6 Best Digital Marketing Strategies for Small Business

For many of us, the end of the year is a time to wind down, relax, and enjoy time with your loved ones. I am a big fan of this practice of mindfulness and being in the moment!

For many small businesses, however, the year’s end is an important time to look back at successes and missteps, analyze sales data, and plan out a marketing strategy for the coming year. Maybe you’re wrapping up projects with clients in the next few weeks, pushing to meet end-of-year goals or gearing up for a big kick off for a new business promotion?

If you’re in the latter boat, consider some of the most effective (and foundational) marketing strategies for small business.

Marketing Strategy: Branding/Identity

There’s never a bad time to take a good, honest look at your company’s branding and identity. Your company name, website, logo, colors, imagery and other graphic elements should all work together to communicate your strategic positioning to your customers.

Are you trying to exude a feeling of luxury? Safety? Reliability? Your branding is an essential tool for casting yourself in the desired light. If you’re feeling wobbly on your branding, consider hiring a good freelancer or a branding agency to help you refine things.

If your brand is already rock solid, I recommend creating a brand book to better communicate yourself to partners, vendors, and internal teams. Make sure your brand is properly applied to all documents both internal and external.

If you need a recommendation for a good designer to create your brand book, let me know! I can point you in the right direction. If you’re feeling adventurous, use a tool like Canva, Powerpoint/Keynote, Adobe PDF Writer, or Pixlr Editor to create your own.

Marketing Strategy: Content Marketing

Content marketing is all about making yourself discoverable on the web and adding value for your potential customer or client. It is not about spamming them with sales pitches!

With content marketing, you position yourself as a helpful expert in your field by sharing valuable information that matters to your ideal client. Content marketing pieces include your blog, social media, email marketing, white papers, reports, ebooks, etc. (more on these “Lead Magnets” below).

For example, if you’re in the real estate business, you might find that there are a lot of searches for tips on buying a home. Then you would write a post for your website’s blog about things for first time home buyers to look out for. Next, you can share that post on your social media and LinkedIn profiles, and send it to your email list. Your customers and potential customers will appreciate the helpful knowledge and will keep you in mind for when it’s time to act.

Check out this post I wrote geared towards commercial real estate tenants to get the idea.

Marketing Strategy: SEO/Local Search

SEO is complex and ever-changing – so don’t be surprised if you’re not able to do this one all on your own. There is so much value in a good SEO/local search expert, and if you haven’t noticed, it’s pretty competitive out there!  So getting started with Google AdWords couldn’t hurt either.

However, there are some low-hanging fruits that you can definitely self-squeeze to improve search rankings. Some of the main factors that influence your search engine ranking include keywords, content quality, links to and from your site (through subject expertise, collaboration and partnerships), mobile-friendliness, security and user experience.

The #1 easiest thing you can do for better SEO is to have a consistent, informative, keyword-friendly blog. Google loves websites that consistently push out new content. I specialize in blog creation and management for a variety of business categories, if you want to chat about this.

digital marketing strategy: build your email list

Marketing Strategy: Build an Email List

Don’t have an email list? You’re missing out! An email list is a crucial part of modern digital marketing and one of the most powerful tools you can have. The people who opt-in to your site are expressing interest in you – now it’s your move!

Another purpose of email marketing is to stay relevant in people’s lives before they’re ready to buy what you’re selling and to stay “top of mind” for word-of-mouth opportunities. It’s also great for promotions tailored to your best customers.

Key tips for email marketing: Keep it short and sweet, and only reach out when you’ve got something important to say. Add an email signup form to your website and social media profiles today to collect more leads! I am a big fan of MailChimp for their fair prices, helpful chat support, and excellent online knowledge base.

Marketing Strategy: Lead Magnets/Content Upgrades

You’ve probably been involved in a lead magnet exchange before without even realizing it. A lead magnet is a digital piece such as a PDF guide or free ebook which you receive in exchange for your email address. These “content upgrades” are a great way to accelerate your list building efforts. You can repackage a piece of content you have already created, or better yet, create an item that is a complement to an existing blog post or article.

Of course, lead magnets are branded with your logo and web address, and now you can follow up with these new leads via email. Lead magnets can be offered on your website and distributed automatically using your email marketing provider. Or, you can use them in your advertising to increase click-through rates.

Marketing Strategy: Be Social

But do it strategically. Social media can be a great source of exposure for your business, and it’s made businesses more human, thank goodness! At its best, social media is integrated with all your other strategies – it meshes with your branding, serves an outlet for your content marketing, it helps build your SEO through review and links, and drives traffic to your website.

While almost every small business owner I know is aware that they should be using social media, many are not sure how to go about it.

Rule # 1 – You don’t need to be everywhere. Figure out where your customers hang out and go there. It could be more than one, but it doesn’t have to be all. Once you’ve decided where to focus your energy, commit to it. Be consistent. Consider hiring a pro to help you create and share content on a regular basis. Too often, it’s added to the existing job of an admin or another role within your organization, and it falls by the wayside.

All of these strategies are proven and cost-effective. Most of them, you can implement yourself, if you have the time. However, calling in a professional like a good freelancer can help you learn the ropes, and can actually save you time and money by doing it right the first time.

If you like this article, I have a treat for you! Get your free downloadable guide to sharing your content and getting more views:

instagram product photography

How to Get the Most Out of Instagram for Business

9 Useful Tips for an Awesome Instagram Feed

By now, you know you need to be marketing on social media. Starting out on Instagram can be overwhelming, from knowing what to post, when to post, how to use all the features, and what the heck is a hashtag!?

Why Instagram?

The simple answer – it’s where your customers are!

As of April 2017, Instagram currently has over 700 million monthly active users. 70.7% of US businesses are using Instagram in 2017. Therefore, it’s likely that your competition is there. And if you’re not, you may just be overlooked.

  • 60% of people say they discover new products on Instagram.
  • 1/3 of the most viewed stories are from businesses.
  • 75% of Instagrammers take action after being inspired by a post.

Based on that, I’d say it’s worth the effort. You might even have some fun! I’ve put together some tips for maximizing your Instagram for Business account.

Optimize for Business

First of all, make sure you’re set up as a business account! It’s easy to switch over if you’re still using a Personal Account. Just click the “Settings” button on your profile page (it looks like a little gear), scroll down and click “Switch to Business Profile”. You’ll then be prompted through the whole process of adding a description and basic contact info.

A business account gives you insights about your stories, posts and followers. You can create paid promotions to drive engagement. Plus, the platform uses your contact info to create call to action buttons like “Call”, “Email”, and “Directions” so your clients can reach out to you directly from Instagram. Analytics are in the top-right corner.

Use Instagram Stories

They took a page from the Snapchat book, and it worked! The feature was released in 2016 and has taken off like wildfire. With Stories, you can post a series of images and/or videos that will show up in a slideshow format under your “story” tab. Stories disappear in 24 hours, but don’t worry, you can always start a new one! Start a Story by touching the camera icon at the top left when on your home screen.

Instagram stories are great for boosting engagement and brand visibility. Big brands have reported up to 6% higher engagement with Stories over static posts. And, if your fans view your stories, your static posts are likely to show up higher in their feed.

Share the moments of your day, including behind-the-scenes clips, work in progress, or highlights from events. Give fans a more in-depth feel for your brand by showing your staff clowning around or by giving a tour of your HQ. You can embellish pictures and videos with emojis, captions, hashtags, customized stickers, and even lenses.

instagram stories tips features how to

Engagement is Key

I recommend taking at least 20 – 30 minutes per day to engage, ie follow, like, comment, and mention others. Who, you ask? Engage with other pages that might share your same audience, and pages within your location, industry, or target age demographic. Interact with events that might be happening in your realm. Search popular hashtags and interact there.

If you have a storefront, you can also search yourself as a “place” and engage with anyone who has tagged a photo at your location. If there’s ever press about you or events you’re involved in – be part of the conversation!

Posting a genuine comment on another user’s page keeps you in peoples’ feeds, on their minds, and creates reciprocity. It’s like the Beatles said – “…in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

PROTIP: Posts that tag a location get 79% more engagement!!

Mix Up Your Content

In addition to still images, try mixing in some videos, boomerangs, and slideshows (posts with multiple photos).

Boomerangs play a one-second video forwards and backwards on a loop. They are really fun and easy to make. All you need is the Boomerang app and a little bit of motion.

Another aspect of mixing it up – instead of posting only product pictures, try mixing in images of your team, location, signage, events, or things that inspire within your industry. All are great ways to expand your content offering. Depending on your audience, you might even throw in a meme or two.

PROTIP: Instagram photos that feature faces get 38% more likes than those without.

Host a Contest or a Giveaway on Your Profile

The prize can be big or small; it doesn’t matter. People love free stuff! Consider offering a few freebies of your product or swag like a branded t-shirt.
The key to a good contest is to keep it simple. A formula I have used with success is to ask fans to 1. Like the post, 2. Follow your account and 3. Tag a friend in a comment. Then choose a winner at random. Be sure to let followers know when you’ll choose the winner, and then follow up. You can announce (and tag) winner in the comments or make a separate post to give them a shout out.

You can gain lots of new followers and lots of engagement this way, and your fans get something out of it too.

Collaborate

Speaking of contests, try partnering with other brands or influencers for one! Partnerships are an effective way to promote your Instagram contest to both of your audiences, and also share each other’s followers. Once you find a cool business to partner with, organize a giveaway or series of giveaways and use the same steps as above, asking people to follow both accounts.

Everyone benefits from the cross-promotion and you can even make the prize bigger. You can also try collaborating on events or general posts. This doubles engagement & associates your brand with other (potentially prestigious) brands.

Embrace the Hashtag

Hashtags are one of the most misunderstood features of social media. Trust me, they work!

Hashtags identify a topic of interest and are searchable. So, when you use a hashtag on your posts, it’s indexed by Instagram and becomes searchable/discoverable by other users. Click on any hashtag within the platform to see what I mean.

Every industry has some popular hashtags that you can use to garner engagement. Get creative and come up with a few that are unique to your brand. Use them consistently and you create a living archive of your best posts or products. Include the hashtag on your profile page bio to encourage people to use it.

PROTIP: Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement than those without.

Reward Your Followers

As a way to show your appreciation to followers, offer them first dibs on new promotions, products, events, or company news. Post a teaser photo or series of photos to create anticipation, and let them know that you are putting followers first!

Keep Your Profile Updated

It can be easy to forget about your social profiles when updating to a new office phone or address. If you do, however, you could miss out on new prospects!

In addition, update your profile photo every once in a while to keep things fresh. To make things easy, schedule a profile photo update in your content calendar every 3-4 months.

If you have a blog, update the link in your bio to feature new blog posts. Then post an image from the blog directing people to your website via the profile page. It’s all connected!

Ready to join the fun and get started on Instagram? Still have questions? Get in touch! I’m here for ya’.

Read about the latest trend in Instagram engagement

Sources:

https://business.instagram.com/getting-started

https://sproutsocial.com/insights/instagram-stats/

trends in digital customer care ebook 2017

Trends in Digital Customer Service 2017

Our digital marketing landscape is always changing.

In 2017, the business world has become increasingly digital. With developments in mobile apps, social media, email marketing, online ordering, and selling directly from your Instagram page, the lines between storefront and e-commerce shop are becoming increasingly blurred.

For some, keeping up with the constant evolution of online marketing is an inconvenience. For me, it’s an exciting challenge. Keeping up definitely keeps things interesting! One thing that’s not going to change anytime soon: today’s customer is a digital customer.

What can we learn from our digital customers in 2017 and beyond? How can we use technology to better serve them?

I am happy and honored to be included among 10 international experts discussing this subject in the ebook 2017 Trends: Social Customer Service Trends by 10 International Experts (in English and Spanish!)

international expert digital media rebecca rosenbergdigital customer care trends 2017

Thanks to my colleague Billie Sastre for putting this together.

Read the entire ebook here.