Getting found in a crowded market is a challenge for many small businesses. If you can implement a few, focused online marketing activities that deliver results, you can increase online visibility and be found by your ideal customers. Remember that marketing is an investment, not an expense. Therefore you must invest wisely to achieve the greatest ROI.
Of all the possible marketing activities that you could choose to implement, these activities are effective in helping your small business get results.
Create your marketing plan
A marketing plan focuses your efforts to avoid wasting time and money
You might wonder how a marketing plan is an activity that delivers results. Planning your marketing before you execute helps you choose the right things you need to do to move your business towards your goals.
As you create your marketing plan, focus on:
- Vision and outcome goals – Your vision helps you make decisions on what marketing you should be doing. Clear and realistic goals direct your efforts so you can make better choices on what you need to work on. Without a vision and set of goals, you may make some decisions that lead you nowhere.
- Target audience – Your target market is a subset of the total market for your product or service that you can best serve. They usually want or need what you have to offer, know they have a need, understand the value of satisfying that need and are willing to spend money to do so.
- What makes you different – Many of us overlook our key strength because it seems too simple. Once you identify your unique strength, clearly communicate why this is of value to your ideal client. Stay focused and develop your expert reputation around this unique skill.
- Ideal client needs – If you have defined your ideal client and know them well, you will be able to provide the resources and services they need that will attract them to you. This knowledge also helps you avoid tactics that won’t work, wasting time and money with little to no return.
Once you have your marketing plan, a marketing action plan helps you select the right activities that make a difference in your results. With all the distracting online opportunities available, you need an action plan that holds you accountable and keeps you focused on achieving your goals.
Create a strong brand identity
A strong brand creates a memorable impression in the minds of your customers
A strong brand identity is essential for small businesses. It helps you differentiate yourself from your competitors, establish credibility and build customer loyalty. A well-crafted brand identity can communicate your values, personality, and mission to your target audience. This makes it easier for customers to connect with the business on an emotional level.
Consistently represent your brand identity across all marketing channels. This leads to increased brand recognition and trust. In addition, a strong brand identity can help you charge prices based on the value of your products or services. Customers are willing to pay more for a brand they trust and admire.
Invest in a professional, mobile first website
A website is your 24-hour sales person
A website is a crucial marketing tool for any small business. It’s where potential customers will go to learn more about your business and make a purchase. If it is well-built and user-friendly, it can significantly impact your online presence and customer experience, helping you compete in a crowded marketplace.
A user-friendly website is easy to navigate, visually appealing and provides customers with all the information they need to make informed decisions. A well-designed website can help your business build credibility and trust with potential customers. When the website offers what the visitor is looking for, it encourages them to stay on the site longer and engage with your business.
A user-friendly website can also help improve search engine visibility, making it easier for customers to find the business online.
Expand all marketing activities to mobile
A quality mobile experience is no longer an option
It’s hard to remember a time when mobile support wasn’t mission critical. It started with mobile responsive design taking hold of how websites were built and is now the most popular for small business website solutions. But now, in addition to your website being responsive, you should use mobile first design, as more and more people are browsing the web on their smartphones.
Now, all marketing activities need to be mobile optimized.
And now with almost 60% of online traffic coming from mobile, if your marketing doesn’t support mobile devices, you lose access to a big market.
If the first impression a buyer has of your brand on their smartphone or tablet is not the experience they expect, you can potentially lose a customer before you even know they are interested.
Review your marketing strategies and determine if when viewed on mobile, the user experience doesn’t detract from the message you are trying to convey:
- Can your email newsletters display correctly on a smartphone?
- Does your website provide a quality user experience regardless of device?
- Can the visitor fill in your contact forms or make a purchase from their mobile device?
Going forward, design your marketing mobile first to be sure you can reach the widest possible audience.
Analyze your online presence
If I can’t find your business online, do you really exist?
Online visibility is a must if you want your business to succeed. When people search, they prefer to click on organic results rather than paid ads. Although being on the first page of the search engine results is important, being visible in the top three Google search results get 54.4% of all clicks. And getting to those positions is difficult. But that doesn’t mean we don’t keep trying.
Remember that your web presence is more than just your website. Web presence optimization helps you consistently increase the digital footprint for your business. It:
- Creates more visibility for your brand
- Enables you to network with people online in addition to offline
- Attracts your ideal client through useful information and tools that help them solve a specific problem
Start with a web presence analysis to find out how visible your business is today. Once you have your baseline visibility, then add content marketing activities to build the content that will help increase your presence in the search results.
Make inbound marketing a major strategy
Inbound marketing dominates small business marketing strategies.
Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy that uses content to attract your ideal prospects to your business. The goal is to pull your prospects to you using online activities such as content marketing, search engine optimization and social media to generate warm leads. These prospects find your brand primarily through search, looking for information they need to solve a problem or fulfill a need. The activities used are focused on experience, expertise, authority and trust (EEAT).
Today’s buyers are smarter and more savvy when it comes to purchasing products and services. Buyers are looking for trustworthy information that helps them easily and efficiently weigh their purchase options.
Consumer purchases have been made online for quite some time with the buyer controlling the purchase process. We don’t want to be sold. We do our research on possible solutions to our problems before we make a purchase decision. But now, business buyers are taking control.
According to Gartner, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels. In addition, 33% of all buyers desire a seller-free sales experience – a preference that climbs to 44% for millennials
So whether you sell to businesses or consumers, you need to position your business as an expert resource using a solid inbound marketing strategy.
- Create expert content that speaks to your audience.
- Optimize that content for better search engine visibility.
- Promote that content on your social media profiles.
This will increase your visibility with your target audience and help them determine the best route to take when making a purchase decision.
Create quality, educational content
All content is strategic. Without content there is nothing to optimize and nothing to share
Small businesses should invest in content marketing. When you create and publish content that has value, you stand out from your competition. Your business becomes a resource for quality, educational information that will help them make a purchase decision.
Use content to showcase your expertise and provide value to your target audience. The more content you provide that helps your target audience, the more visible your web presence will become.
Did you know that every blog post is a unique web page? Every new page that you add to your website increases your digital footprint. This gives you one more opportunity to rank for a particular keyword phrase. Your blog should be integral to your website.
Ideally you should strive to blog as often as you can. But even one blog post a month will increase online visibility and advance your website in the search engine results.
Implement search engine optimization
Improve visibility and reach a larger audience
We cannot understate the importance of implementing search engine optimization (SEO) because it can help them improve their visibility and reach a larger audience online. SEO is the process of optimizing your website to rank higher in search engine results pages for relevant keywords and phrases. By optimizing your website and content for search engines, you can increase your organic search traffic and attract more qualified leads.
SEO also helps to build trust and credibility with potential customers, as businesses that appear on the first page of search results are often seen as more trustworthy and authoritative. In addition, SEO is a cost-effective marketing activity, as it can generate long-term results and has a high return on investment. Implementing SEO can help small businesses compete with larger companies, increase their visibility, and drive more traffic and sales to their website.
Leverage social media
Build brand awareness and loyalty from your target audience
Leveraging social media as a marketing strategy offers numerous benefits:
- Provides a cost-effective way to promote products or services. Setting up business accounts on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn is free. Plus, paid advertising options on these platforms are generally more affordable, allowing small businesses to maximize their marketing budgets.
- Increases brand visibility and reaches a broader audience. With billions of active users on social media platforms, easily connect with potential customers who may not have been exposed to their brand through other channels. By sharing engaging content and interacting with followers, you can expand your online presence and attract new customers.
- Provides advanced targeting capabilities to effectively reach their desired audience. These platforms allow businesses to define specific demographics, interests, and behaviors of their target customers, ensuring that their marketing messages are delivered to the right people.
- Enhances customer engagement through direct and meaningful interactions between businesses and their customers. Through comments, likes, shares, and direct messages, this two-way communication fosters a sense of community, builds trust, and allows businesses to provide personalized customer support. By actively engaging with their audience, small businesses can establish stronger relationships, gain valuable feedback, and create brand advocates who will spread positive word-of-mouth.
- Offers robust analytics and insights tools that provide valuable data about the performance of marketing campaigns. Small businesses can track key metrics such as reach, engagement, click-through rates, and conversions to measure the effectiveness of their social media marketing efforts. This data-driven approach allows businesses to make informed decisions, refine their strategies, and optimize their marketing activities for better results.
The key is to choose the social media platforms that are most popular with your target audience and then actively engage with your audience in real-time.
Implement Email Marketing
Email is the only marketing channel you own and control
79% of B2B marketers credit email as the most effective distribution channel for demand generation efforts. So if you thought email marketing was fading away, think again. Key benefits include:
- Direct and personalized communication with customers – Send targeted messages, offers and updates directly to your subscribers’ inboxes. This direct line of communication enables you to build stronger relationships, provide personalized content, and tailor their marketing messages based on individual customer preferences.
- Cost-effective and high ROI – Use email marketing platforms to manage your subscriber lists, create visually appealing email templates, automate campaigns and track performance metrics. With proper planning and execution, email marketing can generate leads, drive website traffic and convert subscribers into customers.
- Targeted and segmented campaigns – By dividing your subscriber list into targeted segments, send highly relevant and tailored content to each group. This level of personalization increases the chances of engagement and conversion as customers receive messages that align with their interests, needs and preferences.
- Relationship building and customer loyalty – By consistently providing valuable content such as educational content, exclusive offers, and personalized recommendations, showcase your expertise, strengthen your brand, and keep customers engaged and loyal.
- Data-driven feedback on the performance of campaigns – With email marketing platforms, monitor open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates and other key metrics to gauge the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts. This data-driven approach helps identify what works and what doesn’t, allowing you to refine your strategies, optimize your campaigns and improve overall performance.
Build your list by creating a valuable lead magnet that your audience gets for free when they sign up for your list. It could be an eBook, whitepaper, template or tool depending on what is useful to your customer. Then execute a lead nurturing strategy to strengthen their relationship with you.
Develop satisfied customers
Online reviews and customer stories are more important than ever.
Most small businesses have plenty of satisfied customers. These happy customer experiences are a source of rich content that will help others understand how you solve a problem better than anyone else. Well-written customer testimonials and case studies are one of the most powerful trust signals you can use in all of your marketing.
Just remember that your ideal clients are willing to pay you to do what you do best because it solves a problem or fulfills a need, regardless of how simple it may seem to you. Your existing clients and customers can often provide inspiration for your most powerful and engaging content spoken in the language your target customer understands.
Now add powerful online reviews to your customer stories. Whether you are selling to the consumer or a business, your online reputation matters.
Customer reviews help businesses understand the needs and preferences of their customers, which can help to improve their products or services. Reviews can also provide social proof and build credibility for the business, as potential customers are more likely to trust the opinions of their peers over traditional advertising.
Positive reviews can also improve a business’s search engine ranking, making it easier for customers to find them online. By encouraging customer reviews and responding to them in a timely and professional manner, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction and build a loyal customer base.
Incorporate reputation management marketing into your plan and your business will stand out from your competition.
Build visibility in your local community
Reach your local target market with local marketing strategies
You can increase your online visibility in local search results in several ways. For example you can:
- Claim and optimize your local business listings – Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) and Bing Places for Business
- Implement local SEO
- Get customer reviews on various review sites
- Join a local networking group
To optimize your local business listings, add images, a keyword rich profile and point it back to your website or blog. Get happy clients to write reviews as these can be incorporated into the listing. All businesses should create free listings in these local business directories to help increase traffic to your website. There are many others that can be beneficial but start here and add new ones as appropriate.
Choose marketing strategies that deliver results
Invest in a combination of these strategies and tailor them to your specific needs and goals. This will help you build a strong brand identity, establish credibility and drive customer engagement and loyalty. Choose wisely given your resources. Pick those that you can consistently implement so that you use your resources wisely. But with the constantly changing digital marketing landscape, stay nimble and adapt quickly to changing market conditions and customer needs.
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