There were over 5.5 million businesses in the U.K in 2016 and around 28 million in the US alone, and over 99% of these were small or medium sized. It is essential for businesses to have an online presence. Strong competition means all small business owners need to be on top of their game when it comes to Digital Marketing Strategy. Without a marketing team or a wealth of time, an arsenal of effective and time-saving tools are essential for getting your business noticed online. This short yet essential list of 10 of the Best Digital Marketing Tools is the perfect aid for any small business owner.
Google Webmaster (Search Console)
This software provides you with valuable information about how well your website is performing, how google crawls your site and errors or opportunities within your SEO. You can link your webmaster account with your analytics and AdWords account to see how well your paid and organic search terms are ranking, and what search terms you are ranking for.
Analytics are essential for any online business, whether you are big or small. Many of the tools on this list provide detailed insights into your online presence whether on your website or through your social feeds. It is crucial to understand your audience, and what is, or isn’t, driving traffic to your website. Google Analytics is a free and comprehensive tool making it perfect for any small business owner. Google has even produced an online course for Analytics users who want to get more out of their software. The software provides you with information from general statistics about your website to full comprehensive reports on user behaviour.
Analytics reports on which draws people to your site and what is keeping your visitors interested. You can also discover where visitors are leaving your site with the exit pages report. This allows you to re-tool pages which lead people to leave your site. Similarly, Google Analytics offers Bounce Rate breakdown, showing you the proportion of visitors who are navigating away from your site before clicking through to a second or third page. It is important to know how many pages people are visiting when they come to your site. If they aren’t looking at more than two pages which lead to conversions then a re-design may be on the cards. Furthermore, this report offers information about the operating systems your visitors are using, as well as whether or not they’re using a desktop or mobile devices. The information provided can help you correct issues with incompatible web features; analysing these features can help you change your website and optimise it for conversions.
Similarly to Analytics, Google Trends is also free and easy to use. Google Trends is a tool for navigating around trending stories and can be used to better understand your audience. Google is suggestive of public opinion and searching for your keywords will show search trends over time. You can see if products have been popular or if they are in decline, and the news headlines feature allows you to monitor popularity in correlation with news stories at that time. It is also useful for generating content ideas people are interested in, as it helps you understand hot topics people are searching for and talking about.
Google Keyword Planner
This software provides all the information a small business needs in order to make knowledgeable decisions when it comes to keywords. For example, by entering a competitors website you can get their complete keyword strategy. Not all the features of Keyword Planner are suitable unless you’re creating paid ads, but you can still get lots of value from it for your SEO strategy, such as finding low-competition, high-volume keywords to use in your campaigns.
Facebook and Facebook Audience Insights
Social media is a vital medium for any small business owner, as it can help strengthen your relationship with customers. Facebook is especially effective for keeping these connections blooming as it facilitates emotional connections on a large scale. Posting photos of your products and services give people a behind-the-scenes sneak peek into your processes, adding a human element to your business which your customers can connect with.
You can use Facebook to interact with customers from your smartphone. This can be vital as responding to a customers post in a timely manner can strengthen rapport.
If you’re a small business owner, you probably already know that there isn’t always time to constantly man social media pages. Growing and maintaining effective social media accounts is a full-time job. Facebook has introduced a feature which allows you to schedule posts even years into the future, increasing coverage on your page whilst saving precious time. Facebook also allows you to advertise ‘offers’.
Facebook Audience Insights gives businesses an insight into their audiences’ habits, where they are from, and the lifestyle they live. Having more information about your audience can help target your marketing efforts towards your niche, rather than spending on an audience that doesn’t care about your product.
LinkedIn is another fantastic social network that, when used correctly, can be very useful for a small business’ digital marketing strategy. LinkedIn allows you to acquire new customers through online recommendations. Word of mouth still stands as the most powerful form of marketing, and asking satisfied customers to write a recommendation is your opportunity to do this online. Sharing your blog content on LinkedIn can also help convince potential customers of your expertise.
LinkedIn differs from other social networks however as it allows you to build your industry network. You can search for associations and networks to partake in, as well as social events in your industry to help your real-life networking.
Twitter and Followerwonk
As a small business owner, you may find it hard to use Twitter effectively. The competition is fierce and even the most successful companies struggle to get their content seen on their followers’ feeds. The reason most people aren’t engaging with your tweets is simply because they don’t see it. Since Twitter changed their algorithm, the site will show your tweets if your followers are constantly interacting with your content. The way to do this is to communicate with people individually. Another thing small businesses often do wrong is only tweeting about content once. Whilst posting hourly about your latest blog post is a little OTT, sharing a tweet a few times throughout the week or month increases your chances of being seen.
FollowerWonk is software created by SEO champions MOZ which can aid your Twitter presence. As well as helping grow follower count, it can find relevant users to follow, as well as analyse the demographics of both yours and your competitors followers.
Manning your social media accounts is hard work. Hoot Suite allows you to keep on top of this task. This software allows you to manage multiple accounts from across different platforms. This software offers a useful monitoring service that shows your mentions, replies and direct messages on one dashboard. Conveniently, you can also schedule updates. Hoot Suite’s reports are formatted in a way that you can present to clients without much additional work.
This software has 12 trillion indexed links and crawls over 6 billion web pages every single day. Ahrefs is an important SEO apparatus that provides you with an array of backlink tools. It is important for small business to build high authority backlinks as this is a key ranking factor. Ahrefs can analyse your own site to make sure your links are legitimate and aids you to disavow or remove link spam. You can read more about link spam here. It can also analyse your competitor’s websites to see where their backlinks are coming from, which is a good starting point when creating your own link building campaign.
Email marketing can be a long and laborious process however Mail Chip allows users to simply copy and paste lists of emails from Excel. There are plenty of design template options making it easy to customise, and you can include your own company colours, logo and images. For beginners, they offer online training to get you started and once you have set up one campaign you can replicate your design in the future. An email on MailChimp can also be triggered by a specific date, event or activity – exciting! Once an email has been sent, this software offers tracked details and stats straight away, which you can even access on-the-go through an iPhone app.
Buzz Sumo recognises that content is king. Buzz Sumo is a powerful tool that provides customer insights, influence information and competitor analysis based on your content. It is important to know what people are talking about and this software gathers information on what topics are gaining the most attention, as well as who is getting the most attention. Knowing what your competitors are up to and seeing what does and doesn’t work for them can save you time and money in trialing your own efforts.
This list barely skims the surface of available software which can help with your digital marketing needs. Each of the software packages in our list has one thing in common: They save you time and money, whilst providing insights into how your efforts are affecting your business. Using even just a few of these tools will drastically improve your digital marketing performance.
One of the key rules of business is that your potential customers need to be able to find you, otherwise your chance of getting new custom is next to non-existent.
With so much business now being done on-line, the good location and the eye-catching shop front have been replaced with well-placed links and tantalising copy, leading customers away from search pages and straight onto your website.
Bearing this in mind, it’s no surprise that Google can play a huge part in the success – or failure – of any business, no matter what it is you’re trying to sell.
Why you need your Business to be on top of Google Search Results
Some studies have shown that the top result in Google for a specific search term can send more than 30% of customers to the very first company at the top of the first page of results. And the result just below it gets just under 20% of the custom.
With such a huge portion of business going to the top search result, and with such a big gap between the top result and the result immediately below it, you can imagine how tiny a portion of custom goes to those businesses that don’t even make it to the first page. Less than 5% of people go beyond the first page to find what they’re looking for, so you should be aiming to be as high up as you can get.
The big takeaway here is that you need to be thinking about your search rankings unless you want to get left behind. You might have enough business right now, but you need to make sure new customers can always find you, otherwise you could find yourself in a very vulnerable position and entirely reliant on word of mouth in the future.
What is Google SEO?
SEO – or search engine optimisation – is the art and science of getting your business to pop up in Google in the right place, at the right time, and in front of the right people. Using a combination of data and intuition, you can come up with a unique formula that works for your business.
There are good and bad SEO services out there – the bad ones will offer a cookie-cutter solution to lots of businesses which results in them all competing even more heavily with each other for the same generic top spots or most likely encourage Google to penalise their site. The good ones, however, will know how to assess the market and reach the people who are definitely looking for exactly the products or services you’re offering.
One of the ways good SEO differs from bad SEO is in taking into account the language your potential clients are using when they’re looking for the products and services they need. If you sell a very specific make and model of product which is available to consumers, then of course you’ll want to rank highly in Google when someone searches for your product by name.
But you also need to think about those potential customers of yours who might not know the make and model of the product you sell, they only know what problem they want to solve with it, or what need they’re trying to fulfil by finding it.
Being able to work out the right search terms to catch all the phrases these potential customers are using will give you double the potential customer base. For a start, you can reach everyone who is informed enough to search for the make and model of product by name. Secondly, you can catch anyone who doesn’t know the make or model, but does know what they want the product to do, or what problem they want it to solve.
This is why SEO is as much of an art as it is a science. If you can think the same way your customers think (the art) and then use data and technical tools to turn that information into an SEO strategy (the science) you can make your way to the top of Google and leave your competitors behind.
Now over to you. How Google affected your business and what you did about it? please share your experiences in the comments box below.