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Ultimate Small Business Marketing Guide

With so many different avenues for small businesses to market their services and products, it can be overwhelming figuring out the most efficient and successful way to do it all. In this guide, we provide the tools you need to develop your digital marketing strategy and content.

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What is Digital Marketing?

Marketing has come a long way. And due to the advancements in technology and social media, you're no longer limited to publishing marketing materials just through TV and print. You can create omnichannel marketing campaigns that speak directly to your target audience. More specifically, digital marketing is when you use the internet and online-based technologies to promote products or services. Digital marketing includes websites and blogs, search engine optimization (SEO), email newsletters, and of course, social media platforms.

The Importance of Digital Marketing

Unlike traditional marketing methods, digital marketing, sometimes also referred to as online marketing vastly expands a brand's reach and increases new customer potential. What is more, many digital marketing efforts are very cost-effective and even free. As people continue to use smartphones, tablets, and computers to consume digital media, conduct business, research, and shop, businesses have no choice but to participate in digital marketing strategies. The good thing is, it's not nearly as difficult to track ROI or as expensive as traditional marketing.

The Basics of Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a form of digital marketing that uses social media platforms to promote products and services. And when done correctly, it authentically connects brands with consumers in a way that doesn't feel so salesy but rather like they're chatting with a friend or someone they trust.

Instagram Marketing

In addition to Instagram being a photo and video-sharing platform, it's also a social media marketing and e-commerce tool. Instagram gives small business owners a place to showcase and sell their products and services that's approachable and accessible to their customers. Setting up your business as an Instagram Business Account gives you access to beneficial features like post and audience insights, Instagram ads, and Instagram Shops. And not only does Instagram help you generate sales, but it can also help you build an engaged online community of loyal customers.

Pinterest Marketing

Pinterest is a great addition to your digital marketing strategy because it's a place to create Pins, boards, campaigns, and ads featuring your products and services. To get started, all you have to do is link your website and create a data source (aka product catalog) showcasing your items for sale. Then, from your Pins, users can click and link out to your website to learn more or make a purchase!

TikTok Marketing

TikTok is a short video platform designed to keep users scrolling through videos relevant to their interests via a personalized "For You Page" (FYP). People come to TikTok for entertainment and leave learning something new or discovering a product. Posting videos that connect with your online community and offer an inside look into your business and products are a surefire way to convert TikTok users to new customers.

Twitter Marketing

With an optimized profile, consistent content plan, and smart strategy in place, Twitter can be a powerful tool for your overall social media marketing strategy. Knowing what and how often to tweet will help you stay engaged with users and grow your business on Twitter. Using hashtags, participating in pop culture conversation, and interacting with other accounts is the key to having success on the platform.

Improving Your Reels Game

Deja Foxx is a 20 year old activist, strategist, and future POTUS.  She is the founder of GenZ Girl Gang, a student at Columbia University, and a Digital Creator with Ford Models. At just 19, she worked for Kamala Harris as the Influencer and Surrogate Strategist and became one of the youngest presidential campaign staffers in modern history.

Join Deja Foxx in a PLANOLY webinar as she teaches us how to master Instagram Reels.

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The Difference Between Paid and Organic Marketing

Organic marketing consists of content you create and publish for free. On the other hand, Paid marketing is content you pay to boost or promote.

Paid Marketing

Paid social media marketing is pay-per-click advertising where you pay social media networks to push content out to new or specific target audiences. The pros of paid marketing are that you can reach a wider audience, experience rapid follower growth, and drive more traffic to your website, which means more sales! And it works for any budget! Each social media platform has different ways (and rules) for running paid ads. On Instagram, you can run ads as grid posts, videos, and Stories. With Pinterest, you can use Standard Pins, Video Pins, and Idea Pins to promote your content.

Organic Marketing

Organic social media refers to any regular, unpaid ("free") content you post. Organic social media is a free way to build brand awareness and attract new customers. And even though the results are sometimes slower, it does help create more authentic relationships with your online community and gives you better credibility. Users can see which posts are paid posts and which are not. The key to this type of marketing is to make sure you post creative content consistently, respond promptly to comments and direct messages, and engage the audience with a two-way conversation.

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Nurturing a Local Presence

To create local brand awareness and loyalty for your small business, focus your efforts on your local community. Local marketing involves creating paid and organic content, explicitly targeted towards the local communities either online or in person.

Local SEO: Tools for an Online Local Presence

Location, location, location! When boosting your business locally, you'll want to get "Phygital" and blend your digital efforts with your in-person physical efforts. Lean on a mix of social media content, local SEO-driven website content, and local events to establish yourself in your community. Some proven local marketing strategies include making sure your website has localized SEO and is mobile-friendly. To ramp up your local SEO, start by polishing up your Google My Business page. Then make sure your location is set for all your social media profiles, create locally relevant content, and ensure you have a location page on your website. And don't forget about a link strategy! Inbound links directing to your website tell search engines your business is legit. You can gain links by guest blogging, sponsoring local events, and joining local business associations, all of which will link back to your website. 

Customer Interaction: Importance of Online Reviews

Word-of-mouth, both online and in-person, is still one of the best ways to get your business' name out there with new audiences – and helps build trust and credibility for your brand within local communities. A common way word gets out is with online reviews. Step 1 is Social Listening - the process of monitoring how people are talking about your business on social media. It involves keeping tabs on your mentions across all social channels, including Google and Yelp reviews. The easiest way to tackle social listening is by using software that automatically monitors comments and reviews. Step 2 is to ask for the review – don't leave it up to chance that satisfied customers will go online and rave about you. Step 3 is to engage – promptly respond to comments, good and bad, and have a crisis management strategy in place should conversations be negative.

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Developing a Content Strategy

Your social media content has the power to transform your business when done correctly. Having a structured content strategy in place is essential. A content strategy involves setting goals, constructing a plan for each platform, creating, scheduling, and publishing content consistently!

Content Buckets

Content buckets are themes or topics used to guide your overall social strategy and help create consistent content for your social channels. They take your content strategy from a sporadic approach, which rarely results in high returns, to a thoughtful plan with big rewards, including higher engagement and increased followers:

  1. Define your business purpose and goals.
  2. Identify the overarching themes or topics for your content that align with your purpose and goals.
  3. Create and save your content on PLANOLY using our collections feature.

Content Batching

Content batching is when you create content in batches to use for a specified period of time. You may want to write content for a week, two weeks, or even a month at a time. It leads to a more efficient way of creating content. Some of the benefits of content batching include saving time, creating a more cohesive social media appearance, and allowing for time to perfectly craft your message and adjust as needed before hitting "post."

Digital Marketing Tools to Improve Your Workflow

Every social media platform has a unique built-in suite of tools to optimize content. And social media scheduling and planning apps such as PLANOLY help you streamline your workflow across multiple channels in a single location, saving you a lot of time.

Social Media Tools

When using PLANOLY to optimize and organize your Instagram content, you can plan, schedule, and directly publish content to Instagram. You can visually look at how a batch of content will look once it is all published. This allows you an opportunity to move posts around as needed to enhance the aesthetics. You can also plan your Instagram Stories in PLANOLY the same way you plan your grid.

PLANOLY's Pin Planner is the easiest way to build your Pinterest strategy by visually planning and scheduling your Pins all in one place. It's a faster, easier way to manage content than posting one-off Pins. Having this structure in place will increase engagement, brand awareness, and traffic to your website. And as with the IG planner features, you can view and analyze your content metrics to see what is working and where to pivot for improvement.

How to Improve Your Digital Marketing Performance

One of the final components of your digital marketing strategy is evaluating your content performance. This involves listening to your audience, understanding their needs, and making sure the content you are publishing resonates with and reaches them on social media. To achieve this, keep your content updated regularly, test out different days/times for posts, make it personal to your audience, respond quickly, and then do more of what works and drop what doesn't. 

Keep website content current and refresh it often. Content that has steadily declined over the past 12-months has decayed and can decrease your SEO. Over time, this can happen due to increased competition, poor content quality, technical issues, and changes to search engine results pages (SERPs). To fix this, update previous posts when there is new relevant information to share. You can also retarget the content by changing title tags and headers to target a new keyword. Give your content a refresh and bring it back to SEO life!

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