As a small business owner, your responsibilities within your business are endless. There’s always something that needs to be implemented or updated, fixed or changed, and it’s your job to figure out the best, most efficient solution. In addition to everyday operations, like taking inventory, bookkeeping, hiring and training, you’re also responsible for determining a digital marketing strategy to get customers through the door and keep them coming back.

You might be asking yourself, where do I even begin? Seeking help from an outside agency can be costly, and most small business owners simply can’t afford to invest as much as they’d like. In fact, 20% of small businesses don’t even use digital marketing, and 47% of owners handle marketing efforts on their own.

For those owners who are looking to get started on their own, here are a few helpful steps to get the ball rolling.

Get a plan together.

In order to figure out your strategy, you must first determine what your goals are and what components will help you achieve them. Are you looking to gain new customers? Increase customer loyalty? Grow sales? Lock down what you’re looking to accomplish first, then you can organize your thoughts together and begin formulating your digital marketing plan.

Next, figure out what is going to set you apart from your competition and get your customers interested. Brainstorm unique ways to highlight your products and services to potential customers so that you can make a good first impression and, ideally, build long-term loyalty. You’ll also want to figure out a budget and stick to it. As an owner, you’ll utilize this plan as your roadmap for marketing success as it will help you stay on track and meet your predetermined goals.

Create a website.

Having a website is no longer an option for small businesses, it’s a necessity. According to a Local Search Association survey, 27% of consumers turn to websites when they’re ready to purchase. Additionally, a Vistaprint survey revealed that 34% of consumers are unlikely to purchase from a business that doesn’t have a website. 

A company’s website is one of the few pieces of marketing material that are controlled completely by the business. Other platforms (social media, online reviews, directory listings) can all be influenced by outside parties. Websites also help cultivate trust with consumers. The more high-quality, informational content your website offers regarding your product and service offerings, the more assured a customer will feel about choosing your company over a competitor.

Keep in mind that although there are a lot of DIY website services available, it’s still a very daunting and time-consuming process. If you’re starting from square one, it might be helpful to set aside some of your marketing budget for hiring a website expert. That way, you can hit the ground running with a highly-optimized, attention-grabbing site for your customers.

Get active on social media.

Along with websites, social media is something that small businesses need to have to reach a large portion of their target audience. People of all ages are active on social media, so it’s important to figure out your target audience and determine which social platforms are utilized most often by those people.

Creating a Facebook page is a good place to start. In fact, over 50 million small businesses are using Facebook Pages to connect with their customers. In 2015, Facebook influenced 52% of consumers’ online and offline purchases. If you’re not at least utilizing this social platform, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to connect and engage with both new and existing customers. Facebook Business offers step by step instructions for setting up a business page.

Claim your Google My Business (GMB) listing.

There will always be information about your business online, the idea is to control as much of it as you can so that consumers are being given the correct information. With GMB listings, businesses have a large amount of control in terms of what’s shown. GMB listings are free listings from Google that are used to manage a company’s information throughout Google’s platforms (Search, Maps, etc.).

Your customers are more than likely searching for you via Google, and Google’s algorithm will determine what businesses show up in these local search results. Thus, having an optimized GMB page with all your relevant business information (address, hours of operation, FAQs, etc.) will only help improve your ranking in local search engine results pages.

According to Google, only 37% of businesses have claimed their GMB listing. This presents an opportunity for your business to gain a competitive edge on your customers. If you’re unsure of how to claim your listing, Google offers helpful directions for doing so.

Utilize email marketing.

Email marketing is not nearly as scary and intimidating as it sounds. There are plenty of cost-effective, easy to use services available for creating and sending professional emails. It’s an important component to have as a part of your digital marketing strategy as it can help foster and strengthen customer relationships, build your brand and potentially lead to sales.

To get started, there are a few things you’ll need to have in place. First, you need to choose a service. Once chosen, you’ll need to input a list of customer email addresses. Be sure to have a sign-up option available on your website so customers can easily opt-in to receive emails.

Most email service providers will have analytics in place that will help measure the effectiveness of your emails and what seems to work best in terms of send times, content and more.

There are plenty of options available to utilize within your digital marketing plan, these are just a few beginning steps to get you started.