If you’re a small business owner, the chances are you’re not exactly blessed with time. Despite your best intentions, days pass by without spending an ounce of time on your digital marketing, and before you know it, your website is outdated, your social media streams empty, and your blog a distant memory. In fact, in a recent poll by afflinet, the average UK SME spends around only 6 hours a month on their digital marketing.
But digital marketing doesn’t need to be a full-time job. There’s a lot you can do if you have a good strategy, plan ahead and set aside just a bit of time each day. And if you follow these tips, you will see results on even the tightest of timeframes.
Define your online strategy
An online marketing strategy is an absolute must if you’re short on time and/or budget, yet a recent study by Smart Insights showed that only 49% of businesses have one.
Whilst the words “digital marketing strategy” might seem a bit daunting, all it means is creating an action plan to achieving your online goals. Not only will it help you to clarify how your marketing will support your business goals, but it will help you to apportion time each day, week, and month to get your tasks done.
To make a start at defining your strategy, you’ll need to work your way through the following steps:
1. Build your buyer personas
In any kind of marketing, you need to know whom you are marketing to. A buyer persona is the term used for a fictional person created by you to represent your ideal customer. You make them as detailed as possible, outlining their online needs and obstacles, and therefore how your business might meet those needs. For a detailed outline of how to build and use your buyer personas, HubSpot is a great place to start.
2. Identify your goals
Any business worth their salt has a set of goals against which they measure their performance. But, the most effective business plans align digital marketing goals with their overall business objectives.
Your business goals might, for example, be to increase website traffic, or increase your customer base by 15% in the next year. So, you might want to think about how your online marketing can support this, perhaps by making improvements to your website and using it to create 50% more leads.
But once you have a list of your goals, then the crucial element is how you’re going to measure against them, either in Google Analytics or other reporting software. Check out one of our recent articles on tracking the right metrics for your business.
3. Review, audit and plan your digital marketing channels
Take a look at all the channels you use to market your business, from your website through to your paid Facebook advertising. Bringing all your activities together will show you the extent of your marketing activity, but also identify gaps where you could be gaining more exposure. Your marketing channels can be categorised by:
- Owned media (your assets such as your website, blog content, email lists, social profiles, images)
- Earned media (exposure you’ve gained from word-of mouth, PR, social media referrals)
- Paid media (channels you’ve used to gain attention online, such as AdWords, paid social media, native advertising)
Now that you know what your marketing channels are, it’s time to start planning how you’re going to build on your existing activity and find new opportunities to expand.
Your owned media:
A good start is to undertake a thorough audit of your website’s strengths and weaknesses, and focus in on its messaging (we’ll come to SEO later). Look at all your content (words, images, videos) and decide whether it’s portraying the right image and providing valuable information to your audience. Is your blog up-to-date, and is there an opportunity for your audience to subscribe?
You might also look at how your website operates from a usability point of view. For example, would it be easy for your persona(s) to navigate through your site to find what they need?
Identify the gaps in content, and areas where your site structure could be improved.
Your earned media:
Take a look at all your social profiles and judge how actively you’re promoting your brand and pulling in new customers. You can use Google Analytics reports to look at where your referrals are coming from and how many visitors they’re bringing to your site.
You might also look at other social platforms you’re not yet adopting, and how they might be used to promote your brand. Be realistic, though. You don’t have to have a presence on every single social platform; just chose three or four that best support your business. For more on choosing the right social media for your business, read this.
Your paid media:
Similar to your social media, look at all your paid media, from AdWords to paid Facebook Advertising, to Sponsored Twitter posts. Look at how much budget you’re spending per month, and how well they’re converting visitors to your site. Where are the opportunities to tweak your paid campaigns? If you aren’t investing at all in paid media then now’s the time to look at which platforms might be of use to you, and how much you should budget each month to online campaigns.
4. Audit and plan your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO should be an integral part of your online marketing strategy. With over 63,000 Google searches per second, your buyer personas are out there, they just need reaching with your SEO.
Many online tools, such as Search Engine Console (free) or Moz ($99/month+) can show you how well your website is performing, and identify gaps and opportunities to help you improve your search ranking. For example, your site might be running slowly, and so they’ll advise you how to reduce the size of your image files to help it run faster.
Bring all these tasks together into a list by priority, starting with the quick fixes.
5. Bring your strategy together and define your tasks
Having done this groundwork, you should now how a very clear idea of your:
- Buyer personas
- Online goals
- An inventory and plan for all areas of your online media
Now you need to start breaking down your plan into tasks. You’ll benefit from organising them by way of priority, and make a note of roughly how much time each task should take.
Budget time daily, weekly and monthly
Being realistic about your time is crucial. Ideally, you should be spending about an hour each day on your online marketing, but if you simply don’t have hours to spend then be honest with yourself. As we will see later, there is a lot you can get through in just an hour of targeted online activity, even if that’s all you have in a week.
Once you’ve worked out how much time you have in a day, or in a week, then make sure you block out this time in your calendar. You might want to factor in a portion of time each day for housekeeping such as updating your social media, weekly for meatier tasks such as writing a blog post, and then a monthly session for your monitoring and evaluation of your online strategy.
You could even then block out a whole day each quarter to dedicate to a complete review of your online strategy to make sure your marketing activity is still working towards your business goals.
Put your tasks in a spreadsheet or calendar… and delegate!
Now you’ve set aside your time, you can begin allocating your tasks against your daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly time blocks.
Try to use a spreadsheet or calendar that you can share with your team so you can delegate tasks and work together to tick them off. There are plenty of project management tools out there that you can help you to organise your tasks, such as Asana, Trello, and Todoist.
Compile your toolkit and automate where possible
The best way to maximise your digital marketing efforts is to employ a decent collection of tools and software. A quick Google search will bring up free software options for all areas of your marketing from social media, to email marketing, even to optimising your website.
Stay in the know
The great thing about the online world is that it is ever-evolving, but the challenge is keeping up-to-date with developments so you don’t get left behind.
This doesn’t need to be time-consuming though; you can simply sign up to the UK Domain newsletter to stay in the know in a way that’s tailored to you, as well as following some authoritative blogs such as Econsultancy, Buffer (for social media), and Smart Insights, so that when you open your inbox first thing in the morning, you’ll be hit with the latest digital news.
As we’ve seen, your online marketing isn’t just something you do just once, or even twice; it’s an ongoing mission that, if left forgotten will ensure your business gets left behind. But it doesn’t have to take over your life. With a sensible strategy in place and a realistic task list to work from, you can get a make a great deal of headway with just a little time each day.
Digital marketing in 60 minutes:
10 mins: Read up on digital blogs – If you’ve subscribed to some digital blogs, then you should have a few decent articles sent directly to your inbox. A quick perusal of these right at the start of your day might just get you in the headspace of digital marketing.
10 minutes: Update your social media – share your content, news and images over your social media accounts, and check in to see what your industry influencers and colleagues are up to. Try a quick hashtag search to see what people are saying about your niche. For example, if you’re in the beauty industry, you might like to look up #beautytrends and see what people are talking about.
10 mins: SEO – a huge task to fit into just ten minutes but just one little task a day will help to break down the size of the job. You can use the time to add a meta description or title tag to a page, or to run a quick check in Google Search Console.
10 mins: Reviews – Take a look at all your third-party review sites and see what people are saying about you. Be sure to respond, whether they’re positive or negative. Also, look for opportunities for achieving good reviews, whether that be linking to a review site, or finding new ways of asking for reviews.
10 mins: Content – Make a start on a blog post plan or draft out some topic areas you’d like to cover.
10 mins: PPC – If you have an AdWords account, or are running Facebook ads, you need to review their efficacy regularly. After all, if you’re paying for them, you need to be sure they’re providing you a decent return.