At Muffin Marketing, we know that entering the digital sphere and promoting your brand can be daunting; especially when you don’t have any prior experience. With our digital marketing cheat sheet, we’ve made it easy for you to get online, connect with potential customers and take your business to the next level.
The digital marketing cheat sheet
We know that running a business can be tough. Regardless of the industry you are working in, there’s a lot you need to deal with on a day-to-day basis, whether that’s speaking with clients, managing finances or ordering new stock. And, that’s without fitting in all of your everyday tasks like spending time with family, cooking, cleaning, shopping and relaxing.
However, with digital marketing and the internet becoming more and more important to small and medium-sized business owners, there’s no excuse not to start work on your online presence. Below, we’ve put together everything you need to know about getting your business online – and we’ve pooled together lots of useful resources to use on your journey.
How can you build an online presence quickly?
From purchasing a domain name to setting up a PPC campaign, we’ve bundled together everything there is to know. This beginner’s guide is long – more than 3,500 words – so we’ve split it up into thirteen (unlucky for some) different sections. Click on the navigation sections below, and bookmark this cheat sheet and come back to it when you need it.
- Buy a domain name
- Set up your web hosting
- Design and launch your website
- Start a blog
- Write stuff for your blog
- Capture email addresses of potential customers
- Make your website rank on Google
- Pay Google to advertise your website
- Sign up for social media channels like Facebook and Twitter
- Make your social media profiles look the part
- Post content on your social channels regularly
- Engage with your customers
- Wrapping up: what’s next?
Register a domain name
Before you do anything else, you must register a domain name for your business. A domain name is the ‘address’ your visitors will type into their browsers if they want to visit your website – for example, mybusiness.com or google.com – and so the sooner you can bag a domain name for your brand, the quicker you’ll be able to start your online journey.
You’ll need a domain name if you want a website where visitors and potential customers can find out more about your business and what you do.
Visit a domain name registrar such as Namecheap or GoDaddy and purchase a domain name for your business. Avoid dashes (-) and numbers if possible, and try to get the .com or .co.uk version of your desired domain, as these are the most commonly used extensions.
Cost: Less than £10 per domain name per year
Extra tips: If your desired name isn’t available, add your industry’s keyword (such as plumbing, marketing or gardening) or your location (like London, Manchester, Wales) to the end of your brand name. Aim for a .com domain name, as these are the most memorable. Alternatively, try a different domain name extension, such as .co.uk, .biz or .org.
Further reading: Why you should register a domain name | How to register a domain name
Buy web hosting
Web hosting is the physical space, or the computer, where your website will be hosted. These computers, which are known as servers, will ensure your website’s content remains online and accessible 24/7, so it’s important that you find a UK-based web host that is reliable and affordable. Look online for the best web host for your budget, or consider a company such as GoDaddy or Hostgator. As soon as you have purchased your web hosting package, you’ll be able to link it to your domain name and start building your website – or find a web design company who’ll do this for you.
Cost: Less than £10 per month
Extra tips: Find a web host that offers features such as unlimited email addresses, databases and one-click installations of software like WordPress. Take advantage of your new web host’s knowledge base – they’ll probably be packed with useful info that’s easy to follow.
Further reading: What is web hosting? | Best web hosting services of 2017
Design and launch a website
As soon as you’ve set up your domain name and web hosting, the next step is to design and launch your website. For small business owners, this process can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be expensive or technical if you don’t want it to be. Install WordPress on your website, or ask your web host to do it for you, and play around with the free WordPress themes that can be used to give you a head start. As long as you have a spare couple of hours and aren’t afraid of watching a YouTube tutorial or two, you should be able to create your own professional-looking website for free.
If you’re looking for a complete package, or you don’t have the time or technical skill to design your own website, then you may want to work with a web design company to do the hard work for you. The cost of using such companies varies, but expect to spend at least £500 – £1,000 if you want a professionally-designed website. This option is not feasible for many small business owners, and so the first option is usually more attractive.
Cost: Free, up to £1,000+
Difficulty: Challenging if you have no design knowledge, but not impossible
Extra tips: WordPress is the most popular website builder and it’s very easy to customise it to your exacting requirements. Use websites like WordPress Beginner to find answers to your questions if you’re building your website on your own. If you’re considering hiring a web design company, get multiple quotes, consider freelancers and ask friends and family members whether they’ll be able to design your website for you.
Further reading: Why should you use WordPress? | How to make a website in WordPress
Start a blog
Once you have your website up and running and you’re pleased with the way it looks and reads, then consider launching a blog. By posting regular content on your website, whether that’s a help guide related to your industry or an update on your company in general, you’ll give people a reason to come back to your website and encourage search engines such as Google to list your website in their search engine results pages’ rankings. This is known as content marketing and is used by business big and small around the world. If you used WordPress to create your website, the functionality of adding new blog posts will be automatically built into your software – it just takes a few clicks to send a post live.
Necessity: Highly recommended
Extra tips: Allow comments if you want your readers to be able to engage with your content.
Further reading: Should you add a blog to your website? | Writing posts in WordPress
Write content regularly
There’s no point in adding a blog to your website if you don’t update it regularly, so engage in a content marketing strategy and stick to it. For small business owners, we recommend blogging once a week, but you can write multiple posts at once and schedule them over the month to save you time and ensure you’re keeping your audience up to date. If you’re just too busy to write your own content or you don’t have a way with words, then ask your staff members whether they’d be interested in blogging for you, or outsource your blogging content to a third party company. It may be more expensive than writing for your own blog, but it can save you time and allow you to post relevant, engaging content on a weekly basis.
Cost: Free to £100 per month
Necessity: Highly recommended
Extra tips: Download the blogging calendar from Small Paper Things to stay organised and ensure you never miss a deadline. Stick to a particular day and commit to publishing at the same time every week. Schedule posts in advance to save time.
Further reading: Should you outsource your blog? | How to write an awesome blog post
Launch a mailing list to capture customers’ details
Professional bloggers like Ramsay from Blog Tyrant swear by building a mailing list to grow your brand online. Whether you’ve got 10 customers or ten thousand, adding a mailing list to your website is one of the best ways to build leads and boost your brand. Use a WordPress plugin to capture email addresses, link it to email marketing platforms such as MailChimp or Aweber and send out monthly emails to update customers on your latest blog posts, special offers and new product launches. It’s a surprisingly effective way to boost engagement and loyalty and increase your chances of securing new customers. If you can’t seem to get visitors to sign up to your mailing list, give your visitors a ‘carrot’ as a reward for signing up.
Cost: Usually free for the first few thousand subscribers
Necessity: Highly recommended
Extra tips: Bake your mailing list into everything you do online – mention your list in blog posts, on your homepage, and ask existing customers to sign up, too.
Further reading: Why building your mailing list is so important | MailChimp alternatives
Execute a search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy
Launching your website and setting up a mailing list is only the beginning of your online journey – you now need to compete against other companies that are ranking above you on search engines. When a potential customer types in your product or service on Google, are they getting directed to your website, or are your competitors showing up first? The chances are that, if your website is new, your competitors will be winning the race, so you’ll need to use search engine optimisation – also known as SEO – to make your website stand out. There are some basic SEO techniques you can carry out without any experience, like installing Yoast SEO on your WordPress website and blogging regularly using keywords related to your industry, but the majority of search engine optimisation techniques will require experience. Consider working with an SEO agency to help you rank for keywords in your industry, to read these ten basic SEO tips and learn how to do it yourself.
Cost: Can be free, can be expensive (£300+ per month)
Extra tips: Make sure each of your web pages has relevant keywords which Google and other search engines will use to rank your website. Blog regularly. Add lots of links to pages.
Further reading: What is Search Engine Optimisation? | Local SEO strategies for small businesses
Dabble in pay-per-click advertising
If you want to give your business a boost, consider dabbling in pay-per-click advertising. You can advertise on search engines such as Google, and pay a fee every time somebody clicks through to your website. It can be difficult to find the right balance when it comes to PPC advertising – you may, for example, spend £2 for every click you receive, but only sell a £10 product every ten times somebody clicks through. It’s important to master the basics of PPC and then experiment to optimise your pay-per-click campaigns based on their performance. You can also advertise on websites such as Facebook and Twitter, or check out AdWords if you want your banner adverts to appear on millions of websites around the world.
Cost: As much as you’re willing to spend (from £50 to £50,000)
Necessity: Not essential, but can boost leads and generate income
Extra tips: Don’t go into pay per click advertising blind. Spend time researching everything you need to know and consider outsourcing your pay-per-click to a marketing agency.
Further reading: Practical Reasons to do PPC | 10 benefits of PPC for small business
Sign up for relevant social media channels
It’s easy to think that there’s no need for your brand to be active on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, but you’d be wrong. Social media marketing is important for any and every business, so sign up on the most popular – and most relevant – platforms to put your brand in the eyes of potential customers. If your brand is particularly visual – for example, if you sell delicious cakes or you work in photography – then you may want to look at Instagram. If you deal in B2B sales, then LinkedIn is where you should be. Generally speaking, all businesses should start with at least a Facebook and Twitter presence. It’s easy to sign up for a Twitter account for your business – just follow the usual process. For Facebook, you need to make a Page, rather than account, and you can do so by reading this.
New research suggests that 36% of marketers have acquired customers via Twitter, 52% via Facebook and 43% via LinkedIn, so there’s no excuse not to sign up to social media sites.
Extra tips: When it comes to choosing usernames, try and secure just your brand name. Avoid underscores and numbers if possible. Double and triple check spelling before confirming your account name, as you may not be able to change it on some networks.
Further reading: Twitter Tutorial for Beginners | Benefits of a Facebook Business Page
Design your social media channels
As soon as you’ve signed up to the right social networking platforms, you need to design your profile and make it stand out. In the aim of simplicity, we’ll split this into two tasks.
You’ll need to fill in every possible field on your social networking channels if you want to stand out. Make sure you write an engaging biography on Twitter, be sure to add an address and phone number on your Facebook Page and spend time crafting the right description on your LinkedIn business profile. Double and triple check for spelling and grammar errors, and make sure you remain professional throughout – it’s this text that potential customers will see first when they visit your social channels, so it’s essential that it’s an accurate and engaging representation of your brand. If you’re not good with words or you’re not sure how you can describe your business in the best way, you should hire a copywriter or ask a friend for help.
The biggest part of any social networking profile page is the graphics. As well as a profile picture (sometimes known as an avatar), you’ll also need a banner for your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn channels. Use a high-quality version of your business logo for your avatar (and if you don’t have one, ask a graphic designer to make one for you, or use a service like Fiverr to get a logo designed for less than £5). For your banner, you’ll also require the assistance of a graphic designer, or you could use some high-quality photography that’s relevant to your brand or industry and add your logo to it. You can find a range of professional, royalty free images on websites like Pexels and Negative Space, and then add your logo to it.
The design of your social media profiles will have a big role in how potential customers will view your brand. The more professional, engaging and attractive you can make your brand and products, the more likely you are to convert followers into customers. Once you’re happy with your new social media channel designs, make sure you ask friends, family members and customers to follow, like and share your profiles. By creating an early buzz around your channels, you’ll find it easier to grow your follower base.
Cost: Free – £100
Difficulty: Some experience required
Extra tips: Don’t use blurry images. Make sure all of your social media profiles use high-quality, professional imagery throughout. Spend time crafting the right biography, and consider asking staff members and customers their opinions if you can’t decide how to word something.
Further reading: Social media image sizes | Twitter header and Facebook cover maker
Post content on social media regularly
After you’ve set up your social networking channels, you now need to post on them regularly. This is why we recommend only signing up for channels on networks that will have a definite impact on your business. As a rule, you should be posting content on Twitter and Facebook every day, but if this is too much hard work and effort, then once or twice a week should suffice while you build an audience. Take advantage of free tools such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite, which can be used to schedule posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google Plus. This is particularly useful if you want to quickly write posts for the week ahead – you can schedule them all in minutes, and keep your customers engaged throughout the week while you’re getting on with more important business tasks.
When it comes to deciding what to post on social media, you have many options. You may want to post relevant news and articles that are related to your customers and industries, or you could post photographs and news about your products and services. To maximise your chances of social media success, mix promotional and informative posts together, and try not to directly promote your brand or service more than once a day, as it may be off-putting to your followers. Oz Content has put together fifty awesome social media content ideas; from behind the scenes photos and testimonials to weekly round-ups, promotional videos and inspirational quotes. It’s up to you to find the right promotional mix for your brand.
Although auto-scheduling and tools like Meet Edgar that recycle and reuse your social media posts, one thing to bear in mind is that you should always be available to answer customers’ questions on social media – but more on that later.
Cost: Free, although some social media management tools are paid for
Necessity: Not essential, but important for growing your social presence
Extra tips: If you’re just too busy to focus on social media or you don’t have the skills and desire to do so, then consider outsourcing your social media management to an agency.
Further reading: Benefits of social media | Should you outsource your social management?
Engage with your customers on social media
If you’ve made it this far, then you’ve done a good job. You’ve got a great looking website that provides detailed information on everything your company offers, you’ve optimised your website for search engines, you’re executing a kick-ass content marketing strategy and you’ve just made your social media channels look and feel like part of your brand. The next step is to engage with your customers on social media – and that goes far beyond posting news and updates about your industry.
In figures provided by ZenDesk, 42 percent of customers who complained to a company on social media expected a response within an hour. It sounds daunting, but in an ever-digital world where more of us are spending more time on social media than ever before, it’s essential that you regularly monitor your brand on social media and address complaints as soon as you possibly can. Doing so can not only rectify issues and get customers back on your side, but it can also be a valuable tool for growing your brand and improving your overall customer service reputation.
As much as it’s our aim to provide you with everything you need to know to become a better marketer, we’ve only scratched the surface with this digital marketing cheat sheet. The most important thing you can do when promoting your business online is to consistently and continually research into the latest digital marketing trends. Add blogs to your favourites menu, sign up for email campaigns to get the latest news, experiment within your niche and don’t be afraid of asking for help from a marketing agency. Unless you adapt and develop to the ever-changing online sphere, you’ll soon find that you’re falling behind your competition.
If you’re looking for somewhere to start, then sign up to the Muffin Marketing mailing list at the bottom of this page. Check out our list of UK Twitter Hours in 2017, our Twitter post ideas if you’re struggling to decide what to tweet about and our five ways to boost organic Facebook likes without using advertising. The Muffin Marketing blog is updated twice a week with new tips and features that you can use to your advantage, but we’re not the only resource you should use. Websites such as Moz, Inbound.org, Elegant Themes and WPMUDEV provide masses of resources that you can use to expand your knowledge and improve your digital presence – and, the best part of it all? They’re free to use.
In this digital marketing cheat sheet, we’ve put together the basics of promoting your brand online. Be sure to bookmark it to your favourites bar, check back to it regularly, and post any questions you may have in the comments section below. We’re always on hand to lend a hand to business owners wanting to improve their knowledge and make their buisnesses stand out online. Good luck!