Small business marketing has moved at a breakneck pace over the course of the past few decades. Twenty years ago, businesses did not even know about now standard marketing strategies like search engine optimization, social media, and email marketing.
It is why small businesses more than ever they need an updated guide on how to market their business This guide provides an overview to the principles and tools you need to successfully market your small business.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website for traffic from Google, Bing, and other search engines.
To drive traffic through search engine optimization you need to focus on two key components: on-page and off-page optimization.
First, on-page optimization. On-page optimization relates to any changes you make to your own website to enhance your search ranking.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to optimize your website.
#1 Perform a technical audit of your website. Conduct a thorough audit of your site’s search engine capabilities is essential, so you know what to fix.
If you are not sure how to perform an audit of your website, then let one of our experts at Shout SEO Company help you.
By having a full audit, we can determine how to best help your search efforts.
#2 Submit your site index to Google Webmaster. Your site index is a map Google uses to learn more about your site and why you should be ranked on Google for specific keywords.
#3 Have a good keyword strategy. Part of the audit in step one should include understanding which keywords to use for your website.
SkilledUp.com for example studied which keywords got the most traffic to their site. Then they created similar content on their site to encourage more people to visit the site.
The results: a 343% increase in traffic in a few weeks. The more you understand your search traffic, the more traffic you can bring to your site.
If you do not have a lot of traffic at the moment, then get started with Keyword Planner tool. This tool provides users with a snapshot of the best keywords for your niche.
#4 Monitor your traffic through Google Analytics. You can use the information from Google Analytics Search Engine traffic and also from Google Webmaster Search Queries to determine which keywords to use for your business.
#5 Maintain your website. Google does not like sending traffic to sites that load slowly, have broken links, or have coding errors. That is why you need to make sure your site is running smoothly.
25% of users abandon a website after 4 seconds of load time. Since this number directly relates to your bounce rate and time on page numbers, it can severely limit your search traffic.
Second, once you have your on page optimization complete, work on your off page optimization.
First and foremost, you need to create links back to your website. Before we start, just a word of caution. Be careful with link building, because Google has a strict policy on link spam.
Here are three useful ways to create backlinks for your website.
#1 Create useful content. Nothing gets your site shared and referred to more than useful content.
We mentioned in our article on The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Website Links how natural referral links are the best.
This starts with using original research. When you create useful research, people want to learn more. Plus, bloggers mention your research in their articles, and you get the backlinks.
#2 Get included in roundup posts. Roundup posts help in two respects.
- If you create a roundup post, the people you link to have a tendency to link back to you later in their own blog posts.
- If you can get listed in a roundup post, you can get a backlink from that post.
Therefore, you should consider looking into roundup posts in your industry.
#3 Social media is a great way to get links. While we discuss below how to use social media to build connections, whenever you share content on social media you are technically linking back to your website.
That is a large part of the reason why Google created Google+. They wanted to increase the interaction between search and social. Google also list Tweets, Reddits, and other social media posts in the search engine.
How long does it take to get your website ranked on Google?
Keep in mind this question is a bit loaded. Google generally includes your site the moment you submit the index to Google Webmaster.
However, be prepared to wait a few days to weeks before you find your site on a Google search.
Depending upon the keywords and the industry you are in, it takes time to start driving massive traffic from Google.
If you put in a lot of hard work to your site, and make sure you follow all of the steps above then according to Search Engine Journal it should take about 3-4 months to hit 100 unique visitors per day.
Take this case study from Bill Belew and 40 students in his graduate class. Every student created a WordPress site along with regular content throughout the semester in their niche.
He had full access to their dashboard and Google Analytics. Over the course of the semester, students optimized their site with regular content and a sound search strategy. Many of them by the end of the semester had thousands of monthly visitors to their websites.
The importance of blogging and SEO. Every business looking for search traffic needs to create quality content on a blog.
That is because the more content you create for your website, the more pages and time visitors can spend on your site learning from your information. It provides authority, links, traffic, and branding.
This is where you get to show off your knowledge and build a tribe of raving fans. Where influencers can find your information to share with others.
In essence, it is the engine to your search engine optimization efforts.
Search Engine Marketing: Pay to Play
While SEO is all about getting organic traffic from Google, SEM is about paying for search traffic.
What is Google AdWords?
Google AdWords works on a pay per click (PPC) model. An advertiser pays for each click based on an auction model. Bids start as low as $.01 per click.
Here are some Google AdWords strategies to improve your campaign.
Google ranks all ads on a quality score between one and ten. Ten being the best, and what we want to shoot for to help you keep down the price of your ads.
Quality Score is a combination of different metrics, including the CTR of the ad and how high or low the bounce rate is on your landing page.
How do you increase your quality score?
Here are few keys to increase your quality score.
#1 Use keyword groupings- Do not just create a broad general AdWords campaign. Instead, research specific keywords that have a high degree of relevancy to your ads.
For example, if your ad is about tennis shoes, then your keywords need to be related to that topic. Do not include a keyword on hiking shoes, because you want to broaden your search. That only decreases your quality score.
#2 Ad relevancy- Does the text in your ad relate to the keyword on the page? The more this relates, the better off you will be. Notice in the example below how often the keyword is used in the ad.
#3 Landing page relevancy- Your ad is not the only text that needs to relate to the keyword content. Your landing page should mirror the text on your ad and the keyword.
#4 Create split tests (aka Conversion Rate Optimisation)- Test your ads and the landing pages to determine which provide the highest conversion rate.
For example, if you want to test different ads, you can go to the Campaign settings for your ad to determine the bidding strategy.
This way, Google will create an advertising strategy for your site based upon one of four different criteria you choose: Manually set bids, AdWord Enhanced PPC, Conversion Optimizer (for Cost Per Action bids), and flexible bid strategy.
Determine which Google ad performs the best. The higher the performing ad, the higher your quality score, and the lower your PPC.
The same principle works with landing pages. You can use Google Analytics to track what content visitors prefer most. We discuss additional options below.
#5 Monitor and tweak- Continually monitor your progress on Google AdWords. WordStream has a free AdWords grader to help you assess what you need to change on a regular basis.
Setting up goals
To set up goals for your website, you want to go to the Google AdWords Tools section. Then click on the conversion button seen below.
What are Retargeted Ads?
Retargeted ads are one of the best ways to increase conversions on your site. Why? Well, take all of the website visitors that visited your site in the past month, 3 months, or 6 months.
You can now promote your content and products to those targeted prospects across the web. Because visitors to your site are already exposed to your brand, they are more likely to click through to new products and offerings from your company.
Most of the major advertising services like Facebook and Google offer some type of retargeting program.
Take bike maker Trek. They use Adroll to retarget ads for their business. During a recent campaign, they were able to use retargeted ads to get users to download their new iPad app. The campaign brought in a conversion rate of 3.25% and a PPC of $.32.
More importantly, they had a 160% increase in app installs of the program. Since the bikes can sometimes run up to $10,000, this app provides brand awareness for prospective customers.
Online course provider Udemy ran a campaign through Adroll on Facebook that resulted in a 38% higher conversion rate than their current web traffic.
These companies are not alone, retargeting can boost ad response rates by an average of 400% compared to traditional ads. That is the power of targeting prospects who are interested in your services already.
How does retargeting work?
While there are many platforms to use retargeting, let’s start today with the main four main channels for users: Facebook, Adroll, Criteo, and Google.
Google- If you wish to use retargeting on Google, connect your Google Analytics to your Google AdWords Management account.
Facebook- To set up retargeting on Facebook, install a conversion pixel in the Facebook Ads Manager. It is located in the audience section.
Adroll- While Facebook and Google help you retarget ads on their platform, Adroll helps you retarget your ads across a million different websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and sites.
Criteo- Similar to adroll, but Criteo helps you deliver ads to your target market across multiple devices.
Three Tips for Advanced Retargeting Strategy
#1 Segmentation- The first key to creating an advanced retargeting campaign is to segment your visitors. Not every visitor should be retargeted.
For example, in many campaigns you can add a snippet of code to your product pages called a burn code. Now you can remove buyers from a prospect list.
Nothing worse than burning your bridges with your customers by sending them product offers for stuff they already bought.
#2 Category and brand levels- Next, consider the different category and brand levels for your campaign.
For example, if you sell products in camping, then you might have a few specific sub-categories for the products you sell (camping gear, clothing, food, etc.)
Additionally, you might want to create brand levels to address the different brands you promote.
#3 Target your ads- When it comes down to it, retargeting is just like your SEM campaign. If you run a campaign on Google, you still have to ensure that you have a good quality score.
Focus on the right message with the right audience.
For example, if you are looking to sell products in Melbourne, you would not allow a global audience to see your ads. Instead, you would restrict the ads to specific postal codes.
Retargeting for retailers – Dynamic retargeting
The final item on retargeting is specifically for retailers. Retailers often get little website traffic, but a lot of foot traffic.
If you have a retail shop that captures a lot of email addresses, phone numbers, and mailing addresses, you can use the CRM retargeting to capture more sales for your business.
Instead of working off the website visits, you can upload your list to retarget those customers. Facebook has a specific place for marketers to upload their list in the Power Editor.
Landing page optimization
What are landing pages?
A landing page is an umbrella term for a few specific different types of website pages. Landing pages can be squeeze, sales, or content pages.
#1 Squeeze page- They specifically squeeze out the traffic until you only have targeted visitors who sign up for your email list.
The leader in squeeze page design is LeadPages. They are constantly testing what works on a squeeze page. The squeeze page below is one of their highest converting pages.
It is simple, and gets people to put in their email address to download the free report.
#2 Sales page- As you might have guessed a sales page sells a specific product. Keep in mind this is different than an ecommerce page, because instead of selling dozens of products on one page, a sales page focuses on one product or a specific category of related products.
BaseCamp provides an easy to use sales page. You sign up for a free 60 day trial. At the end of the trial, choose the program you want to use for your business. By making the offer easy, it incentivizes users to sign up.
Plus the social proof of how many users started using BaseCamp last week is a tremendous example of how social proof can bring in more sales.
#3 Content page- This can be a blog post, video, podcasts or additional types of media. For example, Fire Pole Marketing main page is a content landing page where you can choose one of the graphics to decide how to improve your web presence.
Why are landing pages important?
Landing pages are statistically proven to increase conversions on your website. For example, Dell has over 1,000 landing pages on their website. These landings page provided an increased conversion rate of as much as 300% against traditional websites.
Furthermore, by having multiple landing pages you can test what works and does not in your sales funnel. A study was done by WordStream studying the top 10% of landing pages. It turns out they convert between 3-5 times better than the average page.
What was the difference? Those sites tested their copy relentlessly. The report estimated that to break into the top 25% you need to test 4 different landing page designs. To join the elite top 10%, on average you need at least ten different landing pages.
Three Landing Page Optimization Strategies
The key to creating a good landing page is you have to include these three items.
#1 Amazing value- Most companies do not provide a big enough incentive to join their email list. People sign up for the LeadPages offer (see above), because it is incredibly valuable to them.
#2 Make it ridiculously easy- Internet users are lazy. If they have to scroll down to receive your offer, many leave. If they do not know what to do, they bounce to the next site. Have a clear form at the top of your website page.
#3 Keep your message clear- Within 3-5 seconds a visitor should understand your unique service proposition. They should not be confused as to the purpose of your website.
Once you have your landing page on your website, you should definitely create some type of service page. Whether you run a retail store or a professional office, you should have a page that details the services you provide to your customers.
Three Service Page Optimization Strategies
#1 Keep it simple- Like your parents used to tell you as a kid, too much of anything is a bad thing. If you have graphics and text all over the place, people get distracted from the point of your website.
#2 Sell Benefits, Not Features- When selling to a prospect face to face, you do not (or should not) read off a list of features to entice them to buy. The same holds true online.
Use testimonials from previous clients discussing how they benefited from your services. Use the full, real names of your customers to ensure the testimonials do not look faked.
# 3 Write for your target audience- Most companies write their content for their peers, instead of their prospects.
It is not surprising, considering all the technical jargon most professionals need to learn in order to build their business. However, this jargon needs to be translated for consumers.
If you are looking to start selling products online, then more than likely at some point you need to look into using an Ecommerce platform.
Both are great for setting up a dynamic shopping cart for your business. Once you set up your ecommerce site, here are some ways to optimize your page for conversions.
#1 Integrate your offer across all your online channels. Your ecommerce strategy should work with your search, social, and general marketing strategy.
#2 Personalize- Make sure your ecommerce store is personalized for each visitor.
For example, you can purchase a premium version of Recommendation Engine on WooCommerce to provide customized recommendations to users to purchase additional products. This is similar to what Amazon does to increase the number of sales on their site.
You can also use a free plugin like inSite for WP to create personalized welcome messages or do fun things like add snowflakes during the holiday season.
#3 Have a Smart Call to Action- If you want prospects to buy your products, you need to give them clear instructions.
Few do it better than BixbiPet.Com. Look at the dog physically pointing towards the CTA in this image. No misunderstandings about what they should do next.
You now have a dynamic engine for driving traffic and conversions, we need to analyze your results to improve upon them. We started this process earlier when we discussed Google Analytics.
However, that is only the start. Here are some other tools you can use to improve your traffic and conversions.
Optimizely- Test multiple landing pages to ensure you have the highest conversions possible.
Crazy Egg- Add a heat map of your website that tracks your visitors’ mouse as they scroll and click on each page.
KISSmetrics- A great alternative to Google Analytics. KISSmetrics provides enterprise level analytics software to help you analyze your visitors’ behavior to improve your sales funnel.
What small business online marketing strategy is not complete without a social media marketing strategy these days? Everywhere you go, businesses are vying for likes, shares, and comments on their content and sales copy.
That is why it is important you understand the best practices of each social network.
Before we start, one note. Keep in mind the skills we discuss on one social network can often be used on another network. For example, it goes without saying how consistently, amazing content works across all social networks.
Instead of repeating this phrase four times, keep in mind some of the skills we might list on Facebook, like filling out your profile on your fan page are just as relevant to filling out your Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or LinkedIn profile.
Here are the best practices for each specific network.
Facebook – What social media discussion would not be complete if we did not mention the 800 pound gorilla in the room? Here are some of the best practices for the social network.
#1 Facebook Pages- Before you do anything else, you need to create a Facebook fan page for your business. This is where your Facebook fans can all congregate in one place. To set up a page, go to Facebook.com/pages.
Make sure you have images that are the correct size for your page. Here is a cheat sheet of image sizes for every social network we discuss.
Next, fill out all of the information for your profile. When visitors come to your page, they should know what to expect.
#2 Content Creation- Next, you need create content on Facebook. Statistically, it has been proven that image posts on Facebook receive 87% of all interactions.
Make sure that you provide this content on a daily basis. According to social schedule app Buffer, you can post up to twice a day before likes and comments drop off on Facebook.
#3 Facebook Ads- The final component we want to discuss today is Facebook ads. A few years ago, all Facebook ads were like the following:
While there is nothing wrong with the ad, the problem is the ad is small and stuck in a corner of Facebook. The newsfeed ads fit naturally within the context of your Facebook newsfeed. Not surprisingly they provide much better results.
Instagram- This is a great social network for businesses looking to market to mobile, image hungry consumers.
Here are some of the best practices
#1 Use incredible images. Like Pinterest, this is a social network comprised of images. Therefore, it only makes sense you use the highest quality images possible for your posts.
#2 Engage your community- Notice in the image below how Bath and Body Works not only posts content on Instagram, but they also respond to their users.
Engaging with your community is one of the best ways to encourage your fan base to promote your brand on Instagram.
#3 Create relevant hashtags to be found by your community. The best way to search for relevant content on Instagram is through hashtags. Therefore, use your hashtags wisely, so you can add relevant followers.
Twitter- Next to Facebook, Twitter is one of the most widely used social networks in the world. Famous for their 140 character text limit, the social network is a gold mine for marketers looking to build their business.
Here are three best practices to keep in mind for Twitter.
#1 Follow people back. When you first start out, you need to follow your users back. In fact, you probably need to do some following of your own when you join.
#2 80% of your content should be information. Most businesses spend all of their time on Twitter talking about themselves and their products.
While self-promotion is okay, you should spend 80% of your time on creating valuable information and content your followers can use. Just like blogging, useful information is everything.
— Shout! Web Strategy (@ShoutStrategy) August 10, 2015
Engage your community. #3 Do not just talk about yourself. Along with creating information is making sure you are not egotistical. Retweet and mention other users in your stream.
Pinterest- Similar to Instagram, Pinterest is the most visually appealing social network of all the major networks. An entire network devoted towards images. Just like you share updates on Facebook and LinkedIn, and Retweet tweets on Twitter, you pin
Three Pinterest Marketing Best Practices
#1 Create Boards- The first thing you want to do when you start using Pinterest is organize your content into specific boards.
That way each board focuses on a different aspect of your business.
#2 Pins- It goes without saying you need good visuals for Pinterest. Otherwise, how would you gain traction?
However, the bigger insight is you should be pinning at least 10 times per day. Especially as your audience grows, you need to focus on pinning at different times throughout the day to catch more of your audience’s attention.
#3 Join Group Boards- One of the best ways to increase your exposure on Pinterest is to join a group board.
Instead of just pinning on your own, you can work with a group of Pinterest users in your niche to attract more attention to your pins. Leverage others works to get more exposure for your website and account.
LinkedIn- Connect with other business professionals. Unlike Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest that cater mostly to consumers, LinkedIn is the exclusive social network for business.
#1 Profile- While the profiles of all the social networks are important, LinkedIn focuses the most energy and attention on your profile.
Employers use LinkedIn profiles like resumes, and prospects research your business and personal experience before working with you.
#2 LinkedIn Search- Next, let’s discuss how to use LinkedIn search to find qualified partners and prospects. With LinkedIn, you have the power to filter and segment your search however you want to find the best prospects for your business.
By joining different groups, you can then search for members on LinkedIn search to find the right connections for your business.
Note: To access some of the segmentation services, you need to have a premium account.
#3 LinkedIn Publishing Platform- LinkedIn provides users with the ability to create content they can share with to their entire network.
Many of the businesses that publish on there have seen massive traffic and subscribers from republishing content or creating original content as well.
For example, Didit posted an article on LinkedIn to test the waters. Within the course of a weekend, they received over 12,000 views, along with 408 LinkedIn InShares, 213 “thumbs up,” 63 comments, 19 Tweets, and 23 Facebook likes.
In business, the leads you generate generally come from your list. A proven way to build your list is through email marketing.
Three Top List building Strategies
#1 Sumome.Com- This site provides almost any tool from pop ups to forms that you need on your website to build your email list. These tools work great on mobile devices as well.
#2 Facebook Contests- Leverage your fans on Facebook or other social networks to add email subscribers.
For example, the fan page for Dogs and Puppies created a photo contest to get people’s information. Users submitted their favorite images, and then the three dogs or puppies with the most votes won a prize.
Because Facebook does not allow you to require users to share information to their profile, this is a great incentive for users to do it of their own accord.
Since the users had to include their email address to vote, they were list building at the same time.
(Image Courtesy: Social Media Examiner)
#3 Linkedin contacts – Export your contacts into a CSV file. You can then upload the emails to one of the email marketing services we mention below.
Systems to Use
MailChimp- Famous for their offer to provide free email marketing services to the first 2,000 people on your list.
Note: MailChimp has been known to ban users without warning. If you promote any affiliate products, use AWeber instead. They automatically ban you for affiliate links.
Campaign Monitor- Useful for the amount of data they provide, so you can send targeted emails to segments of your list.
AWeber- One of the oldest email marketing automation software systems available. They made a number of improvements over the past year to start offering the same level of service as InfusionSoft. Not there yet, but they are a fraction of the price.
Infusionsoft- Part CRM, part ecommerce solution, and part automated email marketing software. Infusionsoft offers a level of automation and customization not available on the other platforms.
This software comes with a hefty price tag as well, so it is better to use when you have a larger list at your disposal.
List onboarding- Once you have users sign up, then you need to determine a flow for how to communicate to them. When you use the services above, for example, all of them request you use a double opt-in to verify your subscribers want to be on the list.
Automation – By using an email marketing service like AWeber or MailChimp, you can automate most of this process.
For example, Salesforce.com brought in over 10,000 leads for their email campaign by simply segmenting their content into 6 different profiles of people at various buying stages.
Emails were automatically sent out to reflect their buying questions, which resulted in an annual 80% increase in sales.
Contact Relationship Manager (CRM)
The final component to your small business marketing plan is having a good CRM in place. This should integrate with your email marketing service provider, so you can easily manage your entire marketing pipeline.
Make sure that you get a CRM as early in your sales process as possible, so you have a clear record of all your prospects and customers over time. This builds enormous value to your business, as you regularly follow up with prospects.
The biggest benefit of using a CRM is how the software supports your business strategy to ensure you connect with more prospects and get better response rates.
For example, George Street Photography uses Salesforce CRM to prepare all the information for client meetings ahead of time, as well as shorten the contract period.
The difference is that they can now prep for client meetings in less than 5 minutes, while shortening the time to write a contract from a week to 24 hours, as well as handling 5 times as many leads and weddings as they did in 2010.
Most of the additional business can be attributed to them pairing their CRM with their email marketing campaign to create customized emails for their prospects.
The emails hit the prospects at the right time in the buying cycle to increase the likelihood of them purchasing.
Final Thoughts (tl;dr)
Do you remember the book, Around the World in 80 Days? Feels like we just did the same thing for your small business marketing plan. We covered everything from search engines to social media to email to CRM to landing pages.
The fact is that learning about how to use this information is only the first step. Now you have to implement the strategies you find best for your business.
If you are still not sure what the best approach would be for your business, then we invite you reach out to us at Shout to learn more about how we can help your small business marketing strategy.