Have you ever seen Field of Dreams?
Even if you haven’t, someone has at some point likely quoted you the line everyone seems to know from the movie: build it and they will come.
And while it may have worked for Kevin Costner, the same will not likely be the case for your small business website.
Ireland remains one of the best business ecosystems to operate in. There are grants available to help you secure funding, meet-ups and conferences are regularly hosted across most industries, you can easily find office or co-working space to work from, and you will not have too much difficulty with recruiting staff.
Yet to succeed in such a thriving community, you have to roll up your sleeves and put your business on the map. Since this is 2018, one of the surest ways to do so is to utilize all the glorious possibilities of digital marketing. However, a rather surprising yet telling fact that has been revealed by the Digital Marketing Institute is that the digital skills of SMBs are not what you might hope they would be. This does not come as much of a surprise, considering they have less staff, resources and time on their hands to focus on marketing themselves. They are often too busy surviving the day-to-day.
Hopefully our primer on the subject of digital marketing for your Irish small business will help you get acquainted with some of the options available, and help you decide which one will be best suited to your needs.
Content and the Best Ways to Market it
The one thing you will need to be able to engage in digital marketing in the first place is write content.
Content can be anything, from your website and social media pages, to video and audio recordings. We suggest starting with a website.
However, the tricky part isn’t actually producing said content (even though it may seem quite daunting) – it’s creating content that will actually serve a specific purpose, rather than simply exist.
The purpose of this content is twofold: it’s meant to drive visitors to your website, and to establish you as a reputable and trustworthy source of information. Ideally, every piece of content that ever comes out of your workshop will serve both ends, but that might not always be possible.
How do you drive visitors to your website and become a trustworthy source of information?
Your content should be optimized for search (this is where the SEO part of digital marketing kicks in), so that those looking for a certain answer can find it on your pages.
You should only cover topics you actually either know a lot about (directly related to the line of work you do), or are able to research well enough.
They need to be related to your industry – if you are a plumber but blog about the best ways to make a latte, people will neither see the correlation, nor will your website be able to rank as well as it should.
When producing content, make sure you are covering topics that are of interest to your target group, that you are providing value and offering solutions. Don’t make all of your content a direct sales pitch either. The sale will close itself later, once you have established a name for yourself and built some trust with your audience.
Needless to say, said content needs to be top notch. Grammar errors and sloppy formatting will not cut it. Everything you put out there will be a reflection of your company, so think twice before you hit “post”.
The most important step in content creation is coming up with a plan. Think about your target audience. What are their interests? How can you help them solve a problem? What has already been written on the topic? How can you improve on that?
Once you have a set of ideas on paper, you can start working on the production. Always bear in mind what you want to achieve. Get more people to come to your site by writing about something really popular? Offer existing users tips on how best to use your product? Something else entirely?
The Importance of Mobile
Now that you have this content to share, you have to make sure that it shows up well on mobile. Even if most of your visitors are coming from desktop computers, you still need to acknowledge the mobile-first index Google has introduced.
In other words, you will have to devote a bit of time to the technical aspects of your website. Social media channels are already mobile-optimized, so you won’t have to worry about that.
Some of the key point to bear in mind is that the overall layout of your website needs to be responsive (adapt to different screen sizes), that your images need to be small enough to be able to load fast, and that you need to utilize the white space available on any page well.
Mobile users often scroll through a page just to pass the time, or are looking for something specific and will not make the effort to read an entire post. This is why you need to focus on being succinct and sticking to the point. Don’t pile on words just to make the article look more professional. Always think about the user and their experience first.
Think Local to go Global
Another important aspect of digital marketing is making sure you do local SEO before you begin thinking about taking your business any further, or reaching a wider audience.
If you don’t rank well or attract an audience in your place of business, search engines will not exactly be super happy to rank you for other keywords either.
Things like a Google My Business page, listings in local directories with the right NAP (name, place, address) can go a really long way. By making sure that those in the vicinity of your premises can easily realize you are there, you will be building a proper foundation for your further operations.
While we are on the subject, you would be remiss to discard other local promotion methods as well. You can venture into the offline world too, but try to get some coverage in local online papers, and spread the word about your place of business. Appearing on podcasts or in others’ vlogs will also be a nice way to get exposure, and potentially get some digital visitors through the door.
Your Ad Here
Local businesses can also greatly benefit from Pay Per Click ads that target a local audience.
True, PPC will only drive traffic as long as you are pouring some funds into your advertising account, but it’s a great tactic to raise some hype around your name, and let others know what it is that you do. Once they remember your brand, they will be far more likely to shop from you or test your services.
Writing a good ad is the key to appearing up top – which is why you should devote plenty of time to both keyword research, and crafting an ad copy that will incite clicks.
Adding a call button is also likely to boost clicks, so make sure you explore all the options available for your ad. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that you need to spend a fortune on PPC to get anywhere.
While there are certainly keywords that cost more than you might be willing to pay, you will certainly be able to find a keyword, an audience and a time of day that you can afford, but which will still bring in enough visitors.
Link it all up
Finally, as you may already know, links are the lifeblood of the internet, and you need to build some links for yourself if you hope to get anywhere.
You may also have heard people claim link building is dead, and that it’s an outdated tactic that no longer yields the same results.
However, in reality, the truth is that link building will never be dead. Without links, there would be no internet. What is dead is the spammy way of building links that used to be so popular in the past.
Consider building links nothing more than building relationships. You send an email to a blogger asking them to feature an article that will mention your product or service. You email an editor asking to be featured in one of their previously published articles. You get yourself listed on a local business directory. You get yourself interviewed for a large publication.
All of that is building links, making new connections, and making the most of what the World Wide Web has to offer.
Naturally, not all links are the same, and you can go about building them in a million different ways. The thing to keep in mind is that the links you build need to be relevant, and come from websites you feel people actually read, and you would not have a problem associating yourself with. Everything else is just detailing.
Now that you know a bit more about digital marketing, hopefully you are ready to test out a tactic or two.
Get in touch with us if you are looking for advice, or are ready to launch your first digital marketing campaign!