Digital marketing is an umbrella term that includes a wide range of strategies like website design, social media, online advertising, email advertising, SEO and much more. All these techniques can be too much for a local start-up owner who only wants to attract more visitors to their website. Considering the limited manpower of start-up companies, owners are typically too busy with running daily operations to be dealing with optimal digital strategies. These are some of the most important online marketing strategies that suit small local businesses.
This is probably the easiest way of letting people know about your website or e-store. It shouldn’t surprise then that over two million small and medium sized companies take advantage of Facebook ads. One of the features that makes them so interesting is advanced targeting. It means that you can target a specific audience based on their sex, relation, status, location, interests, likes, shares, and virtually any data they make public. Huge popularity of Facebook ads gave birth to a variety of third-party tools like AdEspresso, which helps you run your campaigns.
Tip: If your business is associated with visual experience, you might be better off with Instagram Ads. As it is a subsidiary of Facebook, it benefits from the same data base and targeting capabilities, but it allows you to take advantage of the visual aspect of marketing.
Know your social media
The popularity of social media as marketing vehicles sometimes causes confusion for start-up players. Many local businesses have difficulties in deciding which platform to use and how to post. It all begins with knowing your customer base. You don’t need any experts and advisors if you know who your potential customers are. On the other hand, if not used properly, social media can become a huge waste of time. No one has ever looked for a plumber on LinkedIn, or a legal advisor on Instagram. When posting on social media, you must keep in mind that you are interacting with your most devout followers. Remember not to overload them with specials and promotions. These platforms are not supermarkets, but rather media agencies that create the voice of your business.
Email’s not dead
With the advent of social media, email marketing was unjustly degraded to more menial tasks. However, lately it’s been making a big comeback. Many local businesses find it great and cheap to communicate with their best customers on a one-to-one basis. Unless you pay for more reach, Facebook and Instagram only let you share your content to a fraction of potential followers. On the other hand, if you have your customers’ email addresses, you can send specials, event information and new products or service announcements to all of them, totally free of charge. MailMunch, a digital lead generation company, has recently revealed that click-through rates can be 50 to 100 times better on email than on social media.
C is for content marketing
According to Curata, a content marketing software company, content marketing is ‘the process of developing, executing and delivering the content and related assets needed to create, nurture and grow a company’s customer base’. In 2016, 18% of marketers said that content marketing had a greater impact on their business than any other channel. Differently from paid advertising, content marketing is focused on long-term results. Although the initial ROI is small, over time, the business benefits from sustainable growth in visitors, leads and customers. Content marketing is not easy, and is best to be outsourced to experts who can provide quality content, relevant topics, SEO optimization and consistent content creation and promotion.
Tip: If you want to consider this strategy for your business, make sure you allocate time and resources to hire a reputable company. Too many companies waste resources on creating less-than-superb content over and over with little or no return.
Your website is your HQ
There is one element of digital marketing that connects all others – your website. Every strategy you apply results in driving more traffic to your website. This is the reason why it needs to be more than perfect. Unfortunately, too many websites still lack responsive design and they are not optimized for mobile devices. Google has already begun adjusting its algorithm to reward mobile-optimized sites with higher rankings in searches. Optimization means that, for example, if a visitor clicks on a phone number on your website, they can automatically dial you. No one has time to zoom in and copy-paste the number. A non-optimized site will drive visitors straight to your competitors.
Upgrade your site with rich answers
As the attention span of an average user decreases, people are changing the way they look for information – and Google is here to deliver. Instead of looking for information on multiple websites, users want direct answers. Google has recognized this need and introduced rich answers to its search algorithm. Now you can type a question like ‘What is the longest bridge in America?’ and get the answer ‘Lake Pontchartrain Causeway’. Similarly, every local business has common questions they often get from their customers, like ‘What is otoplasty?’ or ‘Can you ship tomato seeds to Australia?’ By implementing rich answers on your website, you boost your chances to appear first when people ask Google these questions.
Google My Business
Another powerful strategy you can implement is to use Google My Business (GMB) ranking. It is especially useful if you run a local business targeting local customers. For example, when someone searches for ‘Springfield lawyer’, Google displays:
- One paid ad.
- Followed by three Google My Business listings.
- And then the normal organic search results.
If you manage to rank your GMB listing in these top three, you can harvest a lot of highly qualified leads without spending a single cent on ads. GMB uses your Google+ profile, Google Maps profile, and access to data on Google Analytics to give your business credibility and visibility.
For local businesses, it is essential to constantly evaluate and upgrade their website, to make it easy to navigate and supply it with fresh content. The next step should involve other digital marketing strategies that can convert visitors to buyers.