How to Digitally Market a Small Business in One Day per Week

 

You know that digital marketing is important, you want to get exposure for your business online, but you are understandably reluctant to shell out on hiring an expert to do the job for you.

For firms and freelancers operating on lean budgets, digital marketing is often one of the first costs cut out of the equation when belts get tightened. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that this trend is stunting the growth of small businesses everywhere.
There’s a simple solution to the problem: do it yourself.

In this guide we are going to set out in clear terms how a single person can handle the digital marketing of a business in just one working day per week.

The strategy we are going to outline is a good all-round instruction for newcomers to digital marketing who wish to master the basics fast, before potentially attempting more specialised skills further down the line. You are about to learn how to:

  • Digitally interact with your customers and manage your brand’s reputation online
  • Run a PR operation within your business targeting digital and traditional media
  • Market your business on social media
  • Make search engines fall head over heels for your website
  • Manage your own ongoing training and respond to developments in digital marketing

We have avoided technical terms where possible, because frankly, who needs ‘em?

Choosing your one-day-a-week digital marketer

Before we get started on marketing your business, we need to answer one crucial question: who is going to be your digital marketer? We strongly recommend choosing somebody who fulfils the following criteria:

  • Senior role within the business – digitally marketing a business one working day per week requires an efficient workflow and the capacity to react quickly to enquiries. Your marketer needs to be somebody with the knowledge, passion and authority to speak as the voice of the business, without burning time getting the go-ahead from the boss. Ideally, this person would be an owner or manager.
  • Good communication skills – the ability to communicate with clarity and accuracy will be an invaluable asset.
  • Combination of creative and analytical skills – few people can claim to possess both in perfect balance, but a digital marketer does require a little bit of creative sparkle and a good analytical mind.
  • Computer literacy – effective performance of this role requires a basic proficiency with word processing and using the web; plus a confident and enthusiastic approach to learning new digital skills. To complete the “Hour 5 & 6 – Making your Website Search Engine Friendly” section of this plan, you will require a business website, and the ability to edit its content (either personally or with the help of a web developer).

There are plenty of workarounds available if you cannot identify a team member who ticks all of these boxes, but if you can get somebody in place who does fulfil these criteria, you’ll be off to a flying start.

Using this guide

We’re almost ready to begin – but first we are going to explain a few points on how this guide is put together.

You’ll notice that each section runs over one or two hours. Together, they form the schedule for a working day. The order of tasks within this sequence is intended to encourage a natural flow of ideas and opportunities throughout the day (of course you will need to add in breaks at your preferred times).

Each section of the schedule – “PR”, “Social Media Marketing” and so on – requires a few hours’ worth of setup time, before you can settle into a weekly rhythm of working one-hour-per-section-per-week.

Following this guide will give you a great start in establishing yourself across many of the key digital marketing channels, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow it to the letter. Within a few months you will start to get a feel for which digital marketing activities are best suited to you and your business – don’t be afraid to borrow resources from ineffective channels and allocate them to the activities which are bringing in the best results.

There are several digital marketing disciplines which we will not have time to touch on in this guide – you can find some of these more advanced skills listed in the final section.

Hour 1 – Reputation Management

Never underestimate the extraordinary power of a brand – how yours is portrayed online could be affecting your business more than you realise. There’s no way to fully guard against people criticising your business online, but you can work wonders on your brand’s digital image using a combination of thorough monitoring and careful communication.

We’re going to achieve this through a three-step process:

  1. Track mentions
  2. Categorise mentions
  3. Act

Track mentions
By far and away the easiest method of tracking brand mentions is by using a media monitoring application, like our personal favourite for small bsuinesses, Mention.

Mention tracks references to your brand by scanning news sources and social media for relevant keywords and keyword combinations, such as:

“Madame Tussaud’s”
“Madame Tussaud’s” + “London”
“Madame Tussaud’s” + “London” + “Waxworks”
“London” + “Waxworks”

Mention will provide you with regular updates on when and where your brand has been mentioned. The first task of your weekly Brand & Reputation Management hour should be to view the updates and log the details of each relevant listing in a spreadsheet, under columns headed:

  • Mention date
  • Mention source type (e.g. social media, newspaper website)
  • Mention source (e.g. Twitter, The Guardian)
  • Mention content (copy and pasted)

The end result should look something like this:

[SPREADSHEET EXAMPLE]

Sometimes you’ll find mentions of your brand elsewhere online – these mentions also belong in your spreadsheet. Likely sources include:

  • Facebook page notifications
  • LinkedIn profile notifications
  • Google News Alerts
  • TripAdvisor reviews

The Mention app costs from $29/month after a one-month free trial. We recommend trying it over the free trial period, before deciding whether or not the benefits justify the outlay. Monitoring mentions without the help of an app is possible, but time consuming.

Categorise mentions
Now we’re going to assign each of the mentions you’ve logged into one of the following categories:

  • Positive – no response: mentions of this type include general praise of the brand, such as single sentence reviews and simplistic expressions of approval (e.g. “Pizza Express is awesome!”)
  • Positive – response: lengthier mentions which clearly took time and effort to formulate – which therefore warrant a grateful response
  • Positive – PR opportunity: an interesting positive mention which might detail a customer’s experience of the brand (e.g. “I won a beauty contest after working out for a year at Bannatyne’s Gym”). This mention could come via many formats, from blog entries to social media comments
  • Info request: a mention featuring a practical question on the brand and its products or services
  • Business/sale opportunity: a commercial enquiry
  • Minor criticism: a negative comment on the brand which is unlikely to cause major reputational damage
  • Major criticism: a serious criticism of the brand which warrants investigation and response
  • Slanderous criticism: a damaging criticism of the brand with no clear justification

Add a ‘Mention category’ column to your spreadsheet and assign the appropriate category to each mention listed.

Act

Now we’re onto the final part of the process: reacting to your online mentions. Unless we have indicated otherwise, this response should happen in a public forum, i.e. through a social media comment or other interaction.

Work your way down your spreadsheet of mentions, responding to each listing and changing its colour when you have completed the appropriate actions. Here’s how you should respond to each type of mention:

  • Positive – no response: no response needed, but if you have plenty of time on your hands, it might be worth your while to reply with a simple ‘Thanks!’, Facebook like, smiley face or similar
  • Positive – response: reply with a generous message of appreciation; engage with the points raised in the mention and offer further detail or explanation, as appropriate
  • Positive – PR opportunity: 1. Respond as above; 2. Log as many contact leads as possible for the person who mentioned you (e.g. Facebook profile URL, Twitter handle); and 3. Make a note of this listing in a separate spreadsheet or document – it will come in handy when we reach the next section of our digital marketing day: “PR”
  • Info request: if the query is simple, reply with a comment or message stating the answer; if the query is complex, provide a customer support email address or phone number instead
  • Business/sales enquiry: respond as appropriate to progress the commercial opportunity
  • Minor criticism: make a note of who made the criticism and where the mention was posted. If the same person makes multiple criticisms, contact them privately with the aim of resolving the issue
  • Major criticism: investigate the claims made; if they appear to be true, publicly apologise and explain how you intend to amend the situation; if the claims appear to be false, see below
  • Slanderous criticism: contact the individual privately to request evidence supporting their claims; if they cannot provide evidence and their arguments don’t stack up, politely request removal or correction of the slanderous mention; if they refuse to do so, consider taking legal advice

You can now log the responses you have provided – along with any subsequent interactions – in the spreadsheet.

Remember: you should always maintain a polite, on-brand tone of voice when communicating to customers – even those who are criticising your business. Business representatives who respond angrily to negative mentions often come across as unprofessional and unlikable.

Extra time

If you have time to spare at the end of your Reputation Management hour, use it to create response templates for various types of mention. Here’s an example:

MAJOR CRITICISM CLARIFICATION
Dear [Sir/Madam],
We were sorry to note your complaint regarding [BUSINESS NAME], posted on [SITE NAME] on [DATE:DATE:DATE].
We hoped you might be able to clarify the details of your complaint, so we can work to put things right. Would you be so kind as to reply to this message with a full and detailed account of the issue? Your time and consideration are greatly appreciated.
Best regards,
[BUSINESS NAME]

Using message templates can greatly improve your efficiency in responding to online mentions, which will become increasingly important as your digital marketing efforts start to generate a buzz and attract more interest.

But do be careful – using the same template frequently in a public context like your Facebook page can cause your brand to come across as overly false and corporate. Always check to ensure your responses are personal and engaged.

Hour 2 – Training

Spending an hour every week on digital marketing training and research will help you to keep pace in what is by all accounts an exceptionally fast-evolving industry.

To start with, you’re going to want to spend as much time as possible on basic digital marketing training. Once you’re feeling very confident in all the basic skills needed to market your business, you can start to divide this hour between further training and catching up with the latest digital marketing news.

Where to get digital marketing training

Digital marketing training for beginners is available in abundance both online and offline, for low budgets and high budgets, for all sorts of learners and in all sorts of formats. Your job now is to find the right digital marketing training resources or services to fit the way you like to learn. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Target Internet– our digital marketing training clients range from individual freelancers to some of the biggest companies in the world. If you need us, give us a click, and in the meantime – help yourself to our free digital marketing resources.

Google Analytics Academy – Google offers free courses in using its data app Google Analytics with your website. Super handy if you want to monitor activity on your site.

Codeacademy – this fantastic free service gives you access to crash courses in the most popular coding languages on the web, including HTML, JavaScript and Python. This one’s particularly useful if you are interested in making or editing your own site (especially the HTML course).

Image editing tutorials – the ability to edit images effectively is a great asset for any digital marketer to possess.

These are just a few cherry-picked examples – we recommend you conduct your own research into training in the areas of digital marketing that interest you most.

Recommended digital marketing news sources

Hours 3 & 4 – PR

Successful PR counts on two essential factors: 1) great stories, and 2) close relationships with people in the media. Let’s go through how both can be established and developed over time.

Finding your audience in the media

Your first step should be to create a PR Contacts spreadsheet, listing media professionals and their contact details. The names on the list should include:

  • Generic contacts for local press publications (e.g. newsdesk@theyorkshirepost.co.uk)
  • Individual reporter contacts for local press – especially business reporters
  • Contacts for industry/specialist press (e.g. a restaurant industry magazine; a blog on independent fashion designers, etc.)
  • Contacts for local radio presenters/producers

Finding contact details for editorial staff is generally straightforward – most professional news publishers and radio stations list contact details for their newsdesk and important team members on their websites (look for a Contacts page).

You should aim to identify at least two up-to-date contacts at each organisation. They can be logged in your PR Contacts spreadsheet in the following columns:

  • Organisation name
  • Contact name
  • Contact telephone
  • Contact email
  • Type (Local/specialist)
  • Brief notes on the contact’s work, previous articles – anything that will help you fine tune your approach to the contact

Your contact list should always be a work-in-progress. Keep an eye out for journalists who are writing about businesses like your own – if you spot one, find their details and add them to your database. If struggling to find email or telephone details, you can almost always send a Direct Message on Twitter (nearly everyone in the media has a profile).

Making contact

Now you’ve identified a healthy list of journalists to target in your PR activities, it’s time to turn some heads.

Many small businesses make the mistake of focusing their PR efforts on writing press releases to send out en masse. Used in isolation, this approach is not generally an effective means of getting your business covered.

Journalists in the UK are vastly outnumbered by PR representatives, and as a consequence the average journo receives a flurry of press releases every day. It’d easy to become just another anonymous email in the crowd.

The key to getting a journalist’s attention is showing them a face – or at least a voice – to go with your brand name.

With this in mind, let’s charm our way through your spreadsheet of contacts, organisation-by-organisation, like so:

  1. Get in touch: preferably by phone, but an email or Twitter DM will do as a last resort. If contacting by phone, do so during regular office hours; bear in mind that many (but not all) journalists are at a looser end in the morning and early afternoon, due to the timing of publication deadlines. The best days to get in touch are usually Mon-Thurs.
  2. Set out your stall: explain who you are, your job role and what your business does. This should take just a few sentences. Be prepared to respond to any questions you are asked along the way.
  3. Explain why you chose to contact this person: this part is really crucial. Tell your contact why they were at the top of your list of people to contact about developments at your business. Maybe you loved their story on another local business; maybe you thought their comment piece on local business rates really hit the nail on the head; or maybe you noticed their interest in a certain topic that relates to your business – the important thing here is that you show you are contacting each individual contact for a very good reason.
  4. Offer something juicy: winning over a journalist is easy – just give them a scoop! Offering first dibs on an intriguing story about your business shows the contact that you hold them in genuinely high esteem, and it also assures them that all eyes will be on their publication when the story breaks. If you’re struggling to think of exactly what this scoop might be, don’t worry – there’s a section about thinking up ideas for stories on your business coming up soon.
  5. Enquire about regular features: most publications and radio shows have regular features, whether that’s a weekly Q&A with a business leader, a round-table discussion or an in-depth profile on a brand. Identify the regular features in each publication and put yourself forward as a future subject or participant.
  6. Offer extra value: most publications feature regular competitions and promotions for their readers or listeners. If you’re happy to commit the resources, you should consider offering a prize or discount.
  7. Try to arrange a site-visit, meeting or interview: there’s no substitute for meeting someone face-to-face. If your business is suitable for a site visit, ask the contact to call by – and all the better if you can sweeten the deal with a free gift (nothing too extravagant!) If your premises are not well suited to a visit, ask to meet up near the contact’s offices. We’re afraid the coffee’s on you.

Remember: this is a conversation, not a presentation. Don’t simply reel off all of these points as if you’re reading them from a script; rather, you should gently steer the conversation onto each point, whilst listening out for the contact’s questions. If you’re making contact via email, by all means briefly write out each point, but make sure you also put forward the offer of a longer explanation by phone.

Finding the story angles in your business

There’s something interesting in almost every brand – it can just take a little time to put your finger on. Here are some common story types to consider when picking out the angles on your business:

  • Business milestones: let’s start with the glaringly obvious. Most local media (and many trade or special interest journalists) will happily report on business milestones like brand launches, grand openings, business anniversaries, senior staff appointments, product launches and company expansion plans.
  • Is your brand breaking new ground?: getting the media to cover your business is so much easier if you are doing something truly special. Are you the first in your area to offer a certain service? Are you implementing an innovative policy within your company? Have you invented something? Are you all secretly aliens? Stories like these are the lifeblood of business journalism.
  • Become an expert commentator: you work on the frontline of your industry – a perfect vantage point from which to deliver expert commentary. Consider the topical issues affecting your industry, and offer your comment on each one as it arises. If you’re a confident writer, you could even offer to pen a comment piece.
  • Celebrity customers: editors love nothing more than a good excuse to publish a photograph of a celebrity. If your store has been visited by a celeb, make absolutely sure you get a photo (ask nicely!) and post it on your social media accounts. Tag leading local media sources in your posts and there will be a very good chance of the story getting picked up.
  • Human interest stories: between your staff and your customers, there must be a wealth of human interest stories that are all connected to your business in one way or another. Perhaps somebody got engaged in your premises, or maybe you have a long-serving employee celebrating 40, 50, 60 years in the business. Human interest stories confirm your firm’s place within the community.
  • PR opportunities from online mentions: remember these from the previous chapter? If somebody has posted something amazing about your brand online, turn it into a news story!

Using press releases

Press releases should be used as a supplementary means of getting the word out about your business.

When you have a big story to break, your first step should be to offer it as an exclusive to a high value media contact (i.e. a high profile contact with a wide readership). As soon as the story breaks you can follow up by sending out a press release to the rest of your contact list.
Some PRs add journalists to their mailing lists without asking permission first. This isn’t just an example of bad manners; it’s bad business too.

You can easily distinguish yourself as a polite and professional marketer by asking each contact whether they would be interested in receiving your press releases before you add them to your list.

Writing a press release

The point of a press release is to tell the reader the facts about a news story as clearly, efficiently and attractively as possible. Remember this and you’ll go far!

There are various ways to structure a press release. The following is just one example which we have found to be effective:

[DIAGRAM/TEMPLATE WITH LABELS AND COMMENTARY AS FOLLOWS:]

Header – condense your news story into a newspaper headline.
Body – write your story, starting with the most important and interesting facts, followed by supplementary details and background on the business. Aim to write somewhere in the region of 300 words. Don’t waste any time on non-factual sentences/statements of opinion – every sentence should be 100% factual.
Quotes – add two quotes from one or two senior members of staff or other individuals associated with the press release content. This is your chance to ‘spin’ the content of the press release. The body copy has told the journalist the facts; now your quotes can provide an effusive commentary upon them. It is normal practice for such quotes to be ghost-written by the press release writer, with permission of the people quoted.
Notes and links – add bullet points setting out any interesting facts and figures relating to the content of the press release; any other useful notes; plus links to supplementary online content, where useful.
Contact details – sign off with your personal contact details and a link to the business’ website.

Remember these pointers on writing press releases:

  • It’s always advisable to write a press release in the third person – especially as some news publishers will simply publish your press release on their site in its unedited form. No ‘we’s, no ‘I’s, and another thing: don’t address the reader directly.
  • A good press release will still convey the key facts of the story when cut off at the end of any sentence. This tip originates from the heyday of print media, when news editors would physically cut pieces of newsprint at the bottom of a line – but it can still help you to write a focused press release for digital. Grab the reader’s attention by hitting them with the juiciest details first.
  • To get the most out of using press releases in a digital marketing campaign, you’ll need to be able to write clearly and effectively. How to write well is a subject worthy of guide or book all of its own – if you’re interested in this area we would recommend picking up a copy of Essential English for Journalists, Editors and Writers by Harold Evans.

Distributing press releases

Here are the Golden Rules of distributing a press release by email, according to Target Internet:

  1. DO Write a personalised email for every single recipient; paste the press release content below the message.
  2. DON’T Send a press release to multiple email addresses in a single email. Journalists quite naturally dislike having their contact details made available to the other recipients of your emails.
  3. DO Note which contacts you have sent each press release to in a spreadsheet. Also note which contacts have responded, and indicate where additional actions (e.g. scheduling an interview) are to be taken.
  4. DO Feel free to send ONE polite follow-up email if you have not received a response within a week. DON’T send multiple follow-ups.
  5. DON’T take it personally if you don’t hear back from a contact (or multiple contacts). Media professionals receive a high volume of press releases and couldn’t possibly respond to every one.

Extra time – Responding to journalist requests on Twitter

Twitter is a goldmine of PR opportunities – if you know where to look.

We’re going to focus on the biggest treasure trove of all: the journorequest hashtag.

Go to Twitter and enter #journorequest into the search bar. You will now see a list of requests from various media professionals who are seeking expert comment on a kaleidoscopic variety of topics. Keep an eye on this hashtag and consider responding if you think you are well positioned to provide a comment on a certain request.

This hashtag is used by a diverse array of journalists and content producers, from bloggers and content marketers to TV producers and broadsheet journalists (including a handful of business writers from The Guardian). With a little persistence, responding to journo requests on Twitter can provide a relatively quick route to a huge audience, even for the smallest of brands.

Hours 5 & 6 – Making your website search engine friendly

This section is written for those of you – and this probably means about half of you – who already have a website for your business.
If you don’t have a site already, we would strongly recommend dedicating this part of your digital marketing day to commissioning or making one.

Making your own website is now surprisingly achievable for the average, non-tech-y person – we refer you to Alannah Moore’s excellent book, Create Your Own Website Using WordPress in a Weekend.

Search engine friendliness

Getting a website online takes a lot of elbow grease. If you’ve made the commitment, you’re going to want as many people as possible to see the results.

For a potentially huge percentage of your visitors, first contact with your site is made via a web search. As a general rule, it follows that the higher your website appears in relevant web search result listings, the more visitors it will attract.

Search engines are looking for two key factors (amongst several others) when they assess your site’s suitability for a search query: namely, relevance to the search query and the quality of the site.

Your site’s score on each of these accounts will be defined primarily by its two essential constituent parts: website content and website meta data.

These elements can be edited freely, provided you have the ability to update your site (or an arrangement with a developer who can). We will set out how you can wow Google and the like with killer web content and precision-engineered meta data very shortly.

Choose one target search phrase per page

First of all, we need to work out exactly what we are going to tell Google your website is about.

Every page of your site should be geared – ever so subtly – towards appearing prominently in search result listings for a certain search phrase. This could be something along the lines of “Live music venue in Brighton”, or “Best Restaurant in Glasgow” – whatever is most relevant to your business.

The longer and quirkier your target phrase is, the better your chances of achieving a good search engine ranking. With this in mind, seek to identify search target phrases that highlight the specialism of your business. To cite just one example, it would be easier to distinguish yourself as a ‘Delftware Dealer’ than an ‘Antique Dealer’ in search marketing.

Make a spreadsheet listing every page of your website, then match each page with a target search phrase that people might search for when trying to find a website just like yours. Here’s a quick example:

SEARCH TARGET PHRASES for CAMPBELL’s CAMERAS, LONDON:
Homepage: Camera Shop in London
About us: Specialist Camera Store
Products: Vintage Polaroid Cameras
Gallery: Polaroid Camera Gallery

The target phrase you assign to each page should be a close match for both your business and the content of the page.

Now you have your search target phrases lined up, add a third column to your spreadsheet, titled ‘Search ranking DAY/MONTH/YEAR’. A little further down the line we will use this column to log the effects of your search engine optimisation activities.

Making your website content search engine friendly

When we say website content, we are referring quite simply to the stuff on the page – everything that the user can see within their web browser.

From a search engine marketing point of view, the most important part of this picture – more important than videos, images or other rich media – is copy, from headers and sub-headers to plain old paragraphs. These pointers will help you to make your copy search engine friendly:

  • Headers are crucial: headers (or <h1>s, to give them their proper <html> name) and sub-headers (<h2>s, <h3s>, <h4>s, <h5>s and <h6>s) have a significant impact on a webpage’s search engine performance. They should very accurately match your services and describe the content of their webpage. It’s also helpful if the header or one of the most important sub-headers contains the target search phrase for the page, or a close variation on that phrase.
  • Write lots: the more words there are on your site, the more information you are giving the search engines to work with. With this in mind, aim to write at least 400 words for every page. There is a caveat here: all that copy needs to be firmly on-topic and as well written as possible.
  • Don’t use spammy content: adding loads of keywords to your website copy probably won’t give you good search engine rankings; if anything, the site will be penalised by Google, resulting in a move down the search rankings
  • Add links between different pages of your site: interlinking helps search engines to better understand the importance and exact purpose of each page.
  • Stay on topic: your homepage which will almost certainly touch on various aspects of your business, but every other page of your site should be firmly focused on a single purpose. With the exception of links to related parts of the site, a page’s content should precisely match its given purpose – a ‘Services’ page describes the business’ key services; a ‘Content’ page lists your address, email and phone number.
  • Keep your blog up-to-date: an integrated blog represents a golden opportunity to increase your website’s usefulness and search engine friendliness. If your site has a blog, update it at regular intervals with interesting articles. Not only will you stand a great chance of attracting more search engine users to the site; you’ll also give them a reason to keep coming back. You could post updates on your company and its services, articles about new products, handy step-by-step guides, or features that shed light on little-known facets of the company – inspiration is never more than a Google search away. You can also repurpose any press releases you write as blog articles.
  • Add evergreen content: it’s always tempting to keep your website lean and minimalistic, and from a web design perspective there is certainly wisdom in this approach. But the potential problem of over-cluttering is easily solved by simply creating additional pages, neatly tucked away in your menu and packed with useful, evergreen content. These new pages can attract and impress visitors over the course of months or even years. You can read Target Internet’s dedicated guide to evergreen content here.

Optimising your metadata

Imagine the content of your website is a story in a book. That would make the metadata of the website the book cover!

Metadata tells the search engines exactly what your website’s pages are, and it does so by means of two key components: a title tag and a meta description. Here’s how to bring each of the two up to scratch:

Title tags: Hover over a tab at the top of your web browser, and wait for a long, yellow box to appear. See the text in the box? That’s a title tag. This is also the text that shows up as the link, in blue, at the top of a results listing on Google. Title tags are widely thought to be the most important factor used by search engines to ascertain the purpose of a website. According to the latest guidelines, title tags should be under 71 characters in length.

For an SME, one of the most effective approaches to writing a title tag is to write the search target phrase for the page, followed by a vertical bar (or “pipe”) symbol, followed by the brand or company name. Here are a few completely made-up examples:

Digital Marketing Training Courses | Target Internet
Britain’s Biggest Theme Park | Alton Towers
North of England Fish Market | Grimsby Fisheries

Meta descriptions:

A meta description acts as the blurb for your webpage. Whilst they do not directly feed into search engine calculations, meta descriptions are hugely important in getting customers to click through to your website.

Take a look at a Google search results page. The blue links at the top of each listing are title tags; the text underneath each title tag is a meta description. Each one runs to a max. length of 160 characters.

A meta description’s job – from your perspective – is to convince the reader that they will find exactly what they need if they click through to your website. This can be achieved by neatly combining a very brief description of the company with a short sentence on the function or content of the webpage in question (or in the homepage’s case, of the whole website).

There’s a wealth of out guidance out there on how to write an appealing meta description. Our top tip: start with a longer sentence on the company, then finish off with one or two short, punchy points that really set you apart from the crowd. Here’s an example:

Target Internet is a digital marketing training company, based in the UK and operating worldwide. Browse our library of free learning resources.

There you have it – in the space of under 160 characters the reader has been told who we are, what we do, and finally, they’ve been given an added incentive to click through.

Problems with editing meta data

But what to do if you don’t know how to edit your meta data? The answer will vary depending on how your website is set up. If you edit your website independently using a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, you can usually edit these tags using an SEO plugin (which you may need to install). If in doubt, seek help from a web developer – the benefits of fully optimising your website are almost certain to greatly outweigh the cost of hired help.

Weekly search performance tracking and optimisation

Turning a website into a superstar search engine performer is an iterative process that typically yields results after a period of several weeks or months. If you wish to see the effects of your search engine optimisation endeavours over time, it helps to log your site’s Google (or Bing, etc.) results page rankings for your target search phrases at regular intervals (we recommend checking at least once per fortnight). Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open up a Google Chrome browser window
  2. Open an Incognito window by pressing CRTL + SHIFT + N
  3. Enter the target search phrase
  4. Scroll through the first five pages of results, until you find a listing for your website. If your site is not listed, enter a dash in the spreadsheet
  5. If you have found a listing for your site, work out the ranking of the listing (with listing one on the first page of results being 1, and listing ten on the third page of results being number 30, and so on. Add this rank number next to the appropriate target search phrase in the spreadsheet.
  6. Repeat the process for each of your target search phrases.

Inbound links

Another important factor used by search engines to assess your site is its inbound links – that’s links from other websites to your own. When a high quality website links to yours, the search engine is likely to place greater trust in the quality of your site.

The simplest and most reliable way to accumulate inbound links to your site is to politely ask the webmasters who publish content about your business – including the media you correspond with during your PR hours – to include a link to your site in their post. Many will be happy to help.

Attracting inbound links is the subject of an entire field of digital marketing, known as outreach – but the simple solution suggested above is far better suited to the tight schedule we’re working on.

Hours 6 & 7 – Social Media Marketing

Competent handling of social media is a benchmark for professionalism in today’s marketplace; excellent handling of social media is a proven path to business growth.

You may find yourself drawn to different social media platforms as you gain more digital marketing experience, but we’re going to focus for the moment on two of the simplest and most widely used: Facebook and Twitter.

Getting started

Setting up your Facebook and Twitter profiles is simple.

In Facebook’s case, you’ll need to create a business page whilst logged into a normal, personal user account. Here’s an easy-to-follow guide from Facebook themselves.

Twitter is simpler still – just create a normal user account in the name of your business. Twitter does have special advertising options for businesses, which may be something you’ll want to consider a few months down the line. The same goes for Facebook Sponsored Posts.
Once your profiles are set up, ask as many friends and co-workers as you can to share, like and follow the accounts.

Starting your weekly social marketing work

You already responded to a week’s worth of social media comments, messages and other interactions at the start of the day, during your Reputation Management hour (remember that!?), and by this point you may have received some replies. Spend the first part of your Social Media Marketing time responding to any mentions you have received throughout the day, using the process specified in the Reputation Management section.

Planning your posts

Now it’s time to work out exactly what you’re going to post on your social accounts, and when you’re going to say it.

  • We’re going to aim to post two updates per day – one on each profile. These posts might include:
    Calls to action: posts intended to encourage the user to perform an action (e.g. “Only three more tickets left in stock – who wants ‘em?”)
  • Content share: share a link to content related to your business (this could be new content on your own site, or a mention on someone else’s)
  • Conversation starter: share a link to content (such as a YouTube video or article) which relates to your industry or an associated topic. The aim here is to strike up a conversation, thus increasing your visibility to other social media users.
  • Competitions/special offers: holding a competition on your Facebook page is perhaps the best way to accumulate likes and interactions. You can read Facebook’s guidance on the subject here.

Make a document for each one of these post times (and for any others you can think of that would fit your brand).

In each document, draft around 5 Facebook posts and 5 Twitter posts (you won’t need so many for competitions and content shares). The Twitter posts can be up to 140-characters in length, while the Facebook posts can run on as long as you need (stick to a paragraph or two at the most).

Try to match each post draft with a piece of rich media like a video or image, or a link to a website (your own site included).

These documents are your social post backlog – you’ll need to keep them updated with fresh ideas every week.

Now the hard part’s over, all that’s left to do is to schedule your posts to publish daily throughout the week.

Scheduling posts with Hootsuite

To do just that, we’re going to use an outstanding free app called Hootsuite.

Start off by visiting the Hootsuite website and downloading the Free plan version of their app. You can find plenty of video tutorials on how to use it on YouTube.
Once you’ve watched some tutorials and just about sussed out how the app works, follow Hootsuite’s instructions to link your Facebook and Twitter accounts to Hootsuite Once you’ve this you’ll be able to schedule posts for both your Facebook page and your Twitter account, both from the same place!

When it comes to scheduling a week’s posts, simply add the posts one by one using the Hootsuite interface – take care to ensure each is scheduled for the right platform, on the right date at the right time. Choose a variety of posts from your social post backlog documents for publication over the course of each week. The order of posts depends entirely on your overall marketing schedule; it does not need to follow a pattern every week.

Here’s an example of how a week’s social post schedule might look:

FACEBOOK
MON: Conversation starter
TUE: Content share
WED: Competition announcement
THU: Call to action
FRI: Competition reminder
SAT: Content share
SUN: Conversation starter

TWITTER
MON: Content share
TUE: Conversation starter
WED: Competition announcement
THU: Conversation starter
FRI: Call to action
SAT: Competition reminder
SUN: Content share

Keep topping up your social post backlog documents and scheduling posts on Hootsuite every week – managing your social media in this way is a breeze once you’re in the swing of it.

Bonus tips on social media posting

  • Ask plenty of questions to encourage interactions – especially in your conversation starter posts.
  • The best time to post is typically when your average customer is online and at a loose end. If unsure, you can always use the trial and error approach of posting at different times of day and noting which posts get the most interactions.
  • Tag other users or pages in your posts, and add plenty of hashtags!

Conclusion – making your digital marketing more intelligent

Congratulations! You have completed a fast, furious and creatively challenging day of digital marketing. In this time you will hopefully have improved your brand’s online reputation, chased opportunities in local and industry media, boosted your website up the search engine results page rankings and communicated with a growing audience via social media. Keep this up one day per week and your business will reap the rewards.

This guide is just an introduction to digital marketing – for those of you who want to take this further, there are more specialised disciplines lying just around the corner. Here are some extra topics to explore:

  • Advanced reporting with Google Analytics (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
  • Outreach marketing
  • Photo editing
  • Video editing
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) search marketing
  • Sponsored social media posts
  • Instagram marketing

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Digital marketing can open up tremendous business opportunities, increased revenue and fresh audiences for you and your brand. After a few months of following this plan, you won’t be able to imagine your business without it.

Go forth and market!

 

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