If there’s one thing that businesses learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s the importance of having a strong online presence in keeping a business afloat. More specifically, online marketing. It’s reported that worldwide digital advertising spending was at an estimated 378 billion U.S. dollars in 2020. And this is continuing to grow every year.
Although small businesses each probably contributed only a small amount to this large sum of money, it adds up quickly. They play a key role in economics all over the world. And for that reason alone, we have compiled together a list of online marketing tips for small businesses aimed at helping them adapt to this ever-changing environment.
We hope that this guide helps you, a small business(es) owner, to become more efficient with online marketing. Enjoy your read!
Having a strong social media presence can be a matter of life and death for small businesses. According to a two-year-old survey conducted by smallbiztrends.com, roughly 73% of small businesses invest heavily in social media marketing, a number that is surely higher now. Social media has become a great way for businesses to digitally market themselves, their products, and services.
This is mainly due to the fact that roughly 76% of consumers in the U.K. & Ireland have used social media more than ever in the past year, and about 63% have used it to buy a product or service. In other words, it should come as no surprise that businesses are heavily reliant on social media for brand awareness.
Moreover, social media offers a wide variety of different channels which small businesses can rely on, and these include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and more. There are literally hundreds of different ways that you can use to better connect with your customer base.
Not only do these platforms encourage brand exposure, but they also act as means of transparent communication as well as positive engagement with your clients. All it takes is to create a personalised experience depending on your brand and the image you are going for, and the rest is just child-play.
So, how should you do it?
As a strategy, we recommend that you focus on a single platform or a couple of platforms over others, depending on what domain your business functions within.
If you’re offering products or services that are exclusively B2C (Business to client), then Facebook and Instagram should probably be your picks. However, if you offer products and services with a B2B (business to business) nature, then you are probably better off on LinkedIn or Twitter. Whatever social media channel you go with, focus on growing it, and your business will grow along.
There is also the use of Chatbots, which have become the norm nowadays. Any small business that uses them can confirm how useful they are, especially on a platform like Facebook. It is reported that in 2018, Facebook Messenger had over 300,000 active bots, and that number has surely doubled or tripled by now. This, coupled with the fact that people are eager to interact with chatbots more than ever, is perhaps enough to convince you to get one.
Another huge advantage to having a chatbot to operate customer support is significantly lower costs. IBM predicts that chatbots could help to reduce customer support costs by as much as 30%.
Develop your email marketing
Some might argue that email marketing is an outdated digital marketing strategy. However, many small businesses still use it to initiate personal conversations with their customers. It’s one of the more efficient ways of boosting customer retention when done well.
Email marketing also offers a lot of room for customisation and personalisation, making the communication process with your customers as easy and as seamless as it can be.
Moreover, email marketing is a more cost-efficient way to reach out to potential customers in comparison to Facebook and Google advertising, for example. As a result of this, more and more small businesses are heavily reliant on email marketing for brand exposure, especially during a release of a new product or service. All you need is a good marketing list and a friendly, communicative approach to people.
Should you try email marketing?
In order to figure out whether you have an effective email marketing channel or not, ask yourself the following questions:
Do you know…
- How: email marketing works?
- What your competitors are doing?
- How to craft a good email copy?
- Have you picked a provider?
If you can’t provide a good answer for any of these questions, a simple Google search will land you in a plethora of email marketing tips and courses, most of which are free of charge. Of course, if you prefer a hands-free experience, you can always hire us to take care of your email marketing needs.
Research your competition
As a small business, looking into what the competition is doing is very important simply because you always want to offer additional value in the market. In case you are wondering about how it’s done, Google is your friend. A simple search will show you how your competitors are positioned, what sort of information they provide about themselves, and whether they are relying on Google Ads or not.
A quick example
For example, let’s say that you’re a bakery in Manchester. A google search of “bakeries Manchester” will show you a number of different results of local businesses. Now, you must be thinking, how do I differentiate my business from all these other bakeries in Manchester that more or less provide the same set of products?
Here are some common methods of differentiation that you can rely on:
- Product: produce products that are better in quality
- Distribution: have better channels of distributors
- Image: this is usually the result of your current customers who can advocate for you and your products with online reviews
- Relationship: having better employees can clearly differentiate you from the competition
- Price: This is very straightforward, really. If you offer the same products for a lower price, people will more likely pay you a visit. However, this isn’t always the case. That’s because those same customers might be willing to pay a little extra if your product is inherently superior
Online marketing tips for small businesses: Website
Nowadays, online visibility is crucial for businesses, small and big alike. If you don’t have a website for your business, your online presence is basically non-existent. However, even if you have a website set up in place, there is no guarantee that people will bother to stick around once they pay a visit. So, you need to get a few website design basics out of the way first.
For starters, make sure that your website loads quickly. Numerous reports conducted by researchers over the years have pointed out one clear fact: there is a clear connection between a website’s loading times and bounce rates. The quicker the website loads, the lower the bounce rate is. In other words, if you want visitors of your website to convert and become customers, make sure that your website is fully functional and loads quick.
We know that a small business might not have the means to create a state-of-the-art website, but the point we just went across is basically one of the fundamental basics of a good website and not a fancy feature.
Moreover, make sure that your website is rich with content that provides your customer base with relevant information about your products, services and the market in general. Having easy-to-access and relevant blog posts will make you an authoritative figure in your market.
There is also the fact that online preferences are always changing with the growing digital world. Your job, as a small business owner, is to make sure to adapt to said preferences by producing up-to-date content.
Lastly, having a functional website can help you to closely study its traffic and engagement metrics. That in turn will help you to plan new ways to grow your business’ online presence.
Improve Google My Business listing
The online reputation of your business could be the deciding factor for a user who is looking for a product or a service that you so happen to provide. The platform Google My Business should be your go-to in this case. That’s because it provides you with a level of control that is hard to come by somewhere else.
Always update your listing with new information in case of a location, opening hours, or a name change. Avoid adding promotional messages at all costs since they are irrelevant in this case.
Online marketing tips for small businesses: Improve SEO
Some small businesses might wonder, “why isn’t my website showing up on the first page of a Google search?”. Well, it is probably because they have a significantly low Google ranking.
A lot of factors come into play when it comes to how a certain website ranks in Google result pages. These include:
- Having relevant keywords in your content
- The length and quality of the content itself
- How fast does your website loads
- The link building strategy you’re following
- And more
Basically, Google tries its best to find the best pieces of content to present to a user who is looking for a certain product or service. If you are still new to the world of SEO, we recommend that you delve into it sooner than later. That’s because most of your online visibility depends on it.
Paid advertising is a great way for small businesses to rapidly increase their credibility and reach in the market. This is because it shows both your consumer base and the competition that you believe enough in your brand’s ability to satisfy your consumer’s needs.
Moreover, paid advertising will provide you with instant data and feedback. Platforms such as Google Adwords and Facebook’s Ads give you access to a wide variety of important information. This info includes what kind of people are viewing your ads, which devices they are using, and what time of the month they interact with your ads the most. This information is vital for small businesses.
Need some help?
If you feel overwhelmed by all the new terms and information you’ve discovered so far, fret not. We’re here to help. Contact us, and our team will get in touch to develop a personal growth plan for your small business.