Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Being digitally savvy is not just a mere competitive edge anymore — in this day and age, keeping up with digital trends and understanding how these can impact your business is key to staying relevant in the market.
But unlike large companies with dedicated teams just for this purpose, small businesses don’t have the same resources to spare — with digital-related functions such as web design and development, marketing, SEO, Adwords, and other advertising commonly outsourced to agencies and freelancers instead.
Outsourcing is definitely a cost-effective way to address small businesses’ digital needs, but there is also a certain advantage to actually having in-house staff who knows the ins and outs of the business better.
Throughout working with different types of businesses over the years, we’ve observed that a balance can be achieved between these two things — while you don’t necessarily need to hire an entire team of marketers and developers or form your own in-house IT department, it’s still probably a good idea to have a dedicated digital marketer in your company.
(Throughout this blog, we’ll use the term “digital marketer” to refer to a role that serves as a digital go-to person for your business — someone who can help you execute your digital-related activities, and is also technical enough to be a bridge between your business and third-party vendors, like software developers.)
In this two-part blog series, we’ll talk about the advantages of having such a role in your company and the ideal qualities that you should look for when hiring. We’ll also share a list of things that you can do once this role is filled to help you get started on your digital strategy.
But first, let’s consider why your business needs an in-house digital go-to person:
How marketing in small businesses usually works
Small, and even up to medium-sized businesses usually don’t have a dedicated marketing team. In fact, it’s typically the business owner who takes on this role, juggling it along with sales, HR, administrative and other management duties.
The bulkier part of the tasks may then be outsourced to agencies or freelancers — like programming tasks, writing ad copies, designing ad banners and brochures, setting up accounts and campaigns, doing SEO, posting on social media, and similar activities.
This setup typically doesn’t work for a number of reasons:
- The owner already has a lot of things on their plate, which leaves them little time to work on marketing activities.
- The owner often does not have the necessary know-how.
- The owner also needs to coordinate everything between marketing, developers, and other stakeholders to make sure that things get done.
All of which can be very time-consuming.
When issues arise in the organization needing the owner’s attention, digital marketing is usually the first one to fall by the wayside—and it often stays there, forgotten for a long time.
Why you need a digital marketer in your company
Many people start their buying journey online — whether it’s researching a product or a service, or simply being exposed to options available to them through targeted advertising.
An established digital presence helps your company be visible to potential customers on the web, and having an in-house dedicated digital go-to person for your business will greatly help with that. But you might be wondering — isn’t it enough to delegate digital-related tasks to expert third-parties?
Even if you use an external supplier or a freelancer for marketing and web development, there are still many advantages with having your own in-house employee with a dedicated digital role:
- An in-house person will be primarily focused on your company — they deeply understand your industry and business goals, as well as have a more significant stake at the project because they are a part of your team.
- With this setup, you get to have a stable in-house core who can manage your company’s digital activities, while the execution can be outsourced to agencies (onshore or offshore) who may have more experience and resources doing development or running ad campaigns. This way, you get a perfect balance as opposed to either just having a full in-house team (which would be unnecessary for most small businesses) or completely outsourcing everything.
- Having this person in your team will allow you more time to focus on other aspects of the business, and lessen your stress from juggling different roles in the company, roles that many small business owners are not equipped to handle.
- You will have a go-to person who is 100% on your side, someone who can evaluate prices and proposals, explain complicated concepts and ideas without any bias towards a particular company or solution, and is primarily invested in your own bottomline.
- Since this person is likely more well-versed in all things digital — whether IT or marketing — you can trust them to coordinate well with your third-party developers or marketers, and even interpret their lingo for you to understand important reports better.
- They are digitally-savvy and often on top of new trends and technologies. As such, they can be a source of inspiration and new ideas in marketing and software development.
- With a dedicated full-time person, your digital marketing will no longer be swept under other tasks in the priority list, and will take on a more defined structure.
- Because they are primarily focused with your company’s digital activities, projects and campaigns can be executed much faster and with it, your company can enjoy the results faster, too.
What you should look for in filling out this role
Ideally, you should look for someone that can do both IT and online marketing — an individual with enough knowledge and experience in both fronts that, again, can act as your company’s bridge to third-party partners like developers and marketing agencies.
Experience beats everything. It would be a plus if they have (or have had) their own websites (e.g., affiliate sites or webshops). That way, they would have had exposure not only to marketing but also to the technical side of things, and this with the perspective of a business owner.
They could also be someone who has worked in an agency before—meaning they have the know-how and can apply it to your company, as well as relevant resources and connections who can help you (for example, with Adwords, Facebook advertisement, SEO, etc.).
Marketing and technical background
Ideally, your new digital marketer should have both a technical and marketing background. You’re not exactly looking for a software developer here, but just someone who understands enough to be able to act as a sort of liaison between you and your developers or the IT agency that you use.
At the same time, they should also be well familiar with marketing concepts—understanding the metrics that measure a successful campaign and being able to coordinate with marketing agencies in both the creative and data analytics aspects of advertising.
Having a digitally savvy person on your team can serve as a valuable asset as digital acceleration continues. Once you have successfully filled this role, it’s time for you to get started on building or improving your digital strategy.
4 tips on building your digital strategy
Now that you have a dedicated personnel to help with marketing and other digital functions, the first thing you should lay down is a plan for what needs to be done.
Here are some tips for planning and building your digital strategy:
- Don’t try to do everything in one go. Be careful that you don’t get carried away with all the new ideas that you want to try, and think about how to organize them according to the most important priority.
- Make sure to test everything. Marketing is more of an art than an exact science — not all best practices may work for you, in the same way that lesser known ideas might. When you start a new project or campaign, make sure that you also have a way to measure how well it works and helps with your sales or conversions.
- You will be setting up different accounts in different platforms as you get started on digital marketing. Always use company email addresses for this (e.g., an administrator email or a marketing email), not your private email address nor employee’s individual company emails. This is to make sure that everything is streamlined and under one account. It also avoids the risk of losing access to accounts when the emails used are no longer active (like when an employee leaves the company, etc.)
- The best marketing strategies vary depending on your products / services as well as your industry, but here are some basic things that you might want to consider:
- Create a general marketing plan / calendar that can serve as the central place where you can put all tasks, planned campaigns, etc.
- Set up your company pages in major social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Business) and post content regularly.
- Run search and display ads on Facebook or Google.
- Start a monthly newsletter where you share relevant content to subscribers. (Make sure that you have permission to send marketing emails to your customers, though.)
To get you started, here’s a sample list of tasks that you can incorporate into your marketing plan. You can check out the links to where we talk about them in more detail in our blogs:
|Keyword research||Check what terms or keywords customers are using to search for your products / services|
|Optimize page titles and descriptions||Edit your content to make sure they use the right keywords|
|Utilize Google products (Analytics, Search Console, Tag Manager)||Set up and monitor these accounts for data on website traffic, conversions and user behavior|
|Internal link-building||Add links throughout your pages to ease user navigation and make your content more interconnected with each other|
|Implement schema markup||Add schema or structured data to your content to get a chance for your pages to have rich snippets in search results|
|Set up social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Business)||Establish your digital presence by setting up your accounts on these sites and regularly posting content|
|Start a monthly newsletter||Share relevant news, tips, and resources in a monthly newsletter.|
|Install user behavior analytics tools||Aside from Google Analytics, you can also consider using Crazy Egg and Hotjar to gain more insight about your user behavior.|
As we said, these are only basic marketing things that you can try. Depending on your business and current processes / setup, there are a lot of other ideas that may work for you.
1902 Software offers a comprehensive site review where our team of certified UX QA testers looks at your site and identifies issues and areas for improvement. We also provide tailored marketing suggestions based on your goals and nature of business.
If you want to learn more about this, or our development and design services, contact us and we’ll get back to you with a no-commitment meeting in less than 24 hours.