We understand that the mere mention of “digital marketing” can turn a happy day into a day of dread. Indeed, the questions, “What’s your marketing strategy?” “Are you on Twitter?,” and “How often do you post?” have caused grown adults to cry but the reality is that marketing your small business is not only critical but, I promise, it can be fun…or at least not painful.

First, let’s talk about why, understandably, many small business owners don’t set a marketing budget from the get go, as part of the business planning process. In my experience, there are three primary reasons:

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There is no guarantee of results.

Social marketing does not always provide immediate, tangible or always easily measured results, which leads many to question the investment. Digital marketing is not like investing in a piece of equipment to speed up production or picking fun colors for your packaging but digital marketing is, nonetheless, a necessary investment in your business.

Yes, there have been RARE occasions that a marketing effort appears to take off or “go viral” so you can immediately track the return on the investment for a particular marketing campaign. However, this is statistically extremely unlikely to happen as less than 2% of the entire world’s posts actually go viral.

It takes time.

Time is a very scarce commodity for solo-entrepreneurs and small business owners. Digital marketing frequently gets put on the backburner for many folks because there are just so many hours in the day and the task can seem overwhelming. Small business owners have limited time and financial resources and because digital marketing doesn’t provide an immediately measurable and identifiable return on investment, it is often ignored.

“I don’t get it”

There is a real lack of understanding regarding the potential black hole of digital marketing. We hear you. The technology changes at the blink of an eye and each social media platform has its own unique application. Sometimes it seems like as soon as you’ve learned the ins and outs of a platform, the technology changes again. This is, for better or worse, an unfortunate byproduct of doing business in the digital age.[/framed_box]

So, if there’s no easy way to measure the return of investment on some social marketing campaigns, and it will take time, and it can be a little confusing and overwhelming, you’re probably wondering why you should engage in social marketing activities at all. Isn’t it a risk? Honestly, yes. But, it’s a calculated risk and, remember, we said it’s not easy to measure ROI. We never said it was impossible.

Here’s the thing. We know social marketing does work. It may work a little differently for everyone but it does work and there are a few things you can do to maximize your digital marketing efforts:

1. Invest in the right tools and maximize your website. Google Analytics and a call to action/opt-in box are musts and we highly recommend some sort of social management tool like Hoot Suite or TweetDeck. Depending on your organizational budget there are a variety of measurement tools available from free or inexpensive like ZohoCRM to pricey (but full of incredible features) such as HubSpot.

2. Have a clear goal in mind for any marketing campaign and set Smart Goals:

• Specific – Do you want more “likes” on Facebook or more followers on Twitter? How many? By when? Why? Answer the who, what, where, when, why & how questions for each campaign. Be specific.
• Measurable – How will you track your progress? What tools will you use?
• Attainable – One of the biggest mistakes people make is in setting unrealistic expectations (refer back to what we said above about viral videos). Set goals that are reasonable and doable.
• Realistic – Being honest with yourself about the time, energy and resources you have to work towards achieving your goal.
• Time-bound – Setting deadlines is critical.

3. KISS Keep it simple, seriously. While an overall marketing campaign can be very involved, each activity within that campaign should be pretty straightforward and very user-friendly. Avoid having too many steps. For example, if you want to do a giveaway, be very clear about the goal of the giveaway and make the steps for entering the giveaway as easy as possible by utilizing a contest app such as Rafflecopter.

Rafflecopter

Marketing your business should be fun. You are telling people about your amazing business and turning them into customers. What’s not fun about that? By using these tips to maximize your marketing efforts you will see your sales increase overtime as you win more customers. Social media gives us more reach than ever before and affords us the opportunity to have a more in depth relationship with our customers.

Don’t miss out on that opportunity just because you’re not sure where to start. We’re always here to help if you just don’t know where to begin or are ready to take your efforts to the next level.