A progressive small business owner or manager always looks ahead, whether it’s to the next service your customers want, the methods of delivery, or the next way to be part of the community. The same goes for marketing. If you want to stay ahead in marketing your business, the end of the year (both fiscal and calendar) is a great time to look for the “next big thing” to invest your marketing budget.
To be clear, we’re not talking about fads. Fad marketing comes and goes, making your investment a short-term investment. No, we’re talking about long-term strategies that keep delivering dividends well into the future and you can integrate with your tried-and-true strategies (direct mail, advertising, etc.)
If a new website is on your list of business marketing tasks for the New Year, add optimization to your list of considerations for the new site (in additional to functional and aesthetics). An optimized site is built for the search engines, both in terms of structure and content. An optimized website is built for an optimal user experience (both on desktop and mobile) with speed, relevance, images, and content playing a key role.
You can’t get an optimized website built by just anyone, so be selective about the individual or company you hire to build your website. Some companies can give you a website that is beautiful, but difficult for search engines to index. One of our clients had first-hand experience with this phenomenon. When it came time for them to build a new website, a friend promised to build them a beautiful and cheap site. They took this friend up on their offer, and the result was disastrous. The website was beautiful, but the content and structure was so poor that they dropped in search engine results like a stone. Take their story to heart; invest your dollars into an optimized website that search engines and your target audience notices.
Getting indexed by search engines is only half the battle. If you want to get to the top of search engine results, it’s time to add search engine optimization to your list of marketing tools. Specifically, we’ve seen businesses get excellent marketing results from local SEO which targets customers within a 10, 20, or 50 mile radius from their location (or locations). Local SEO also works within a short amount of time.
One of our clients in southeastern Wisconsin saw their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Remember that website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. Our client receives significantly more form submissions every week from potential customers thanks to SEO, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package.
Content marketing is a marketing win on two different fronts: for your audience and search engines. Content marketing is the process of creating content to your website. We’ve seen significant results for businesses that use a blog for this purpose. With a strategic plan and regular posts, content marketing creates more pages to be indexed by search engines. More pages equals better search engine results, and higher rankings on search engine results pages.
More importantly, content marketing delivers value to your customers and potential customers—if you promote it (i.e. on social media, in emails, more ideas here). Relevant and regular content answers your customers’ questions and assists them with their problems, building trust and driving them toward a sale.
If you’re considering content marketing, start with a calendar and a plan. Regularly posted content is important to achieve results, so make sure your calendar is ‘doable’ or enlist the help of a content marketing firm that can execute—or hire a company to take on the planning and execution with your input (here’s how to weed out a quality candidate).
Social Media Marketing
Social media is all the rage, but it’s a marketing tool that’s not going away any time soon. With the number of social media users steadily increasing, social media is a unique opportunity to connect with your customers and potential customers—and to drive sales. Like content marketing, social media is an opportunity for your business to build trust.
You can do that by choosing a social media site (or sites) that fits the demographic of the audience you want to reach, and adding social media posts to your list marketing calendar. Remember, that social media is not a billboard; it’s a way to connect. To that end, post content that builds trust and sells—with a majority of it aimed at entertaining (when appropriate) and building trust. (More ‘must haves’ of a solid social media presence here.)
Social media takes time, so make sure you don’t get in over your head on multiple social media sites that you don’t have time for (automated sites like Hootsuite and Buffer can help). Tailor your posts to each individual social media site for best results; social media users can see when you don’t know what you’re doing. If you don’t feel like you know what you’re doing, trust your social media marketing to experts that do.
Email marketing sounds so simple; get a list of emails and send out an email asking your customers to buy your products. In reality, email marketing is a marathon of regular, relevant emails —and a marathon that yields long-term results. Include your emails strategically in your marketing plan, and make sure you send your emails to recipients who want to receive it.
Email marketing drives your customers back to your website (which should be built for an awesome experience), to your social media pages, or to your content to build trust. Emails can be automated and sent out by automated programs, or you can trust your emails to marketing firms that have the experience and expertise to draft attention-grabbing emails. We’ve seen statistics that say the return on investment can be as high as 400% with email marketing, making email marketing one of the premiere areas to invest your budget dollars.