouldn't be a business if there were no customers. In fact, there could be no exchange of goods if someone wasn't buying and another selling. The relationship between consumer and producer is symbiotic; one cannot exist without the other. Which is why it's so important that business owners are aware of their consumer base and its desires.

Customer relationship management software (CRM) helps businesses keep track of all customer data, interactions with customers, automatic sales, track leads, and contracts and marketing. CRM is typically used to manage the relationship between business and consumer; CRM software is capable of organizing other business information needs. Business owners can use CRM software to keep track of other business contacts, employee information, clients, and contract sales and wins.

One tool to help business owners manage their CRM is HubSpot. HubSpot prides itself on bringing all your digital marketing needs together in one place. With HubSpot, you can practically launch and manage an entire digital marketing campaign with its all-in-one software.

HubSpot condenses a company's entire marketing strategy together under one umbrella. The software allows access to tools that help with blogging, SEO, social media posts, website management, and so much more. HubSpot places all your marketing needs in one place so that you don't have to feel divided between too many responsibilities.

If you've been around the Internet long enough, you've seen this phrase a time or two. Content is king, is the content marketer's call-to-action. Not everyone is comfortable with the term content marketing, and most probably get it confused with social media marketing. Fair assessment, but content marketing is distinct from social media marketing in a variety of ways.

For starters, content marketing involves the deliberate creation and sharing of online material like videos and blogs, those provoke interest in a product or service, without explicitly promoting said product or service. In other words, content marketing is the ability to spark interest in your product or service, without explicitly telling people about that product or service. That may seem confusing, especially for those new to content marketing, but it's not. Simply put, instead of telling people to try your product, you write useful and relevant content that help potential consumers solve their problems.

The vast majority of companies around the world employ the use of content marketing. Companies such as Microsoft, Proctor & Gamble, and Wal-Mart have always used some sort of content marketing in their campaigns. The key to content marketing above anything else is quality. Quality content is king, not just any old content.

For business owners just dipping their toe in the content marketing waters, Trello is a great software to purchase. Trello helps companies manage projects and stay in constant contact with their digital marketing teams. On Trello, you can share blog posts before publishing them, the rest of the marketing team can leave comments, notes, and general discussion points, ensuring that the final blog piece is ready to be published.

Before Trello, businesses were stuck using email to convey these messages back and forth, which often led to frustration, missed messages, and an overall terrible connection between business and marketing. With Trello those past complications aren't anything to worry about.

Just like word-of-mouth used to be one of the most effective ways to promote a business, social media has taken that concept and jacked up on steroids. It's true, social media is arguably the best digital marketing strategy you could use. Research has shown that social media plays an enormous part in the success of any business, regardless of size, age, or industry.

Getting started in social media isn't a problem. The first step is, often, sign up for an account on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. However, the next part is where it gets tricky. You must regularly update your profiles by posting blogs, notes, updates, videos, basically, you have to be social. Your social media should be engaging and entertaining, often this is where business falls short of using the full potential of social media.

Tools such as Hootsuite are useful to business owners who are attempting to use social media as their main marketing tool. Hootsuite allows users to schedules social media posts in advance, thus saving a lot of time. Hootsuite also assists with engagement by identifying social media influencers, sales leads, and giving you an all-in-one dashboard, that can communicate with up 30 social media platforms. With Hootsuite, there's no need to visit each individual social media platform to make comments or respond, instead, all the controls are centralized in one place for ease and efficiency.

Marketing campaigns aren't just about content and viral videos; in fact much more thought goes into marketing than a lot of people think. For starters, marketers and business owners need to have a deep understanding of their consumer base. It isn't enough to just ask consumers what they want; you need to understand their perceptions, motivations, and above all interests, even if their interests have nothing to do with your business. Overall, you need to know your customer.

Tools such as Google Analytics, (which is essential and should be one of the first additions to your business website) and Followerwonk, provide the customer analysis that most businesses need. While some consider Google Analytics as nothing more than a traffic tool, the software can be very useful if you know what you're looking for. For instance, if you notice certain keywords and phrases receive more traffic than others, or a particular social media campaign has users flocking to your site in droves. In these instances, you can use these metrics to curate and create content in the future, knowing what your consumer base desires, and delivering it to them.

Followerwonk, similar to Google Analytics, except, Followerwonk is only compatible with Twitter. Still, the software is valuable, especially if you plan most of your digital campaigns for Twitter. Followerwonk delves into a users Twitter analytics data using three categories:
Find - This feature searches through Twitter bios and compares accounts
Analyze - This feature breaks down your follower list by location, bio, followers, etc.
Optimize - This feature allows you to follow trends and shows you the best way to optimize the use of your content.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is essential for any digital marketing strategy. Studies show that organic searches make up one-third of traffic to any businesses websites. In fact, organic traffic makes up the bulk of website traffic, eclipsing both paid and social media advertising.

SEO is important as it helps you maintain your content standards while keeping your website at the top of search results across the various search engines. Since search engine algorithms are updated all the time, nearly 500-600 times a year to be exact, businesses need to know how to create content that appeals to search engines.

WordPress provides help with SEO with its SEO Pack Plugin, an extension that any business owner would do well to invest in. The SEO Pack Plugin contains features such as XML Sitemap support, automatic META tag generation, and automatically notifies major search engines of any site changes.

This is a new age; small businesses can no longer afford to ignore the realities of the Internet and its impact on society. The Internet has transformed the way we do everything from entertainment, to shopping, to how we consume information and communicate, the Internet has forever changed our world.

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