All successful business owners will say that they reached the goals they marked because of the effort they put out. It is not easy to start a business in the current market scenario and then nurture it to perfection. Those who are confident enough to have taken great strides mostly do so because they know how to market their business well.
Those who lag behind despite an excellent product/ service don’t understand the marketing part. It all comes down to the strategy. Strategy is nothing complicated – just a bunch of plans and tactics to help your brainchild settle in between progressing business giants. A thorough marketing strategy could be the difference between your company’s survival for the longest period of time, and death.
Enterprise owners and startups are trying to brew unique strategies to stay afloat on all the trends nowadays. Unfortunately, for small business owners, the daily drill of executing tasks like building a website, tweeting, blogging, sending emails, advertising, optimizing a landing page, etc. are so unnerving that they often miss out on the bigger picture.
They don’t know when and how to craft a new strategy and keep up with the rigorous changes in the market.
And, there are the two things that are closely connected with marketing. For small businesses, advertising on TV, radio and billboards are out of the question as they require large budgets. Understandably, small businesses in most cases lack the funds for such outbound marketing measures. So this is where digital marketing comes in.
Digital marketing is the easiest solution for small businesses to become the talk of the town. A digital marketing campaign can include SEO, email marketing, influencer marketing, mobile marketing (via text or media), PPC, video marketing, electronic billboards, affiliate marketing, in-app mobile advertisements and more.
In 2017, digital media is the most used platform for advertising and marketing. Spending on digital marketing is projected to increase by 12 – 15% on average. Social media’s share of the total marketing budget grew from 10% in 2015 to 14% in 2016, while spending on offline advertising fell to 2%.
Now, that we have established the fact that digital marketing is important for small businesses, but the question is how to design a comprehensive digital marketing strategy for small businesses?
Set the Target
As a small business, you first need to establish the pillars on which your digital marketing strategy will stand. This will include:
It is the primary need for a business to work for revenue growth. Josh Kaufman, number 1 bestselling author of ‘The Personal MBA’ says that there are four trusted and tried ways for revenue growth:
- Increase the number of customers
- Increase the average transaction size
- Raise the frequency of transactions per customer
- Raise your prices
Seeable Increment In Sales
The increment is basically getting more and more people to shop for your product. According to FICO, “More customers are comprised of two groups of customers: new customers and repeat customers. And the more repeat customers I have, the more addictive the new customers are, versus having to find new customers to replace the customers who don’t repeat.”
An increment in sales is a jackpot you hit by getting more people to buy your product than you expected. You choose your key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure them against analytics to measure your sales increment.
Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business. It is basically your promise to your customer as a business and tells them what to expect from your business and what gives you an edge over your competitors. Your logo, website, promotions and offers show your branding. What you communicate verbally and visually are an important part of your brand strategy.
A winning digital marketing strategy is based on the targets you set for your business. In the rest of the post, we are going to cover in detail how one can craft a comprehensive digital marketing plan for small businesses.
Know Your Audience & Competitors
Building a successful business requires strong marketing foundations. Small businesses need to work even harder to promote themselves. One of the key things to determine a marketing plan is to find what your customer needs, and then point out your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Just target the exact portion of the market your product serves, it will give you an edge over confused sellers. You can invest in inbound marketing, which is considered an almost fool-proof method of marketing for small and medium businesses.
Building a persona for your customer or core audience will help you in the way you solve the social media challenges for your customers. According to Ardath Albee: A marketing persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes, you need personas to help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience.
It is a unique marketing strategy that aims to grab a different position in the mind of the customer, compared to other brands. There is a lot of competition in the market which clouds the head of a customer, so with your strong positioning strategy, you can leave a mark on their minds. This is so that when they think of a product they remember yours.
On the other hand, positioning gone wrong can also totally destroy your brand, so as a small business you need to beware and check out this survival guide.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a small business. If you leave a key message for your target audience, they might actually remember it. Focus on solving the customer’s problem and go extreme by using captivating, clickable headlines such as: ‘Land a successful business in one week’. This would definitely encourage a person to read more because of the way you have sculpted this message. You should not lie of course – be honest, and creative.
Define Marketing Channels & Tactics
After you’ve defined your goals and understand who you’re audience and competition is, you should determine which digital marketing tactics are best for your business.
Search engine optimization is very important, and not to be taken lightly for your medium or small business. It attracts clicks and attention to your website, which won’t happen if you ignore it. There are many ways to invest in SEO.
According to Moz’s ‘search engine ranking factors study’, link building has the strongest search ranking in Google’s algorithms. You have to be very creative and honest when getting a link to your website. For receiving a lot of attention, you can talk to key influencers with your target audience who give you honest reviews in exchange for a link. Also look at these 6 link building strategies for your small business.
As a small business marketer, you need to let Google know that you exist and that you are a credible one who needs a ranking on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). You need to categorize your business and also add unique photos and videos to your page so that it gets more eyeballs. According to Moz Local, (formerly GetListed.org) search engines will “not display a business that is not categorized, or even worse, mis-categorized for a particular set of keywords.”
Small businesses usually have 15-20 pages and that doesn’t mean they ignore site architecture. Bad site architecture can drive users away in seconds. According to Matt Williamson, “Remember you always want the minimal amount of links between the homepage and any other page on the site. For a small site, you can have one level on your menu and provide relevant anchor text in the navigation on each page to the corresponding page. Obviously, for any bigger site, you would want to implement a pyramid structure to order the information efficiently.”
Managing an SEO program is jokingly compared to passing a resolution through the UN. Lots of conflicting ideas, procedural issues and language barriers. Be it CMS deficiencies, technical issues, poorly defined goals, lack of consistency or just your IT skills on low – take a quick glance at this guide to solving 6 major technical roadblocks in small business SEO.
It won’t come as a surprise to know that mobile marketing is indispensable in today’s business world. The average user spends most of their internet time on their phones, rather than on the desktop. Mobile marketing consists of devising ads that appear on a phone or a tablet.
Understanding Audience & Opportunity
The marketer should have the ability to grasp the interest of a mobile user online and then pull them towards their site and turn them into a customer. If you run a small e-commerce store, it is even more important because this field relies totally on user experiences. If your small business is service-based, you can polish your ads based on your user reviews about your service. A ‘mobile first’ mentality is ideal for your business so that you can send your user down the conversion funnel and gain sales statistics.
Managing & Measuring Campaigns
Bigger iPhone sizes have turned them into ‘phablets’ but the keyboard on these devices has remained small. It means that if you are using CTR (click through rate) and it is great on your website, it may be due to the mapping of a user here and there on the phone. It means either less or no business at all.
If you are measuring your analytics for mobile marketing, look into secondary action rates (SARs) that measure secondary data based on the clicks of a user after following an ad. There is also a store visitation lift (SVLs) that analyzes geo-tagged data inside a store by a user. A recent xAd study indicates that SVLs and SARs are better indicators of purchase intent.
To be honest, as a small business you need to be realistic about your ads. Typically, you will be bound to look for low-cost solutions, but then again you can’t have a low-cost solution that is also effective, so you go on and try to make ends meet by either compromising on one or the other and constantly testing. You must make an advertising budget and be sure that it will always get you a response in return.
The goal of display advertising is to drive traffic to your site by placing your brand in relevant sites. It earns you ROIs, drives visibility, increases conversions and often gets you new customers based on their interests. You can use a segmentation strategy to create a different kind of ad for different customers, provide exclusive offers and cater your ads with care and creativity.
In internet marketing, search advertising is a way by which you place ads on web pages that show results from search engine queries. These ads are targeting keywords that a user enters to look for something. This targeting is really lucrative for marketers because consumers can decide where to go directly from their search feed.
Considering the fact that budgets are tight, what you can do is to spread your budget throughout the 12 months, and then see the results. Based on that, you can save some money to use on the seasons when your business usually does best. Black Friday or Christmas are high performing seasons for any business, depending on the kind of business. You can start preparing beforehand and launch a campaign in audience anticipation.
This can elevate your audience in a very dramatic way. Many small businesses, are listeners-only online, reading what their customers have to say about them. If you take the next step to join in the discussions and reply to them on their social media posts, they will feel more connected to you as a customer/user.
Social Content Development
Knowing what to publish can increase the buzz about your content. Jayson DeMers suggests, “First you need to know what to measure. The end goals dictate the measurement metric.” Steve Cooper came up with some ways to boost social content development:
- Promotions – hashtags make it easy to track a promotion’s activity across many social platforms.
- Unification – you can track a hashtag across all the major networks or filter them individually using new tools such as Tagboard.
- Conversations – giving a customer your website URL doesn’t make it easy to begin a conversation, but hashtags do.
- Targeting – unlike going after a general web surfer on the open web, people who use hashtags are likely to engage in social conversations and therefore are more likely to share a positive experience they’ve had with your brand once you’ve broken through.
- Innovation – because they’re so flexible, simple and ubiquitous, more businesses are able to find creative ways to add power behind the hashtag.
Email marketing remains the most popular and highly convertible channel in business. A person is bound to offer a glance at their email inbox, and that is what makes email marketing all the more attractive for business owners.
It is tested that segmenting your email lists helps you get better open-and-click rates. An email marketing company tested the segmentation strategies of some businesses and the way they send certain emails to certain users and found out that it actually makes the customers feel more connected to the brand.
“Content Optimization System helps you deliver “Smart Content”, or content that is intelligently personalized to your customer’s needs. With Smart Content, you can deliver content specifically tailored to where a prospect is in the buying process, or content targeted to people the very first time they visit. Smart Content lets you target content based on anything you know about your contacts, for true relationship-driven marketing.”
Your email newsletter is the key part of your overall marketing schedule. It is used for follow up, continuity, positioning, sales, branding, and more. Now that you’re making one, when do you publish it and how? You decide the frequency depending on your business needs.
Bournecreative has a great guide to help you decide if you’re confused. Also, if you are using any intelligent marketing automation software, it will give you stats of what time and day is best for publishing newsletters and other emails.
Website optimization means designing a website from scratch that ranks well on search engines. As a small business, your website says a lot about you, and any interactions happening there is key to building your brand value.
Split & Multivariate Testing
In MVT, you devise a hypothesis and check it by changing various variables constantly. Websites and mobile apps both are made of a set of changeable elements and by constantly testing them, you can know what goes well in your business.
This is a user-centric interaction design that measures a project completely on the basis of how users dealt with it. This technique is irreplaceable in business because it is giving you organic results about your user’s reviews.
Exit & In-page Surveys
Exit surveys appear when a user is about to leave a page. They can be a combination of questions crafted to engage the user. In-page surveys combined with a great website interface can keep a user on your website for longer.
As cliché as it sounds, web analytics and their constant monitoring earn you a lot more than just information. You can use analytics to cut off the sections of websites that are not interactive and need to be revamped, or you can create a section like a subscription box if it isn’t already present. There is nothing better than Google analytics nowadays, and if you want to establish your small business, you have to tell Google you are the author of your site and run a credible business.
Click Analysis & Heat Mapping
Heat maps show which elements of the site your users are clicking on. You can discover where people click and where they don’t. If anything, they help you optimize a landing page and record mouse rates on your site. They are a great tool for your small business. Tools like Crazy Egg do it best for a reasonable fee. Check out these other tools for heat mapping and more.
Content is king! This will never get old because the internet audience is chasing trends every day. The more advancement we see, the more trying it becomes to stay on the map as a small business.
Here are some tips on how to write website content.
Benefits Oriented Copy
When a person sees an ad, they think ‘what’s the deal?’ or ‘what’s in it for me?’.
This is exactly why you should make a benefits-oriented copy that stresses on the exact needs of a target audience. It is basically like talking to your customer face-to-face and not paying attention to extra noise. As Fairfax Cone of Foote, Cone and Belding said, “Good advertising must immediately make clear what the basic proposition is.”
The importance of a corporate blog can’t be stressed more. It is like a mouthpiece of your business. Make one and make sure to keep it updated because subscribers like to stay aware of your performances.
Creation Of Linkable Assets
A linkable asset is something on your site, be it a person, some content, a photo or anything that people will use to link to. This is so important nowadays because, with Twitter and Tumblr, people need content daily to Retweet or repost. What is your strategy to attract constant attention to your specific domain? You don’t have to be a very big spender to get links. Just be creative.
Can a customer identify your brand only based off colors, shapes or keywords? If you say no, just look at how major players in the industry are doing it. Green means Starbucks and red and yellow means McDonald’s What can you do online to be remembered? Get good promotions, brand well, stick to your image and create resonance.
Every business is a small business in the beginning. The efforts everyone puts into promoting it are always key to the success of a business. The tips and techniques mentioned above are being used globally by startups and big businesses alike and it all comes down to this – what suits your needs best.
Scott Harrison, CEO of the charity called ‘Water’ realized in the 30th year of his life that even toothpaste had better campaigns than charity, so he started his charity and now he has successfully funded 3,962 water projects. It’s not about the competition, but about what makes you unique.
Once you know that, you can run your business better. Take a quick glance at these 10 inspiring small business stories for some quick motivation!
To meet any and all of the digital marketing needs highlighted in this post for your brand, contact Thrive Internet Marketing Agency, named Top 25 Digital Marketing Agency, today!