The Small Business Owner's Digital Marketing Checklist

Digital marketing leverages digital technologies including websites, social media, blogs, email, and mobile apps to reach new customers and engage with current customers. Digital marketing strategies are composed of many components, depending on the type of business you have and how you interact with your customers, but most plans should incorporate five key areas to be successful.

Digital marketing can be complex and time-consuming, and your small business might not have a dedicated employee to handle the job. If you are not experienced with these areas, consider outsourcing some or all of it to give you the time you need to focus on growing your business.

01
Website

web design
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A website is the foundation of a digital marketing strategy. It is where you will direct traffic, collect leads, and provide useful information about your company. Having a web presence doesn't have to be expensive or take a great deal of time to manage, but about one-third of small business owners are still not online, according to a 2018 Clutch survey. If you fall into this camp, now is the perfect time to launch your digital marketing strategy by building a website. Consider these key actions as you get started:

  • Represent your brand: Communicate your brand message consistently with a logo, colors, and the tone of your website copy.
  • Write a powerful about page: While the specific pages you have on your website will vary, an interesting about page attracts customers.
  • Start a blog: Consider adding a business blog to your website to boost traffic and build credibility.
  • Be mobile-friendly: Build a responsive website that adjusts to the screen size of different devices such as desktop computers, tablets, or smartphones for a consistent experience.
  • Enable social sharing: Display social sharing buttons prominently so visitors can share content with their friends. 
  • Collect and review metrics: It will be difficult to improve your website over time if you aren't able to track how your visitors use it. Use an analytics tool like Google Analytics so you can make smart changes that will improve the performance of your site.

02
Content Marketing

content laptop
Photographer is my life. / Moment / Getty Images

Create and distribute valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and to drive profitable customer action. Content marketing sometimes overlaps with digital marketing), so it's important to have a thorough strategy that incorporates multiple elements:

  • Create a content calendar: Executing a content marketing strategy without a plan is likely to waste a great deal of time. Create a monthly calendar that outlines what content you will create and how you will distribute it.
  • Share via social: Your content will be wasted unless you can get the eyes of your target audience on it consistently. Have a plan for how you will share your content on your social media platforms.
  • Leverage your content: You can use (and reuse) your content in many different ways in order to get more mileage out of each piece of content. For example, create a series of blog posts on related topics, then combine them together to create an ebook.
  • Consider guest posting: Two-way guest posting—allowing guest posts on your blog and writing for other blogs yourself—is a great way to expand your audience and get more traffic to your website. 

03
Social Media

social media
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Posting links to content on your social media channels increases traffic to your website and blog and gives you a way to communicate directly with customers and potential customers. Follow some basic suggestions as part of your social media strategy:

  • Choose one to start: Don't try to create a presence on every social platform at one time. Explore the benefits of each, then choose one or two that are best for your company and your customers, then focus your time there.
  • Claim your brand on all platforms: Register your brand name on each network to prevent someone else from using it. While you're at it, claim your business on Google.
  • Be consistent: When setting up your social profiles, use the same profile image, bio, banners, and colors to strengthen your brand presence.
  • Focus on conversation and engagement: Social media is about the conversation. Aim to create a thriving community on each social site as opposed to inundating your audience with promotions.
  • Create a social post calendar: Incorporate a social post schedule into the content calendar you already created, or create a new one that outlines what you will be sharing, where, and when. 
  • Collect and review metrics: Use the analytics tools available on different social platforms to see what types of posts perform best so you can increasingly engage your audience.

04
Email Marketing

email marketing
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Successful email marketing communicates with customers on a regular basis. The key is sending relevant and interesting messages on a consistent schedule. It takes time to build a quality email list, but it is well worth the time and effort. Start using email marketing by following these steps:

  • Choose the right platform: Pick the email marketing platform that has the features you need at the price point that works for your business. Some emphasize reaching broader audiences, while others provide greater tools to aid with the design of your emails.
  • Create a newsletter template: Most email marketing platforms provide ready-to-use templates you can customize easily with your logo and company information. Take the time to do this initially and you can reuse the template every time you send a newsletter.
  • Actively encourage sign-ups: Promote your newsletter on your website, on social media, and in your email signature to grow your email list. Consider offering an incentive, like a free download or discount, for signing up. 
  • Collect and review metrics: Use the analytics tools available in the email marketing platform you chose to see how many people opened your message and clicked on a specific link.

05
Search Engine Optimization

seo
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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays a big role in digital marketing by making sure your business is positioned well in Google searches and in other online searches. If the content you create isn't optimized, you will struggle to get the right people to see it at the right time. Get started with these steps:

  • Do your research: Get to know how your website and your competitors' websites are performing first. Use Google and other search engines to see where you rank.
  • Choose the right keywords: Based on your research, choose the most appropriate keywords for your website, blog posts, and all of the other content you create.
  • Use SEO tools: There are many free SEO tools available that will help you optimize your content. Pick the tools that are more relevant for your business.
  • Collect and review metrics: Use Google Analytics and the other SEO tools you've selected to watch how your optimized content performs so you can improve it over time.