by Beth McAuley
Published at 2020-06-11
Avery Swartz is the founder and CEO of Camp Tech, and the author of See You on the Internet: Building Your Small Business with Digital Marketing (Page Two Books, 2020), a clearly explained how-to guide that demystifies digital marketing for small business owners. It introduces concepts, terminology, and practices that make up the digital world we work in and how you can set goals to build your website and kick-starting your marketing machine.
I would have loved to have had this book when I was revamping my website a few years ago. The way Swartz writes and explains things makes you feel like she is right there with you—walking you through the many steps of creating a website. Having had her voice as a guide would have helped me understand the processes more clearly.
Now that I’ve read the book for this review, I am going back to read it again and to take notes on what I can do better. Swartz generously offers so many inspiring secrets and techniques for digital marketing. She knows her stuff and speaks to her reader in a respectful and educated way. This is a book you’ll want to read … at least once.
Each of the 12 chapters in this 203-page book opens with an engaging story about a client experience that introduces the chapter’s topic. These stories are based on real-life experiences because they are clients Swartz has worked with. Added in for illustrations of ideas and concepts are tables, charts, graphs, and bullet point lists, and each chapter concludes with a summary of key points you need to remember.
In her introduction, Swartz admits to finding herself in a conundrum. She was switching over to a new accounting software for her company, Camp Tech, and realized she would have to undertake this task herself in order to learn the process. She describes it as painful and somewhat embarrassing given she is a digital diva (my words)! But she did it. And given that experience, she was reminded of how intimidating technology can be, especially for new users. She was also reminded about what anyone needs when getting started with a new tech project: “A framework for planning, executing, and measuring digital marketing” (p. 5) because it will give you context and confidence.
The first chapter covers the most important element of building your digital marketing machine: your framework that will lead you to your goals. It is meant to be simple, not complicated. The intention is to identify your goal, choose your KPIs (key performance indicators), measure where you are, take the leap, measure again, and learn. She shows you how to lay out the elements of the framework in a chart that is easy to set up and fill in. It will help you measure your progress from where you are to begin to where you want to be.
Swartz believes that you must know how to link your metrics to your business goals and that you do not want to skip this step. She also points out that digital marketing is hard—it takes a lot of work and commitment and repetition, so much so that you might want to skip doing all that it requires. But don’t. Taking a shorter way to success doesn’t pay off.
Her next chapter (chapter 2) takes you into the world of domain names, emails, and hosting. She outlines why these are important to have—professional presence and building your brand. In clear language, Swartz explains how a domain name links to a website and to an email address that work to secure your identity and presence on the internet. And you want a presence, and you want a good one.
She explains IP addresses and how they work; how to register a domain name and where, and even suggests buying as many domain names as you’d like to safeguard your brand and marketing ideas. Once you have the domain name, you can build your email address that uses the same name—which contributes to building a consistent presence across the internet. The chapter also explains hosting platforms for websites and emails.
Chapters 3 and 4 take you into the world of building a website. And, to quote Swartz, “A website is the only thing that works everywhere—because the web is everywhere” (p. 34). And that’s why you want one. We all know that websites function to share information, sell products, promote services, build connections with clients and community, but how do you go about building one from scratch?
Chapter 3 outlines options for website platforms from hiring a developer to creating your own with WordPress, SquareSpace, or Shopify. She warns against choosing a platform that changes rules without consulting you, like Facebook. Know how much you want to spend going into it, because developing a well-functioning website is a big job that can be expensive and that also demands a lot of your unpaid time and attention.
The next chapter (chapter 4) outlines the importance of the three components of the modern website: being mobile and responsive, fast to download, and accessible for all users. It is essential to build these into your website from the get-go.
From here you need to know as much as you can about digital privacy, data security, and the law, which is the topic of chapter 5. Yes, it is a bit dry, but you need to secure your site from hackers, spyware, malware, ransomware, and phishing. She defines and discusses these threats and outlines steps you need to take to protect your customer data (names, emails, and other private details). Again she warns not to cut corners. You need to ensure digital safety and security for your clients. She comments: “If you went to a restaurant and there was a public health warning on the door, would you ever go back? Customer and client trust is a very important part of your brand” (p. 70).
Then there is the creative work of filling your website with content. This is an enormous challenge for anyone but Swartz walks you through the steps to get things started. Chapter 6 encourages you to tell your story, to write copy that explains why you’re different. What makes you stand out? She advises to throw away the elevator pitch (which I found hard to read given how much emphasis was placed on this not so long ago and how hard we worked to get that pitch down to 20 seconds). Instead, find your own voice, use your own vocabulary, and engage your industry. Keep your copy short and make it catchy, use headings and subheadings, sprinkle keywords everywhere, and use quality images.
Chapter 7 introduces SEO—search engine optimization—and provides great background detail on how SEO works. Swartz explains how Google connects to your website and why website speed, well-written code, and responsiveness are so essential to making that happen. Again, Swartz tells us to avoid the hacks and any shady deals that might be offered. The only way to build a strong SEO is through time and effort, and this chapter gives some great ideas on how to do that.
The other two essential components of digital marketing that help you meet your KPIs are engagement with social media to build presence and using email marketing to build connections. Chapters 8 and 9 are incredibly helpful—Swartz offers many great suggestions for getting started and building your practice. She encourages looking for the right social platform that works for you—some prefer Facebook over LinkedIn, others prefer Instagram over Twitter. She outlines ideas on what to post and when, how to manage your posts, and how to apply social media culture and etiquette.
And she stands by email! While email marketing might be old school, she says, it works. It is low tech, cost effective, and the email list you build belongs to you—which is a great asset for your business. Swartz introduces key questions that help shape email marketing campaigns: Why should your clients care? What can you offer them? And what is your most desired response (MDR)? Write the copy, decide on the best time of day and best day of the week, and make sure your emails are connected to your website’s analytics so you can track your KPIs.
Is it worth advertising? This is a question all business owners ask themselves when considering reaching their clients. Advertising, as we know, is highly competitive and even more so in the online environment. To help you decide if you should take this step and how, chapter 10 leads you through a series of questions: What is your goal? What is your message? What value are you offering? How will you measure it? Then you need to consider budgets and media options. Swartz looks at the different online options—Google Ads, banner ads, Facebook ads, display ads—and explores how they work and if they would work for you? If you want to try it out, she advises, get to know these options and then maybe start out small. Spend a little and see how it works for you.
How then, can you keep track of your growing client list? How can you keep that information safe, organized, and easy to use? In chapter 11, Swartz walks you through the importance of customer relationship systems (CRMs) and finding one that works for you. CRMs store all the details—emails, names, who they are and why they are important, and are essential to all your marketing projects. Swartz recommends considering options suitable for small business such as Insightly, Nimble, and ZoHo.
This chapter also explores the importance of metrics and measuring your website and social media traffic. For the website, Swartz highly recommends Google Analytics. She walks you through setting up an account and getting started, and defines the metrics you will be looking at for your website (audience, acquisition, behaviour, and conversion) and for your social media (awareness, engagement, conversion, and customer).
In her concluding chapter, Swartz asks you to sit down and take the time to answer six questions that focus your thinking on your goals, your strategy, your KPIs, where you are right now, and where you want to go. And then she tells you: Go!
I have to mention the index. I know! Who reviews the index? But if you are an indexer, you know that a good index can be judged by how well it reflects the contents of the book. This index is a gem. It is user-friendly and all the key terms and concepts are easy to find. In fact, just looking it over is a great refresher on the nuts and bolts required for building your business online.
I highly recommend See You on the Internet and I hope you’ll take the time to read it. Its content was familiar to me, for sure. I have managed The Editing Company for 13 years and have learned quite a bit about my digital side of the business. I have also had the privilege of working with Judi Hughes of Your Planning Partners. And I think this may be a reason why I connect so well with Swartz’s book: what I’ve learned about digital marketing with Judi is so well reflected in the book’s pages. There is much to be said about great teachers and how their styles and knowledge inspire. I have lucked out with having found two of them.