You have to spend money to make money.

While doing research for this post, we came across an entrepreneurial Redditor with some excellent insight on the quote, “You have to spend money to make money.”

In case you’re too lazy to click the link, our online pal dished out some solid advice we want to make sure you read:

“The phrase ‘You have to spend money to make money’ is the most accurate phrase I have ever heard. I use to try and do things for the least amount of money and for some people that may be Okay.. but in reality it’s incredibly hard and could ruin your chances at success. Here are a few things I think you should not bootstrap or try and buy for pennies.


  • Your web development. Please do not spend low amounts of money on this unless you can develop yourself at an intermediate level. You can shop around for a good bargain but don’t look for dollars on the penny. A website is crucial to your business and in most cases your website is your business in terms of ecommerce stores. A website isn’t just a visual thing there is also background technical aspects that come into play that can ruin your business and is the reason why you should put the money forward for a good developer(s).
  • Hosting. DO NOT! waste money on hosting. You can purchase a baby plan from hostgator or whatever at the beginning but once you see your business gaining traction online (even if it’s only been a month) please reinvest some of your hard earned money into upgrading your plan appropriate to your websites growth. The last thing you want is your website crashing at 1000 users with them all browsing your store, at the checkout or good forbid going through the payment process this can kill a business. Think about it, have you ever been at the checkout and the website is slow and you end up thinking “f*** it” and don’t end up purchasing what you wanted? I sure have.
  • Employees. If you have employees. Hire the right employees for the right amount. We have all seen videos of the UPS people tossing packages out of the trucks, ruining merchandise. This is all due to them not being paid enough for the tiring work they do. Obviously shipping is not your fault, but this example relates to those who have small boutiques or brick and mortar stalls. Don’t hire the lazy, apathetic stoner for 9 bucks an hour, instead hire the ambitious, hardworking college student who won’t accept anything lower than 13 bucks an hour.


These aren’t cardinal rules, they are just tips for people who might be doing what I was doing when I started my businesses. Once I had changed these small things, I noticed the growth and I realised that the money I spent ended up being repaid in the long run. There are plenty more but these are the most important ones.

If you click the link and venture on over to Reddit, you’ll see a lot of other entrepreneurs and business owners backing this person up.

Now, for the sake of this post we’ll assume you already have a company website. If you don’t, that’s the first place to start. Web marketing is relatively inexpensive when you compare the ROI of a website to what it cost to build that website.

Need a website or a website refresh? Click here to get in touch.

With that said, while this is a list of 5 inexpensive marketing ideas for small business owners, we’re not telling you to cut corners. We’re giving you some of the most cost efficient ideas you can use to start marketing your business.

If you prefer to skip ahead to a particular section, this is everything we’re going to cover:

Let’s get started.


Inexpensive Marketing Idea #1 — Word of Mouth Marketing (Ask for Referrals)

Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM) is probably the most cost-efficient idea on this list because it’s truly free. It’s also incredibly powerful and incredibly crucial to the success of your business.

About 62% of consumers search online for reviews and information before buying a product or service and a massive 90% trust their friends brand recommendations.

Another cool thing about Word of Mouth marketing (besides the fact that it’s free) is that there are multiple ways (strategies) to implement WOM into your overall marketing strategy.

For starters, you can encourage user-generated content (UGC) — sorry about all the acronyms.

UGC is content that’s created and shared by consumers about brands, products, and services. It’s honest, builds trust, and it gives you extra collateral to work with. In fact, a recent UGC Report from SoicalMediaToday unveiled:

  • 75% of respondents surveyed claimed that UGC makes content more authentic
  • 48% of marketers believe that UGC helps humanize their marketing efforts
  • Brand engagement rises 28% when consumers are exposed to a mixture of professional marketing and UGC

Another way to boost your small business marketing efforts via WOM marketing is to share customer testimonials/reviews.

Customer testimonials/reviews help reassure the value of what you claim you can do and they make consumers feel more comfortable about doing business with you. There’s a reason they call it social proof.

Once you’ve got a testimonial/review repurpose it into your marketing by utilizing it in:

  • A case study
  • On a dedicated landing page
  • On relevant product/service pages
  • As lead generation content

To get the most out of Word of Mouth Marketing you should also make it possible for people to leave ratings on your Facebook Page or website. Why?

  • 63% of visitors are more likely to buy when a website has reviews/ratings
  • Reviews can produce an 18% increase in sales
  • Reviews are 12x more trusted than brand descriptions

Other WOM marketing tactics you might research when you’re Googling how to market a new business include:

  • Offering incentives — give consumers a discount or free gift in exchange for referrals
  • Creating a referral program — this is usually a more organized, tiered version of offering incentives
  • Reaching out to industry influencers and thought leaders — quote them in your content or let them try your product/service for free


Inexpensive Marketing Idea #2 — Video Marketing (Collaborations)

Implementing a video marketing strategy isn’t a brand new idea. What has changed is how important video has become in (y)our overall outreach and campaign efforts.

According to HubSpot Research

  • 54% of consumers want to see videos from brands in comparison to:
  • Email newsletters — 46%
  • Social image based content — 41%

HubSpot also found that video was the most memorable (43%) in comparison to test (18%) and images (36%).

The good news about video marketing is that it can be as inexpensive or expensive as you want to make it. Again, we’re not saying you should cut corners, but if you’ve got:

  • A smartphone — and we bet you do
  • A YouTube channel — it’s free to create
  • A Facebook Page — it’s free to create
  • An Instagram account — it’s free to create
  • An imagination and some creativity — those are free too

You can start making videos for your business. Creating video is a small business marketing idea that’s proven to be successful time and time again because there’s just so much you can do with video it’s ridiculous.

You can make:

  • Demo videos
  • Brand videos
  • Event videos
  • How-to videos
  • Testimonial videos
  • Live videos
  • Personal message videos
  • Vlogs

The list goes on and on. But, if you’re just starting out and you’re looking for a good advertising idea that’s inexpensive and easy to create, we suggest trying your hand at making any of the video types above or a collab video.

A collab video is made when you reach out to another person/brand and offer to feature them and in your video and work with them on a video for their business in return.

The collab needs to be mutually beneficial so reach out to people whom you know you can provide value to. When you do find someone to collab with it can increase your (and their) audience reach, thereby providing you with a new place to market your business.

If you start out with nothing but your smartphone and some Instagram videos, that’s great! It takes guts to make videos and share them on platforms for other people to watch. But if we can be so bold as to give you one small business tip:

Invest in making video(s) as soon as you’re in a position (and have the budget) to do so.

Get yourself a decent camera, some editing software, and an idea board. Video is one of the most powerful marketing tools available today and while it’s inexpensive to get started with, you should plan to budget for it as you grow and make more money to invest back into your business.


Inexpensive Marketing Idea #3 — Content Marketing (Publish Great Content)

Another not so new, but oh-so-powerful inexpensive small business marketing idea is to, get this, publish great content. But gone are the days when catchy headlines and crystal-clear copy are the main measures of quality.

A great content marketing strategy is fundamental to success as a business owner. But in order to have a great content marketing strategy you have to ensure that any and all content you put out — copy, video, graphics, podcasts — are optimized for SEO, optimized for human beings, optimized for social media, optimized for locality, and that’s just to name a few.

Don’t let that scare you off implementing content marketing though. The benefits are just too good to pass up. For example:

  • 82% of customers have a more positive outlook on a company after reading custom content
  • Companies that blog have 434% more indexed pages than a business without blogs (making it easier for customers to find you)
  • 74% of companies find that lead quality and quantity goes up as they introduce a content marketing strategy

What we need to do here though is get down into the nitty-gritty of what makes great content so you can start bagging some of these benefits of content marketing for yourself.

In our opinion, great content connects with people and fosters relationships. This is what generates leads for your business. It’s also one of the most effective ways of building relevance and credibility.

To start, content marketing is an inexpensive marketing idea because all you need is a topic, the willingness to do a little research, a basic understanding of SEO, and a place to publish what you’re writing about. There are plenty of free options to publish written content including:

If you want to publish video content, like we mentioned in the previous section, there are plenty of free options for publishing video content too, including:

  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Facebook

All of these places are totally free (and paid) options for publishing content relevant to your business and your audience.

Once you’ve established where you want to publish great content, take a step back and look at how you want to market your small business and evaluate your goals. This will determine what kind of content you want to incorporate into your marketing and publish:

  • Blog Posts
    • In-depth articles
    • How-to posts
    • Listicles
  • Videos
    • Tutorial videos
    • How-to videos
    • Vlogs
  • Ebooks
  • White Papers
  • Case Studies
  • Visual Content
    • Infographics
    • Photos
  • Social Media Content

Pro Tip: If you want to keep your content marketing relatively inexpensive, you need to have a plan in place that will help keep you organized and on budget.

We can help you with this if you don’t know where to start.

Speaking of social media content…


Inexpensive Marketing Idea #4 — Social Media Marketing (Engage on Instagram/Twitter)

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Or something like that.

Platforms like Instagram and Twitter are great places to do some inexpensive marketing as they’re both free to use with the option to also run some incredibly well-priced ads.

These platforms also make it insanely easy to engage with other people. They’re hot places to network, collaborate, and lend a helping hand to others. But if you’re serious about doing some social media marketing, you’ve got to be committed to consistency.

Consistency is crucial for successful social media marketing.

Sending out one tweet every other day and posting to Instagram maybe once per month is not going to help you grow, nor will it help you connect with others on the platforms. Every platform moves at its own pace, but once you’ve figured out what that means for your business (look at how often your competitors are posting and what they’re posting) you need to tie that into your own social media marketing strategy.

Here are some tips that will help you out:

  • Write down how often you plan to publish on each social media platform that’s relevant to your audience/business
  • Make a list of the type of content you want to publish on each social media platform
  • Pick a tool to help you stay organized and keep your social media queues full — there are plenty of options out there but we use Buffer

When you’re building up your brand and marketing what you do on social media you have to publish consistently so your voice doesn’t get lost in the sea of the hundreds and possibly thousands of other brands and influencers your audience follows on these platforms.

That’s not us saying to go tweet 30 times a day or anything crazy like. We’re just saying that once you know what’s right for you and your audience, stick with it.

Be a picky poster, too.

In addition to being consistent with your social media posts, you should also be picky. Build your brand and marketing your products/services by posting quality content.

  • Post content that’s relevant to your audience
  • Post content that’s helpful to your audience
  • Post content that’s entertaining for your audience

A/B test posts until you find out what type of content your audience prefers to see from you on Instagram, Twitter, etc. and then give the people what they want. If you’re giving your audience what they’re looking for on social media, they’ll give you what you want–their business.

Don’t be a bystander.

Perhaps most importantly, though, you can’t be a bystander on social media if you want your social media marketing to be successful. You have to get out there and interact with other people and brands. Engaging interactions are a game changer in social media marketing.

Things you can do as a business to engage with others on social media include:

  • Liking tweets on Twitter
  • Retweeting tweets on Twitter
  • Liking posts on Instagram
  • Replying to other people’s posts even if they haven’t @mention you on both Twitter/Instagram
  • Commenting on other people’s posts on Twitter/Instagram
  • @mentions on both Twitter/Instagram
  • Use/search hashtags that your audience is familiar with

Posts work just like conversations. They should always be a two-way street, open to both sides (poster/viewer) to participate in.

The only thing the items on the list above cost are some of your time. If you’re serious about it, you can do a lot of successful marketing for your business. In case you’re not convinced, here are few fun stats about social media marketing:

In other words, social media marketing is a great inexpensive marketing idea for small businesses because there’s a lot of benefits to reap for not a lot of money-focused investment. Truthfully, it really just comes down to the amount of time you’re willing to invest.


Inexpensive Marketing Idea #5 — Content Marketing (Recycle Content)

We already talked about content marketing once before in this post. But we’re going to talk about it again because content is your greatest ally and best option for inexpensive marketing.

Once you’ve created some content you shouldn’t just post it once and wash your hands of it. Content can and should be recycled. Especially if you think about the amount of time it takes to produce a piece of content. Take this blog post for example. If you factor in:

  • Research hours = 2
  • Writing Hours = 2 (at the time of this sentence)
  • Proofing/editing = 1 hour
  • Image production = 1-1.5 hours (estimated)

That’s about 6.5 hours invested in this one blog post. Roughly one work day if you were to subtract a lunch break and coffee break from a regular 8 hour work day.

Looking at it broken down like that, doesn’t it seem silly to just publish this blog post and then move on to the next? Especially if it performs well upon being published? Of course, it does!

That’s where content recycling comes into play. You look at your best performing content, and we’ll hypothesize this blog post is a piece of our best performing content, and make:

  • 1 Instagram post
  • 1 LinkedIn post
  • 2-4 Facebook posts
  • 3-6 Tweets

And later on down the road we could also take something as comprehensive as this post and turn it into:

  • An eBook
  • A SlideShare
  • An infographic
  • An email course
  • A podcast episode series
  • A video series

The point of recycling content as an inexpensive marketing idea is to help you squeeze every last possible drop of juice out of your post. We want as many eyeballs as we can possibly get for every piece of content we produce because we strive to produce relevant, helpful content for our audience.

You should too.

We didn’t just slap this blog post together randomly one afternoon.

We did a lot of research to ensure this was a topic people were interested in. Then we took the time to create images we believe fit the post and would resonate with our audience.

And the benefit in doing that is that we will be able to repurpose this one piece of content into a minimum of 10 more pieces of content. This saves us both time and money and provides you with multiple resources and places to find information about inexpensive marketing ideas.

A good content marketer will strive to create less and promote more. You need to be efficient to stay relevant to the game, especially when you’re a small business that’s just starting out.

If you were to stop us on the street today and ask how to market a small business, this is what we’d tell you:

  • Create content
  • Recycle the content you create

If you do those two things, you’re going to get off to a great start. However, we do want to make a few disclaimers:

  • You can repurpose every piece of content you create whether it starts out as a blog post, a video, or an Instagram story; doesn’t matter, any type of content can be transformed into multiple types of content
  • You shouldn’t repurpose every single piece of content you create
  • You need to repurpose the content that’s high-performing, evergreen, and provides a lot of value

Keep these three things in mind when recycling your content and you’ll be just fine. Not only is recycling content an inexpensive marketing idea but it’s also rewarding in that:

  • It helps you expand your reach and reach new audience members
  • It helps you diversify the types of content you’re putting out in the world
  • It provides you with more backlink opportunities
  • It strengthens your messaging

Put out good content. Maximize the number of eyeballs you get on that content. Enjoy the fruits of your labor. It takes patience, but you will see success if you utilize content marketing in your small business.

Recap: 5 Inexpensive Marketing Ideas for Small Business

Here’s everything we just covered:

  • Word of Mouth Marketing — getting referrals
  • Video Marketing — making collab videos
  • Content Marketing — publishing great content
  • Social Media Marketing — engaging on Instagram and Twitter
  • Content Marketing — recycling content

This post was a long one but we felt like it was important to go really in depth with this topic. There are plenty of other people out there who will tell you they have the secret to all kinds of inexpensive marketing ideas and then just give you a dumpy list with no actionable advice to follow.

We’re not into that. Hopefully, if you made it this far, or even if you just decided to skim the end of the post here, you’ll be able to pull a marketing idea or two you’d like to use in your own small business.

Most of the time, before becoming a customer, a person will go through what’s called the marketing funnel (or buyer’s journey). It consists of different stages that flow from people poking around your website to doing something on your website.

Anyone who has a website wants visitors on their website to take certain actions. It’s common to want visitors to sign up for something, fill out a form, or buy a product.

When somebody takes an action you want them to take it’s called a conversion. The visitor converts from just browsing to doing that thing you’re hoping they do. It’s a marketer’s job to give visitors the push they need and inspire them to take that action.

Think about ordering a pizza online somewhere like There are a few steps, a funnel, that visitors must go through before ordering a pizza. They must:

  • Go to 🍕
  • Start their order
  • Choose the pizza/food item they want to eat
  • Add the pizza/food item to their cart
  • Place the order

There are other steps/actions that hungry pizza lovers can take between each of these mandatory steps, but it makes no difference to the funnel. For example, the customer could add a 2-liter drink to their order, or swap out the pizza for a pasta dish. But it isn’t a mandatory action to complete the order.

Why is it called a marketing funnel/buyer’s journey?

Because your marketing funnel represents the journey your prospective customers take from the moment they find out you exist to the moment they make a transaction with your business.

The marketing funnel consists of five stages:

  • Awareness — This is the stage where people are looking for answers like “who delivers pizza near me?”
  • Consideration — This the stage where people are doing research and comparing their options—Dominos, other pizza chains, local pizza joints.
  • Conversion — This is the stage where people decide to become a customer and purchase a pizza
  • Loyalty — This is the stage where customers are retained by instilling loyalty through things like rewards programs. Sticking with the pizza theme, one way Domino’s does a great job of this is via their “earn points for free pizza” program. It’s simple, it’s effective, and it’s smart. Customers create an account for a speedier checkout and earn points every time they purchase a pizza until they have enough to redeem a free one.
  • Advocacy — This is the stage where customers take to platforms like Twitter and Instagram to tell people how bomb the pizza was they just ate with photos of the food, by tagging the pizza place they ordered from and stuff like that.

Industry, business model, audience, product, and pricing all play a role in the shape that a funnel takes, but all marketing funnels are built on the foundation of these five stages.

To help you understand how the marketing funnel (buyer’s journey) differs between B2B and B2C brands, we’re going to highlight some key points for ya.


The Difference Between a B2B and B2C Marketing Funnel

  • B2C consumers often take a trip down the marketing funnel by themselves or with a small group of people they trust, such as family or friends
  • B2B consumers set off down the marketing funnel as part of a larger group often made up of multiple people from multiple departments across the business
  • B2C consumers may never interact with a sales rep (especially when we’re talking about ecommerce sites) and that’s totally normal
  • B2B consumers often interact with a sales rep as they approach the lower end of the funnel and that’s totally normal too


The Multi-Dimensional Funnel

There’s some debate among marketing professionals about the relevancy of the marketing funnel because the funnel is no longer linear.

Leads come into the funnel at different stages for different reasons. For example, someone might jump straight into the conversion stage and buy a pizza from Domino’s because their best friends advocated for the brand and they trust the referral.

That’s why the term buyer’s journey is so hot when talking about the marketing funnel. It better describes what’s happening as more and more customers take advantage of technology and social media to do their own brand research.

However, when referring to the marketing funnel/buyer’s journey one term does not hold more weight than the other. Both are used by marketer’s and so both are relevant.

The marketing funnel is still a thing. It’s just evolving into a multi-dimensional process that involves less hand-holding and more gentle guidance than before.


What Makes A Funnel Worth Anything?


Marketing funnel reports will show you exactly where you’re losing customers. Let’s go back to our Domino’s example. This is what we said the funnel looks like for them:

  • Go to
  • Start their order
  • Choose the pizza/food item they want to eat
  • Add the pizza/food item to their cart
  • Place the order

When you add a pizza to the cart, you get a popup to add some breadsticks (or some other side item) and a drink. Do customers have to purchase these suggested add-on items? No.

But it’s a good idea to track how many people abandon their order after this popup and how many people still purchase the pizza they put in their cart. Some people are turned off by pop-ups and some people just don’t pay attention – they may take a quick glance, think they have to spend more money to qualify for the delivery of the pizza they want and just decide to go make a sandwich instead.

Tracking this movement in the funnel tells Domino’s whether to keep the pop-up/how to trigger the pop-up based on the data they gather about whether this pop-up converts or acts as a roadblock for their customers.

There’s always room to improve the funnel and bump up those conversion stats but you must track the data first to make informed decisions that are going to impact the buyer’s journey.


Optimizing the Marketing Funnel

Optimizing the marketing funnel (buyer’s journey) starts with optimizing your landing pages. As much as you possibly can, you want to control the pages on which potential customer’s land and begin their journey with your website/business.

Landing pages are places for raising awareness about what you do and make potential customer’s go, “Hey! I want you to do that thing for me. Take my money!”

Here are some tips for optimizing your landing pages:

  • Write strong headlines. They’re what you use to attract prospects to your landing page to begin with. Don’t be afraid to test a few when designing out your landing page and determine which option performs best with your audience.
  • Highlight the benefits of what you do with your copy. A landing page is the place for your business to shine. Don’t blow it.
  • Include relevant images that also highlight what your business does. Tie your copy and images together to paint a picture for your customers about what it is you do and why they should choose you over everyone else.
  • Test fonts, colors, image sizes and layouts to better understand your customers respond to and engage more visitors

CTA’s (calls to action) are another crucial piece of your marketing funnel. It’s the tool you use to tell people what to do next after your landing page copy convinces them to sign up, buy something or do whatever it is you want them to do.

Your CTAs are what take people from the consideration stage of the marketing funnel to the conversion stage.

Here are some tips for optimizing your CTAs:

  • Keep your CTA short and sweet
  • Write a CTA that’s results-oriented – Instead of writing “Order Your Pizza Now,” try “Get Your Pizza Now”
  • Use contrasting colors to make your CTA button standout
  • Test, test, test! Test the colors of your CTA, test the copy of your CTA, test the placement of your CTA on the landing page and find out what performs best

Note: none of this (the landing page and CTA stuff) will matter if you’ve got a landing page that’s slow to load. People will bounce in a heartbeat if they’ve gotta wait.

And you can’t convert prospective customer’s if they never stick around long enough to see what your landing page is offering. Here’s a tip for checking your landing page load time:

  • Use Google PageSpeed Insights to run a detailed report of the load time for all the pages on your website and make any necessary changes to improve speed

After taking steps to optimize your CTA you might think there’s nothing more you can do to optimize the funnel. Wrong. There are still a few actions you can take to make the conversion portion of the marketing funnel (buyer’s journey) as smooth as possible:

  • Reduce the number of form fields your prospect needs to fill out to get whatever you’re offering. Only collect information that’s crucial for the purchase/acquisition they’re making.
  • Incorporate a one-step signup option where people can register or log-in with using other profiles like their Google Account or Facebook
  • Minimize the steps required for making a purchase/signing up for the service you offer

Like we said before, there’s always room to improve the marketing funnel (buyer’s journey). You just need know where to look.

To answer the title of this post, we think of the buyer’s journey (marketing funnel) as something that should be a seamless and memorable experience for potential customers/customers.

ZCM believes that simplicity is always best—it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about web design, content marketing, social media, or the marketing funnel. The foundation of every answer we give to every question you ask will be simplicity.

Because the fact of the matter is we have no business complicating any of these things beyond what the customer wants and what’s best for them. You don’t either.

Sorry to be frank but…not really. It’s the truth and it’s important that you hear it.

So, when you’re thinking about your marketing funnel/buyer’s journey and are wondering what you can do to make the most of it, ask yourself:

“How can I make this as easy as possible for prospects to navigate?”

If you’re always looking to make the buyer’s journey as simple as possible for prospective buyers, you’ll convert those prospects into customers and you’ll be just fine.

What is Digital Marketing?

Well, kids, that’s a great question. But to answer you we’re not going to quote some crappy Wikipedia article (no offense Wikipedia) or leave it to the big boys like HubSpot to define it for us.

No, we’re going to tell you how we define digital marketing here at Z Coast Media. Keep in mind, we’ve been doing this for a while now so we’ve had some time to really think about what the term digital marketing means to us. Ready?

Digital marketing is any type of marketing that involves an electronic device.

Click here to get help kicking off your digital marketing strategy and download our free guide to building a digital marketing strategy that works.

Being totally transparent here, digital marketing is just an umbrella term. A buzzword if you will, used to describe all the different forms of marketing and marketing tools that can be categorized underneath it.

From the beginning, the whole point of marketing has been to cater to the goals of your business by keeping and satisfying your customers. So it’s no surprise that digital marketing has become a thing. Especially if you look at these stats from Statista:

  • 65% of people in the US with electronic devices use their devices to browse the internet
  • 45% of people in the US with electronic devices use their devices as primary forms of communication
  • 39% of people in the US with electronic devices use their devices to browse and buy items/services

As a marketer, it’s only natural that you’d want to meet your customers where they’re at — online via an electronic device such as smartphones or tablets. And in order to do that, you’re going to adopt digital marketing tactics.

What are some digital marketing tactics you can use?

  • Content Marketing
  • Blog Posts
  • SEO
  • Web Design
  • Paid Search / SEM
  • Mobile Marketing (SMS, MMS in-app marketing)
  • Social Media Ads

The list goes on. But this list of digital marketing tactics won’t do you a lick of good without a plan. You’ve got to have a digital marketing strategy.

What is a Digital Marketing Strategy?

Knowing which digital marketing tactics you want to use is great but if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy, how will you know that your marketing is in the right place and appealing to the right audience at the perfect moment?

Spoiler: You don’t have a way of knowing any of that without a digital marketing strategy and that’s probably why you asked Google what a digital marketing strategy is in the first place.

Allow us to break it down for you:

  • Strategy asks the who, what, why and where questions.
  • Tactics answers the who, what, why and where questions.

A lot of people like to try and come up with the tactics part first and then develop their digital marketing strategy but we prefer doing things the other way around.

To quote one of my favorite books,  The Art of War by Sun Tzu: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.” In other words, your digital marketing strategy will only work if you’ve got the tactics in place to execute your plan.

Putting together a digital marketing strategy can feel intimidating if you’ve never done it before so we put this little guide together to help you out. It’s summarized below but you can download the full version by clicking here so you’ve got an easy reference if you need it.

How to Build Your Digital Marketing Strategy

How to Build Your Digital Marketing Strategy

  1. Get your buyer personas together. Ask the question: Who am I selling to? 

    Your marketing strategy, whether it’s digital or not, all comes down to who you’re marketing to. If you don’t have a clue who you’re targeting you won’t be successful. Sorry, but that’s just the truth.

    Your buyer personas should be a complete representation of your ideal customer(s). You can create buyer personas by researching, surveying social media, and interviewing your business’s target audience. Do your best not to make assumptions and base your notes on real data instead. Assumptions can literally make an ass out of you when building buyer personas because they can quickly take your digital marketing strategy down the wrong path.

    To put together the best buyer persona’s possible include an even mix of current customers, prospects and people outside of your contact lists that align with your target audience.

    While building your buyer personas, you’ll want to look at things like:

    Location, which you can use Google Analytics to easily identify
    Age, gather this by identifying trends in your existing prospect/customer database
    Income, gather this in one-on-one interviews
    Job Title, look at your existing customer base
    Goals, ask customers what their goals are and how your product / service has helped or is helping to achieve that goal
    Challenges, talk to your customers
    Hobbies and Other Interests, talk to your customers
    Priorities, talk to your customers and find out what they value 

  2. Identify your own goals and the tools you’ll need to achieve them. Ask the question: What are my goals and what tools do I need to achieve them?We just talked about this: strategy first, tactics second.

    Define the goals of your business, but whatever those goals are, just remember that you need to know how to measure them. Every business will measure the effectiveness of their digital marketing strategy differently.

    What’s vital is your ability to measure the effectiveness of your goals. 
  3. Take inventory of your digital marketing channels and assets. Ask the question: What do I currently have to work with? 

    Once you’ve got your goals down take a look at your available digital marketing channels and assets. You’ve got to figure out what role they’ll play in your digital marketing strategy. The easiest way to categorize your digital marketing channels and assets is to group them into the three groups below:

    Owned Media — Owned media refers to the digital assets that your business owns. This may include but is not limited to your blog, your social media profiles, or imagery.

    Earned Media — Earned media refers to the exposure you’ve earned via word-of-mouth. This may include but isn’t limited to things like guest posts, the customer experience you’re providing, or recognition on social media (shares for example)

    Paid Media — Paid media is pretty self-explanatory (we think) but just in case…paid media refers to any channel that you spend money on to catch attention and capture leads. This may include but is not limited to FB ads, Instagram Ads, or Google AdWords.

    Once you’ve gathered all this info together, categorize it in a spreadsheet so that it paints a clear picture of your existing paid, earned, and owned media.

    Now you can easily see what you might try to incorporate more of into your digital marketing strategy and what you might cut back on based on the results you’re seeing. 

  4. Audit your owned media. Plan your owned media. Understand that owned media is at the heart of digital marketing. Ask the question: What’s working for me? 

    Yeah, we said it. Owned media is the heartbeat of your digital marketing strategy. At least, it should be.

    The thing about owned media though is that it almost always takes the form of content and that’s why you need to audit it and plan it. If you’re serious about building your digital marketing strategy, you have to decide what content is going to help you reach your goals.

    Auditing your existing content is hard work but well worth it in the long run.

    To audit your existing content, make a list of your existing owned content, then rank each item on the list according to what performed best in relation to your current goals.

    The idea behind auditing your content is to figure what’s working, what isn’t, and how to set yourself up for success with your future content plans. After this is done you should discover any gaps in your existing content and be able to formulate a plan on how to fill them.

    For example, if you’re a camera company and you find out that one of your persona’s biggest challenges is figuring out how to set up lighting for videos on a budget, but you don’t have any content that addresses that issue, it might be time to create some.

    Based on the gaps you identify you can put together a content creation plan. The basics of any content creation plan should include:

    — Title
    — Format
    — Goal
    — Promotional Channels
    — Why you’re creating it
    — Priority level

Once you’ve accomplished this just repeat for your paid media and your earned media. After you’ve completed all the steps above you should have:

  • A clear picture of your buyer personas
  • At least one digital marketing-specific goal (more is great)
  • An inventory of all existing owned, earned, and paid media
  • An audit of all existing owned, earned and paid media
  • A content creation plan

Now for the fun part! It’s time to bring it all together.

Your Basic Digital Marketing Strategy

Your Basic Digital Marketing Strategy

You’ve done all the hard stuff! Yay! Now you get to build your digital marketing strategy doc. Your strategy document should map out what actions you plan to take to achieve your goals. It should answer all the questions you asked while researching and auditing.

Again, it’s probably best to use a spreadsheet for this — they’re a necessary evil — and if you want to go extra easy on yourself, map out your strategy according to the media framework you’ve used up to this point.

You should also think long-term when creating your strategy. We suggest a minimum of 12 months depending on how your business operates. For example, you might cook up something that all ties together like this:

  • January — Start blogging. Publish a new blog on a bi-weekly schedule for the whole year.
  • April — Start repurposing content from blog posts in Q1 into videos for your YouTube channel
  • July — Run a summer giveaway that requires audience members to watch a video, share a social media post, or download a piece of content to enter
  • October — Start focusing on FB ads and Instagram Ads

Those are just some snippets from our own digital marketing strategy for 2018 but we hope it’s enough to inspire you to get started.

If you’re interested in learning more or chatting about building an effective digital marketing strategy for your business, leave us a comment below or get in touch with us by clicking here.

A Letter from Us to You

Hey y’all.

The blog has been a little lackluster as of late, hasn’t it? We know. And we’re sorry about that. We are a web design and marketing agency after all. One of the things we preach on the regular is how important it is to figure out your blog schedule and stick to it.

Then we go and let things get quiet for a little while. However, we feel like we have an okay enough excuse that you’ll forgive us. We’ve been busy. On it’s own, that’s not really a sufficient enough excuse so let us tell you what’s happening behind the scenes and what you can expect from Z Coast Media in 2018.

Brand Refreshing

We’re Refreshing the Brand

We’ve been super occupied behind the scenes really trying to zero in on what we want Z Coast Media to stand for and how we can best portray that on our website, in our social media, and to any past, present, and future clients.

Finally, after several months of hard work and late night conversations, we’ve figured out what it is we really want. You see, the funny thing about starting your own design and marketing agency (or any small business for that matter) is the growing pains that you go through. They can make you feel like you’re just missing the mark sometimes. But you should never let that stop you.

Growing pains are a good thing and it’s okay if it takes a little time for you to figure out what it is that you really want to demand from yourself and your brand.

Now, we’re not saying there’s going to be a dramatic change in what we do at Z Coast Media, we just feel like we can do better at more clearly expressing what it is we love to do and how we can better help you do what it is you love to do.

So we hope you keep an eye on the website. We’ve got a lot of exciting things we’re gearing up to reveal in 2018 and we can’t wait for you to see them. Please, don’t be shy about letting us know what you think when we do launch our refresh. Leave a comment on this post or hit us up on social media when things start rolling out.

Sneak Peek: We might be bringing some new color into the branding palette. What do you think?

We’re Setting Up our Editorial Calendar a Little Differently

Our new brand refresh is going to have an impact on the blog and other types of content we’ll be putting out into the world and we really hope you like it. We’re almost done with our 2018 marketing and editorial calendars so we wanted to give you a heads up about what’s coming.

Longer, more in depth blog posts — We want to be a resource for you. We want to be your helping hand, your cheerleader, and maybe, just maybe, your new project partner. But we both know you’ll never trust someone with your project if you don’t 100% trust that we know what we’re talking about.

That’s why we’re planning to start publishing longer, more in-depth pieces of content on the blog. Almost like mini-guides to all things marketing and design for your small business. It’s one of our goals to be your one-stop shop for resources and tools no matter where you are in your own branding (and business) journey.

With that said, we’re planning to adopt a bi-weekly posting schedule with posts that are 1500+ words or more. That way you’ve got something valuable to reference that you can bookmark and look back on as you need it. If you’ve got any requests about something you’d like to know more about when it comes to marketing or design, we’re all ears. Just hit up the inbox.

Videos! — That’s right boys and girls and people of all ages, Z Coast Media is going to start putting out video content. It’ll be entertaining, we promise.

As of the writing of this post we just started Vlogmas over on our brand new YouTube channel so we hope you go check it out. You can visit our YouTube channel by clicking here. You can also subscribe to the channel when you get there so you don’t miss out on any of the action.

Complete transparency here: neither of us has ever done much with video before. We’re learning just like a lot of you reading this post probably are/want to. That’s why we decided to dive straight in and just go for it. Vlogmas is a fun little YouTube “challenge” that we thought we could make good use of to get our feet wet with talking to the camera, recording, and video editing.

After December, in addition to regular vlogging, so you can see what goes on at Z Coast Media, we’ll also be doing more structured videos that we hope serve as another valuable content resource for anyone who needs it.

If you’ve got any video suggestions or requests, feel free to shoot Paige a message here:

Our Project Load is Ramping Up

And we are so pumped about it!

If there’s one thing we’re super thankful for this year it’s our clients. We like staying busy and helping other people create stunning websites, exciting new eCommerce stores, and beautiful new branding elements.

You can expect some exciting new case studies in 2018 outlining and describing some of our most exciting 2017 projects. We can’t wait to introduce you to the brands we’re wrapping up the year with and if you’re reading this blog, we think you’ll be excited to see a showcase of some of our latest work too.

Keep your eyes peeled in the New Year. Things are going to be more active than they’ve ever been here on the blog, on YouTube, and on our social media.

If we’re not connected yet, let’s do that! We love making new friends so we’ll make it easy for you to find us:

Closing The Year With Christmas Cheer

Closing The Year With Christmas Cheer

So do you forgive us? Even though the blog has been quiet we haven’t stopped working. In fact, we’ve been working harder than ever before. But we do promise to do better in 2018.

Hopefully, you plan to stick around and see for yourself. With that said, this will probably be the last Z Coast Media blog post of 2017. We still have a lot of work to do and then a lot of little finishing touches after that.

The plan is to kill two birds with one stone and make the most of this holiday season while ramping up our new YouTube channel and come back in 2018 with all kinds of exciting goodies for you and anyone else who visits the site.

Everyone at Z Coast Media hopes you have a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!  See y’all in 2018.

— Paige & Nick

What tools do you use for online marketing?

Are you limited by your budget? Stretching it too thin on enterprise level marketing tools?

Guess what: you can take care of all your online marketing needs without spending a dime.

That’s right buddy. You don’t have to spend a penny on your marketing stack, a.k.a all the tools you use to cover your online marketing needs. There are free options available for everything from email to social media to content marketing and beyond.

As entrepreneurs and SMB business owners, we know that it’s no easy feat assembling a 100% free marketing stack. But we know it’s possible because we’ve done it.

There’s a lot of great choices out there—free and paid—but boy are we grateful to all the companies who are so passionate about what they do, they’re willing to help the little guys out too with freebies.

Shout out to y’all ‘cause you rock.


Yo Z Coast, what’s in your marketing stack?

We’re glad you asked! Here’s an overview of our favorite free marketing tools and what you can expect to read more about in this post:

  1. Facebook Audience Insights
  2. Buffer
  3. Pablo
  4. Google Analytics
  5. WordPress
  7. Hemingway
  8. HubSpot Marketing Free
  9. Open Site Explorer
  10. Screaming Frog
  11. Canva
  12. Answer the Public
  13. Google Trends
  14. Simply Measured
  15. Zoho
  16. Quora
  17. Grammarly
  19. Website Grader
  20. MentionMapp
  21. Flipboard

Let’s talk about why these marketing tools are awesome—besides the fact that they’re free.

Facebook Audience Insights

Facebook Audience Insights is an unbelievable tool for doing market research. You can check out specific demographic information about your audience and learn more about them in the process.

Audience Insights also works well as a content research tool. For example, if you’re a local SMB you can type in your service area or location, toggle your advanced options, select “home” and start learning exactly what homeowners in your local area are interested in.


Every small business, entrepreneur, marketer, however you label yourself, should have a go-to social media scheduling tool. Buffer is ours. Scheduling out social media posts in advance helps you save bookoos of time.

We use the Forever Free / Individual Plan that allows you to connect a profile from each of the following social networks:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

You can even link a Pinterest account if it’s on-brand with your business to have a page there.

Buffer makes it easy for us to stay ahead of the game and connect with our audiences on social media. It’s a must-have in our marketing stack.


Speaking of Buffer, they also offer a free image making tool known as Pablo to help add a little spice to your social media. As a free Buffer user you have access to 600,000+ images via Pablo that can make anyone look like a social image pro.

Not everyone is a designer at heart and Buffer knows this. Pablo makes it super easy by providing you with a base image that you can overlay with text, logos, filters, and then download and share.

It’s a nice little time-saver and you don’t need to know the first thing about Photoshop to be good at using it.

Google Analytics

Sometimes it still amazes us that Google just gives us everything we need for free. You too. It’s out there for the taking, just waiting on you. And the best part about using Google Analytics? It pretty much does everything for you.

You can use Google Analytics to:

  • Track website traffic
  • Track traffic from specific social networks
  • Check engaged reading time by page
  • View real-time site stats

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It can feel a little overwhelming at first given the monstrous amount of information Google Analytics just hands to you for free, but once you learn your way around, the value you gain from the insight it provides is priceless.

Wary of setting up and using Google Analytics for yourself? We can help you with that.


Aah, WordPress. You’re the best for hosting websites and you’re also an amazing free option for creating kickass landing pages that convert.

WordPress is an excellent choice for blogging but sometimes it gets overlooked as a resource for creating static pages too—eBook downloads, webinar signups, and so on. Use it! It’s really just as easy as going to Pages from your dashboard and creating the landing page.

We’ve talked about on the blog before, here.

It’s definitely worth another mention. Keyword research is essential to every SEO campaign you ever run. With you can gather ideas from all kinds of different places that help you figure out what terms you should be targeting.

You don’t get search volume or keyword competitiveness at the free level but if you have a few extra bucks it is an available option. Just saying.

Hemingway App

Clear and simple writing is something all content marketers strive for. Hemingway helps make that possible.

All you have to do for Hemingway to do its thing is paste your copy into the editor. The app then analyzes your text and highlights the dense parts, unnecessary adverbs, and more; telling you what to keep and what you can do without.

Hemingway is a great tool for running blog posts, landing page copy, social media copy and more through for one final edit before posting.

HubSpot Marketing Free

HubSpot Marketing Free works on any website for any small business and it’s really good at helping generate email leads.

In fact, using HubSpot Marketing Free is like looking through a crystal ball and seeing everything a lead does before and after they fill out a form on your site.

It quickly gathers email addresses from your website and provides key data points. This tool will even show you which pages are converting higher than others.

Open Site Explorer

Pop quiz: Name something crucial to establishing your domain authority.

If you answered understanding your link profile in addition to your competitors, you passed. That’s where Open Site Explorer comes in. Use this freebie to find all the sites linking to you and your competitors and get the upper hand.

Screaming Frog

We’re sure you’ve heard of Screaming Frog before. That’s because they’re the go-to crawl tool for basically everybody. They have a paid version of their tool but the free version is often more than enough to suffice for SMBs.

With Screaming Frog’s free tool you can crawl up to 500 pages for free and:

  • Find broken links, errors, and redirects
  • Analyze page titles and metadata
  • Review meta robots and directives
  • Audit hreflang attributes
  • Discover duplicate pages
  • Generate XML sitemaps


Canva is another cool freebie for creating images but it’s useful for more than just social media images. In fact, there are over 2 million people out there who trust Canva to help them create awesome images for blog posts, banner images, infographics and much more.

A free Canva account comes with optimized image sizes and templates that make it easy to create the perfect image for whatever platform you’re posting to.

Answer the Public

Answer the Public is a visual keyword research tool we mentioned in the same post as So why mention it again, here, in a post about free online marketing tools?

Because we’re sharing our marketing stack with you and it’s an integral part of our own content strategy. We use Answer the Public a lot. It helps us determine what topics and questions we want to rank for around our primary keywords.

You should do this too. When Google looks at which websites have the best information about a topic, you’re more likely to rank. Following this strategy, you’re also more likely to convert visitors because you’re answering the questions they have.

Google Trends

Did you know that you can take a peek into what the world is searching for? For free? You can with Google Trends. You can also see how interests have shifted over time regarding certain topics. Heck, you can even look at how a common interest has shifted over time in different places all over the world.

For example, “growth hacking” and “artificial intelligence” are terms that we’ve been hearing a lot about lately. You probably have too. Put those terms into Google Trends and you can see for yourself if there’s been a sudden interest spike in either.

Simply Measured

Among the many free tools and reports you can grab from Simply Measured, here are some of our favorites:

  • Facebook Content Analysis
  • Facebook Competitive Analysis
  • Facebook Insights Report
  • Instagram User Report
  • Traffic Source Report
  • Twitter Follower Report
  • Google + Page Report


Disclaimer: All of these reports are free to run, but Simply Measured will ask for a Twitter follow or FB mention in exchange for the reports they give you. Totally worth it.


Have we mentioned that you can run your entire business with Zoho for free?

Oh, well, now you know! Zoho is the bomb and our favorite CRM out of any other free or paid option out there. Zoho Free is available for up to 10 users and loaded with features and information, as the very best CRMs should be.

Zoho Free features a responsive dashboard and refreshing UX that includes sales, email marketing, reporting, and customer service all in one modern, intuitive package.

Recommended reading: Business Daily, Zoho CRM Review


More and more marketers are starting to use Quora and we’re big advocates of this trend. It’s useful for researching topics, digging into emerging trends, and starting conversations with your audience.

Quora comes in handy while doing market research, content research, and monitoring buzz and concerns among your target audience.


Grammarly is a nifty little Chrome extension that checks your spelling and grammar. It’s nice to have around as it can help prevent any social media or blog post mishaps before publishing.

Highly recommend you keep this one in your back pocket at all times. You know, just in case. is not breaking news.

Nor is it trending hashtags.

It is simply an automatically generated list of the best links being shared on Twitter. The list is sourced via an algorithm that focuses on people who “always tweet the best links first.”

However, we’re never told who these people are. By taking advantage of the links you can find via, you can generate a little extra buzz and engagement on your own business Twitter account.

Just remember to double check where the link goes and make sure it’s a topic that’s relative to your audience; if you run a clothing store and start sending out a bunch of tweets about understanding V8 (Google’s open source JavaScript engine) it doesn’t matter how trendy it is at the moment, it’s probably going to cost you followers, because it has nothing to do with them or your industry.

Website Grader

Website Grader is another freebie from HubSpot that gives you the overall performance score and grade of your website.

Factors that determine the grade of your website include:

  • Mobile responsiveness
  • SEO
  • Speed
  • Security

If you’re lacking in any of these areas, Website Grader will offer up some tips on how to improve. This is a good tool for your own website and it can also be useful when wrapping up web design projects with clients.


MentionMapp is a phenomenal tool. It shows you how Twitter users are connected with each other and maps out all your connections in an easy to explore visual format.

MentionMapp delivers unbeatable insight into people, places, events, and conversations that you shouldn’t miss out on. It’s great for unveiling opportunities and connections for your SMB.


Got some favorite topics, industry influencers, or thought leaders you want to keep up within one easy place? Download Flipboard.

Flipboard is like your own personal magazine that makes it easy to organize all of your interests. Read stories. Collect stories. Share stories. That’s what we do anyway. Flipboard is great for sourcing curated content and gathering inspiration.

Your Turn: What are your favorite free online marketing tools?

What are some freebie tools you’d add to this list?

See any you haven’t tried before?

We’d love to chat with you about what free marketing tools you find most helpful and if you plan on trying any from our own marketing stack. Don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts in the comments.

Rather chat in the privacy of your own inbox? You can shoot us a message if you like.


“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Creative entrepreneurs wear all kinds of hats—we’re digital marketers, we’re designers, we’re copywriters, we’re a little bit of everything. In any case, as a creative entrepreneur, you must have the ability to transform the beige and boring into something that everybody wants.

But this is easier said than done.

We know plenty of designers who want to improve their copywriting skills and plenty of copywriters who want to know how to do a thing or two in Illustrator. Why? Because they know it will set them apart from the competition.

It doesn’t hurt for digital marketers to know a thing two about design and copywriting both but creative entrepreneurs should have at least a basic understanding of all three—digital marketing, copywriting, and design—if they want to succeed.

A little harsh, but true.

Loosely translated, our little quote from Dr.Seuss at the beginning of this post means you should never stop learning and expanding your skill set if you want to continue to grow.

If you want to excel as a creative entrepreneur we recommend checking out any and all of the books on this list.

What’s your favorite book about design, digital marketing, or copywriting? Tell us in the comments, please.  We’re looking for new titles to add to our bookshelf.


Sharpen your copywriting skills, read

  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – This book is a treasure and by far one of the best things you will read in your life. Creative entrepreneur or not. It’s targeted more towards creative writers and novelists. It won’t help you write copy that sells but it will inspire you and teach you how to keep creating every single day.
  • D&AD: The Copy Book – The Copy Book is a must have for creatives and copywriters. The lessons found here on writing clearly and persuasively apply to all creative entrepreneurs.
  • Read Me: 10 Lessons for Writing Great Copy – If your goal in life is to master the written word Read Me will teach you how. The 10 lessons inside are easy to understand, difficult to apply. But that’s kind of the whole point. Once you’ve mastered the application you should consider yourself a great copywriter.
  • The Idea Writers – Do you want to understand the realities of creative business today? Read this book. The Idea Writers provides an in-depth understanding of how the advertising business works and how we as creatives can bring our terrific ideas to life.


Fine-tune your design skills, read


Whet your digital marketing appetite, read

  • All Marketers Are Liars – Seth Godin discusses the importance of being authentic with your branding campaigns. To be a great digital marketer / creative entrepreneur, you have to be genuine.
  • Content Inc. – The full title of this one is actually Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses. It’s a mouthful, but it’s a fundamental read for anyone who wants to understand the importance of content in marketing campaigns.
  • Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers – Although this book is more about customer service than straight up digital marketing, it’s an important read for everyone because smartphones and social media have fundamentally altered the science of how people make and respond to complaints.
  • You’re My Favorite Client – Successful marketing campaigns are built on a foundation of understanding your client’s expectations. You’re My Favorite Client provides you with tools and techniques you can use to ensure you kick every project off right: with a clear understanding of what your client wants.

Just like Dr.Seuss said, “The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” That’s what creative entrepreneurship is all about, right? Learning and growing your creative abilities for success?

That’s how we interpret anyway. If you think differently, feel free to tell us about in the comments. We’d be happy to talk.

The road to becoming the digital marketer on everybody’s wish list isn’t always paved. But we can tell you that if you want to make the ride a little easier you need to put some work in on developing your technical skills.

Right about now you might be thinking, “Well, you’re sending me mixed signals, Z.”  We promise we’re not! It is possible to be both creative and technical.

In fact, it’s almost crucial if you want to have a career in digital marketing. For clarity’s sake though, we’ll answer your questions real fast before we dive into our must have technical skills list.

What’s a technical skill?

Honestly, it depends on who you ask. Answers to this question could include:

  • SEO
  • PPC
  • Analytics
  • Content Writing
  • Sales copywriting
  • Graphic Design

Then again, if you go looking somewhere like The Balance for your answer, you’d get something like this:

Technical skills are abilities and knowledge needed to perform specific tasks. They are practical and often relate to mechanical, IT, mathematical, or scientific tasks. Some examples include knowledge of programming languages, mechanical equipment, or tools.”

Technical skills are in demand

The search for digital marketers with technical skills, technical marketers if you will, isn’t new, but they do seem to be in higher demand than ever before.

More and more brands are going digital and the more digital a brand becomes, the more technical their approach is. V3B summed it up nicely when they wrote:

“…marketers of the future will need to add a technological skill set to their creative talents if they want to take advantage of the opportunities digital marketing offers.”

And we’re here to tell you that the future is now.



7 technical skills every digital marketer needs

The skills we listed below weren’t just pulled from a hat. They’re technical skills that we use every day in marketing. They’re also widely used by other marketers we know outside of Z Coast and our day jobs.

Do yourself a favor and add these bad boys to your skill set:

  1. Basic Code Skills – HTML/CSS/JavaScriptOnly add JavaScript if you’re feeling frisky. Get familiar with HTML/CSS first. Ask anybody if you should learn some basic front end development and we’d be real concerned if they told you no. Why? Because knowing HTML/CSS/JavaScript makes you more valuable as a digital marketer.Knowing these coding languages it means you can whip up landing pages that don’t look like crap, fully operate within a CMS (like WordPress) and interact with the web more confidently—SEO requires a good understanding of HTML for anything technical or on-page.

    If you know JavaScript, you’ll get a lot more out of Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager because you’ll enable yourself to work with custom variable and advanced tracking.

    Just because you didn’t get a formal education in front end web development doesn’t mean there aren’t a ton of awesome resources out there for you to learn.We’d suggest starting with W3Schools or Code Academy (which as come along way in the past few years in terms of courses offered).

  2. Content Support Skills – Content Management SystemsSpeaking of Content Management Systems (CMS), it doesn’t hurt to know how they work either. WordPress and Drupal are two of the most in demand CMS skills on digital marketing resumes so you might want to familiarize with at least one of them.It all depends on what you plan to do. WordPress is very easy to use, Drupal is best suited for enterprise sized websites and both are mobile friendly. Take your pick.

    Our personal preferences drift towards WordPress but here’s a resource for each so you can choose for yourself which you would rather learn:

    Learn WordPress

    Learn Drupal

  3. Data Support Skills – Google Analytics

    You may think you know Google Analytics (GA), and we hate to be the ones to break it to you, but you’re probably not getting as much out of it as you could.Analytics technology in general, not just GA, are constantly getting more sophisticated and there’s an increasingly diverse number of tools available to help you get the job done.It’s inexcusable not to have a basic understanding of how tracking and measurement works as a digital marketer. Let us help you out. Give this a whirl:

    Google Analytics Academy

    Learn. Go forth and be successful.

  4. Data Support/Social Media Skills – Google Tag Manager (GTM)Tag management is the new kid on the block but it fits right in with analytics.GTM is a completely separate tool from GA. It’s a user-friendly solution to managing the tags, or the snippets of JavaScript that send information to third-parties, on your website or mobile app.

    To learn about GTM in more detail, we suggest reading this informative article from Lunametrics.

  5. Content Support Skills – Graphic DesignSpecifically, you need to add some skills from Adobe CC to your resume. You may not necessarily need to have the skills as a full-blown graphic designer but your life will be a lot easier (as will the lives of the designers you actually work with) if you pick up some design skills in your spare time.This can be an especially useful technical skill if you work on a small team with less than a handful of time-constrained designers. The better you are at visual design, the more deliverables you unlock.

    If you’ve got an Adobe CC subscription, there’s already a ton of great tutorials at your disposal. However, we’d also suggest poking around to step up your design game.

  6. Data Support Skills – ExcelWe thought long and hard about including this one on the list because we have a serious love-hate relationship with Microsoft Excel. It’s one of those necessary evil kinda things.Knowing Excel is a valuable technical skill to have because you develop an entirely different expertise with the software than your friends in the accounting department.

    For example, you could hone your Excel skills for anything from task management to complex predictive analysis. Learn it:

    10 Excel Tricks Every Marketer Should Know

    Microsoft Excel – From Beginner to Expert in 6 Hours

  7. Marketing Tool SkillsThis one is a little more “generalized” but it’s just as important as everything else you’ve read up to this point. You can’t be a digital marketer if you lack knowledge in common digital marketing tools like:





    Just to name a few. If you’re in email marketing, master a tool like MailChimp. If you’re area of expertise is more social media related, get to know a tool like Buffer. Of course, it never hurts to know both HubSpot and Salesforce too.

    Salesforce and HubSpot even offer free certifications that can help you stand out from the crowd. Why not grab them?

And there ya have it folks, the technical skills that make great digital marketers. You don’t have to be an expert in all of these things and by gosh if you’re a killer copywriter, nobody’s going to care if you think AJAX is just a dish soap.

Fun fact: it’s not.

But if you want to be a well-rounded digital marketer, learning any of the above technical skills will help you achieve your goal.

How have these technical skills helped you in your job? Which do you want to learn next? Let us know in the comments.