The first step in developing an online marketing strategy for your small business is to decide what content you will commit to create. Determining this is step one for your strategy because consistency is key to, well, just about everything, a completely-curated online marketing presence is almost certainly going to be subpar, and the content you have to use directly affects the online marketing platforms and tools you use.

For example, you newly-launched blog is going to come to a swift end if you don’t have a writer on your staff to consistently write new blog posts.

So, once you have decided what type of content you are committed to create for your small business, the next step in creating your online marketing strategy is to choose the social media platforms and online marketing tools you’ll add to your marketing and advertising toolbox.

Online Marketing Strategy, Step 2: Determine your Platforms & Tactics

Choosing Platforms & Tactics for your Online Marketing Strategy

Now that you know what types of content you have to work with, you know which social media platforms and other marketing tactics are possible for your strategy (e.g. If you aren’t committed to take photos and videos, Instagram is not going to be part of your small business’ online marketing strategy). 

Popular social media platforms and online marketing tactics to consider:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube (and video creation in general)
  • Google My Business
  • Reddit
  • Blogging
  • Email Marketing
  • Podcasting
  • Google AdWords
  • Social media ads
  • SEO

So, how do you decide which options to choose?

How to Choose your Online Marketing Platforms

First, you need to balance out the time, the budget, the staff, and the skill level required for any online marketing tactic you are considering. In general, I’m a big proponent of doing more with less. As a small business owner, you have to handle every part of running a business. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to be active with 5 or 6 marketing tools on the above list. So, choose a couple that are a good fit for you, and make the most of each. Learn the best practices for each online marketing tactic you select (or decide if you need to hire them out), and take full advantage of all the features and benefits provided by the online marketing options you chose. Make sure you are engaging with others and responding to messages and comments, as much as each platform allows.

Second, you also need to take a look at where your customers spend their time as well as where you are seeing the payoff for your efforts. You might really love Twitter for your own personal use, but that doesn’t mean your customers are there. Whereas, you might not enjoy video creation as much, but you have previously seen that you get great leads from your YouTube channel and Facebook Lives.

Third, look at the split between owned and rented. By this I mean, things you can control yourself vs. being at the mercy of some other platform (does Facebook’s never-ending decline in organic reach sounds familiar?) Assuming your website is already in good shape, what other marketing tactics can you use to strengthen your website? Optimizing it for search (SEO) is one, gathering email addresses of current and potential customers is another, and publishing blog posts on your website is another.

Fourth, consider what marketing tools get you closer to your goals. Keep in mind, too, that those goals can vary from year to year, and aren’t limited to “make more sales”. That’s one reason why you need to periodically revisit your online marketing strategy. Specific campaigns like building up your email subscriber list or launching a new product line will significantly impact your online marketing strategy for a length of time, but will not always be a goal for your online marketing.

Lastly, it’s highly likely you’ll need to add in at least some element of paid ads for your online marketing strategy. It could be any mix of social media advertising and/or ads in search on Google or Bing. You don’t necessarily need a big budget for ads, but even $25/month in ad spend can go a long way for a small business.

Designing the most effective online marketing campaign for your small business is going to be unique to your business. When taking into account all of the things discussed above, you will be in a much better place to determine what the right mix of social media, online marketing, and ads is for you.

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