Startup Insights

The 10 Step Online Marketing Plan for Small Businesses

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July 17, 2015

So, how do you market your business without diverting too much of your time away from what you do best? Certain marketing methods can be expensive and time consuming, whilst others need an entire marketing department to get the best out of them!

Fear not. Startup Digital have compiled the 10 best tips to give your business the online marketing boost it needs:

1-optimise-your-website 2-blog 3-email 4-setup-social 5-get-social 6-advertise-social 7-get-found-search 8-ppc-advertising 9-utilise-technology 10-measure-everything

  1. Optimise your website
    Your website is your virtual shop. There’s no point in bringing lots of people to your shop if they then can’t find what they’re looking for. Make sure all your information is well presented, your search drives people to the correct results and that the look and feel of the site reflects your product/service.

    Top tip: Find out how people use your site. Submit your website to and get back a free five minute video of a real person using your site. You’ll get some great insight into what they think of your site and it might throw up any usability issues.

  2. Blog
    Potential customers want to know that you’re the best person for the job. Producing helpful blog articles is a great way to position yourself as a thought leader in your field. Your posts should look to solve problems or questions that your target audience might have. For example, this post looks to answer: ‘how do I market my small business online?’ Your blog gives people a reason to keep coming back to your site even if they aren’t in immediate need of what you sell. If you blog well, you can ensure you’re top of their mind when they do need what you sell. You’ll also give yourself some great content to use for your online marketing efforts.

    Top tip: Take a look at our Beginners Guide to Blogging to get started.

  3. Email
    Now you have some great content, email is a great way to get this to as many people as possible. Add the functionality for users to subscribe to an email list on your website and keep in regular communication with your customers. Your users will be receiving a high volume of emails every day so you need to make yours stand out. Start by ensuring your emails aren’t too sales focussed. Send over something useful such as links to your best blog posts. You can try and convert your subscribers into sales by using case studies, success stories and special offers.

    Top tip: MailChimp have an excellent free package that lets you send email broadcasts to upwards of 2,000 subscribers ensuring you don’t have to spend a penny.

  4. Setup your social presence
    Social media has become the go-to place for potential customers to scope out businesses before buying. The simple fact is, if you’re not on social then you’re missing out on business.There are lots of different social networks out there to choose from. To start with, focus only on the ones that your target audience use. Facebook has a huge reach however it’s hard to get much value without paying (we’ll come to that later). Is your product and service highly visual? Then Instagram or Pintrest might be the pace for you. More of a B2B focus? Try LinkedIn.

    Top tip: The different social networks require profile pictures and headers to be sized differently. Use this image size cheat sheet to help you get started.

  5. Get social
    Now you have your social channels setup, it’s time to get social. On Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pintrest, start off by following people who follow similar companies and pages to you. Some of these people will follow you back. This is the basic premise of building a following. It takes a bit of time to build up your following but stick with it. Your competitors’ followers are a good group to get started with. The key thing to remember about social media is that it is exactly that. Social. Talk to people – thank your followers when they start following you, mention them in tweets you think they might like and retweet their own tweets. Connect with your customers and share their success stories. You can also promote those great blog posts you’ve produced.

    Top tip: Use a social listening tool such as Topsy. You can enter a topic to find out what people are talking about and who the influencers worth reaching out to are.

  6. Advertise on social media
    If you want your social strategy to make an impact then you may have to pay. This is particularly true with Facebook, where you can spend time and effort getting people to ‘like’ your page, only for Facebook to show your posts to less than 10% of your following. If you have a great piece of content then it might be worth paying to get your post out to a wider audience. You can target people based on their interests to ensure you’re only spending your money reaching relevant contacts.

    Top tip:  Many major web hosting companies have deals with Facebook to give you free advertising credit. Check with your host to see if you qualify.

  7. Get found on search engines
    A recent study found that on average 64% of website traffic comes from a search engine such as Google or Bing. It’s vital that you do all you can to maximise your site’s visibility on search engines:

    – Ensure your site loads quickly
    – Keep your site navigation simple and easy to use
    – Optimise your site for mobile devices
    – Add relevant keywords into each page’s URL
    – Use a relevant keyword in your title tag
    – Wrap your page title within a H1 tag
    – Add social sharing links to your blog posts to help users share your content

    Does this all sound a bit alien? Take a look at Backlinko’s on page SEO infographic for more guidance.

    Top tip: Set yourself up on Google Search Console (formally Webmaster Tools). This will help you spot any issues Google has when trying to crawl your site and list it on its result pages.

    Bonus top tip: Having a mobile optimised site is now more important than ever if you want to appear in mobile search results. Enter your website into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Tester to see if your site is correctly optimised.

  8. Have a go at PPC advertising
    It can be hard to compete with the big boys if you want to appear near the top of the search results. One way to give yourself a boost is to try pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Here you can pay to appear in the search results of queries that are specific to you.


    Using Google Adwords or Bing Ads you can create an account, choose which search terms you want to appear for and set how much you want to spend. Beware, some search terms are very expensive and competitive. Choose ones which will drive enough volume of traffic without exhausting your budget.

    Top tip: Get your monies worth when you first try PPC. Google offer $75 free advertising credit when you spend $25 and Bing Ads give you a £50 voucher to try their service.

  9. Utilise technology
    Technology is your friend. There are lots of affordable tools out there that can help you on your online journey.
    – If you run your site on WordPress, there are literally thousands of plugins (38,692 at the last time of counting) that can enhance the functionality of your site
    – Online databases such as Zoho and Knack will help you manage your client contact list
    – If you find you’re having trouble managing all your social media channels, tools such as Hootsuite and Manage Flitter give you a simple way to manage them all in one place

    There are also lots of tools that help you analyse and measure your work. Cue a perfect lead into our final point…

  10. Measure. Everything.
    This is important. Before you go any further get yourself setup on Google Analytics. Here you can find out how people are finding your site, which content they are viewing and how many are converting into leads or sales. To get started, download our Google Analytics Dashboard. Here you’ll find 12 web stats you’ll need to monitor and care about on a regular basis. Here’s a few other ways to analyse how you’re doing:

    – How well are you doing on social? Take a look at your Klout score
    – How SEO friendly is your site? Moz’s Open Site Explorer can help
    – Want an overall online marketing score? Try Hubspot’s Marketing Grader

    This might all seem a bit overwhelming. If you fancy getting someone to give you a helping hand then drop us an email and we can have a chat.

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