Image Credit By: marketingdigest.com
some best marketing tips for online small businesses
1. Publish Great Content. I don’t think I even need to say this, but it’d be neglectful not to mention the importance of kick-ass content. If you can create it yourself, all the better (isn’t free always better?). Even if writing isn’t your strong point, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting someone on your team to crank out some articles for your blog. Try top 10 lists, tip collections, best practices for your industry, etc. I shared a bunch of creative content marketing ideas here, and Elisa recently rewrote the rules of content marketing for small businesses.
The first step to marketing is defining your end-game and strategizing your budget. The first question consultants ask those big, bad corporations going through restructuring is, “What do you want?” This is when you need to decide what is important to you; do you want to extend your reach or maximize local exposure? Are you looking for brand awareness or conversions?
Tips to try now:
- Try Mint. It has a great interface for managing small budgets and keeping track of your money efficiently.
- Start prioritizing your goals. What are your most immediate need and your most important long-term objective?
Pay to Play
As I learned with my first lemonade stand, you have to spend money to earn money. Online marketing is the same way—if you want to make a positive impact, you are going to have to spend some of your budget on paid search ads, display ads, social ads, etc. It can be intimidating. Especially when your head is spinning with questions; how to get started, how much it costs, how to know if Facebook Ads or AdWords even work. Whether you tackle this yourself or hire someone else to help, it can be so worth it!
Why do I need to pay for Facebook Ads, you ask? Due to some Facebook trickery, unpaid views on Facebook posts may be as low as 1% of your audience.
Tips to try now:
- If you’re using AdWords, see if it’s working.
- Use a cost calculator to see what you could get out of a small Facebook ads budget.
- If you’re doing neither, check out PPC U for help getting started.
Capitalize on Google’s Local Offerings
As the most widely used search engine, Google has a surplus of offerings that can help your small business. As part of an initiative that started in 2015, Google ran Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map in order to get local businesses online. According to BCG Report, The Connected World, businesses that have an online presence grow 40% faster than those that don’t. If you missed the boat, now is time to hop on the bandwagon!
By creating a Google My Business account, you can take control of the information about your business, such as hours of operation, address, phone number and website. Now, with the new local search ads, your business can appear on the Google Maps app or website.
Tips to try now:
- Get a Google My Business account.
- Google your business—check out the information already there, see what you can do to improve it.
7. Update your business cards.
8. Make your business card stand out from the rest.
9. Create or update your brochure.
10. Create a digital version of your brochure for your website.
11. Explore a website redesign.
12. Get creative with promotional products and give them away at the next networking event you attend.
13. Write an elevator pitch.
14. Register for a conference.
15. Introduce yourself to other local business owners.
16. Plan a local business workshop.
17. Join your local chamber of commerce.
18. Rent a booth at a trade show.
19. Launch a multi-piece direct mail campaign.
20. Create multiple approaches, and split test your mailings to measure impact.
21. Include a clear and enticing call to action on every direct mail piece.
22. Use tear cards, inserts, props and attention-getting envelopes to make an impact with your mailings.
23. Send past customers free samples and other incentives to regain their business.
24. Advertise on the radio.
25. Advertise in the Yellow Pages.
26. Advertise on a billboard.
27. Use stickers or magnets to advertise on your car.
28. Take out an ad in your local newspaper.
29. Advertise on a local cable TV station.
30. Advertise on Facebook.
31. Advertise on LinkedIn.
32. Buy ad space on a relevant website.
33. Use a sidewalk sign to promote your specials.
Social Media Marketing
34. Get started with social media for business.
35. Create a Facebook page.
36. Get a vanity URL or username for your Facebook page.
37. Create a Twitter account.
38. Reply or retweet someone else on Twitter.
39. Set up a Foursquare account for your business.
40. List your business on Google Places.
41. Start a business blog.
42. Write blog posts on a regular basis.
43. Start social bookmarking your online content.
44. Create a Groupon.
45. Start a Google Adwords pay-per-click campaign.
46. Start a Microsoft adCenter pay-per-click campaign.
47. Comment on a blog post.
48. Record a video blog post.
49. Upload a video to YouTube.
50. Check your online directory listings and get listed in desirable directories.
51. Set up Google Analytics on your website and blog.
52. Review and measure your Google Analytics statistics.
53. Register a new domain name for a marketing campaign or a new product or service.
54. Learn more about local search marketing.
55. Track your online reputation.
56. Sign up for the Help a Reporter Out (HARO) email list.
Today, businesses have more ways — and places — than ever to market themselves. But deciding on a marketing method, particularly when you are a small or even a mid-sized business with a small budget and limited resources, can be difficult. While social media marketing is generally free, it can be time-consuming; and the same goes for blogging. But traditional print advertising, as well as digital advertising, can be expensive.
[ Related: 13 ways to make your inbound marketing stand out ]
So which marketing channels are best for SMBs? Dozens of small business owners and marketing professionals share the following list of top marketing strategies for SMBs.
1. Blog. “One of the best marketing strategies for a small business is blogging,” says Maren Hogan, chief marketing brain at Red Branch Media.
“By providing your prospects and clients with informative, non-salesy content that you can house on your blog, promote socially and offer to other networks to supplement their strategy, you and your team can quickly establish yourselves as experts in a desired field,” Hogan says.
[Related: 6 Mobile Marketing Trends to Leverage in 2014]
It can also positively impact your SEO.
“By blogging at least twice a week, you significantly increase your website’s ability to be found on search engines,” adds Mike Lieberman, chief marketing scientist and president, Square 2 Marketing. “The more you blog, the more traffic your site will get from Google, Yahoo and Bing… [because] you are adding fresh content to your site [assuming your blog resides on your company website],” he says. And “if each of your blog posts includes a call to action, you might even generate some leads from your blog.”
2. Mobile Takeover
Everyone has already witnessed the impact of mobile technology on marketing strategies. The last few years have been focused on mobile browsing and utilizing social media platforms that are only available on mobile devices. In 2017, think about marketing options like text message marketing; 95% of Americans now own a mobile device and 98% of text messages are opened.
Visit your website. Look at the very top of your browser window. What do you see? Does it describe the page you’re looking at? Is it a unique description? Does it contain the keywords you want people to associate with that page of your website? If you’re a local business, does it contain your key local search keywords? If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to all these questions, check out this article all about title tags.
4. Call tracking and analytics. You can’t improve upon what you can’t measure. Analytics provide a tremendous amount of incredibly useful data, such as where your website visitors come from, how long they stay, and what they do on your site. Google analytics is free and pretty darn good, and we recommend it. We also recommend you make sure you can track every lead that’s generated by your website.
If you don’t have a dedicated phone number for the website that you can track calls on, visit HostedNumbers.com. They’ll issue you a unique tracking phone number and then forward every call you get to your main number while tracking the number of calls you receive, who called, how long the call lasted…etc. It’s surprisingly inexpensive.
5. Take advantage of free local business directories. There are a few great local business directories that are completely free. Visit GetListed.org, enter your business information, then take a moment to submit your business info to each of the directories shown.
Additionally, we do not typically recommend paying for directory placements…we suggest starting with the free listings and then seeing how it goes.
6. Check out your competition. Visit your competitors’ websites. Do searches for keywords related to your business. Find out what others in your vertical are doing and saying. This is a great way to get ideas and take stock of your own company’s online marketing efforts.
7. Repeat after me – “I have an ugly baby.” A lot of business owners love their websites, but the first step to improving your website is to admit that it has some deficiencies. No website is perfect, and every website can use improvement. If you have a website, you have an ugly baby [sorry]. Just how ugly your website is, however, is open to discussion.
8. Start blogging. Every business, and we mean every business, has something to gain by blogging regularly. The list of benefits is long, but here’s a short list of reasons small businesses should blog.
9. Take your cues from the successes of others.
“You can find ideas anywhere; be sure to analyze and watch what your competitors are doing/posting. It’s also important to monitor what other businesses and companies are doing that catches your attention. Sign up for social media articles and tips from experts so you can daily or weekly receive emails with all sorts of tips, new information and social updates.”
-Erin Siefring, Social Media Coordinator at Totally Promotional,
10. Entertaining and useful content is better than promotional content.
“People go on social media to be entertained, not to be marketed at. Therefore, whatever your company puts on social media should be built to engage first and market second, if at all.”
-Nicholas Berry, Digital Marker at American Image Displays,
“Being ‘useful’ to your followers is crucial for engaging an audience. A genuine approach actually enables business owners to save time… one well thought out post will bring more engagement than 10 terrible posts.”
-Jayme Pretzloff, Director of Marketing at Wixon Jewelers,
11. Images are key.
“Use high quality, crisp visuals. Recent research shows images increase social media engagement: Twitter updates with images in them receive 150% more retweets than those without and Facebook posts with images in them receive 2.3 times more engagement than those without. Canva is a fantastic resource for creating custom images, with free and low-cost options available.”
-Emily Sidley, Senior Director of Publicity at Three Girls Media,
Related: Top 7 Free Photoshop Alternatives for Better Social Media
“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”
― Through the Looking Glass
Social media can seem like a daunting task; there’s always more to do and little time to accomplish it. With so much to do, how do you accomplish it all?
12. Consider a posting plan, to start.
“Lots of small businesses get so caught up in ROI, strategy,and SEO that they forget the most important part: to post consistently. So many businesses are so wrapped up in the overthinking that they leave their pages out of date by months or years – dinging their credibility when a potential client looks them up online to see what they are all about. My best tip for small businesses just getting started is to come up with simple posting plan to start – and then actually carry out that plan consistently over time. Once you get comfortable posting on a regular basis, you can invest more time and money in a deeper strategy.”
-Stacy Erickson Edwards, Founder of Organized Social Media,
13. Invest in a scheduling tool.
“Investing in a scheduling tool, like Buffer for Hootsuite, to schedule your social posts in advance. These tools will save you hours of time each week. Social scheduling tools allow you to schedule posts across multiple social channels for the day, week or month. This way you don’t spend 30-60 minutes every day on social media.”
-Danica Benson, Marketing Communications Manager at RivalIQ,
Related: The Top 7 Free Social Media Management Software
“How puzzling all these changes are! I’m never sure what I’m going to be, from one minute to another.”
Social media moves quickly, so you need to be a little more reactive than other channels. You need to be engaged with what’s happening; if you plan on just setting something up and walking away, you’re going to have a bad time.
14. Engagement is a two-way street.
“When people mention your company on social media, let them know that you’re listening. If it’s a question or positive comment, respond ASAP. If not, make sure to like or favorite the post so they know you saw it. Little gestures like this go a long way.”
-Kyle Massa, Content Associate at TeamSnap,
15. Look local for cross-promotion opportunities.
“Engage locally and authentically! Look for local organizations with whom your business has a natural affinity of demographic crossover.
Find them, follow them and engage with them. Retweet and repost their content and look for opportunities to feature them in your content. Soon enough, if the connection is real, you’ll find their audience becomes your audience, too.”
-Will Scott, CEO of Search Influence,
16. Set yourself up for success: Optimize your other channels/content for social sharing.
“You can also use email to promote social media. Include your social icons/links within the footer of your emails to build an audience.”
-Lexi Pemberton, Vendor Marketing Associate at Capterra,
“Include social share icons with proper functionality on your web pages. Icons with ‘share’ functionality should be placed on article pages, and icons with ‘follow’ functionality should be placed in the footer or header.”
-Leslie Handmaker, Digital Marketer at LeslieHandmaker.com
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
One of the biggest challenges any social media manager faces is proving the return on investment. It’s easy to say ‘we need to be on social media,’ but–for small businesses where resources are sparse–the executive team often needs to see how you’re moving the needle.
17. Take advantage of the built-in analytics tools.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure, but measuring social media ROI doesn’t have to be expensive. Small businesses can take advantage of the wealth of information provided in built-in, free analytics tools like Facebook Insights. The key is know what to measure – don’t worry too much about gathering a million followers. The important numbers to watch are engagement and impressions.”
18. Use press releases to communicate important company news or events.
Press releases aren’t going to get you immediate media coverage. While some media professionals will use outlets such as Help a Reporter, or even scour press release sites such as PR Web, you’re likely not going to get any type of instant news coverage by putting out a press release.
However, a press release that’s well-written and has a healthy link profile can assist you marginally with SEO, but it can also allow you to communicate important company news or events that you can then use to actively pursue media outlets with through the proper PR channels.
19. Create a branded email signature.
One of the simplest ways that you can market your business online is by using a branded email signature. Place your links and any potential accolades your company might have received directly into your email signature. This helps to passively promote your business to people that you’re in contact with on a daily basis.
You should include social media links in your email signature too, along with any relevant links to important company marketing pieces — digital brochures or news pieces that feature your company. Drop a small tagline or one-sentence catchphrase about your business and its mission as well.
20. Implement the 80-20 rule to identify and market to high-value clients.
The 80-20 rule, or the Pareto Principle, states that 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the efforts. Basically, it’s only a small portion of what we do that actually produces results. However, this also applies to sales, which states that 80 percent of your revenue comes from 20 percent of your clients.
If you can identify which clients are generating the most income for your business, you can scale your sales out by sending them additional offers and discounts for other services and products. You can also gear your online marketing directly to these clients if they’re using a portal system to login or if they’re being tracked by cookies.