20 Ways to Effectively Market Your Small Business
Marketing is an afterthought for most small business owners. Between trying to manage employees and keep customers happy, small businesses owners usually don't have the time create and implement a marketing campaign that drives brand engagement, generates leads, and boosts sales. Because we live in a digital age, we're going to focus on the top online marketing strategies that you can use to promote and effectively market your small business.
Let's dig in.
1. Start an Email Marketing List
Starting an email marketing list may sound difficult, but it's really not. Think about all of the emails you receive from companies and brands, and then think about how they acquired that information from you-it was likely through an online promotion or a form on their website where they incentivized you to sign up. Hey, you've got to give a little to get a little.
2. Use that Email Marketing List
Email marketing is one of the quickest and most effective ways to drive business. Think about it for a second; you're delivering targeted messages straight to your customers' inboxes, and you're reaching them on their mobile device if they're on the go. More importantly, it's a completely free strategy that can deliver big results if your emails are engaging and your call to action is strong.
3. Focus On User Experience
It doesn't matter if you're an eCommerce company selling trendy socks or a SaaS company trying to collect data and then cold call-if your website isn't easy to navigate you've already lost the business. Think about the user. Does your website make it easy to find a product or service and then purchase it or inquire about it? The user always comes first, and you need to put yourself in their shoes and make sure that your site is easy to maneuver.
4. Make Yourself Look the Part
While we're on the subject of your website, it doesn't look like it was built in the '90s, does it? User experience is the priority, but design is a close second. Your website should feature full frame imagery and a progressive, clean look that makes your company look like the leader in your industry, even if you're a startup.
5. Use Social to Communicate
A lot of people get caught up using social media to shove their products and services in front of their fan base, and that can be a definite turnoff. Sure, social is an effective way to drive sales, but you should focus on using your social networks to engage with your followers and communicate with them. Ask them questions, and then use that feedback to put out a better product and improve your process.
6. Don't Let SEO Fall by the Wayside
There's a lot to think about when you're developing your marketing plan, but one thing you can't afford to let slip is your search engine optimization (SEO). As Google continues to make its algorithm changes, it's a necessity that you adhere to those changes and optimize your website accordingly so that you can obtain-and ultimately maintain-your high organic rankings.
7. Write Great Content
A big part of Google's ranking algorithm for SEO is content. The search engine giant wants to see that your website is consistently publishing informational and educational content that's meaningful. With everyone now putting more effort into content, you need to make sure that yours engages the reader and provides them with some sort of value. Don't write good content-it has to be great.
8. Make Your Followers Feel Special
There's nothing worse than being a consumer and feeling like you don't matter to a brand, especially if you consider yourself loyal to that brand. If you want to keep your followers happy and engaged, reward them with sweepstakes, promotions, and giveaways to show them you care and that you're not all about the sale (even if you are).
9. Use Paid Search
Paid search, also known as PPC, can be a daunting strategy for a lot of small business owners because there's a lot to learn and understand. From CPCs and CTRs to conversion rates and quality score, PPC can be confusing, but if you work with a specialist or hire an agency, it can work wonders for your business. SEO can take months-even years-to get to the top of Google, but with paid search, you can be on top of Page 1 within a couple of hours.
10. Have an Editorial Calendar
We talked about the importance of putting out great content, but knowing when that content is going to be published is just as important. Having an editorial calendar will keep your content initiatives in order and will assure that you're serving as the hub of information for your small business.
11. Deploy Remarketing
Remarketing, also called retargeting, is a form of paid search that helps you stay in front of potential customers and stay top of mind. In short, how it works is that you cookie your website visitors' browsers (using a snippet of code pulled from your PPC platform), which then allows you to follow them around the Internet with targeted advertisements as they visit other sites on the Web. Sound creepy? Maybe a little, but you'll probably change your mind once you see the data behind it.
12. Audit Your Competition
Look at your most successful competitor and really take a look at what they're doing on all cylinders: website, organic search, paid search, social media, email, etc. Use tools like SpyFu to analyze the competition, collect as much data as you can, and then use all of that information to mirror what they're doing, but do it better.
13. Use Video
Did you know that YouTube is the second-largest search network in the world? If you didn't, now you do, and you should now realize how important video is to your business. Video can help you educate users better than you ever could through your blog content, and video is also another signal that Google factors into its ranking algorithm for SEO. Use video for new product launches and walkthroughs, and host that video on your website and push it across your social channels.
14. List Your Business on Local Directories
Online local business directories like Google Plus Local and Bing/Yahoo Local will help people close to your business find you faster. Make sure you optimize those listings with a business description, accurate hours, and of course your address. Link the directory to your website and you'll get the added benefit of referral traffic.
15. Pay to Play on Social Media
Your organic posts on social networks such as Facebook don't show as far out to your fans and followers as they once did, which is why you need to put some dollars behind your social media efforts. It's not to say you need to pay for every post, but if you have an important announcement or an event coming up, throw some money behind it and choose your customized targeting to hit your desired demographic. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have amazing targeting options and analytics so that you can measure the effectiveness of your campaign.
16. Use Google Analytics
If you don't have Google Analytics on your website, stop what you're doing, go to www.google.com/analytics, and get the tracking code on your website ASAP. Google Analytics is a digital marketer's dream, showing you a plethora of data, including where your website users are coming from, how long they're staying on the website, which pages they're visiting the most, and most importantly, if they're purchasing your products or services. You, or someone from your company, should be looking at this data a few times per week, at the minimum.
17. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Optimized
We've all heard how important mobile is, and if your website isn't optimized for mobile devices, you're missing the boat on a ton of traffic, and probably leaving a lot of business on the table. It used to be that having a mobile site was a luxury, but now it's essentially a requirement, especially when you consider the fact that Google has publicly stated that not having a mobile optimized website will affect your SEO (dubbed "Mobilegeddon").
18. Offer Discounts
Everyone loves knowing that they're getting some sort of discount-even if it's five percent. Make sure that you let it be known that you're offering a discount by promoting it on your website, through social media, and via your email blasts. Again, you may have to give a little away to get something in return, but your margins should still be there.
19. Focus on Reviews
Reviews play a huge role in digital marketing. People love to read reviews and get other people's opinions, so you should develop a strategy to solicit reviews from your past customers. Maybe it's a personal email from the founder of the business or an incentive for leaving a positive review on platforms like Facebook, Google+, and Yelp, but either way, positive reviews need to find their way into your marketing strategy.
20. Listen to Your Customers
Sounds easy, right? Well, yes, but you've got to remember to do it. Your customers give you a different perspective, and they often have great feedback for small business owners on what they can do to improve. Make sure you're monitoring the comments on your social media profiles and have a section of your website where visitors can email you comments/feedback. You're never going to get it 100% right off the bat, so let your customers lend a hand.
Without some type of marketing strategy in place, you can have a great business, but people aren't going to know about it. These are the current digital marketing strategies that small business are utilizing to increase brand awareness and boost their customer base.
Image via Shutterstock
Follow Pete Schauer on Twitter