Congratulations! Starting a business takes courage, perseverance, and a whole lot of hard work (trust us, we know!) If you’re reading this post, it probably means you’re ready to move from idea phase to action phase – and that is a major milestone to be celebrated.
Establishing a strong online presence demonstrates your company’s legitimacy and professionalism. We’ve compiled this digital marketing checklist for small businesses to help you evaluate your business’s digital marketing needs and easily take action. The list below can certainly be achieved by DIY’ers, and for those who prefer to take a more hands-off approach, we are happy to support any of the items noted. Feel free to contact us at (616)822-3706 if you’d like support.
1) Domain name
A domain name provides a custom URL that you own and have full control over. We recommend choosing a domain name that incorporates keywords such as your company name/product and is memorable and easy to remember/spell. Your domain name will stick with your business for years to come and we recommend spending time planning and choosing your domain name carefully.
You might need it if: you want a customized website address or email address (example: yourbusinessname.com).
Approximate cost: typically domain names cost less than $20/year. Premium domains can cost hundreds or even thousands/year. Domain names require an annual renewal. Most domain names have an annual fee, along with a small ICANN fee.. Privacy is an additional feature that can be used with many domain extensions, which is meant to keep your registrant information out of WHOIS searches.
Setup tips: you can purchase your domain name from domain name providers. A few popular examples of domain name providers are Domains.com, Bluehost, and Godaddy.
A website provides your company a totally customizable, publicly-accessible platform that you own, control, and can always use. It gives you the ability to sell products, blog, receive contact forms, share key information, and more.
You might need it if: you want added legitimacy and a platform that provides full, long-term control of your company’s brand online.
Setup tips: Website builders like Squarespace or Wix are a cheap solution for DIY’ers. Simpler Site builds WordPress websites that are cost-effective and more scalable long-term. Be sure to pay attention to SEO, mobile-friendliness and site speed. Wondering how much to budget? We’ve prepared a blog post “How Much to Budget for a New Website“. Wondering what platform is right for your business’s website needs? Check out our Content Management System (CMS) 101 post.
3) Email address(es)
A customized email address is a great way to add legitimacy when your company is communicating via email (for example [email protected])
You might need it if: you want to communicate with external audiences with an email address that’s branded for your business
Setup tips: You’ll need access to your domain’s DNS records and you’ll have to choose what platform you’d like to use for your email. Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Outlook 365 are two popular email providers. After setting up your account with your selected email provider, you’ll point your MX records for your domain to the email provider’s servers. We are happy to assist you with this process if you’d prefer to stay hands off technical!
Approximate cost: if you use Google’s G Suite services, which also gives access to additional Google products, you’ll pay about $6/email address/month.
4) Social media platforms
Social media is a great way to interact with customers in online communities where they already are — and it also gives an opportunity for you to develop your own brand voice. We recommend carefully researching the platforms your target audience(s) are using and focus your attention there. A few platforms for consideration include:
- Tik Tok
Cost: free to set up platforms. Many platforms will operate on a “pay to play” model, so to have your business’s content actually be seen you may need to spend money.
Setup tips: don’t overextend yourself. Carefully select the most important platform(s). Make sure your brand is consistent with the rest of your digital presence.
5) Email marketing platform
Email marketing is a form of marketing that can make the customers on your email list aware of new products, discounts, and other services. It can also be a softer sell to educate your audience on the value of your brand or keep them engaged between purchases. It can also be anything in between.
You might need it if: you want to send mass emails to a list of people.
Setup tips: There are many email marketing providers with different cost structures, scalability options, and benefits. Included below are links to a few popular, inexpensive email marketing providers with instructions on how to set up an accounts:
Check out our blog post “How to Add an Enewsletter to your Digital Strategy” for additional strategy and setup information.
6) Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business)
Google allows businesses to create a free Business Profile that can be personalized with photos, offers, posts, and more. This will give your business a more robust profile in Google Search and Maps searches. You can access and edit all of the information that appears in your listing — from the business hours and the location to any photos. You can also respond to customer’s Google reviews of your business.
You might need it if: you want more control of the information that shows up in Google Maps or Google Search when potential customers search for your business online.
Setup tips: Google includes a step-by-step guide for creating/claiming your Google Business Profile available at https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778?hl=en&co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop.