SMEs: Utter Digital's five top tips for online marketing
UTTER Digital is the latest winner of the @indobusiness/#irishbizparty SME competition.
According to founder Aine Bermingham, digital marketing can be a bit of an enigma for small businesses with many SMEs facing the challenges of limited time, skills and capital.
The firm focuses on teaching SMEs social media, search engine optimisation and content marketing and companies can also outsource their digital marketing to the business.
Bermingham comes from a more traditional background in Liberty Insurance which has also given her the chance to work with some of the country's top marketing and digital agencies.
"Business are keen to learn how to make digital marketing work for them," she said.
"Training and mentoring has proven to be very successful to date, and this side of the business is growing quite rapidly."
Here are her top tips for SMEs to get to grips with digital marketing.
1. Be social
I have yet to come across a business that cannot benefit in some way from social media, and for many it has proven to be the most successful marketing tool for their business. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Pinterest, there’s a social network to suit. Do your homework and choose your weapon of choice carefully. If you’re not familiar with the different social networks, take the time to learn how to best use them to avoid wasted time and effort. If social media isn’t working for you, step back and take a fresh look at how you’re using it, and change it. Never forget that social media marketing is about building relationships, not the hard sell.
2. Produce great content
Businesses can no longer ignore the significant benefits of producing content that’s fresh, relevant, interesting and adds value. Search engines (such as Google, Yahoo and Bing) just love it. And if it’s great content, so will your audience. There’s a host of different content formats you can try – start your own blog, produce whitepapers, webinars, video, infographics, presentations, or Ebooks. I’ve found that small businesses can struggle on this – generating ideas, finding the time to maintain a blog, lack of in-house writing skills. Get help if you need it, but don’t just strike it off the to-do list. It’s too important to ignore.
3. Get savvy with search engines
Having a slick website is great – but it’s no good if nobody can find it when they’re searching online for your product or service. I’ve come across small businesses who have decided it’s time for a new website because the one they have isn’t performing. They may be right – but chances are they haven’t nailed down what the problem is with their existing site. Sometimes, it just can’t be found, and a new website won’t solve this problem. You can legitimately influence where your website appears in the search engine rankings when someone searches for your products or services using search engine optimisation (SEO). I would also stress the word ‘legitimately’ here, as there are tactics which can be used to ‘cheat’ in improving search engine rankings. Stay away from these ‘quick wins’ – they’re heavily frowned upon by Google and co. You will get caught, and you will be penalised. I suggest getting advice on this one if you’re not familiar with how SEO works.
As a small business, you may not have the budget to outsource all your online marketing, so you’ve got to get clued in on how to manage it and produce the best results yourself. Learn from your peers, your network, from the ‘experts’, and from your own experiences. Get training or mentoring if you need it. Start with what has been proven to work for other businesses, but your audience will be unique to your business, so you need to get to know what works for them, and how you can continuously improve on what you’re doing. Use the resources and tools available to you, such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights – they’re free!
5. Get your brand out there
This applies as much offline as it does online. Be active, put your business forward, get involved in events and conversations, and continuously build your relationships and network. Join #IrishBizParty on Twitter (now also on Facebook and Google+), and find other networks suited to your business. And finally, give a little – help someone out when you can, you never know when you might need it.
The Irish Independent/Independent.ie and @indobusiness supporting SMEs.