Digital Marketing

9 Tips to Get Started with Digital Marketing as an Entrepreneur

So, you want to do some digital marketing for your company? But you’re wondering about how to get started and what things you must be doing now and what things can wait? You’ve come to the right place. This article will help you answer those questions and prepare you to attract new customers using the growing number of tools available.

Let’s start with a definition. Digital marketing is basically any type of marketing that is managed and delivered through digital channels. There are many types of digital marketing – more than we have time to list and discuss in one article. But they include websites, search engine optimization, digital advertising networks, email marketing, and much more.

When you start doing digital marketing, you might be overwhelmed by all the options and tools. You might not know where to start or what deserves your attention. We developed the list of tips below to help guide you. This is not an exhaustive list, but it should help you build a foundation to grow from as you and your company progress.

1. Know Why Digital Marketing is Important

With so many types of marketing available, you want to be clear what advantages are provided by digital marketing and why you should choose it over other types. One of the greatest advantages is how targeted you can be. Unlike a billboard, a digital ad can reach a very narrow group of people. There are also many other advantages, and we’ll discuss a couple more.

Digital marketing assets, such as a website page, are easy to change. Unlike any type of print promotion, if you want to change something on your website, all you need to do is log in and change it. This allows you to make adjustments and corrections almost instantly.

Because digital marketing lives on computers, it can be automated and scaled quickly. This might not matter much when your business is small, but if you are lucky to grow fast, you will want to be able to expand your marketing efforts in a hurry. Unlike event marketing, for example, expanding your digital marketing can be as easy as increasing your advertising budget in a few clicks.

2. Start with Your Website

A good place to begin when getting started with digital marketing is your website. Yes, some companies can get by with only a social media account, but that is rare. Most companies will need some sort of website to inform customers and sell something.

If you are building your first website, and you don’t have much programming experience, you should look at a website building tool like Squarespace, Wix, or Shopify. These tools may cost you some money, but they will make building the website easy so you can focus your time and money on building your company and not programming. Some businesses require custom websites and the assistance of a programmer. But many will be able to get by with a simple website builder and one of the basic themes they provide.

Make your website as fast and concise as possible. No one likes a slow website. And no one likes to wade through too much information to learn what they want to know. To make your website fast, make sure to have a good service provider, avoid adding too many features, and be very careful about uploading images that are too big. To keep your website concise, try to choose one goal you want for your homepage and other important pages, then build the page around that goal. If you’re goal is to get people to sign up to hear about your product launch, feature that prominently on your homepage, and use all the other space to support that goal.

3. Gather Data for Everything

One of the best things about digital marketing is the opportunity to collect data. Unlike a print magazine advertisement, for example, most digital marketing tools will allow you to see who is clicking on something, where they are, and when. This information is very useful to help you understand if you’re efforts are successful and how you might change them in the future.

For your website, you will want to install Google Analytics or an alternative. You will want to install this on the day you launch your website so you can start gaining insights into where your customers live, what they are viewing, and more. Adding Google Analytics to your website is as easy as creating an account and uploading a little code to your website. The methods depend how your website is set up. Contact your webhost for instructions.

Most digital marketing tools offer data and analysis features. You will want to become familiar with them. In the beginning, consider focusing on a few metrics that are important to your business to avoid getting overwhelmed. For example, maybe just look at views on your product pages and where they are coming from to see what is helping drive people there.

4. Search Engine Optimization is More than Just Google

When most people think about search engine optimization (or SEO), they think about Google search results. Yes, that is the dominant form of search, and you will want to focus on it, but it is not the only type of SEO.

Anywhere there is a search box on the Internet is an opportunity for you to improve your SEO. Social media platforms have search features, review websites have them, app stores have them. Think about anywhere a customer might be searching for a service you provide. Then think about how you can make sure you appear in those search results. That is SEO.

To improve your SEO in any of these locations, you will want to focus your efforts on keywords or phrases that are important to your business. A donut shop in Salt Lake City, for example, will want to focus on “donut shops in Salt Lake City.” To emphasize keywords, you’ll want to make sure they are used in prominent places, like the title of your website or the headlines you use. You will also want to do what you can to make sure others are linking to your website using those keywords.

One easy keyword to miss is the name of your company. Many people don’t remember and use web addresses; they just use Google to find your business. If they can’t find you quickly, you might lose their business. One easy solution is to pick a company name that is unique, or at least pick one that is not dominated by something else. That will make it easier for your company to show up in search results and help you avoid competition.

5. Focus on Small Wins on Social Media

Social media is not for every business. Don’t do it just because you think you should. Think through the reasons to do it and how it might be helpful for your business. If it makes sense, develop a plan that will help you achieve your goals. For example, some companies may only want to create social media accounts as placeholders for future use, when they have more customers to engage. If that sounds like you, then create these accounts, but plan to post infrequently, because it will be a waste of time to do more if no one is looking.

If you decided to create social media accounts for your company, consider focusing on small wins instead of “going viral.” Expecting to go viral on social media can be like expecting to win the lottery. Yes, it can be achieved, but it’s risky to count on. Instead, consider focusing on engaging a small number of people at a time, and focus on the long game of slowly building a strong audience of customers and advocates that will help you achieve your business goals.

6. Create Content (but Only if It’s Good)

Content can be fuel for many of your other digital marketing efforts. You can post it on your website to improve your SEO. You can include it in your email marketing. You can share it on social media. So, at least think about what sort of content you can create and how it might help.

But before you start producing a lot of content, you will want to make sure you have time for it and can do a good job. Your audience is busy, and they probably don’t have time to view anything that isn’t useful and professional. Producing content is also a long-term commitment. You will need to publish it on a regular basis to build momentum and grow followers. So, make sure you can produce good content on a regular basis, or maybe this isn’t a good strategy for you.

If you decide content is a good idea, think about a variety of types. You will likely want to include text and photos. These are the most basic forms of content for many companies. But video, podcasts, and infographics, for example, can also be great content that will help attract people to your website. Choose types of content that will be interesting and useful to your audience.

7. Plan to Buy Several Types of Digital Ads

Most companies will probably benefit from digital ads at some point. They can be an easy way to target new customers and get them to visit your website. Exactly how to set them up is beyond the scope of this article, but you will at least need to know what basic options you have.

Display ads are the ads that you might see on news websites. They are usually a rectangle, sometimes have motion, and send people to another website where they can learn about whatever is featured. You can buy these ads in many places. One common option is Google Ads.

Search ads are the text ads that appear when you are using a search engine. They are usually labeled as advertisements and sit above, below, or to the side of the organic (or unpaid) search results. These can be very useful if you have specific keywords you are targeting, and you are not already getting enough traffic to your website. These types of ads do a good job targeting people at the moment they are looking for something you offer – the most important time for you to reach them.

Social media ads are another type of digital ad you should consider. These are ads you can place through one of the many social media platforms. They come in many flavors, but they commonly appear like any other content you might see in your news feed except they say “promoted” or something like that. This type of ad can be helpful if your audience is on these platforms and have the added benefit of helping you attract followers.

In the beginning, consider starting with just one of these digital ad options, review the results from your campaign after some time has passed, and expand and adjust your plans as you go. If you can achieve all of your goals using just one digital ad type, maybe you don’t need to complicate your marketing and invite more work by using more.

8. Your Email Marketing Efforts Start Now

Email marketing is an easy type of digital marketing to overlook. But it has the potential to be one of your cheapest and most effective tools. Everyone has an email account (unlike social media). Sending an email is inexpensive. And it is more direct than using social media or a digital ad network.

If you choose to use email marketing, one of the first challenges you will have is creating an email list. When you are just starting a company, your list might only include friends, family, and professional acquaintances. As soon as you have a website, you should think about ways to gather more emails by asking people to sign up for updates or any other method you want. As you gain customers, you will also want to add them to your email marketing efforts.

Think twice about purchasing a list from someone. The people on these lists will not be expecting an email from you and may flag you as a spammer. If you do purchase a list, don’t expect it to perform very well. Instead, focus on building the best list possible, full of customers, employees, and partners that will be your advocates. Use email marketing to hold their attention and keep coming back for more. You can do this through simple “thank you” emails when people complete a purchase or maybe through something more robust like a monthly newsletter.

9. Learn by Doing, Many Tools are Free

By now, you should have some ideas for how digital marketing might work for your business. You should be ready to get to work, but maybe you need to learn more about how to implement these ideas. A great place to start is by diving in and learn by doing.

Many of the tools for digital marketing are free, at least for a basic account. You can simply create an account, click around, and set up your first ad, email, publish your first webpage, or whatever. Many tools also have extensive documentation to help you get started. If you don’t want to test on your company account, consider creating throw-away accounts where you can break things without any consequences.

After you get comfortable with some of the tools, plan to develop test campaigns to see how they might work for your business. For example, you could purchase a $50 ad on the LinkedIn ad platform and see how it performs. If it was successful, do more. If not, make adjustments or move on to testing another tool. Track data such as your cost per click and think about if the cost is reasonable or not.

Good luck as you enter the world of digital marketing. Make sure to be checking your data as your skills and reach grow.


About the Author:

Thad Kelling Thad is the marketing and public relations director at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. He is a communications do-it-all with a master's degree from the U and diverse experience in marketing, public relations and journalism. Find him on LinkedIn @thadkelling.

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