Many small business owners know they need a digital marketing plan but don’t know where to begin. We hope the following 5 tips can help narrow down some areas to focus on. Before trying to jump in the deep end, take baby steps and only focus on one thing. The next 5 tips should help any small business get on their way to digital marketing success.

1. Establish A Realistic Marketing Budget

Too many small business owners don’t budget for online marketing. Yet according to a recent survey 42% of small business owners said they are worried about finding new customers, making it their #1 overall concern. Additionally, 33% of small business owners surveyed said that keeping their current customers is a concern and 21% of owners surveyed said one of their major concerns was competition as something they worry about often.

In order to remain competitive business owners must establish a realistic budget for digital marketing. How much to budget will depend on the industry you are in, the geo-targeted area of your business and the density of competition. Make no mistake it about it; if you expect to succeed you will have to allocate a realistic budget for digital marketing.

2. Optimize Your Website

Just because you build does not mean they will come. By now everyone should understand that building a great looking website is not enough. In order to compete with other local businesses online, regardless of your industry or niche, websites must adhere to SEO best practices. What is very challenging for many small business owners is finding the time to implement and maintain those standards, particularly as search engine algorithms evolve.

3. Build Your Website For Mobile and Tablet

Is your website responsive? Does it display properly on any device? Are your customers able to seamlessly navigate your website regardless of whether they are searching from a desktop, mobile or tablet device?

If not you are missing a large and growing segment of potential customers. According to Comscore 79 percent of mobile phone owners and 81 percent of tablet owners used those devices to conduct local searches for products and services. More importantly nearly 80 percent of local searches on mobile devices resulted in a purchase at the brick and mortar location. In other words the intent of customers searching on mobile is to locate the product or service and make the purchase at the physical location.

If your website doesn’t make it simple to find your product, service and contact information from their mobile devices you are missing this market.

4. Manage Your Online Presence

In addition to adhering to onsite SEO best practices, small businesses must manage their internet profiles across directories and citation sites. There are literally dozens of business directories, some more important than others.

Too often small businesses don’t realize their business profile has propagated throughout directories with inaccurate information such as business address, phone number or sometimes even the business name. Search engines can use this information in their map listings or as an indicator for ranking purposes. If there are discrepancies your listing may not show up in search results.

5. Be Socially Active

Managing social media is one of the biggest challenges for small businesses. In particular which ones to create and then how to make them work as channels to drive new business and retain current customers. One mistake we see frequently is having a presence on every social platform including the newest shiny object that comes along. This results in not having enough time and resources to do any of them well.
The answer is to focus on 2 or 3 and then deeply align your business objectives on those platforms. To be successful requires fully managing those assets. Daily maintenance and activity will be necessary.