article small business

Which Digital Marketing Strategy Should My Small Business Use?

Posted by Kevin Ulrich on 15 December 2016

What’s the biggest marketing challenge for small businesses? Identifying the right technologies for their needs and then proving marketing ROI, reports HubSpot. From email marketing and search engine optimization to content marketing and pay-per-click advertising, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of digital marketing options currently available. While the initial cost for most digital marketing strategies is low, without a clear plan in place, the opportunity cost can skyrocket. Take for example Twitter: that account may be free, but once customers start tweeting complaints or questions at your business, you can’t afford to ignore these messages delivered via the “social telephone”. You need a plan to listen, triage and respond– all while juggling your other social accounts, SEO efforts, email and content marketing programs. Not so easy!

If you’re just getting started with a digital marketing program or looking to revamp an unsuccessful program, concentrate your efforts on the tactics that will have the greatest impact on your small business. With more time, resources and manpower, you can certainly dig deeper into these tactics. But until then, at the very least, cover these bases:

Local SEO

Why it matters: Local SEO is the process of utilizing on-site and off-site search engine optimization tactics so your site ranks higher for local traffic and then converts this traffic into customers. Local searchers are primed to make purchases; if your business is not at the top of local search results, customers will go elsewhere.

Your to-do:

  1. Claim your listing. Google, Yelp, Bing and other directories auto-generate business listings based on information on your website. Since listings are auto-generated, information like store hours or location can be outdated or inaccurate. Claim your listing to ensure correct NAP (name, address, place).
  2. Optimize site content: add location relevant HTML tags, meta description tags with location keywords, and on-page headlines with appropriate geo-location terms. For better conversion optimization and a lower bounce rate, ensure on-page alignment between search terms and page content. Your visitors should immediately know they've landed in the right place.

Email Marketing

Why it matters: Email marketing is about more than just blasting out sales coupons to your list. When done correctly, it’s a strategic channel for building brand awareness, nurtures leads, strengthening existing customer relationships, and upselling services/products to existing customers.

Your to-do:

  1. Segment your list. Don’t send the same message to your entire list. List segmentation is the process of dividing your current or prospective customer list into unique client/customer groups. For example, segment lists based on user activity. Segmenting based on active/inactive customers allows you to send more generous offers to inactive customers to bring them back to your business. Customers that regularly shop or spend a lot with your business may not need a large discount to keep them coming back, but they will appreciate emails recognizing their valued status with your company.
  2. Write better subject lines. Your emails are just a swipe away from the trash folder. Subject lines are key for boosting open rates. Use this space to tell recipients exactly what to expect in your email and give them a clear reason to open it. Personalize your message; when emailing a specific group of people, name this group (e.g., “Dallas dog lovers” or “Fort Worth small business owners”).

Social Media Marketing

Why it matters: From addressing customer service complaints to connecting with your clients on the issues they care most about, social media is a powerful platform for giving your small business a voice. Overcommit to too many networks, however, and you’ll struggle to post consistently and respond to comments.

Your To-Do:

  1. Pick the right networks. Concentrate your efforts on where the bulk of your clients/customers spend their time. This doesn’t mean the networks where people have the most accounts. For example, virtually everyone has a Facebook account, but people may only scroll their newsfeeds absent-mindedly while waiting in line– the real quality time may be spent on Instagram or Pinterest, depending on your audience. That’s where your business needs to be.
  2. Automate posting. Consistent engagement is essential to reaping the benefits of social media marketing: 3-5 times per week on Facebook, 3-5 times per day on Twitter, 1-2 photos/day on Instagram, 5-10 pins per day on Pinterest, and 1-2 times per week with LinkedIn. Simplify social media management by planning a week’s worth of posts in advance and scheduling them using a social media management app like Buffer or Hoosuite.

Mobile Marketing

Why it matters: With the number of worldwide smartphone users expected to surpass 2 billion in 2016, mobile marketing is a must-do strategy for businesses. An estimated 28 percent of sales are now conducted on mobile devices, estimates CIO. Unfortunately, in the rush to engage consumers, brands that fail to follow best practices risk sending messages that are more spam than substance.

Your to-do:

  1. Get to the point. Consumers viewing your content on a smartphone don’t have time to scroll through endless text. Be concise and clear with your message. For content on a mobile site, use bullets, subheads and numbered lists to keep in scannable. Be sure your website uses responsive design so your content looks great whether it’s viewed on a phone, tablet or desktop.
  2. Offer coupons. There will be over 1 billion mobile coupon users in 2019, predicts Juniper Research. Use mobile coupons to drive in-store foot traffic, boost online conversions, promote new products/services, and strengthen customer retention. Tap into the power of geotargeting and run promotions that encourage customers to check in with your business’s physical location to receive digital discounts and coupons.