Blogging, SEO, social media, email marketing, Google Ads – the world of digital marketing is full of possibilities. It can be overwhelming even for a seasoned marketing professional, even more so if you are an entrepreneur wearing multiple hats on a daily basis!
The good news is that many digital marketing tools are easy to use and relatively low-cost. The hard part is using them effectively. Too often entrepreneurs dive right in to using the latest platforms and technology, but haven’t aligned their marketing tactics with their business goals, or an overall digital marketing strategy. It can be hard for small business owners to find the time to work on the business and not just in the business, but it is incredibly important to have a plan before you start executing marketing tactics.
We’ve identified four key reasons to have a digital marketing plan.
It helps you look at the big picture
Two common mistakes we see with entrepreneurs’ digital marketing efforts are: they either try to do everything all at once, or they put all their eggs in one basket and over-rely on a particular channel or tactic. Before you can decide what marketing tactics to use you need to think carefully about who your customers are (age, gender, profession, etc.), where they are online (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.) and what your marketing objectives are (brand awareness, engagement, or purchases). Knowing these key things, and writing them down in a marketing plan, will help you determine what social media platforms you should be on, if it makes sense for your business to have a blog, and where you should spend any digital advertising dollars.
Looking at the big picture will also help you identify potential gaps in your marketing. Relying exclusively on a third-party platform for your digital marketing is risky for your business. Third-party platforms such as Instagram, Google, or Amazon can change their rules and their algorithm at any time. As Avery Swartz notes in the Globe and Mail, platforms come and go, but “the tried-and-true method of building your own digital presence, that you can control, always wins in the end.” Having a clear digital brand with a multi-faceted strategy, will help ensure that your digital presence can prevail, even if platforms make changes.
You will be able to use your time (and dollars!) more effectively
Haphazardly posting to social media when you have a spare moment might seem like a fast and easy solution in the short-term, but it is not an effective strategy in the long-term. It is important not to waste time on marketing activities that don’t help you achieve your marketing goals in some way. The first step to doing that is determining what those goals are.
Additionally, planning ahead can actually reduce the amount of time you spend on digital marketing. There are many tools out there that allow you to schedule content in advance, so instead of having to post every day, you can sit down once a week, decide on what content to share, and then automate! Just remember to still check on your social media platforms and website regularly in case there are customer comments.
It provides you with greater accountability
Consistency is so key with digital marketing. If you have not posted to social media in over a month, or you have outdated information on your website, your customers might think you have gone out of business! Having a plan allows you to be accountable for executing the things you say you are going to do – whether that means sending out an e-newsletter every month, or posting to Facebook every day. It also makes it easier for a business partner or employee to assist you if things are written down. A publishing/editorial calendar can really help with this.
Evaluating your results will be easier
John Wanamaker once said “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” A lot has changed in the hundred years since he said that, and we now have the ability to measure marketing ROI better than ever before. Instead of trying to guess how many of your customers saw your ad in a flyer, you can now see how many people clicked on your ad and went to your website, and even how many of them saw your ad and then made a purchase.
The relatively low cost of digital marketing allows for lower barriers to entry for advertising, and allows you to experiment with different channels and ad copy, with fairly low stakes. However, you can’t effectively measure your results, if you don’t set objectives first. Once you set your goals, then you can work on executing them, and decide on the best tools for analyzing the results.
Taking the time to develop your digital marketing strategy now, will have benefits for you and your business in the future. If you are not sure where to start, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs can help! Our Digitally Solid program is designed for entrepreneurs who want a more strategic approach with their digital marketing but haven’t taken the time to plan. You will also learn how to use technology to execute your strategy, and walk away with optimized digital platforms, content ideas, a publishing calendar, and much more!