ASKED & ANSWERED: Diving into digital marketing

ASKED & ANSWERED is Vistaprint’s small business advice column – each week, experts answer questions from small business owners like you. Today, business advisor Tracy McGilberry tackles your questions about diving into digital marketing.

Diving into digital marketing

“You have to know who your audience is and where they are.”

Tracy McGilberry is a business advisor and part of Alignable’s Small Business Network. She helps businesses evolve, specializing in client engagement with a focus on CRM systems and marketing.

We’ve asked her to share some of her best advice to recent questions about digital marketing and social media.

You asked. Tracy answered.

Q

What tips do you have for small business owners who are new to digital media?

A

Set up your baseline first. Don’t worry about ads, just make sure you have your business information online and listed in every free spot possible – especially Google My Business. And make sure you have a business website that not only looks nice, but is also coded properly. (It might be worth hiring an expert to help you!)

Keep your branding consistent when setting up your social profiles, and fill them out as thoroughly as possible. Include your contact information, operating hours and any other relevant information for potential customers. Remember, social profiles aren’t just about posting – they’re about engagement. Post at least twice a week, and ask family and friends to comment and share as you’re getting started. Respond to customer inquiries that come through on your social channels, and interact with your followers as much as you can.

Keep your branding consistent when setting up your social profiles, and fill them out as thoroughly as possible. Include your contact information, operating hours and any other relevant information for potential customers. Remember, social profiles aren’t just about posting – they’re about engagement. Post at least twice a week, and ask family and friends to comment and share as you’re getting started. Respond to customer inquiries that come through on your social channels, and interact with your followers as much as you can.

When you set up an ad platform there will be all kinds of questions about budget, target, campaign length, etc. The ad platform knows how to put your ad in front of these metrics, but that doesn’t mean your audience is going to react to your messaging and images…or even that you chose the right audience to begin with. You’re not trying to target everyone. Narrow down your target audience as much as possible in terms of both geography and demographic.

Take your time, do your research and remember that you are the business owner – not the consumer. You have to think like your consumer to get it right.

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Q

After setting a baseline, what digital channels should small business owners definitely be using?

A

There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. It really depends on your business and who you are targeting.

Targeting teens or millennials? Instagram and Tik Tok are great platforms. Is your product targeted to adult women? Facebook, Instagram and Google Ads could be the right mix. Want to get in front of corporate America? Utilize LinkedIn, Google Ads and maybe some SEO strategies.

We are a diverse society and the internet has allowed us to find ways to compartmentalize ourselves more than ever. Gone are the days when you could create a single TV ad and hit the whole family. You have to know who your audience is and where they are to make sure you’re getting in front of them and spending your ad dollars wisely.

From there, decide which platforms will be best for your business, and learn them well to make the most of each one. For example, Facebook, Google and Nextdoor are useful if you’re marketing a service, while Instagram and Facebook are great for anyone selling consumer goods.

To better identify your audience, talk to your current customers. Read their reviews, ask them why they like your product or service and how they first found and contacted you. Collect demographic information from them to start outlining a target customer. When doing market research, you should also identify your competitors. Who are they targeting? What sets you apart from them?

Ready to start posting? Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind:

  • Do post often (but there is such a thing as overkill, once a day is usually good).
  • Do have fun! Authenticity and creativity will get you further than simply sharing other people’s posts.
  • Do ask questions, interact and spark engagement.
  • Do have separate business and personal accounts.
  • Don’t be pushy or salesy.
  • Don’t expect overnight success.

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