Online Marketing Survival Guide for Small Businesses: Part 1
- Branding, Content Writing, Digital Marketing, Market Research, Social Media, Website Development
- Digital Marketing, Market Research, small business, Social Media Marketing, website launch party
- April 18, 2019
Online Marketing Survival Guide for Small Businesses
If you have ever worked for a small business or startup, you may be familiar with the nose to the grindstone effort that goes into keeping a business afloat past the 10-year benchmark. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, “about half of all new establishments survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or more. As one would expect, the probability of survival increases with a firm’s age. Survival rates have changed little over time.”
So, how do you increase your chance of reaching your 10th year in business? Your answer is digital marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
In this article, we will provide you with an online marketing survival guide to help with the longevity of your small business.
1. Conduct Market Research
Before you start building your brand, it pays to do some preliminary market research into the group you are selling to, called your “target market segment”. This will help ensure that you are aware of their pain points and can help you to better tailor your core messaging. After launching your online presence, it is important that you continue to collect and analyze data every quarter or half-year (at least). This will help you keep at eye on shifting consumer behaviours that could play into your marketing strategy.
If you need to conduct market research on a limited budget, there are plenty of affordable survey tools you can use.
a. Cultural Research
It is important to know the cultural makeup of your target market so you can tailor your message to a specific geographical location. Doing so will help you to attract customers in the same city or region that your business operates.
b. Industry Trend Research
The goal of Industry Trend Research is to assess how innovative your products or services are. It includes researching technological breakthroughs, as well as researching changing consumer behaviours.
c. Competitive Research
Competitive Research considers your competitors’ products and services, core messaging, and product positioning. This data can help you determine market gaps that exist so you can position your products to meet an unserved need.
d. Audience Research
Audience Research involves researching the demographic, psychological, and behavioural characteristics of your target market segment.
e. Content Marketing Research
Content Marketing Research involves analyzing the effectiveness of all published content (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts). To conduct content marketing research, you can use a combination of social media analytics tools (such as Facebook Insights), and website analytics tools (such as Google Analytics).
Conducting content research will help you understand what content leads to more followers, website visitors, and customers. This data can, in turn, be used to develop highly personalized and targeted online ad campaigns that truly resonate with your audience.
2. Build Your Brand
For maximum impact and memorability, your branding needs to be consistent across all online platforms. Having consistent branding on your website, social media networks, and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads, will help consumers become familiar with your brand.
Because your logo is the face of your company, it is one of the most important investments your company can make. The symbol, colours, and style of your logo should be unique enough to set you apart from the competitors. Yet, it should feel familiar enough that consumers should be able to correctly guess the nature of your business, simply by looking at your logo.
b. Company Colours
According to numerous studies within the field of Colour Psychology, colour can impact human behaviour, and perception, while also improving the effectiveness of a message. In a study titled “The Impact of Colour on Marketing”, researchers found that 90% of consumers’ judgments about products were based on colour alone.
To make your brand more memorable, use the same branded colours on all marketing materials.
c. Brand Persona
Brand persona is defined as a set of human characteristics (such as personality traits and values) that are attributed to your company. Having a brand persona helps consumers feel an emotional attachment to your brand, which leads to more sales. Therefore, a strong brand persona can make your company more valuable.
d. Core Messaging
Your brand messaging plays into how recognizable your brand is. Once again, consistency is key in brand recognition so it is important to have a consistent message across all online platforms.
The most impactful brand messaging will highlight your unique value proposition. Put simply, your unique value proposition is the benefits your personal brand offers that none of your competitors are offering.
3. Website Marketing
Your website is the crux of your online marketing efforts. All your digital advertising efforts ultimately go towards driving website traffic which, in turn, will drive more sales. To be successful at website marketing, your website must accomplish two things. First, your website must help to generate sales leads. Second, your website must provide useful information to potential customers.
a. Host a Website Launch Party
When your website goes live, it may take months before you see your website traffic improve. To encourage early website visitors, host a website launch party, complete with a Facebook Event invitation to all friends, family members, and business partners.
b. Stay On-Brand
Your website must convey your core messaging consistently across all webpages of your website. To stay on-brand your logo should be clearly displayed, you should use only your company colours, and your tone of voice must communicate your brand’s persona.
c. Start a Blog
Having a company blog can help you become an expert in your industry. It builds trust when customers come to your blog to answer their burning questions. And trust leads to more sales. Blogging is also a great way to boost your SEO and website traffic over time.
d. Enable Social Sharing
Add social media icons to your website’s menu and footer so people can easily follow you on all social networks. Make sure all blog articles or other content you want to be shared have social sharing buttons so people are only 1-click away from sharing your content.
e. Be Mobile-Friendly
In 2018, 58% of site visits were from visitors using a mobile phone. To best market your company, it is vital that your website is responsive and that it displays seamlessly on smartphones, mobile devices, tablets, and desktop computers.
f. Use Search Engine Optimization
Did you know that most website users don’t look beyond the first page of Google when conducting a search? To gain an advantage and make it to the first page of Google, you should focus on both local SEO and standard SEO.
g. Collect and Review Data
Using a website analytics tool such as Google Analytics or SE Ranking can help you monitor your website visitors. If you want to try out something new on your website (such as a new layout, colour scheme, or menu) you can also try A/B testing. In A/B testing, one change is made to the website and the result in website traffic and user experience is monitored. Some A/B testing tools you can use include Optimizely or Unbounce.
4. Content Marketing
You’ve heard it before: content is king. In order to boost your website traffic, your content must be on-point with what your customers are interested in.
a. Know Social and Search Trends
When it comes to the content you are sharing, timing is everything. Trends change over time. If you are posting content that was popular 3 years ago, you will be missing out on the post views you would have received had you chosen a trending topic.
b. Create a Content Calendar
Your content calendar should include what you plan to post on your blog, over the next month or so. Creating a content calendar can help you write content that is highly relevant to current trends and the current season. For example, in January, you can write a blog on “10 Ways to….in 2019”.
c. Leverage Your Content
If you are wise about it, you can re-use your content in many different ways, saving you time. For example, if your website has multiple articles on the same topics, try combining the articles into a single eBook. Another great way to recycle content is to use blog content in your eNewsletters or to make graphics or infographics that summarize one of your blogs.
d. Write a Guest Post
Guest Blogging involves contributing an article to another company’s website in order to gain expert authority, brand exposure, and backlinks from another website to your own.
Two-way guest posting is the most advantageous. In addition to the backlink you gain, you also receive a new post on your website from the company you partnered with.
e. Share to Social Networks
Whenever you create a blog, graphic, or video, this is valuable content you should share to social media for maximum brand exposure.
f. Use Keywords
You can use SEO tools such as SE Ranking or SEMRush to help you conduct keyword research. Using the right mix of keywords in your content impacts whether you are in the first few pages of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
g. Analyze Your Topic’s Search Results
It helps to have an SEO tool to know what topics have a higher search volume. It also helps to know a keyword’s “word difficulty”, which is a measure of how easy it is to rank for a given keyword. For your blogs to carry the greatest impact, you should focus on writing articles with keywords that have a high search volume, but a low keyword difficulty.
5. Be Social
Social media marketing is about building an online community of people who are enthusiastic about topics related to your business. To build an online community, focus on producing quality content that highlights your brand story. By posting content that has links to your website, you can increase your web traffic, while also communicating with existing and potential customers online.
a. Join All Social Platforms
Even if you aren’t active on all social media platforms, it is a good practice to sign up for all major social networks. This will ensure that a competitor company with a similar name doesn’t claim your username.
b. Only Post to Select Platforms
Given your finite amount of time as a small business owner, you can start by posting to only a few key social platforms that are best suited to your business. When selecting a platform, think about your target demographic and the kinds of content you will be sharing (whether that be articles, images, or videos).
c. Create a Social Calendar
Posting on the fly will provide hit-or-miss results and should be rejected in favour of a more thought-out content calendar. Your content calendar is a visual representation of what you plan to post over the next month or so. It includes any blogs, graphics, and videos you plan to share, along with the text and hashtags to go with each post. Planning posts in advance can help you ensure you always have content geared up for special holidays and hashtag holidays.
d. Share Videos
It’s incredible to think that 3.25 billion hours of YouTube content is consumed every month. Creating and sharing videos can help your small business reach new customers on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
e. Reach Out to Influencers
When done well, influencer marketing can help build a positive brand image. It can also help you boost your social media followers and your sales.
f. Platform Insights
Use analytics tools such as Facebook Insights, Instagram Insights, or Twitter Analytics to determine which content is performing best. Analyze why certain posts got the most likes, shares, or comments, and try to reproduce similar content in the future. Looking into the demographic composition of your audience can also help you determine how to better tailor your next social media campaign.
While it may be difficult to dedicate time to digital marketing on top of running a business, it is possible to do both. By following our online marketing survival guide for small businesses, you will be well on your way to launching your company’s presence online. And, don’t forget, if it all feels too much for you, you can outsource some or all of your marketing efforts to a digital marketing agency.
Looking to expand on your current digital marketing strategy? Stay tuned for our upcoming blog on email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), reputation management, and marketing automation.
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If you are looking for online marketing services in Edmonton for an affordable price, Lean Marketing is the agency for you. Focused on ROI, we guarantee that you will see results.
It takes considerable time and dedication to start a business. Take the guesswork out of online marketing and let the experts at Lean Marketing handle your online marketing for you!
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