The Ask Amanda Show | Episode #2

Digital Marketing Best Practices for Small Businesses in Santa Clarita

Digital marketing is the growth strategy every small business owner knows they need to implement – even though they have no idea how to make it happen.

Search engine optimization, pay per click advertising and social media marketing are just a few of the powerful strategies national brands are using to reach their target clients with an excellent return on investment. But when small businesses try to implement those strategies on a local level, it can get overwhelming quickly. Plus, if you don’t know the ins and outs of this ever-changing world, then you could spend your time and hard-earned money on a strategy that doesn’t produce the right leads – or any leads at all. That’s why Amanda Benson-Tilch, host of The Ask Amanda Show, recently sat down with Santa Clarita’s savviest digital marketing consultant, Alison Lindemann of WSI Internet Consulting in Valencia, to discuss effective online strategies for local small business owners. If you have ever wondered which digital marketing strategy is best for you, then let’s start by setting a strong foundation.

Set the Foundation for Powerful Digital Marketing

Before you implement any digital marketing strategy – whether it’s a Facebook ad or a geo-fence – it’s crucial that you set a firm foundation if you want to experience any kind of success. If you’ve been experimenting with digital marketing to no success, then you probably skipped one of these vital steps.

1. Do your research.

Whether you do your own research, or you hire a consultant to do it for you, a detailed analysis of your digital presence, competitors and search strategy is crucial to the success of a digital marketing strategy, Alison explained. Here are a few places to start:

Digital Presence

Start by looking at your numbers. Check the analytics of your website, social media pages and email lists. Take a snapshot of your digital presence and look for patterns or insights about your audience’s behaviors.

Competitor Research

“I’m not a fan of copying another brand, but you should know what your competitor is doing. That way you can offer something different or provide added value in a new way,” explained Amanda Benson-Tilch, owner of Ask Amanda Consulting in Santa Clarita.

In digital marketing, your competitors aren’t necessarily the other shops in town; they’re the other websites that show up on the first page of a Google search you want your business to rank for.

Search Strategy

A successful “search strategy” helps you show up in targeted Google searches, but in order to work, it needs to be validated by real data. To find the right search terms, learn the language your target audience uses to search for your products or services. Try out different search phrases in Google, and if the businesses that show up are similar to what you offer, then you’re probably on the right track.

2. Understand your marketing personas.

If you want any digital marketing campaign to be successful, you need to know who you are marketing to. Most businesses have a number of different buyer personas.

“A heating and air conditioning company, for example, might target homeowners, property managers and realtors,” explained Alison Lindemann, owner of WSI Internet Consulting. “Your marketing strategy would vary based on each persona.”

With each buyer persona, it’s important to understand the unique demographics, psychographics and search behaviors, as well as how that affects your marketing. For example, if you were targeting the homeowners, you might look for homeowners in a certain age category, who live in an expensive yet older neighborhood.

“You really want to plan this out before you start your marketing strategy if you want results,” Alison said.

3. Know the value of a lead.

Knowing the value of your leads is a crucial factor in determining your budget for a marketing campaign, and it also gives you a structured way to judge the success of a campaign. If you sell gift baskets, for example, and you make a $50 profit on each sale, then you can decide how much one lead is worth to you: $20, $25, etc.

You also want to consider the value of a lifetime client. If you’re targeting the right people with effective content – and you have the proper systems to receive new business – then you’re more likely to turn a lead into a lifetime client. If a new client requests a simple AC unit service call, for example, then with good customer service you’ll get the next, bigger job, too. Now you’ve increased the value of a single lead because you’re considering the lifetime value.

4. Create lead management systems.

Before launching a marketing campaign, make sure you have the systems in place to receive new business with the same level of customer experience. If the goal of your Facebook ad campaign is to get the phone to ring, for example, then make sure you have well-trained staff to answer the phone and take the next step to convert it into a sale. Otherwise, you lost the lead and the money you spent to attract it.

5. Get your (digital) house in order.

Just like it’s important to set up physical systems to manage new leads, it’s just as important to have a clean, updated, consistent digital presence. If your website isn’t converting, then you’ll get a bad return on investment (ROI) no matter what digital marketing strategy you try.

Updating your website on a regular basis is so important because it affects your search engine optimization, as well as the user experience. Websites need to be adapted to fit the screen sizes of all our different devices and the ever-changing compliance regulations. If your website hasn’t been updated in a couple years, many of these things have drastically changed.

In addition to keeping your website updated from a technical standpoint, make sure your digital brand is consistent and on point. Set a strong foundation with an updated headshot, high-resolution logo, consistent messaging, clear brand voice, updated staff photos and hours, and a simple call to action.

6. Create high-quality content.

When you launch a digital marketing campaign, it’s important to have clear and convincing content that communicates your value and gives users an easy way to take the next step with you. If you don’t know where to start, use your client’s journey as your guide. Create content that speaks to each stage, from fun and interesting videos for new leads to informative blogs for your longtime customers.

This is an easier task when you can take each piece of content and repurpose it to use in other areas. A blog, for example, can be broken down into social media posts, email newsletters or direct mail pieces. The bottom line is: You have to have content. You can’t avoid it in digital marketing, so get the most out of each piece whenever you can.

7. Establish power partners.

A power partnership is when two like-minded business owners who share an overlapping target audience come together to strengthen their collective marketing reach, Alison explained. A good power partner should share similar core values, and it helps to have experience as clients of each other’s businesses.

In traditional marketing, a power partner can give you warm, high-quality leads through referrals and work-of-mouth. In digital marketing, power partners can expand your audience by sharing your content, linking to your website or featuring you in their content. Social proof is a great way for a power partner to encourage their audience to get to know, like and trust you. You’re setting up your campaign for success by creating a digital network to support it.

Choose the Right Digital Marketing Strategy for You

Once you’ve done the strategic research and set up the necessary systems, you’ll have a clear understanding of the digital marketing strategies that will work best for you.

Search Strategies

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of making changes to your website that will cause your site to show up on the first page of a Google search. This approach is considered organic because you don’t pay a search engine like Google to obtain results through advertising. The benefit of organic SEO is it lasts a long time, and you can rank for many more search phrases than just the handful you can afford. Organic SEO, however, doesn’t happen overnight because it takes time to build a history of credibility with Google.

Pay per click advertising, on the other hand, positions your website at the top of relevant searches for as long as you pay for the privilege. Once you stop a pay-per-click strategy, however, you lose all optimization. The advantage here is it’s fast and works well for seasonal or cyclical businesses. Based on your goals, you can determine which search strategy is right for you at any given time.

Social Media Marketing

“People misunderstand social media because they think you can publish a post and tons of people are going to see it,” Alison explained. “In reality, even if you have a bunch of Facebook friends, that doesn’t mean they consumed your content.”

To reach the right audience, it’s important to know where your target audiences hang out on social media. Each platform has its own demographic, and you need to match your strategy to the right digital community. Quality content is also a major factor if you want your efforts to be effective. Social media advertising is most likely going to give you more exposure, as well, by allowing you to target specific people by location, age, occupation, interests and more.

Email Marketing

Getting real people to subscribe to your email list because they are genuinely interested in learning more about your services is a really powerful digital marketing tool. That’s why building your email list is so important.

“People think this is yesterday’s marketing strategy, but it still has one of the highest conversion rates if you have the right list and content,” Alison explained.

Segmenting your list makes it even more effective because you can contact specific marketing personas with an offer, without bugging other personas with an offer that’s not right for them.

Other Highly Targeted Strategies

Geo-targeting is a hyper-specific way of getting in front of people in a certain location. For example, a realtor in a competitive metropolitan market might set up a geo-fence around the condo they listed – especially if it’s an area where there’s a lot of foot traffic. When anyone walks into that geo-fence, they’re targeted with an ad. This is a great strategy for events, too.

Meet the Experts

Alison Lindemann – Digital Marketing

After 17 years in the corporate management world, Alison joined WSI Internet Consulting in 2004. She has a strong business background including 17 years with Farmers Insurance as the Director of Service Operations as well as Director of Sales in their corporate office in Los Angeles. She completed the Farmers Executive Training Program and was the recipient of their Management Excellence Award. Alison has expertise in both traditional and digital media, as well as strategic planning, competitor analysis, persona development, social media, customer experience, conversion optimization and particularly search engine optimization. Alison holds a BSBA degree from the Washington University in St. Louis Olin Business School, and she holds the CPCU Designation, ARP Designation and numerous digital marketing certifications. She has co-authored two books, one that was published in October 2019 and includes chapters from digital marketing experts worldwide. She is also the recipient of three Web Marketing Association Awards in 2019. She speaks regularly on digital marketing best practices and strategies.

Need a digital marketing consultant who can help you design and execute an effective new strategy? Contact Alison at WSI Internet Consulting for a consultation.

Keep up with Alison on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Amanda Benson-Tilch – Small Business Consulting

While you may notice her first by her wit and second by her infectious sense of humor, the next thing you’ll learn about Amanda Benson-Tilch is: She’s a problem-solver. Owner and Growth Strategist of Ask Amanda Consulting, she offers the skills, tools and network it takes to get the job done — no matter the task.

Working with each client differently, she helps identify blocks, present solutions, implement them, and execute. And if she can’t execute, she’ll connect you to someone who can. She’s helped past clients improve their branding, operations, customer service, marketing, company culture, and more. She’s organized a company-wide rebranding and restructuring after it was bought out. And she’s helped local small businesses increase their growth without increasing the headache. From consulting to full-scale project management, Amanda steps in to help your business level up with ease.

In addition to her work with Ask Amanda, she’s also the Director of Business Development for Thomas Realty Co., a property management company in Burbank, where she oversees the growth of select tenants. Currently, she’s serving as the Managing Director of both Burbank Fitness Club and Burbank Center Apartments. Over the last year, she helped completely rebrand, renovate and rebuild the gym, and she recently started the same process with their luxury apartments.

Follow Amanda on Facebook and Instagram.

About The Ask Amanda Show

On any given day, small business owners and entrepreneurs spend most of their time putting out fires, solving problems and asking themselves questions like: “How do I brand this? How do I reach more people online? Why can’t I break through my revenue ceiling and reach the next level of business?” They often feel like an island – holding it all together without support, clarity or feedback they need to finally achieve their vision. That’s exactly why Amanda Benson-Tilch created The Ask Amanda Show. As a small business consultant, not only does she have the answers to the questions you keep asking, but she’s also created a podcast community that reminds you: You’re not alone in this journey.

Tune in once a month to get access to small business experts, nuggets of inspiration and answers to those burning questions preventing you from growth. Enjoy powerful guest interviews as Santa Clarita small business experts share their stories and provide actionable steps to help you grow your business. Whether you’re a business owner, aspiring entrepreneur, or someone looking to get more involved in your community, this is your show!