In running a small business, you truly have little time to waste. Managing logistics, ensuring customer satisfaction, and finding ways to come in under budget every month are all part of the day responsibilities of overseeing a mini empire (but it’s your mini empire!).
The problem with most of the day-to-day operations in business is that they don’t directly bring in new customers – and as we all know, finding new customers is the thing you need to be good at in you want your mini empire to stick around.
Here is where marketing can prove it’s value. Managing a strategically delegated marketing budget could be the difference between your business growing sustainable year over year, or falling into lulls every few months because no new customers are coming through the proverbial door. Of course, getting knee deep in a marketing campaign is a nerve-racking proposition for some because it is hard to know where to start. Why not start with the strategies that are proven to be most effective? Such strategies as…
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization is one of the more misunderstood sides of digital marketing. Part of the confusion comes from the fact that SEO entails so many different aspects, and an SEO strategy can go any number of different directions.
No matter what your SEO strategy looks like, the one underlying truth is that it can bring highly-informed customers to your site without costing you tons of money. How? By researching keywords, researching your competitors, and publishing awesome content.
If the content on your site matches searcher intent and does a better job explaining the topic than your competition, you are bound to rank #1 in a search result and get tons of new visitors every month. These are visitors who knew nothing about your business before, but found you because you have a strong SEO strategy. Speaking of SEO strategy, this movie from our friends at Ignite Visibility is a helpful, informative guide to SEO.
One way to target customers is through understanding search trends in your local region and publishing content to match. For example, let’s say you run a small business in Boston. You would start by researching the types of keywords people are searching for in the Boston area. A thorough SEO strategy would then involve optimizing your website pages to include keywords that people are searching for, and making sure the various pages on your site do a better job than your competition in explaining the topic. It would also mean adding local signals like a map and/or a local events listing page. All good stuff for your business!
If SEO is one of the fundamentals for all sites on the web, email newsletters are fundamental to any business worth their socks. The reasons is simple: email newsletters consistently bring a better return-on-investment than any other form of digital marketing.
Email newsletters are probably best taken care of by an online marketing agency or ecommerce marketing agency. They will know how to segment different emails to the relevant buyer personas in your network, spend time optimizing email design, and track the important metrics. Like many forms of digital marketing, getting great return on email newsletters is hard if it’s not executive properly – which means time and effort that you might just not have. Still, starting slow and steady is better than doing nothing at all. There are plenty of free platforms out there (like Mailchimp) that let you send emails for free as long as you stay under a certain threshold. Then you can see for yourself how directly related your open rates are to your sales.
Last, but certainly not least, is the incentive program approach. You might not hear this suggestion from a little of digital marketers because, well, frankly it’s not a hip and cool sounding acronym like SEO or PPC. But let’s not kid ourselves: incentive programs work a charm.
Strictly speaking, an incentive approach usually means either a referral program (offering existing customers a free or discounted product for bringing in a friend) or a free trial phase. A great example of a company making using a free trial phase is Blue Apron, a meal delivery service. Blue Apron offers potential customers $50 on their first two boxes when they sign-up, the idea being that new customers will be so impressed with the experience that they will become a long-term customer. This is smart and economical marketing because it leverages an existing product and increases the volume of sales!
Marketing Should Be Cost-Effective and Results-Driven
There is literally no reason to spend unnecessary money on a marketing strategy that is not bringing results. Small business owners operating with slim margins should be using these tried-and-true marketing strategies to leverage their existing brand without making it a full-time job. After all, you’ve got enough on your plate just running a small business.