At SMQ Consulting, we often start work with businesses and organizations when they’ve barely scratched the surface of their ideal digital media presence. These clients have coasted along with barebones websites, an outdated Google local listing, an abandoned Facebook page, and not much else. Maybe they haven’t yet experienced the value that digital media has to offer their business. Maybe they haven’t had the time to even take the first steps during their already busy lives.
There’s a great big world out there on the web, and while missed opportunities from a sub-par (or non-existent) digital media strategy might be hard to quantify, this “no strategy” approach costs companies and organizations far more than they may realize in missed connections, lost potential for repeat customers, and poor search engine rankings.
Even if you don’t have the time and resources to dive in deep from the start, there are significant benefits to solidifying the base of your digital media presence right away. Here are five steps I recommend businesses take as soon as possible to achieve a solid digital media marketing foundation that will produce measurable results and provide a firm launch pad for future digital activities.
Update current listings on the web
Whether you provided the information or not, you will likely find your business or organization represented on listing sites, directories, social networks, and other locations across the web. These sources frequently value quantity of listings over quality, and their focus is on expanding their own presence, not in accurately representing your business.
First, compile, consider and revamp (if necessary) the relevant business information that you want your customers to find on the web. This may include a description of your products and services, your business location and hours, your contact information, your website, and any active social media handles. Use specific and unique keywords and phrases in your business description to maximize the benefits from the tasks below.
Provide each listing site with updated information, or update it yourself if possible, and these sites will become future traffic drivers for you. Keep a list of all of your business listings on the web for future reference and business updates. Is your business info missing from a key site like Google or Yelp? Add it now before you let more potential customers slip away.
Reserve social media handles and web URLs
Even if you don’t plan to use them anytime soon, reserve your ideal social media handles as soon as possible. You can either keep each account vaguely active and public, or make the accounts “hidden” or “private” until you decide you are ready for the added commitment of managing additional social networks. Even if you think you will never use the account publicly, you will still benefit from having the accounts locked down by preventing them from falling into the hands of competitors or others that might be confused for you brand. The same applies for web URLs – purchase any URLs that you feel you may want in the future, or that could become a risk for your business if they fell into the wrong hands. Most URLs cost around $10 a year, which is well worth it for the peace of mind.
Install Google Analytics and enable remarketing
If you haven’t already set up and tested Google Analytics on your website, you are missing out on free, detailed metrics about your website effectiveness and customer behavior. You may not know how to use Google Analytics, and that’s OK; if you set it up right now, Google Analytics will start tracking this important customer behavior data so that it can be used as a benchmark, referenced in the future, or analyzed by a future tech savvy employee or digital media consultant. Install Google Analytics now, and you will have a wealth of data at your fingertips when you need it for future decision making.
In addition to installing Google Analytics, be sure to enable “remarketing” from the start. Remarketing enables you to serve online ads to your past website visitors, bringing potential customers back to your site for product announcements, targeted discounts or sales, and other noteworthy events. Your past site visitors are an extremely likely source of future revenue, and remarketing gives you a direct line back to that key audience. This is a worthwhile step even for the least tech-savvy business owners — start building the “audience” of past site visitors now, and you’ll have a large group to target when you decide to commission a future ad campaign.
Give your website a content refresh
Many businesses and organizations view their website as a static source of basic business information – an unchanging representation of their core organization details. This is a convenient view in that it reduces the resources allocated to web activities, but it’s unfortunately a very flawed approach. Search engines such as Google and Bing consider many factors when ranking websites in their search results, and a primary consideration by search engines is the frequency with which a site is updated. Update your website and blog content frequently to remain timely and to maximize organic traffic to your website. Don’t wait months or years for your next website update; there’s no better day than today.
Utilize your on-location signage and marketing collateral
If your business or organization has a physical location or uses traditional marketing techniques like print ads, posters, mailers or billboards, you already have numerous opportunities to promote your online presence to current and future customers. Add your website and social media URLs to your business collateral, place signs in-store guiding visitors to your online presence, or promote an ongoing social media contest, such as using “table tents” to prompt visitors of a restaurant to post a photo of their favorite menu item for a chance to win a prize. Use your physical presence to drive your online success; driving your in-person customers to connect with you online will offer an effective way to reach them in the future (via remarketing ads, email campaigns, and social media marketing) and bring them back to your business as a return customer or ad advocate for your organization.