10 Digital Tips for Small Businesses

Digital has become the center of our means of communications, information gathering and connections as a society. Too often, we attach digital knowledge to someone who’s always on top of the latest trend or can speak the lingo, but true digital success is measured by the impact it serves to your business. No matter the size of your business or budget, digital needs to be a priority. Here are 10 tips to help you get started.

1. Set your digital strategy.
Whether you’re getting started or looking to expand your digital marketing efforts, before you do anything, always go back and ask yourself the following:

-What am I trying to achieve for my business?
-Who is the audience I’m trying to reach?
-What does success look like and how will I measure it?
-Do I have the resources to manage this initiative?
Determine the best channels and tactics for your marketing efforts based on what is right for your business and your target audience and remember to connect your offline efforts back to digital.

2. Make a first impression with your website.Websites have become the No. 1 destination to represent your brand. Providing the right experience through easy-to-use navigation, innovative and current design, mobile responsiveness and relevant content is critical for your business. A poor site experience can result in alienating prospects, sending the wrong message to customers. In fact, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience (Hubspot). Read more about What does your website say about you?
What you can do:
-Determine the purpose for your site (education, lead generation, e-commerce, etc.)
-Revisit your site map
-Meet visitor expectations
-Use simple and unique design
-Make sure your site is mobile friendly

3. Make your site content relevant.
Customers are researching solutions to their needs online and connecting with your brand as a result of their search efforts. Your website must: deliver the core messages of your brand, provide solutions for your customers, demonstrate why your offerings are better than the competition and showcase proof of this. Make sure your site is well-written, easy to understand and delivers to your customers’ needs.

What you can do:
-Showcase products and services well.
-Include customer testimonials/reviews.
-Make your contact details easily visible: Your phone number, e-mail address and physical address should be displayed prominently.
-Add clear call-to-action statements throughout your site.

4. Monitor your online reputation.
Reputation management isn’t just for the big brands, small businesses need to know what their customers are saying about them and address the feedback.

What you can do:
-Set up a Google alert for your business so you know when new articles that mention your business are posted.
-Pay attention to your social channels and what users are saying about your business. Prepare a list of FAQs if you see similar inquiries or issues around your brand.
-If you are aware of the chatter, become part of the conversation and fix problems as they arise. Allowing others to see how you respond to negative input can be a testament to your customer service.
-You should also be aware of the reasons customers complain about businesses so that you can try and protect your business from public backlash.

5. Master local search.
Local search marketing consists of claiming and optimizing your business’s online listings so that you show up in relevant local searches. Half of consumers visit a store within 24 hours after performing a local search on their smartphone (Google Research Study). There’s a lot to local search, but when it’s done right, it puts your business on the map so local consumers find you when they need your products or services.

What you can do:
-Claim your business listing and leverage the categories appropriate to your offering (Google My Business, Bing -Places for Business, Yahoo!, Yelp, Facebook). Use this list of citation sources by industry to expand your listings.
-Make sure your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP) are consistent across local listing directories as well as your website.

6. Engage in link building.
Link building is a strategy that gets web pages to link to each other by acquiring hyperlinks from other websites and applying them to your own site. It helps users navigate between different pages on the internet. They also help search engines crawl between the pages on your website.

What you can do:
-Find local business owners and bloggers/influencers who are willing to link to your website if you return the favor or write a guest post for a local blog.
-Provide local influencers/media access to experience your services or access to your subject matter experts to create content or a review of your business.
-Don’t forget about local news sites that might run an article that links to your website if you have a special promotion or event coming up.
7. Solicit reviews.
Reviews Matter. Eighty-six percent of people claim reviews affect their purchase decision (Zendesk Research). Customer reviews have become a more trusted resource than descriptions from businesses.

What you can do:
-Timing. Best not to be too pushy or ask for a review too soon, give them time to experience the product.
-Ask for Reviews. Send follow-up emails or include a product insert asking people what they thought of your business or services and encourage them to write a review if they were impressed. In turn, encourage customers to contact you if they experienced any issues to help avoid them leaving a negative review.
-Make it easy. Provide a direct link on your website, social channels or incorporate a call to action (CTA) in your emails for customers to leave a review.
-Offer added value. Include something extra with your product, maybe a product that complements it. Not in exchange for a review, but something that could serve as an unexpected surprise and therefore trigger a review.

8. Improve your organic search.
Organic search is the “earned” result when someone conducts a search and your site appears in the results without the assistance of paid efforts. Over 90% of online experiences begin with a search engine and 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search results (Search Engine Journal).

What you can do:
-Identify your target keywords. (e.g., “Lake County accounting firm”)
-Optimize your site by inserting keywords into relevant pages of your website.
-Develop a content strategy.
-Take advantage of SEO Tools to audit and monitor your website:

9.Stay connected with email.
Email marketing is crucial to a small business online or offline. It allows your business to stay connected to customers and remain top of mind, keeping them informed of offerings and promotions. With prospects, email marketing can help nurture leads.

What you can do:
-Ask for email addresses and make it easy for people to sign up through your website or social channels.
-Leverage email communications to share promotions, news and to solicit online reviews and referrals.
-Keep your email message simple and segment to your audience. Lead with what’s most important to them and make sure you have a strong CTA.
10. Define your social strategy.
Social media needs to be part of a holistic strategy and be leveraged to advance your business goals. A successful social media program stems from connecting social activities to business goals and going where your audience is present.

What you can do:
-Leverage social to: build your email database, engage with prospects, network and share business updates.
-Make sure to use social as a promotion channel to drive traffic to your website or physical locations.
-Keep pages up to date and post regularly to stay active with followers.
Need help getting started? Contact the Digital team at akhia and let us help you take your digital efforts to the next level.