Finding a good place to kick-start your small business’s marketing plan might feel a bit like finding a needle in a haystack, especially for those who have never touched marketing activities before. What small businesses need to understand is that online marketing matters. It gets the word out about your business and allows you to connect with potential customers and inform them of all the services you offer. It also builds brand recognition and fosters healthy competition between businesses and can boost sales, helps you construct a consistent client-base, and help make your mark on the world.
People have always liked to buy from businesses they trust. With the growth of the internet, it’s easier than ever to deliver content and build this trust. A recent survey found that 67% of B2B buyers base their buying decisions on digital content and then frequently share that content. Currently, 80% of B2B marketers have a marketing strategy. However, 48% do not have a written plan. In most cases, this means their plan can fluctuate and stay fairly inconsistent. That’s good news for you because just by putting in the effort, you’ll be far ahead of most small businesses. In this post, we will help outline 4 key elements to getting any sized business moving towards effective online marketing.
1) Starting a Website – Close your eyes for a minute and imagine you had the perfect employee that could engage your target customer audience, creatively communicate your company’s mission and story, and quickly adapt to any changes your industry experiences. Oh, and this employee would also be on the clock 24/7, 365 days a year. Sound too good to be true? It’s not: it’s your website.
A well-designed and properly established website ensures your visitors make the decision to stay and read more. Their decision to stay is made within milliseconds, 50 to be exact. Once a page loads, just .05 seconds will pass before users decide if your website meets their standards, and if those users don’t find what they’re looking for within 10 seconds, they’ll leave.
Your website also acts as a hub for linking to important information and your story. Your story matters to them as it communicates why you’re here to help them out. In fact, once on a company’s homepage, 52% of visitors will look for an “About Us” section. In other words, your website can and should be the best storyteller in your company. Personal content like blogs, customer testimonials, and employee bios can draw users in and give them confidence in your company when it comes time to open their wallets. Plus, when people feel connected to your company or its content, they’ll be more likely to share your website and increase traffic.
2) Keeping a Strong Email List – An email list is simply a list of email addresses that you’ve gathered from visitors that would like to receive more information, updates, discounts, and other details about your business.
Email lists are important because email marketing is one of the best ways to connect with potential clients. In fact, you are 6x more likely to get higher click-through rates through emails instead of tweets. Email is also 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. Even with the explosion of new technology, marketers keep coming back and the reason is clear. For ten years in a row, email is the channel generating the highest ROI for marketers. For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI. When you want to grow your business, acquire new customers, launch a new product, or offer a promotion, you turn to email because they are interested audiences who want to hear more.
In order to constantly be growing your email list, you need to find ways on your website for including calls-to-action. For instance, you could offer a free guide to the 5 easy ways to improve social media reach by having visitors enter their email address in the CTA. If you have a CTA on your homepage, that would act as a consistent source of new emails. The more ways you can encourage visitors to subscribe to your email, the stronger your email list will be.
Once you have your list built, it would be wise to seek out an email templating and distribution service to manage information going out. As brand ambassadors of your small business, your concern is making sure messaging is on brand and straight to the point. With all kinds of email tools at your disposal, you can now ensure every touchpoint is both engaging and appropriate. Modern email distribution platforms give businesses intuitive, easy-to-use tools to create beautiful emails without any hassle.
3) Selecting 1-3 Social Platforms – When it comes to selecting which social platforms you’ll use to share content, audience is key. Where do you they spend most of their time? For example, if you work in the fashion industry, platforms like Pinterest are preferred as 93% of active pinners said they used Pinterest to plan purchases. While it might seem like a good idea to be active on all social channels, your time is better spent where you’ll gain the most reach. The following list (with data from Omni Core Agency and Statista) outlines best use cases and challenges behind popular social platforms.
- Monthly Active Users: 1 Billion
- Demographics: Ages 18-29, 68% female
- Format: Image and short video
- Great For: Visual Branding and connecting with existing customers
- Challenge: Creativity required
- Monthly Active Users: 2.23 Billion
- Demographics: All Ages 53% Female
- Format: Text, Image & Video
- Great For: Building Community and sharing relatable blogs
- Challenge: Low organic reach
- Monthly Active Users: 1.9 Billion
- Demographics: All Ages 62% male
- Format: Video
- Great For: Attracting new customers through problem solving and how-to tutorials
- Challenge: Time and resource intensive
- Monthly Active Users: 590 Million
- Demographics: Ages 25-54, 56% Male
- Format: Text with Image
- Great For: Generating thought leadership for B2B lead generation and recruitment
- Challenge: Sometimes inactive users
- Monthly Active Users: 326 Million
- Demographics:Ages 18-29, 53% Male
- Format: Text
- Great For: Connection with Influencers, News, and PR
- Challenge: Short post lifespan
- Monthly Active Users: 250 Million
- Demographics: Average age 40, 80% Female
- Format: Image
- Great For: Driving Traffic and leads for blog posts and e-commerce retailers
- Challenge: Custom Image development
4) Developing Regular Content & Media – Content is the heart of excellent branding initiatives and the lifeblood of most gained new business. According to Lyfe Marketing, 78% of consumers prefer getting to know a company through rich articles rather than ads and 70% believe organizations developing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them. If the content being consumed is valuable, educational, and engaging, they will start to believe the same about your business. Content is also a great way to bring in new leads as it costs 62% less than regular marketing tactics and generates 3 times the amount of leads. For small businesses, content generation makes sense when maximizing budget for desired lead generation.
Much like social media, content and media should be selected based on what business you’re in and what your audience prefers to digest. For instance, small business owners generally don’t have great amounts of time to watch a long video or read through a 10-page whitepaper. However, they DO need to sort through their email and often listen to podcasts on the way to work. If you’re looking to reach these owners, meet them where they’re at. Here’s a snapshot of types of content and the value they provide.
- Blogs – News flash: You’re reading one. Blog posts should be published to your website regularly to keep up interest. Posts should provide audience segments with valuable information, inclining them to share.
- Videos- Videos are highly engaging and can be shared via social media platforms and websites alike. Videos require a big time and resource investment but are 40X more likely to get shared than other types of content. These are best used for how-to videos or product/service demonstrations.
- Podcasts – Podcasts act a lot like radio shows but are handled in episodes. This format allows audiences to listen and learn whenever they like, wherever they are. Consider hosting leaders in your industry for interviews or select relevant topics to discuss so that your audiences learn to see you as the trusted voice. They are also a popular content channel with nearly one-third of the US listening in 2018.
- Webinars – Webinars are live, interactive, web-based videos. Many hosts treat webinar presentations as lectures or seminars to educate end-users and act as a subtle tool for selling. Webinars also include elements like display slides, video streaming, talking directly to audiences, editing and making live annotations, chatting, conducting surveys, and recording for others to re-watch.
- Ebooks/Whitepapers – Ebooks are lengthy, well-researched documents. They’re typically more in-depth, require more time and are published less frequently. Ebooks, however, are fantastic for inbound marketing because they allow you to offer hungry readers more information. Calls-to-action direct people to a landing page where they can submit their contact information and download.
- Case Studies – Case studies can be done through blog, video, or whitepaper. These are testimonials that prove your claims and amplify individuals that trust your business. Case studies should be released regularly as interested buyers are always looking for recent experiences.
- Infographics – infographics are a fun and visually appealing way to share information. It takes someone with graphic ability to design them but are excellent options for visual learners. It works well when you have lots of statistics or comparison that would be best laid out through imagery.
Without the 4 key elements listed above, it becomes easy to fade into the background and your business can easily disappear. With it, though, you can engage your audiences and make your name known. Marketing increases your business’s overall potential, builds your reputation, increases your reach, and is a tool that must be used in order to ensure your business is the best and most successful it can be.
Looking for help in ways to kick-start or manage what we’ve discussed? It Media provides expert advice and service offerings to make you the online authority in your market. Contact us now to set up your free discovery session.