Welcome to the Digital Advertising 101″ Series!”

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Digital advertising has become a practically mandatory element of marketing. If you’re like most small business owners (myself included), getting started with digital marketing can be overwhelming. You know that your business relies on the success of your online efforts, but finding easy to understand and effective tactics seems impossible. This article, and our series of posts about digital marketing, will guide you through actionable steps you can take to knock your digital marketing out of the park!

Start With the Right Expectations

Measuring the success of advertising relies heavily on your expectations. Advertising itself can’t build your business if you have poor customer service or failed to acquire the right permits or licenses. Rather, advertising’s purpose is solely to generate new customers and retain current ones.

Even the type of advertising you do should further define your expectations. Organic social media is free, but takes time to build a following. Traditional advertising is distributed to a broad audience, but can be hidden in mailboxes or is often thrown in the trash. Paid search ads require expert knowledge to be executed correctly, but are targeted to consumers who are looking for what you’re selling.

To compare all these forms of advertising on the same scale would be unhelpful in correctly evaluating their ROI. Each one has their advantages and disadvantages, and no one form of advertising can solve all your marketing challenges. Instead, for each form of advertising set a SMART goal and measure against it.

For example, a SMART goal for grocery store advertising might be, “I expect my coupon receipt ads to generate a 5:1 ROI through new and repeat customers within the next 12 months.”

And a SMART goal for paid social media ads might be, “In 6 months my Facebook profile will have increased from 700 to 1,000 followers.”

By understanding the unique strengths and weaknesses of each form of advertising, you will set yourself up to more accurately evaluate your goals and determine ROI. Then, once you know what’s working based on which goals are met, you can continue to do the things that are truly successful.

Lay the Foundation

The following posts are the first steps to taking charge of your digital marketing.

1. Claim your local listings.

All you need to get started is three small, but powerful, pieces of information: business name, address, and phone number. Keep these consistent on search engines, social media, and online directories to reap major SEO benefits.

See post: Hey Google, come find my business!

2. Purchase and register a domain name.

A well-picked domain establishes recognition of your brand through your website and email addresses. Follow best practices for creating and registering a domain name so that you can secure your brand online.

See post: Domain Registration: Basic Tips and Best Practices

3. Create a website.

Websites are a 24-hour salesperson that consumers trust because of their permanence and valuable content. Our quick guide will walk you through creating, writing, and optimizing a small business website.

See post: Quick Guide to Creating a Website

4. Establish an organic social media strategy.

Social media seems easy at first glance, but can often make business owners feel like the’re running on a hamster wheel, never seeing the results they want. Before this happens to you, sit down and come up with a strategy for organic social media growth.

See post: Get Unstuck: Refresh Your Organic Social Media Strategy

5. Be mindful of your online reputation.

While you can’t control what people say about you, you can steer the conversation about your brand where you want it to go. Online reputation management simply entails generating, responding, and managing your online review before they get out of hand.

See post: Online Reputation Management: How to Take Command of Your Brand

Dive Deeper into Digital

After you’ve laid the foundation for your online marketing, dive deeper by exploring the following subjects.

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