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The super easy, idiot-proof DIY guide to digital marketing

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When marketing your business, taking your advertising online is vital in today’s heavily digital world. There are specialist digital marketing companies that can handle this for you, but if you want to save a bit of money, it is possible to do a lot of it yourself. Here are just some of the ways that you can market your business online yourself.

Build a website

You can’t begin to start up an online presence if you haven’t got a website. However, this shouldn’t mean hiring a web developer. Neither should it mean learning to code. There are now many Joomla and WordPress that can allow you to build your own professional website cheaply and effectively without any programming involved. Many small businesses around the world will pursue this route to save money. Tutorials online can help you out meanwhile if you’re struggling with WordPress (most of it is fairly user-friendly but those less digitally savvy may prefer some extra guidance).

After your website is built, you could consider paying someone to privately review it and give you any feedback on what might need to be improved. Paying for this consultancy will work out much cheaper than paying for a web developer and will put all the power in your hands.

Set up your social media

Alongside a website, social media can help expand your audience online, connecting you with millions of potential clients around the world. Facebook and Twitter are the main social media sites that businesses use. By setting up a business page on both of these platforms, you can then begin to promote your company through creative posts and by inviting people to follow and like your pages. You can also put a link to your website on these social media pages, and share web content.

Other social media platforms may also prove useful, although many have specific uses. Instagram is largely reserved for sharing images – which may come in handy if you’re a photographer or sell a physical product, but may prove less useful if you’re an accountancy firm or an electrician. Linked In is another social media platform that’s largely used for networking with other companies and professionals. It’s best suited for business to business companies and PR firms. That said, even if you’re not this kind of company, it does no harm to join up – you may find new staff members or cross-promotion opportunities this way.

Encourage reviews and testimonials

The internet is also a great place to build your reputation. The best way to do this is through reviews of past clients. Some companies will disable comments and avoid review sites like Trip Advisor, but this can act against you by making you look like you’re hiding something. Open yourself up to all forms of criticism – both positive and negative criticism can be used to your strength.

Positive reviews can be shown off as testimonials on your website. Visitors will read these reviews and have more trust in your business. Negative reviews meanwhile aren’t ideal, but many review sites will give you a chance to respond to such criticism – from here you can apologise and offer incentives for these clients to come back. Also worth noting, there’s nothing stopping you from asking friends and family members to leave positive reviews online. You can also opt for private reviews instead of public ones, emailing clients with a survey after working with them.

Join online community groups

Community groups are great places to network and further promote your brand – both offline and online. There will most likely to be a community group and a business group for your area on Facebook. These may require you asking for permission to join or being invited in by someone already within the group. Ask your friends and family if they know of such social media groups so that they can point you in the right direction.

Online forums are another good place to spread your brand. There may be a forum dedicated to your trade such as bakery or cars or interior design in which you can network and make a name for yourself.

Not all social media community groups and forums will allow promotional content, so you should always check guidelines first to avoid being thrown out the group.

Start blogging and vlogging

Blogging and vlogging can help further establish credibility for you and your brand. Blogging involves writing regular posts – usually advice, motivation or information. Vlogging is much the same but using video content on sites such as Youtube.

By blogging/vlogging about useful and engaging topics, you can help lure in viewers that could be potential clients. This form of marketing has become very popular. In some cases, a blog or a vlog can become so successful that it alone is able to make money. You can share each post and video on your social media pages.

Stay on top of trends

A great way to make your marketing methods effective is to stay on top of trends. Seasonal events and special occasions are a great to connect and relate to potential clients. If it’s nearing December and you run a retail business, you could consider writing a blog post on Christmas gift ideas or run a Christmas-themed competition on your Facebook page. When it comes to summer, try to relate content to going out in the sun or going on holiday.

Twitter is built for spotting trends. By keeping on top of trending hashtags and incorporating them into your own posts, you might be able to get a few more reactions. Of course, these hashtags onto random posts and the content should be relevant. In some cases, you may also be able to create your own hashtag. If you’re lucky, it may take off.

Some trends should be steered clear of as they can be too controversial. Religion and politics are the two most obvious areas – picking a side could polarise your market, and whilst you may gain some clientele that support your views, you may also lose some clientele that don’t support your views.

Cross promote

Cross-promotion is when you and another business both form a pact and promote one another’s product/services. By doing this, you can market to their audience, and they can market to yours. There are many way of doing this online. You can both write blog posts positively reviewing one another’s services. You can both write social media posts about one another. You could even team up for a Youtube video.

This marketing method works most effectively when both companies are of a similar trade but not in direct competition of one another. For example, an IT technician company may choose to do a cross-promotion deal with a digital security company. An electrician meanwhile might choose to cross-promote with a plumbing company.

DIY SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a way of improving the rankings of your business’s website on search engines such as Google and Yahoo. There are dedicated SEO companies committed to this form of marketing, as it can be quite complex, but there are ways of doing it yourself and saving costs. SEO is largely about using the right keywords strategically and having internet presence. Blogging regularly, cross-promoting and carefully structuring and wording your website can all have an effect on your search engine rankings.

For those that need advice, you may wish to pay for an SEO audit. This will supply you with some consultancy within the field, but ultimately allow you to still do it on your own terms.

DIY data analysis

Data analysts or data scientists are another service that many people pay for. They are able to interpret the masses of data on the internet and turn such data into easy-to-understand graphs and charts that can be used to better a business. In the marketing world, analysts are able to find who is buying into your service and where they are coming from on the web, allowing you to better place ads and better demographically focus your marketing strategies.

Fortunately there are services such as Google analytics that can cut the costs of hiring such people. This plug-in can be placed on your website and will give you detailed analytics as to your visitors. Facebook and Twitter also have in-built analytics tools. By paying close attention to the stats you may be able to theme your marketing strategies around the results. If a particular blog post has turned out to be particularly successful, it may pay to write more blog posts in a similar style. If a certain age demographic is largely buying into your product, it may be worth targeting your marketing more towards people of this age.

Bigger businesses may require more complex analytics, but for small businesses the basic tools may be all you need for developing useful analytics.

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