Launching Your First Business? A Digital Marketing Crash Course

So, you decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship and start your own business? Congratulations – that was just the first of many important decisions you’ll have to make for your company.

Entrepreneurs are tasked with wearing many hats in their business, especially early on. From production and distribution to sales and marketing, it’s important for business owners to have some knowledge of the different facets of their company. This versatility will not only help grow the business at a fraction of the costs, but it will improve efficiencies and help you find the right people to manage those departments as you scale.

Digital marketing is an area that every first-time business owner should try to understand. Every business, ecommerce to brick-and-mortar, can benefit from effective digital marketing.

If you want to dominate your local markets, then you’ll need to glean some knowledge from this digital marketing crash course for first-time business owners.

Disclaimer: This is an abridged crash-course on digital marketing; we will cover themes and high-level ideas. You’ll find resources throughout to learn more about each topic.

Cohesive Branding

Many companies, not just startups, don’t have a properly integrated branding strategy that builds a cohesive identity across all marketing channels. This segmentation is particularly evident with digital marketing. Digital marketing should be an extension of your branding and not an independent entity.

As a new company, you’ll need to create a logo, brand name, slogan, and decide on your company colors among other branding decisions. Your brand imagery, style and messaging should be uniform across your website, social channels, email marketing, sales collateral and offline marketing materials.

Building a style guide for your brand is a great place to start. This document should serve as a blueprint for your brand identity and message. Add examples of copy that reflect your company’s values and beliefs. Provide the hex color codes for your brand colors, and include the typeface that your brand uses. By creating a style guide, you can ensure uniformity across different digital channels and offline mediums.

For more branding tips for first-time business owners try this resource: 15 Ways You May Be Missing Opportunities to Build Your Brand

Always Think About Conversions

One of the biggest issues with digital marketing is a lack of an endgame. Most marketers can figure out how to drive traffic to their website, Twitter, Facebook or other digital platforms, but what they neglect is the action they want that person to perform once they land.

When thinking about how to increase digital conversions, it’s important to understand the limitations and opportunities of each platform. While you may be able to reach more people faster via Twitter or Facebook, those are channels that offer limited control. Think of social media like renting an apartment – you can add your own furniture and décor, but are limited to what changes you can make to the place.

Social media networks like Twitter and Facebook are the same. You are essentially renting space on their platform. You can add a profile image and share your content, but you can’t control who they share your posts with and are limited to what you can post. These channels should play a big role in your digital marketing initiatives, but you need to understand the limitations they present, and learn how to leverage their strengths to increase conversions.

Your website, on the other hand, is your property. You control the content, you can share it with anyone, and you can add as many pop-ups and conversion points as you want (with the understanding that whatever you do impacts the user experience).

With the limitations in mind, think about what action you want the user to make when they land on your website or social channel. If you want to drive sign-ups to your email list, integrate a popover or create a gated piece of content like a whitepaper or quiz. If you want to increase sales, try pushing promotions or relevant reviews to generate activity.

For more conversion tips for first-time business owners try this resource: A Step-by-Step Guide to Conversion Optimization

Know the Power of Content

If you’re just starting out with digital marketing, you’ll inevitably stumble across the phrase “Content is King.”  The takeaway from this overused expression is that you should produce better content, not necessarily more content. “Content” means any messaging that is published by your brand – blog articles, web copy, tweets, Facebook posts, emails, etc.

Content marketing is the art of creating content, on your website, social channels or other mediums, that is informative and engaging. This content, in turn, generates repeat viewers, more shares and hopefully, more conversions. It also helps identify your brand as an authority in your vertical, which can increase backlinks, brand reputation, and improve your organic search rankings. All these outcomes help increase the traffic to your website and improve brand equity.

A quick tip for creating great content is to look at what works for your competitors, publishers in your space, and brands/publishers in other verticals. Search Google for a term that you’d like your brand to rank for, and click through to the pages that Google thinks are most relevant for that phrase. Look at the content on those pages, and try to create a more resourceful piece.

For more content marketing tips for first-time business owners try this resource: An Entrepreneur’s Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing

Strategically Scale Digital Marketing

The most important digital marketing tip for new entrepreneurs is to start small and grow steadily. This tip applies to many areas, but especially with your digital marketing. There are a few, very critical areas to nail with your digital marketing first and foremost. After you knock those out, you can start entering other areas and begin to increase your efforts.

The areas that you need to nail right out the gate are:

  1. Create a dynamic website that is user-friendly
  2. Create a presence on the social channel that your target audience is most active on
  3. Find the most important conversion goal, and implement a strategy for achieving and measuring results

While the three areas above are not required for every brand, they are common across a large swath of brands. Even if you don’t need all three areas, the important thing to remember is that you need to start small, and after you have developed processes and a habit for the most important areas of your digital marketing, you can then increase your energy and look at other channels or strategies.

For instance, a maid service that is dependent on local, repeat clients might not want to invest a lot of resources into building their Twitter profile. Twitter is a platform that casts a large net, not necessarily one that is great at small, targeted marketing. Rather, this brand might want to focus its efforts on generating reviews on their Google Business page.

When you are starting out with digital marketing, it’s important to have a focused strategy that creates achievable and measurable goals. As you start to grow your business, you can then scale strategically and carefully.

For more scaling tips for first-time business owners try this resource: Digital Marketing: It’s a Marathon Not a Spring

Digital marketing is an area that every first-time business owner should try to learn. Understanding the nuances of digital marketing can help you develop a cohesive brand that uses content effectively across different marketing channels to increase conversions. While there are several other things in between, if you can master this process, you will be well on your way to building a successful company.

By Derek Miller. This article originally appeared on SCORE.