What began as an idea is now a full-fledged business. You’ve been working tirelessly to make sure everything is in order before you start writing press releases and calling journalists. You know your target market, you’ve researched your competitors, you might even have a storefront ready to open. You also know your business’ digital presence is crucial in 2016. For many business owners, freelancers and creative brands – this moment is when action becomes difficult. Which social media profiles are most important? What language should be used on a website? When, if ever, is it time to work with a digital marketing agency?
These questions can quickly become overwhelming and stifling. In a workshop he led at Cowork Memphis, Ben Fant, founder of Farmhouse Marketing, dished out some tips to make a digital marketing launch a success.
1. Create a URL strategy for your business
Before you purchase URL or URLs, make sure your business name is searchable and discoverable. If it’s not both, consider reworking or renaming your business. It should go without saying – but if your business can’t easily be found on the Internet, it’s going to be difficult to grow.
If your specific business name is not available as a URL, that’s okay – come up with a word or a few words that are closely related to your business, easy to remember, and available to stand as your URL instead. For example, if you’re starting a grizzly bear grooming company (just go with it for a second) and “MemphisGrizzlies.com” redirects to a basketball team, you could use “GrizzlySitter.com” instead. (FYI, GrizzlySitter.com IS currently available).
Additionally, don’t let your friend or uncle or roommate purchase your URL or URLs for you – full ownership of them is critical if you want to grow your digital presence on your terms.
2. Have a social media presence
Yes, it seems obvious – but it’s important! Social media is a great way to connect with your target audience and show off your business’ brand personality.
In the words of Ben Fant, “Even if you’re not personally on Facebook, there are plenty of people who are.”
However, with the number of social media platforms at a staggering high, it can be difficult to decide which platforms are most important to spend time and energy on in regards to your business. As a general rule, your business should have a presence on at least four – Google+, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Assure that your website is attached to all your social media profiles. That way, if people land on your created social content, they’ll end up as traffic to your website.
Whichever social media outlets you choose to utilize – stay active!
3. Build a profile on your industry’s listing site
Great news! There’s a listing site for essentially every industry, and they likely have a more established name than you do. Take advantage of sites like Yelp, The Knot, Angie’s List, and others to promote your business to the audiences already searching there.
Listing sites will come up before your website for a long time. Do some searching and find the listing site applicable to your industry, and create a profile to let people know you’re in business.
4. Collect email addresses with a splash page
Splash pages on websites are simply a landing place to entice users to look further, and a helpful way to collect contact info for mailing lists. Create one for your business or brand’s website. If it’s working correctly, it will not only encourage people to learn more about what you do or sell, but allow you to communicate with a wider range of people in your email campaigns.
Need some inspiration? Here are a few examples of effective splash pages.
5. Get the most out of your website
If your building is your physical storefront, your website is your digital storefront – and it’s equally essential.
First, make sure the navigation on your website is concise. Engaging with your site should be simple for users who’ve landed there.
Search engines work to ensure there’s good information on the web. For that reason, if you want your pages to appear in searches, don’t include sales language in the live text of your site. This language can sometimes be flagged, thus reducing traffic to your website. Suggested best practices include: have a minimum of 500 words on your site, with a maximum of 2,000. Create and publish content that is relative to your business – write blog entries, record videos, and post searchable items that will live on the Internet forever.
And lastly, utilize Google Analytics. This allows you to easily monitor what’s working or not, and adjust accordingly. After all, your website is not just a one-off purchase – it should grow and change as you do.
Ben Fant digital marketing workshop and Q&A at Cowork Memphis on November 4th, 2015.
If you have all these items in place and still desire some extra assistance, consider using a digital marketing agency. It’s okay to ask for help, and who better to ask than an industry expert? Marketing agencies can be useful for taking your SEO to the next level, or giving you more specific suggestions you may not have thought to implement. They’ll thank you for having these 5 tasks accomplished before coming to them, and you’ll save some money by hiring an agency only after you’ve covered the basics of your digital launch.
Cowork Memphis extends its thanks to Ben Fant for leading the workshop that inspired this blog post.