It’s almost that time of year when you review your marketing strategy, make adjustments for the rest of the year and start thinking about setting goals for next year. During that process, you’re going to look at what worked and what didn’t, and if you’re like many companies we work with as a digital marketing consultant, you’re looking to spend more money and time on getting more leads and customers from digital marketing channels.

Are you spending time and money on the right small business marketing efforts?

Summary 6 must-have marketing activities for small and mid-market companies

  1. Closed loop reporting
  2. Video production
  3. Content creation
  4. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  5. Conversion rate optimization
  6. Social media

Companies are wising up to the fact that digital marketing should produce measurable business results, and so you may be setting business metric-related goals for your online marketing plan for the first time. Good for you!

We’ve talked before about how an overall digital marketing plan is really important to making sure that the time and money you spend online gets the best possible outcome (check out #1 in this article). But what tactics should be included in your plan?

Whether you’re doing it in-house or outsourcing part of your digital marketing, developing an online marketing strategy is only the first step toward achieving your business goals. Here are 6 marketing activities that are essential for successful small and mid-market digital marketing.

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Closed Loop Reporting

Google Analytics is woefully inadequate if you're looking to prove digital marketing ROI to the C-suite. You need to connect your website to a CRM so you can see which web leads buy your product or service, start to recognize patterns, and find out the value of the sale. Only then can you truly find out which activities are creating value for the organization through customer acquisition.

As a modern marketer, it's imperative that you get on the same page with your sales team.

  • What tools are they using?
  • Are they using them consistently?
  • What information could help them do their jobs better?
  • What data could your website "share" with team members through a CRM connection to help them advance a sale?

Pro Tip: Connect your website to a CRM via marketing automation software like HubSpot. It will pass along web visit data to your sales team and can score leads, helping set follow-up priorities and notifying a rep when a contact needs a touchpoint.

Video Production

Creating videos for your website, for social media and even in the sales process continues to be a popular and effective trend. Technology has advanced to the point that you can use a smartphone camera or a laptop to create high definition business video. So what's stopping you?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. There's a lot a potential customer can learn about your people, products and culture from a simple video. Video also can be used in a variety of media, from your website to presentations, from email campaigns to social media.

Pro Tip: Video can be used at all points in the sales process. You can use video as content on your website or blog, or record a product demo to send with a quote during the sales process. Your sales reps can also record short videos to invite someone to an event or to thank a customer for a recent purchase. Video is useful before, during and after the sale.

Content Creation

Content creation is simply the process of actively engaging your target audience (and existing customers) by providing them with informative, educational and interactive information. This information should live on your website and be promoted on social media and other prospect touchpoints.

Buyers of your services and products expect to find information online that’s focused on their needs. In response, marketers are creating more content to attract customers organically and educate them on the sale.

Sales pitches no longer work as well because people know the sales rep is no longer the gatekeeper. Companies report that inbound practices like content marketing produce the highest quality leads, more so than leads sourced by sales and outbound leads (see this report).

Today's consumers not only want to connect with you for your product or service, but they also want you to provide content that's interesting and educational. You're the expert. Show them what you know.

Pro tip: Creating quality content takes time. Learn how to be more efficient by reading this article, and read about how companies are building thought leadership with content creationRead this article for more information on writing for your customers.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO helps your company get found online. You want to be deliberate in how you publish content on your website, being sure to include words that your prospective customers use as they describe your product or service.

Search engines tweak their ranking algorithms constantly, and it can be tough to keep up with it all. Moz is a great resource for practical, common sense SEO advice, but don’t hesitate to contact a pro that can help attract more people to your website.

Done right, content creation will improve your SEO, increase brand awareness and attract more qualified prospects in your target market to your website. You should also spend some time optimizing for local searches.

Pro tip: It takes much more than simply putting keywords in a page or optimizing meta tags for proper SEO. Here are some SEO myths you should be aware of.

Conversion Rate Optimization

Your company might have been doing search engine optimization and writing content, but the single most underutilized activity when it comes to digital marketing is conversion rate optimization.

Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, is simply a fancy way to describe the process of testing different things in order to get more business opportunities from the website visitors you already have.

Over 80% of websites we evaluated underperformed when it comes to conversion rate according to data collected by our website lead calculator. By simply tweaking your existing website and blog posts, you can increase inquiries without having to advertise and boost sales. It will also improve your return on ad spend by increasing the number of inquiries.

Pro tip: Did you know that you can make smaller, incremental changes to your website in order to get more leads? Because conversion rate optimization involves writing, design and development, incremental design is a great solution to scientifically design for better results.

Social Media

Although there are a lot of social media platforms you could spend time updating, there are three that offer a very real benefit to businesses as they develop their marketing strategy. The Big 3 -- Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are powerful platforms from which to launch and spread a message. When you’re considering how to spread the word through social media marketing, consider your audiences, and if you’re paying for social media advertising, targeted audiences and multiple campaigns offer the greatest benefit.

If recruiting is a top priority, you should also consider regular posting to Instagram to increase employer brand awareness.

Pro Tip: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all useful for business, but can have different purposes. For example, a B2B company might use Facebook to demonstrate culture for recruiting, but use LinkedIn for content distribution and relationship building.

The most successful businesses have learned how to effectively use every marketing tool available in their digital strategy. Regardless of how small or large your business may be, these activities are crucial to the success of your online marketing strategy.

What are you planning on doing differently next year? Next quarter? Next month?

Use our website lead calculator to find out if your website is getting the leads it should