So you have some digital assets - a website, an Instagram account, a Facebook page. But how can you know if you're doing it right? And could you be doing it better?
Lauren Hamilton-Thompson from digital marketing agency Digital Native says there's no "baseline" digital set up.
Lauren says, "All businesses have different needs. It's very much determined by who your potential customers are, and where they're likely to find you."
"The bare minimum that you need is a professional website that clearly explains your business and how to contact you, and is correctly optimised for search engine results. This creates a chance for people to find you and for your business to grow passively while you get on with everything else you need to do" she says.
Lauren says the most common website mistakes business owners make are focusing too heavily on aesthetics over functionality, ignoring search engine friendliness and not including enough calls-to-action.
Once you have the website sorted, the next step is making sure your social media channels are set up and managed correctly.
Lauren says, "After a website, social media platforms can be huge game-changers in terms of visibility for some businesses, but we always advise our clients not to create a Facebook page, Twitter account or Instagram account just for the sake of it. If the people you want to speak to don't use that platform enough, it can be a huge drain on a small businesses resources, for no return on the investment," she says.
Lauren says one of the biggest mistakes business owners make is feeling like they need to "do it all" with their online presence.
She says, "They have several social channels with a very low number of followers, instead of focusing on one that they can really smash."
Two big no-nos for social media are poaching/sharing other people's content and not creating anything of your own, and not responding to messages or comments within a reasonable time frame.
In terms of how much you should spend, Lauren says you can build and host a decent website for under $200 per year.
"There are amazing tools now" Wix and Squarespace, for example "that allow you to register your domain, build a website from a template and secure your site's hosting for under $200 per annum. These even include additional 'apps' that help with SEO and other more technical needs."
"You can then set up and manage your social media yourself. This is the bottom end of the cost spectrum. A custom-built website with full organic SEO integrated during the build, and professionally developed and managed social media channels will cost between $3000 and $7000, with social media management costing usually about $120+ per week," says Lauren.
The good news is that there are also heaps of free (and cheap) tools that can help make your digital marketing look professional.
Lauren says, "I love Pixlr Express for photo editing. It allows you to turn good amateur photos into incredible looking images, and to easily resize photos too. For quick little design work, of course there's Canva which is almost spookily easy to use. I use Hootsuite for scheduling social media. It's not free but if you have a few accounts (i.e. you have more than one business, with multiple social accounts for each) it makes life so much easier."
So now you're up and running, how much time should you spend on maintaining your digital platforms?
Lauren says it varies.
"The most time-consuming assets are e-commerce sites where products are constantly being added and updated and also sites that are heavily social-media driven, requiring dozens of strategic posts a week.
Content creation and sourcing can be a huge drain on a business owners' time, but it's important to get it right or you risk eroding your brand. I have clients who spend 6 - 8 hours every month on content creation, and then 4 hours per week on social media management," she says.
If all of this sounds too hard or time-consuming, the next step can be outsourcing digital asset management and marketing to an agency or freelancer.
Lauren says, "We offer clients a combination of DIY advice and agency support. Essentially, we advise people what they can do themselves and what they need professional help with.
Obviously if you have the budget, the benefit of outsourcing the entire project is that you free up a lot of your own time some websites I've worked on have taken over 100 woman-hours to get right.
"With social media, a huge benefit of outsourcing your content creation is that professionals "batch shoot" and forward-schedule a month or more of posts in a day or two. Many customers find this really liberating but the downside is it can be hard to find someone who represents your brand exactly as you would do it. It's a pretty personal thing," says Lauren.
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