Always a small business challenge
One of the biggest challenges facing most small business owners is determining the best way to spend limited marketing dollars. With a variety of marketing channels, how do you determine which efforts are providing the most return on investment (ROI) and translating those into sales or call for service? If you are one of the over 60% of small business owners (Source: SBA) who handle multiple areas of your business – including marketing – here are some fundamentals:
1. Find Your Voice in the Right Channels
The digital realm of 2019 offers a vast expanse of opportunities to get you heard or seen. E-mail campaigns, social media, inbound content efforts, and networking are a few examples. Likewise, you have options for both organic exposure or paid advertising traffic. The dilemma for most business owners is which one(s) to choose. Professional marketing teams will often answer with “it depends.” Consider these examples:
- You run a local service-based industry (think: lawn services, drywall repair, plumbing, etc). Businesses of these types are more likely to see success engaging in local search engine optimization (SEO) and certain social channels like Facebook or Twitter. Let’s face it, plumbing and landscape services although valuable, arent really suited to the photo/adventure centric platform of Instagram.
- Conversely, the small shop or a boutique owner whose product line consists of visually appealing items might benefit from Instagram, Pinterest, or Shopify.
- Businesses primarily engaged in business-to-business (B-2-B) services or product lines, may wish to focus efforts on platforms like Linked-In. These companies are more likely to attract individuals in their industry, or company representatives seeking a specific product line or professional service.
2. Small Business Email is Alive and Thriving
If you have to ask yourself if email marketing is still effective in the “everything else” world of digital marketing – check your inbox. The ongoing benefits of email campaigns were nicely detailed in the E-Mail Addiction Report from the folks at “emailmonday.com.” A business using targeted campaigns built with effective tools (and offering something of value to a potential customer) average a $44 ROI for every dollar spent on the campaign. Pew Research indicates that 92% of all adults online use their email. A study by McKinsey Marketing found that email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than social media. Automating email campaigns through marketing platforms like Sharpspring, among others, is an excellent way to segment your prospective customers or clients while personalizing their contact experience with your business.
Email marketing campaigns come in all shapes and sizes. Many focus on educational content, others on offering discounts for products or services. The most important factor for any email campaign is providing value in return for the customers time (and address). When customers engage in this manner, they are demonstrating an initial interest in what it is you have to offer. Keep their journey personalized and focused on meeting that individual need.
3. Put Your Best Foot (and Content) Foward
Strive to produce consistent and quality content about your business or brand. Content can be defined in a number of ways from educational blog posts to a short video, whiteboard explainer video, social posts, or product/service offers. In most cases, some of these content categories can be produced at very little cost. When you discover which style and content features are resonating most through free channels such as social media or YouTube, or Instagram, you can consider repurposing that content for paid campaign efforts.
4. For Pete’s Sake – Claim Your GMB Page, Optimize it – and Then Leave it Alone
Very often we find that local businesses have failed to properly establish or claim ownership of their Google My Business (GMB) page. Although it should go without saying, we’re gonna say it…GMB sends huge signals to its bigger brother “Google Search.” Depending on the nature of the industry, its competitiveness in search, and the accuracy of GMB listings, it is very difficult to reach the all-important “map pack” (top three listings) in Google Search and Google Maps without getting this step correct. Similarly, GMB does play a role in boosting your organic rankings. Along with other website authority signals like citations and backlinks, your GMB listing should be optimized fully to include an accurate name, phone, hours of operation, address, and geotagged images in each image category. Getting this right the first time – and then leaving it alone – will pay dividends. Avoid frequent changes to the information that forces a review before republishing. Changes to the GMB should only be made if there is a significant change to the operations of the business.
5. SEO Effects on Your Business
Despite what you might hear from James Earl Jones, just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come. Service providers (as noted above) in particular, often rely on a DIY method of launching business websites. It’s a natural extension of starting a business. Unfortunately, not many are steeped in the intricacies of the great Google Monster and suffer from years in obscurity on their niche. The graphic below is an excellent (and accurate) representation of the importance of proper SEO if you ever want to get discovered by a prospective customer. Some important take-aways from this chart:
- SEARCH is the #1 driver of traffic to your website.
- 70% of searchers click on Organic Results.
- 75% of those searchers never scroll past the first page of the search.
Now ask yourself these questions…
- Is my website “optimized for search engines” by employing proper keywords, tags, and headings?
- Does my website have enough content to authoritatively send signals to Google, Bing, or Yahoo about what it is I do or sell?
- How do I rate in terms of quality of backlinks and citations to competitors in my industry?
- Do I even know what an alt-image or heading tag is?
- Why is my business website stuck on Page 47 of Google?
- Why is my business phone not ringing?
The answer to questions 5 and 6 is likely because you are lacking guidance on questions 1 through 4.
6. You’re in Luck – We Can Help
While SEO is not rocket science, it is a science. Although each niche and industry Itis different it does take work and time to reach the top of search rankings. Decide if its time to stop handing over dollars to your competition and get your business into a prominent position for customers to find you. A good first step is to have your business site analyzed to see how you stack up against others in your area and in your industry. It costs you nothing for this audit except for an email address to send you the report. No calls, no hassles, no obligations.