A digital marketing checklist for small business owners

Digital marketing doesn’t have to be complex to be successful. With simple yet thoughtful planning, and a consistent branding approach, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can start reaping the rewards of digital for your business.

If your small business is ready to dive into digital marketing, you’ve come to the right place. Our 7-point checklist provides a step-by-step guide to launching a successful digital marketing strategy for any business. Whether you're starting from scratch or ready to revamp your existing digital marketing strategy, this marketing checklist for small business is here to help.

Follow these steps to launch an effective and professional online presence:

  • Create a strong brand identity.
  • Build a website.
  • Prioritize great customer service.
  • Establish a social media presence.
  • Activate email marketing.
  • Start a blog.
  • Try online advertising.

1. Create a strong brand identity.

Creating a brand identity is essential for successful digital marketing. It’s important to have an understanding of your company’s mission and what makes it special. Then, project those values into everything you do – from your business name, to the photos you post on your website, to the voice you use on social media.

Building a strong brand image starts with a well-designed logo and picking the right fonts and colors. These visual elements will help make your brand identifiable, and give it a polished, professional feel. Remember: consistency is key when it comes to building your brand, so make sure you stay uniform across your print and digital marketing materials and any communications you send to customers.

2. Build a website.

Your website is the backbone of your online presence - and often your customers’ first impression of your brand. Even if you’re a brick-and-mortar business that relies on foot traffic, there’s a great chance that your customers are researching you online before they come in. So, it’s essential that you have a professional website.

As you create your website, be mindful of the following elements:

Choose the right domain name. Make sure to pick one that reflects your business name as closely as possible, and is easy to remember. To help narrow down your search, ask yourself these questions: Does the name match my brand? Is it memorable? Is it easy to spell?

Search engine optimization. Search engine optimization (or SEO) plays an important role in your digital marketing strategy. Creating an optimized website will improve your ranking in web searches - you can do this by incorporating keywords into your site content and on the backend.

Engaging web design. Most people are visual, so try to use attractive, high-quality photos (or even a short video), and clear fonts that are easy to read.

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If you have the time and skill, you can work on optimizing your site by yourself. Otherwise, we can help! Check out Vistaprint Digital Tools to create an SEO-friendly website.

Mobile responsive design. With mobile internet usage now exceeding desktop, a responsive website is a must-have. A responsive website will adjust to the screen size of different devices such as desktop computers, tablets, or smartphones. This will help you reach more customers, provide a better user experience, and will benefit your SEO ranking - Google now ranks mobile sites above desktop sites. The easiest way to create a mobile responsive website is to use a website builder that offers responsive templates...and make sure you test out changes to your website on your computer and your smartphone.

Easy navigation. Build your website in a clear, simple way that’s easy for visitors to navigate. Potential customers will appreciate being able to find what they’re looking for in just a few clicks.

Helpful content. Add relevant and helpful content such as contact information, an ‘About Us’ page, and clear descriptions of your products and services. Your overall copy should be easy to read, informative, and concise.

Consistent branding. Your website should be a reflection of your brand. Visitors should instantly make a visual connection between your logo, print materials, and brick-and-mortar location. So, make sure to include your logo on your website, and to use colors and fonts that align with the rest of your branded materials.

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Always include your site's URL on everything you create - postcards, receipts, brochures, flyers...you get the idea. It’s an easy way to encourage customers to take an actionable next step, and give them a place to find more information about your business.

3. Prioritize great customer service.

In the digital age, news travels fast...and before you know it, you’ve either established a reputation for poor or fantastic customer service. It goes without saying that a good customer support reputation will attract more customers and boost your brand perception.

Taking hours or days to respond to your customers via phone, email, or social media will no doubt leave your customers unhappy with your services. Instead, make sure to provide swift, polite, honest, and informative customer service to every customer. Try setting a goal of replying to everyone within 48 hours - and let them know this is the timeframe they can expect. Some channels you can utilize for this purpose are live chat, phone, social media, email, and the FAQ section on your site.

4. Establish a social media presence.

Social media marketing should be on top of your list when it comes to digital marketing. It’s a great way to enhance your business’s visibility, gain new traffic, and build strong relationships with your current and potential customers without spending a penny.

There are multiple ways to use social media for your benefit, from creating hashtag campaigns and going live to posting deals and running giveaways. The options are endless!

Before you start a social profile for your business, get to know what each platform offers, and then choose the one that fits your business and your content most. For example, highly visual content is a great fit for platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, while links to blog posts are great for sharing on Twitter or LinkedIn. Interested in creating video content? Check out TikTok and YouTube.

Again, use your brand’s colors, fonts, and logos, and voice on your profiles, so when customers search for your business, they see a consistent brand across every platform.

The great thing about social media marketing is that it can be automated. You can bulk schedule your social media posts across all your platforms so you can move on and focus on other areas of your business.

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To build an engaging social media presence, make sure you post regularly - and incorporate dynamic visuals, like photos, gifs, and videos as they attract higher engagement.

5. Activate email marketing.

Start planning your email marketing campaigns using design templates that include your contact information, business hours, and of course, your logo. If you have a sizable customer list, consider splitting it into segments according to certain criteria, such as how often people buy from you, or by the types of products or services they prefer. It might take a little more effort, but targeted emails perform much better than blanket emails, so it’ll be worth your while.

Create a schedule so you’re regularly communicating with your subscribers, and remember to always include something useful to the reader, such as a quick tip or how-to. These little touches will help build loyalty and increase your email open rates over the long term.

6. Start a blog.

Blogging is a great digital marketing tactic. As a small business owner, a blog gives you an opportunity to show your personality and highlight topics that wouldn't necessarily fit into an email or print campaign. (Plus, a blog gives you a lot of opportunity to use those SEO keywords!)

To create a blog, design a page on your website that reflects your brand standards, and start posting! Set a publishing schedule so your readers can expect and anticipate new posts - consider creating recurring columns to keep you on schedule. Maybe every Tuesday you share a before-and-after home makeover experience, or every Saturday you feature a different decor brand you carry in your design shop. A successful blog is about quality, not quantity, so don’t feel pressured to post every day - focus on posting consistently, even if it's just once a week.

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Get the most out of the content you create! Share links to your blog posts on your social channels, in email newsletters, and even by a QR code on postcards or flyers.

7. Try online advertising.

If you have the money to spend on paid advertising, it can be a worthwhile investment. Online ads are designed to generate more clicks and traffic, which will significantly boost your visibility, and ultimately, your sales. There are so many platforms you can use to place your ads in front of your audience - Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn all offer paid ad placement. Paid online advertising can also be in the form of a podcast sponsorship, or an influencer collaboration.

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