We’ve all heard the phrase; “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” That’s never more true than at the beginning of a new year when you have the chance to learn from last year and take what you’ve learned forward to make the new year even better.
We understand that small businesses don’t have endless hours to devote to planning or endless budgets to throw at marketing, so we’ve created our 2023 Online Marketing Strategy Template to give you a head start. Follow along with our small business online marketing plan to push for even more success in 2023.
Set the stage for success
Before you can move forward into the new year with a new plan, it’s a good time to take a look at your marketing for last year. How did things go last year? Are there any areas you can learn from to do better this year? What really worked that you need to do more of in 2023, and what should you leave behind in 2022?
The next step is to look at your goals for 2023. What would you like to achieve over the next year? Do you want to move to a new location or expand into new branches? How much do you want your business to grow this year? How much income do you want to bring in? You’ll need to look at how much revenue you want to earn and how much of that you’d like to be profit. If you have those figures, information on average income per customer, and a summary of your expenses in 2022, you can then work out how many leads you’re going to need this year to bring in your target revenue and how much you’re likely to have left as profit at the end of the year.
Think about your current business reputation too. If it’s not where you’d like it to be, now’s the time to work out why and make a plan to do something about it.
You’re now in a stronger position because you know where you’re going and what you need to do.
The final stage is to decide what budget you have for your marketing and what resources you have available.
Craft your marketing plan
With your goals in mind, it’s time to decide what online marketing activities you’ll include in your strategy and make your marketing plan for the year.
Below are the major online marketing activities we’d have on our list when creating a marketing plan:
Your website is the hub of all your marketing. It’s where you send visitors back to for more information and to book, whether you’re using SEO, content marketing, email marketing, or any other marketing strategy.
Try to take a look at your site through fresh eyes, as if you’re a customer. Look at the design and consider if it still looks fresh and up-to-date or if it might need a refresh.
Can customers easily find out how to contact you and can they get answers to their questions? Is it clear what to do and how to navigate the site? Can they easily sign up for your mailing list or book with you?
Test your site out and see if it loads quickly enough. People tend not to hang around for more than three seconds before they leave and go to the competition. Your site must also function perfectly on every browser and on every device. Don’t give your potential customers any excuse to go elsewhere.
Once you’ve checked everything thoroughly, you’ll know whether your site needs a few minor tweaks and updates or whether a whole new site is in order.
While checking your website, look at whether your site and blog are fully optimized for SEO.
Ensure that you’re doing proper keyword and phrase research and that you know what people are searching for when they find you.
It might take some time and it might be an exercise you do over the year, but if your SEO efforts aren’t working, it really is worth taking the time to optimize every existing page and post on your website.
It’s important to then have a plan, and perhaps a checklist for content creators, in place to ensure that newly created content is optimized for SEO from the beginning.
Ensure that you’re using general keywords that reflect your products and services and that you’re also using local keywords, such as “plumber, Michigan” or “roofing contractor, Orange County.”
Ensure you have your SEO basics in place. Use your main keyword in your H1 headers and in at least one sub-header on your page or past. Use your keyword in the first paragraph on the page, at least once during the rest of the copy, and in your meta description.
3) Digital advertising
Whether you’re still waiting for your SEO efforts to kick in or you want to get attention now and keep it, paid digital advertising can help.
Research your keywords and how much they cost well before you start, and keep testing your ad copy, graphics, and titles to optimize your ads over time.
Paid Google ads can put you at the top of the search results, and you can also get targeted attention by using other ads, such as Facebook ads and ads on other social platforms.
Each of these platforms will let you select your target audience, keywords, budget, and more to ensure you’re aiming for the right audience without overspending.
4) Review/reputation management
Reviews are highly important for small businesses. They can be the difference between you getting the client or the competition getting them.
If you don’t have great reviews, you need to take a look at why that is and how you can fix it first. Then you need to concentrate on continually getting great reviews from your customers.
The challenging aspect with reviews is that most people don’t look any further than the last four weeks’ worth of reviews, so if you haven’t had any reviews for a while, potential clients may look elsewhere.
You need a plan in place to ensure that you’re asking for reviews consistently and that you’re responding to them as well. People want to see an engaged, interested business that says ‘thank you’ for good reviews and does everything it can to sort out the negative ones.
5) Directory listings management
Take advantage of every chance to post your company on reputable, relevant review sites. Sites such as Yelp and Angi, and even Facebook, can add to your SEO and Local SEO efforts and give you backlinks to your own website, along with building your online presence. You should also claim your Google Business Profile (GBP) if you haven’t already.
All of these sites give you the opportunity to talk about what you do, to add relevant keywords, answer questions and position yourself as an expert in your field. You can list your services, add your opening hours, and even request and reply to reviews.
The main thing is to fill in every part of your listing on each site as completely as possible and to add high-quality images. Don’t neglect any sections where you can write something to promote your business.
With your GBP in particular, a complete and fully optimized profile gives you the chance to show up in the Local Pack on Google Maps, where your business could be shown in the top three listings in the area. That is excellent visibility that you can’t afford to ignore.
Adding your opening hours allows you to be found with a “your type of business + open now” search, and with some sites, customers can even contact you directly and book without having to visit your website.
6) Social media marketing
For small businesses, social media marketing is an effective – and cost-effective – way to be found. You do need to spend time on it, but you don’t need a budget unless you’re planning on using paid ads.
You can build up a community of followers over time who look out for your posts and enjoy engaging with you.
What you need is to think about the type of content your audience would like and provide that on your social platforms. If you’re a baker, for example, obviously you can show off your delicious creations on Instagram and TikTok, share recipes, talk top tips, show what equipment you use to get certain effects, and so much more.
Similarly, service businesses can talk about what they do, provide general and specific advice on relevant topics, answer frequently asked questions, provide great images of their business, and more.
This really does work for most small businesses as long as you target the platforms where your audience is and you don’t try to spread yourself too thin on too many platforms at once.
7) Content marketing
Most of what we’ve said above about social media marketing applies to content marketing too. It’s important to provide content that is what your audience wants, but that also establishes you as the expert and your business as the go-to business for what you do.
If you’re stuck for ideas, look at what your competitors are posting and look at what questions people are asking on their social media and in their blog comments. You can get so many ideas for new topics, articles, videos, and other content just from doing that.
With both content marketing and social media marketing, it’s important to be consistent and to post regularly. People also want to see you engaging with your followers, liking their comments, and replying to them.
8) Email marketing
It’s extremely important to build your own email list. With your own list, you can market to your audience whenever you like, and you’re not relying on someone else’s platform to build your business. Imagine if TikTok got banned in the US or Elon Musk closed Twitter tomorrow and you’d built your whole audience on either platform.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Build your list and then plan what you’re going to say to them and how often you’ll email them.
Think about how you can get ahead with this by working your plan, creating your emails in advance, and scheduling your newsletters to go out ahead of time.
9) Lead nurture
It’s important to carefully nurture any leads you get and guide them through your sales funnel to a buying decision.
What that means is providing the right content to the right people at the right time.
When people first find your company, they’re still trying to decide which company to choose. They’re gathering information and learning about you and your competitors. They haven’t yet made up their minds. If you send these people anything about booking a call with you or booking a demo, you could scare them off as they’re not ready for that. What they more likely want is answers to questions, more information on you and what you do, and content that persuades them that your business is what they’re looking for.
Conversely, at the bottom of your sales funnel, people probably have all the information they need. They’re ready to think about the next step, of talking to you on the phone or booking a demo, and they want information that guides them to that decision, like in-depth white papers and other detailed information. Though bear in mind what you give them depends on what you do and who your audience is. If you’re a plumber, for example, people are more likely to want a call to chat with you and see what you’re like than an in-depth guide to reducers.
10) Text message marketing
Just like sending an email, you can also build your text messaging list and send texts to people who really want to hear from you.
Many people now use their phones to shop and book appointments. Getting a text in front of them can put your business top of mind and make the sale over the competition.
Just be sure that you’re getting permission to text when you sign people up.
When analyzing whether your marketing is working, you need detailed analytics to be able to see clear data on whether what you are doing is both successful and cost-effective.
Don’t neglect your analytics. You can learn so much from them, including which ads are working so you can copy them and do more of them, which ads should be switched off because they’re costing you money, and which topics really appeal to your audience and which don’t.
Take the time to go through your analytics each month at least to get a good picture of how your marketing is doing and where you can improve.
Execute your marketing plan
Now you’ve started to pull your marketing plan together and decide what goes into it, the next thing to do is to create a monthly calendar with everything you need to do on it. You can add your email marketing, content marketing, and your social media marketing so that you can be sure you’re consistent with posting. This also helps you balance what you post about so you aren’t posting too much on one topic and not enough on others, and ensures you don’t run out of things to write, as you already have your plan showing you what’s next.
One further thing that can make your marketing so much easier is to use professional marketing software. You don’t have to do everything by hand or attempt to pull together reports yourself. In fact, the right software can speed up everything you do, help you plan, ensure you’re consistent, and provide you with the tools and reports to analyze how things are working for you.
Set the stage for growth
With your plan and a schedule in place, it’s time to implement your marketing plan and then continually test and analyze everything that you’re doing.
You don’t want to guess whether a strategy is working for you or not. You want to know for certain from your data and analytics.
You also need to identify where your customers are coming from so that you can be sure you’re effectively marketing to them where they are.
The point of analytics is to enable you to keep testing and improving over the year. You can then reallocate your budget from things that aren’t working to strategies that are. This enables you to optimize conversions and new customer growth, leading to greater revenue.
In addition, you can continue to try out new online marketing activities, to add them to your marketing plan, and to get a clear picture of their effectiveness.
Attend a Surefire Local Marketing Platform demo
Surefire Local offers top-quality business intelligence marketing software at a fraction of the cost of other tools or agencies.
We’re ready to help you manage every aspect of your online marketing activities within just one easy-to-use platform.
You don’t need to juggle all your marketing strategies and tactics by hand. Instead, let our software help you update all your business directories and your Google Business Profile with just a few clicks, manage your posts and reviews on your directories, plan and schedule your email marketing, content marketing, social posting, and so much more.
And our software comes with clear reports and analytics, so you always have a good overview of your marketing and can see what’s working and how you can make it even better.
Why not chat with our friendly team and book a Surefire demo today?