These four tips will help you lay the groundwork for an effective digital marketing strategy. According to the latest census figures, there are more than 27.9 million small businesses operating nationwide. which provides nearly half of the private-sector employment. The census data also showed that small firms accounted for 64 percent of net new job creation between 1993 and 2011. It’s clear from these numbers that small businesses are the engine powering the American economy. Today digital marketing acts as leveling force for small businesses around the world. When executed well, the right campaign can put even the tiniest business in front of the right buyers at exactly the right time. Now small businesses can compete directly with large firms, so long as they offer a quality product at a fair price. How do small business owners lay the groundwork for an effective digital marketing strategy? Start with the digital marketing basics The DIY instinct is at the core of most small business owners, and when it comes to digital marketing, many of the basics can be handled in-house. With that in mind, here are the first four things you should do to get your digital marketing operation off the ground. 1. Claim your business listings Many online service providers like Google, Bing, and Yelp offer free listings business owners can claim. Start by going to these sites and updating your business's name, address, phone number, and other important information. The more listings you claim, the more likely you'll be found when someone searches online. 2. Start a blog Companies running a blog get 55 percent more web traffic than their competition. It's hard to argue with those results, right? As you're blogging, remember to limit your posts to content that is both topical and relevant to your business so that visitors will return to your site on a regular basis. 3. Get social Research shows that 90 percent of young Americans and 65 percent of adults are regular users of at least one social media channel. That's a huge potential pool of new customers for your business. To reach them effectively, make sure your posts are both timely and interesting for your followers. Also, resist the urge to oversell. Social media users want to interact with brands on a personal level, so try asking questions or starting conversations with your audience. 4. Consider a PPC campaign Pay-per-click (PPC) ads put your business directly in front of consumers as they're searching the web. When implemented correctly, these ads will raise your visibility and drive qualified traffic at the same time. Both Bing and Google have their own PPC platforms that anyone can access, but the process can be overwhelming for less experienced users. Once you've incorporated these tasks into your regular workflow, you'll have created a foundation that will drive new revenue to your small business.