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If you’re a business owner, people have probably been talking to you about digital marketing for ages — whether it’s a well-meaning friend or an ad agency on the prowl, you’ve heard endless suggestions on everything from SEO to PPC and every other three-letter acronym. And all that was in a pre-pandemic world. The sudden, jarring shift to an audience more frequently online will leave behind many lasting effects on how businesses reach their target audience.

In a post-pandemic world, 56% of business leaders that utilize digital tools report that at least half of their sales occur online. While many businesses plan on decreasing spend, depending on the channel anywhere from 40-59% of large national brands intend to increase their ad spends across digital channels. That’s just the big guys.

But with all the financial stress facing small business owners, you may be worried about adding yet another cost to your budget. And marketing agencies can often seem like sharks circling businesses.

However, you don’t need a dedicated agency or a large advertising budget to make your mark in the digital realm. Here are some digital marketing tactics that all businesses, regardless of size, can benefit from:

Update Your Google My Business Listing

To some, this suggestion may seem obvious; in fact, if you otherwise don’t do anything else on the digital front, you most likely still maintain your Google My Business listing. But how quick are you to update your listing when you make changes to your business?

Of course, if you’ve changed your hours of operation, address, phone number or website, you need to update your listing right away. Google My Business is also a great place to show off your menu (for restaurants) or products and services. And don’t forget to update your photos. If you don’t maintain your photo section, your listing will be at the mercy of uploads from random visitors.

Bolster Your Social Media Presence

Everyone, even B2B companies, stands to gain from an involved social media presence. Of course, it’s important to utilize the correct platform. For example, a Main Street clothing boutique might find little use for a LinkedIn profile, while a steel bar fabricator might feel out of place on Pinterest. Make sure your message is appropriate to the platform you’re using and the audience you’re reaching.

Much like with your Google My Business listing, you need to keep your social media accounts current with any changes in your operations. You also need to be sure to have quality, high-resolution imagery for logos, banners and other photos.

And if you’re in a visually driven industry such as food, cosmetics or clothing, or have a younger target audience, you may want to experiment with platforms like TikTok or Instagram.

Respond To Reviews — Properly

Reviews are crucial to a small business’s existence, and a stream of poor reviews can be crippling to an upstart business. Conversely, positive reviews are one of the best ways for a business to organically grow their clientele. But there are a few things you should keep in mind when responding to reviews, including timing and messaging.

When you receive a positive review, you should respond right away. An immediate response shows your customers how much you truly appreciate their patronage, and reinforces the quality of their experience.

On the other hand, when you receive a negative review, you need to respond soon — but not too quickly. While you can’t let it linger and give off the impression that you’re ignoring the customer’s experience, you still need to give it enough time to show that you’ve considered their feedback. You also need the time to craft your message properly; too much emotion is off-putting, but a generic response is insulting. About 24 to 48 hours is an appropriate length of time for a negative review response.

And whatever you do, do not incentivize positive reviews. That may seem like an easy way to generate a large swath of positive feedback, but you’ll find that platforms like Yelp, Google and Facebook penalize accounts that are reported for incentivizing reviews.

Digital Marketing Is Here To Stay

While social distancing will eventually relax and foot traffic will pick back up in stores, digital marketing will have a lasting place in the business world. If you want to keep up with your competitors or even remain an active part of your community, you must maintain an active, involved digital presence. If you intend to hire a firm to manage your marketing, that’s fine — but by using these simple tips to improve your online presence, you’ll have a better understanding of what a firm brings to the table and will be more prepared to take the next step.

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