5 Questions to Ask Before Marketing Your Small Business Online

The Internet is flooded with digital marketing advice. If you’re a small business owner trying to figure how to market your own business online, you’ll probably get confused and give up before you even get started.

With this in mind, I wanted to step back from the specific tactics and focus instead on starting. Here are the five questions you need to answer to create the digital marketing strategy you’ll need to successfully market your small business online.

1. Who’s your audience?

This is absolutely the first question anyone running a business should ask. If you try targeting everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one, so you need to determine who your product best appeals to. If you have a number of potential, diverse audiences, pick the one that you like/relate to best or the one you think will be most profitable.

2. What’s your ultimate digital marketing goal?

I’ll give you a hint: it’s not likes and followers. While likes and followers are great, they don’t actually mean anything for your business unless it translates into sales.

So take a deep look at your business and figure out the final (or most important) action that you want the audience you gain online to take. For new online stores, that might be making a purchase. If your store is a bit more established and popular, you might instead want more sales over a certain value. A blogger might want more newsletter/site subscriptions. And so on, and so on.

3. What digital marketing activities will work best for you?

People often use the terms “digital marketing” and “social media marketing” interchangeably – and that couldn’t be more wrong. There are many more opportunities under the digital marketing umbrella that are worth consideration. Take a look at these and identify which ones you think will work best based on your audience, your goal, and your comfort level.

• Social media
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. You know the deal.

• Email marketing
Communicating business-related messages with your customers via email.

• Forums & groups
Forming or joining a community of potential customers that focuses on your industry or a shared interest.

• Website
A space just for you that you use to share information and sell products or services.

• Blogging/vlogging/podcasting
Creating long-form written, video or audio content that interests potential customers.

• Search engine optimization (SEO)
Using specific keywords and tactics to ensure that your business shows up high in Google search results.

• Digital advertising
Paying for space online to get guaranteed attention from your desired audience, rather than depending on them finding you by chance.

If you’re just starting out, or handling digital marketing by yourself, you won’t want to take on too many of these at once. I highly recommend picking one or two that work well together, getting those up-and-running smoothly, then tackling more.

4. What are your specific objectives?

Now that you know what the goal is and what digital marketing activities work best for you, it’s time to hash out the specific objectives of each activity, that is, what you are aiming to achieve. For example, if you want more sales, you might choose having a website where people can buy and using social media to drive traffic to that website. Your objectives then would look something like this:

  • Grow social media following 10% per month
  • Get at least 50 website clicks from every social media post
  • Get sales from at least 5 website visitors per day

These are just basic, arbitrary numbers pulled from thin air. Your numbers will be based on your historical performance or, if you have none, feel free to leave them out for now or use general industry statistics as a guide.

As you see, this steps bring everything together. It shows you how all your online marketing activities should work in tandem to bring your audience from discovery to sale (or whatever your final objective may be).

5. How will you analyze your digital marketing performance?

Finally, and probably most importantly, is determining how you will track your performance when you start your online marketing. This is the only way you’ll know if the objectives you set are actually working

The great thing about digital marketing is that most activities come with built-in or third-party analytics tools that you get for free. For each objective you’ve outlined, find a way to measure it and document it incrementally (say, weekly or monthly), so that you can determine how well whatever you’re doing is working, and adjust accordingly.

The most important thing to remember about developing a digital marketing strategy is that it’s not set in stone. Your only mission is to write down what you believe will work best, test it, analyze it and make the necessary changes. Not even the most seasoned professionals get it perfect the first time around, and neither will you.

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