All accomplished entrepreneurs will attest that they achieved their set objectives through diligent exertion. Launching a business in today’s market milieu and nurturing it to excellence is no small feat. Those who stride ahead confidently often do so due to their adeptness in marketing their venture.
Individuals who lag behind, despite offering exceptional products or services, often fall short in comprehending the intricacies of marketing. Ultimately, it boils down to strategy. Strategy, in essence, comprises a collection of plans and maneuvers to position your brainchild amidst the titans of advancing businesses. A well-devised marketing strategy can mean the disparity between your company’s endurance over an extended period and its demise.
Enterprising proprietors and startups are fervently devising distinctive strategies to ride the crest of current trends. Regrettably, for small business proprietors, the day-to-day grind of executing tasks like website development, social media updates, blogging, email correspondence, advertising, and refining landing pages can be so daunting that they often lose sight of the broader picture.
They lack the insight to discern when and how to forge a new strategy and adapt to the demanding shifts in the market.
And then there are two facets closely entwined with marketing. For small enterprises, endeavors like television, radio, and billboard advertising are financially unattainable, necessitating substantial budgets. Understandably, most small businesses are constrained by limited resources for such outbound marketing initiatives. This is precisely where digital marketing steps in.
Digital marketing emerges as the most viable solution for small businesses to capture the spotlight. A digital marketing campaign can encompass elements such as SEO, email outreach, influencer marketing, mobile marketing (via text or multimedia), PPC, video marketing, electronic billboards, affiliate marketing, in-app mobile promotions, and more.
In 2017, digital media held sway as the foremost platform for advertising and marketing. Projections indicate a 12-15% average surge in spending on digital marketing. Social media’s slice of the total marketing pie burgeoned from 10% in 2015 to 14% in 2016, while investments in traditional advertising dwindled to a meager 2%.
Now that we’ve underscored the significance of digital marketing for small businesses, the query arises: how does one sculpt a comprehensive digital marketing strategy tailored for small enterprises?
Establish the Objectives
As a small business, you must first lay the foundations on which your digital marketing strategy will rest. This encompasses:
1. Revenue Growth
- The primary imperative for any business is revenue growth. Josh Kaufman, renowned author of ‘The Personal MBA,’ identifies four reliable methods for achieving revenue growth:
- Augmenting the customer base
- Amplifying the average transaction size
- Elevating transaction frequency per customer
- Adjusting pricing structures
2. Visible Uptick in Sales
This entails persuading a larger audience to purchase your product. According to FICO, more customers comprise both new and repeat customers. The more repeat customers you amass, the more habit-forming your business becomes, reducing the need to constantly acquire new customers.
Amplifying sales represents a windfall achieved by persuading more people to purchase your product than initially anticipated. You select key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure them against analytics to gauge your sales upswing.
3. Business Branding
Branding ranks among the most pivotal aspects of any business. It serves as your commitment to your customers, outlining what they can anticipate from your business and what sets you apart from competitors. Your logo, website, promotions, and offers all contribute to your branding. Both verbal and visual communication play integral roles in your brand strategy.
A winning digital marketing strategy is predicated on the goals you set for your business. In the ensuing discourse, we will delve into the meticulous crafting of a comprehensive digital marketing blueprint for small businesses.
Know Your Audience & Competitors
Laying a robust marketing foundation is imperative for building a thriving business. Small businesses must exert even greater effort to establish their presence. A key step in crafting a marketing plan is discerning your customer’s needs and highlighting your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). By targeting the specific market segment your product serves, you gain an edge over perplexed competitors. Investing in inbound marketing, considered a nearly foolproof method for small and medium businesses, is a prudent move.
Creating a persona for your customer or core audience aids in overcoming social media challenges. As Ardath Albee notes, a marketing persona is a composite sketch of a crucial segment of your audience. For content marketing, personas guide you in delivering content that resonates most with your audience.
This unique marketing strategy seeks to carve out a distinct niche in the customer’s mind compared to other brands. Given the high competition, which can cloud a customer’s judgment, a robust positioning strategy leaves a lasting impression. This ensures that when customers think of a product, they think of yours.
However, misguided positioning can potentially harm your brand. As a small business, you must tread cautiously and consult this survival guide.
Even for a small business, delivering a key message to your target audience can be impactful. Focus on addressing the customer’s problem, using compelling and clickable headlines. For instance, a headline like “Achieve Business Success in One Week” is likely to entice readers. However, honesty and creativity should always be your guiding principles.
Define Marketing Channels & Tactics
After delineating your goals and understanding your audience and competition, you must determine which digital marketing tactics best suit your business.
Search engine optimization is paramount and should not be underestimated for small and medium-sized businesses. It draws clicks and attention to your website, an outcome that’s unlikely without SEO. There are various avenues for investing in SEO.
According to Moz’s ‘search engine ranking factors study,’ link building carries substantial weight in Google’s algorithms. Creativity and integrity are paramount in acquiring links to your website. Engaging key influencers who resonate with your target audience for honest reviews can garner significant attention.
As a small business marketer, it’s crucial to establish your presence as a credible entity deserving a spot on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). Properly categorizing your business and incorporating unique photos and videos ensures increased visibility. As Moz Local advises, search engines may not display a business that lacks categorization or, worse still, is miscategorized for specific keywords.
Small businesses typically have 15-20 pages, but this doesn’t negate the importance of site architecture. Poor site structure can swiftly drive users away. As Matt Williamson advises, strive for minimal links between the homepage and other pages. For smaller sites, a single level on your menu suffices, with relevant anchor text on each page leading to the corresponding page. Larger sites necessitate a pyramid structure for efficient information organization.
Managing an SEO program can sometimes feel akin to navigating through the complexities of the United Nations. Divergent opinions, procedural hurdles, and language barriers abound. Whether it’s CMS deficiencies, technical glitches, vaguely defined objectives, inconsistency, or modest IT skills, consult this guide for swiftly surmounting six major technical obstacles in small business SEO.
It’s no surprise that mobile marketing is indispensable in today’s business landscape. The average user dedicates a significant portion of their internet time to mobile devices rather than desktops. Mobile marketing entails crafting ads tailored for phones or tablets.
Understanding Audience & Opportunity
A successful marketer must captivate a mobile user’s interest online and guide them to their site, ultimately converting them into a customer. This is especially crucial for small e-commerce businesses, where user experience reigns supreme. For service-based small businesses, refine your ads based on user feedback about your services. Adopting a “mobile-first” mindset optimally guides users through the conversion funnel, resulting in improved sales metrics.
Managing & Measuring Campaigns
While iPhones have grown in size, their keyboards have remained compact. This means that if you’re relying on CTR (click-through rate) and it’s impressive on your website, it may be due to sporadic clicks from mobile users. This could potentially translate to diminished or no business at all.
For those analyzing analytics in the realm of mobile marketing, delve into secondary action rates (SARs), which measure user actions after clicking an ad. Additionally, store visitation lift (SVLs) assesses geo-tagged data within a store, offering valuable insights. According to a recent xAd study, SVLs and SARs prove superior indicators of purchase intent.
In truth, small businesses must be pragmatic about their advertisements. While cost-effective solutions are sought after, it’s imperative to acknowledge that an economical approach may not yield the desired effectiveness. Striking a balance often entails testing various strategies to find what resonates best with your target audience.
Display advertising aims to drive traffic to your site by positioning your brand in relevant spaces. This approach yields return on investments (ROIs), bolsters visibility, boosts conversions, and frequently garners new customers based on their interests. Employ a segmentation strategy to tailor different ads for diverse customer segments, offering exclusive deals and approaching your ads with care and creativity.
In internet marketing, search advertising places ads on web pages displaying results from search engine queries. These ads target keywords entered by users searching for specific information. This targeted approach proves lucrative for marketers, as consumers can navigate directly from their search results.
Given budget constraints, consider spreading your budget across the entire year to gauge performance. Based on results, allocate funds for seasons when your business typically thrives. For instance, Black Friday or Christmas might signify peak performance periods for your business. With proper preparation, you can launch a campaign to meet heightened audience expectations.
This platform has the potential to dramatically elevate your audience reach. Many small businesses are content to be passive online, observing customer feedback. However, actively participating in discussions and responding to social media posts fosters a stronger connection between you and your customers.
Social Content Development
Understanding what to publish can generate buzz around your content. Jayson DeMers suggests, “First, you need to know what to measure. The end goals dictate the measurement metric.” Steve Cooper offers strategies to enhance social content development:
- Promotions: Hashtags simplify tracking a promotion’s traction across multiple social platforms.
- Unification: Track a hashtag across major networks or filter them individually using tools like Tagboard.
- Conversations: Providing a customer with your website URL doesn’t readily initiate a conversation, but hashtags facilitate this.
- Targeting: Unlike targeting a general web surfer, users employing hashtags are more likely to engage in social conversations, making them more inclined to share a positive experience they’ve had with your brand once you’ve broken through.
- Innovation: Due to their versatility and ubiquity, businesses can devise creative ways to amplify the power behind a hashtag.
Email marketing remains the most popular and highly convertible channel in business. People are bound to glance at their email inbox, making email marketing especially attractive for business owners.
Segmenting your email lists has been proven to improve open and click rates. An email marketing company tested segmentation strategies and found that tailoring emails to specific users fosters a stronger connection.
A Content Optimization System helps deliver “Smart Content,” intelligently personalized to your customer’s needs. This allows you to provide content tailored to a prospect’s position in the buying process or target first-time visitors. Smart Content allows you to target content based on any known information about your contacts, facilitating true relationship-driven marketing.
Your email newsletter forms a pivotal part of your overall marketing schedule, serving various purposes including follow-ups, maintaining continuity, positioning, driving sales, enhancing branding, and more. Establishing a consistent publication schedule depends on your business’s unique needs.
Designing a website that ranks well on search engines is paramount for small businesses. Your website is a reflection of your brand, and all interactions therein contribute to building your brand’s value.
Split & Multivariate Testing
In multivariate testing (MVT), hypotheses are tested by systematically altering various variables. Both websites and mobile apps comprise changeable elements. By continuously testing them, you gain insights into what works best for your business.
This user-centric interaction design assesses a project based on how users interact with it. This technique provides organic feedback about your users’ experiences and is invaluable for business owners.
Exit & In-Page Surveys
Exit surveys appear when a user is about to leave a page and can engage the user with a series of questions. In-page surveys, when combined with an intuitive website interface, can prolong a user’s stay on your website.
As cliché as it may sound, web analytics offer more than just information. You can use analytics to identify and rectify non-interactive sections of your website or introduce new features like a subscription box. Google Analytics remains a top choice, and establishing your business’s credibility with Google is essential for success.
Click Analysis & Heat Mapping
Heat maps reveal which elements of your site users interact with. This information helps optimize landing pages and records mouse activity on your site, offering valuable insights.
“Content is king!” This adage remains relevant as the online audience chases trends daily. The ever-evolving landscape requires small businesses to stay competitive and relevant.
When viewers encounter an ad, they ask, “What’s in it for me?” Crafting benefits-oriented copy that addresses the precise needs of your target audience ensures direct and impactful communication. As Fairfax Cone of Foote, Cone and Belding emphasized, “Good advertising must immediately make clear what the basic proposition is.”
A corporate blog serves as the voice of your business. Maintaining and updating it keeps subscribers informed of your performance.
Creation of Linkable Assets
Linkable assets are elements on your site – a person, content, a photo, etc. – that others link to. In today’s landscape, constant content creation is crucial for engagement on platforms like Twitter and Tumblr. What’s your strategy to consistently draw attention to your unique domain? You don’t need a large budget; creativity is key.
Can customers identify your brand based solely on colors, shapes, or keywords? Consider how major industry players use these elements for instant recognition. Develop a strong promotional strategy, adhere to your brand image, and establish resonance with your audience.
Every business starts small, and the efforts invested in promotion are instrumental to its success. The tips and techniques outlined above are utilized globally, from startups to established enterprises. The crux lies in finding what aligns best with your unique needs.
Scott Harrison, CEO of the charity ‘Water,’ recognized at age 30 that even toothpaste had better campaigns than charity. He founded his own charity, successfully funding 3,962 water projects. It’s not about competition; it’s about what makes you stand out.
Remember, every business, big or small, had its humble beginnings. The determination and strategies applied are often the key to its success. The insights and methods discussed are employed by startups and large corporations alike. Ultimately, it’s about what suits your specific needs best