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Digital marketing and websites the smart way

Lawrence Andrews
Marketing technology

Digital marketing has never been more accessible. There are countless cost-effective methods to include in your marketing strategy. It’s also never been easier to build a functioning, customer-friendly website.

So why are many small to medium businesses coming up short? It comes down to thinking the smart way about digital marketing.

If you follow certain steps, you can improve your chances of sales and marketing success, and the good news is that it’s really not that difficult.

Explore your target customers

Targeting the right audience is crucial. Otherwise, to put it bluntly, you’re wasting your time.

Start by brainstorming and prioritising two to three target customer groups - these could be around a particular product or service you offer, or be from a specific demographic or industry.

Next, create buyer personas for each target group. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers, and their:

  • Goals
  • Motivations
  • Frustrations
  • Technology Usage
  • Preferred Channels

Buyer personas can help you climb into the minds of your customers, and are usually determined through data and research. SMEs can often work off ‘assumption’ too, given that as a small business, they're usually closer to their customers, with a better understanding of them.

Get some insight

Although making assumptions is fine, using real insight doesn’t hurt as this brings extra magic to your personas, and is useful for other parts of your digital marketing strategy.

Think about a handful of questions to ask your target customers to help tailor how you market to them. Next, find some people to ask. A good option is to approach a couple of prospects or existing customers and offer them an incentive to speak to you or fill in a survey.

You can then take this insight and use it to enhance and refine your personas. Through controlled levels of effort and investment, you'll be able to learn a lot.

Do some keyword research

Keyword research isn’t as scary as it sounds. It’s very effective and well worth the effort -  you can learn a lot from how people interact with search engines.

Keyword research is the process of understanding the language your target customers use when searching for your products, services, and content. You can analyse, compare, and prioritise the best keyword opportunities for your website. There are many great free keyword research tools online to help you get started.

To start, identify some primary keywords. These are the main keywords that most closely describe your business, for example, “SaaS” or “software”. Run them through a keyword generator tool, then use the results to collect a series of secondary keywords. You should look for those that have the highest search volume.

By doing this, you can discover the information people are interested in, what they’re searching for, and the language they’re using. You can also find out the exact questions users are entering into search engines - Answer the Public is a great site to use here.

So what are the benefits? Thorough keyword research can validate some of your buyer persona thinking, giving insights into what your customers (and potential customers) care about and their pain points. It can also give you some great ideas to kick-start your content marketing!

Check out your competitors

Don’t think this is somehow sneaky or underhand. It’s a highly saturated, competitive market out there, and keeping a weather eye on what your main competitors are up to can help you stay ahead.

Check out their websites and scout out their social channels. Find them online and see where they’re at on Google, along with the keywords they’re ranking for.

You can use your findings to learn from those companies in the same (or a similar) field as you. This will help you spot opportunities for gaps in the market and areas you can step in where your competitors can’t. It can also give you inspiration for what else you might include on your website or in your marketing plan.

Think About Goals and Buying Journeys

Once you’ve completed your buyer personas, think about the goals and buyer journeys of these fictional customers.

Questions you can ask yourself are:

  • Are these buyers looking for more in-depth information about a broad area?
  • Are they looking to learn more about a problems or potential solutions?
  • Do they want an understanding of who’s selling a particular product or service?
  • Are they looking to understand more specifically what you’re offering them?

The purchase process is progressive and consists of multiple touchpoints. Potential customers could be at any point on their buying journey - from early exploration to being ready to convert.

Considering these touchpoints means you can think about how your marketing is targeting potential customers at different stages of the sales funnel:

  • TOFU (Top of the funnel): The awareness stage
  • MOFU (Middle of the funnel: The consideration stage
  • BOFU (Bottom of the funnel): The decision making stage

It’s useful to think about how well your website meets the needs of potential customers at these individual stages and the role different marketing channels play during the journey.

You can get a clearer overview if you distil this information into a simple customer journey map.

Wireframes, Content Planning and your Marketing Plan

Now we move on to the action stages! There are three main elements here - wireframing, marketing planning and content planning. It’s important to note that you might need some help with some of these.


Wireframing is a process where designers create an overview of an interactive product (like a website) to establish the best structure and design to meet user and business needs. It should also outline the content requirements and subsections of each page of your website.

Shop around and find a user experience (UX) designer who can help create some wireframes for a new (or improved) website. This process sounds expensive, but it need not be if you use your research to this point to create a focussed brief.

The benefit of a wireframe is that it can keep your site user-focused and simple to use. It’s important to review it thoroughly, asking your designer to clarify how the wireframe design facilitates the pathways outlined in your customer journey map.

Marketing and Content Plans

The next step is to look at your customer journey map and turn it into a marketing plan!

The best way to go about this is by starting at the end goals of your customer personas at different stages, then working backwards by considering:

  • The best channel to use to reach them
  • What type of content will best grab their attention
  • The kind of content you might need on your website to draw them in
  • How you can "capture them" as a lead once they are on your website

Now that you have a website design and a marketing plan, it makes establishing the type of content you need far more straightforward. You need to plan for both the content on your website and the content you need to support your marketing plan across your website, socials and other marketing channels.


You can follow all the steps above to create a solid strategy for acquiring new customers, but they're unlikely to stick around if your brand isn’t attractive, professional and compelling.

A good starting point is to choose five or six words that you feel express the personality you want your brand to have. You could also search for some references of branding that you like the look or sound of.

Next, brief a branding designer to come up with some ideas for elevating the professionalism of your brand through the use of colour, typography, and tone of voice.

Once you're happy with the branding, you should apply this brief to your website wireframe. Both of these tasks (wireframing and branding) can be achieved at very reasonable costs if you shop around!

Build It!

When it comes to building your website, there are many platforms to choose from, but there’s a lot to be said for these main mid-market contenders:

  • Wordpress & Woocommerce
  • Webflow
  • Shopify

If you’re just starting out and need something up and functioning fast, it might be worth considering Squarespace or Wix. However, their  capabilities and customisation options are limited, and they don’t have as much scope as strategic website platforms.

And don’t forget to build up your marketing strategy by implementing the right tech stack. Trying to run marketing entirely manually is a recipe for disaster and could end up consuming all of your time.

Your tech stack doesn’t have to be complicated. Basic automation and scheduling tools will be enough to start. For example, consider how you can integrate your CRM with marketing tools to help automate common  marketing activities. You could also invest in a social media management tool to help schedule and manage social media activity.

Many marketing solutions are extremely reasonable in price, and you can achieve more than you think at a low cost.

Some final tips

Hopefully, we’ve covered all the basic steps you need to get started with your website and digital marketing plan - but we have three final tips we’d like to share with you!

  • Set aside 30 - 35% of your marketing budget to do the upfront work. This may mean building or doing slightly less, but what you do will be to a higher standard.
  • Avoid engaging agencies or development partners that follow a basic design and build process. They may be cheap, but they won’t give you a good website.
  • Pick a partner that will help with your digital strategy and guide your digital investment. Despite popular opinion, you don’t need to be a big company to afford one, and a good partnership will generate much more value for your investment.