Businesses everywhere are looking for ways to increase their brand recognition, their reach, and their sales. A targeted online small business marketing plan can help your business achieve these goals.Small business marketing can get confusing on where to spend your time and budget. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to start with the basics, like making sure your website is mobile friendly and optimized for search engines, and that your social media pages are complete, accurate and aligned with your brand.
If your business already has an online presence, we have a few trusted methods to increase sales, generate leads, and raise brand awareness. Here are three of our favorite small business marketing tips to help you grow.
"88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours." – Google Mobile Movement Study
Claim Your Local Business Listings
A local listing is a summary or profile of your business that can be found on various websites like Google Maps, Angie’s List, Facebook, and Yelp. Local listings can help new customers find you and get accurate information about your business. Consistent local listings, also known as Citations, are important to your online presence, and can boost your ranking on various search engines.
If you aren’t a brand-new company, your business likely has pages on sites like Yelp and Foursquare, even if you haven’t signed up for an account. By creating an account and proving ownership of the business, you can control the information displayed, including operating hours, images, business description, and more. If your business doesn’t have a local listing on a site, you can then simply create an account and add your business.
You’ll need to visit each site individually to claim or create your business listing. Start with Google My Business (which will cover services like Google Search and Google Maps), Facebook, Bing, Yelp, and Foursquare.
Keep track of your local listing information in a document or spreadsheet to ensure that it is identical across all the sites your business is listed on. Even small errors or discrepancies can result in frustrated customers (think incorrect Saturday business hours) and negatively impact your SEO.
You’ll also want to keep track of every site that has a local listing for your business. This way you can update your local listing data when necessary. It’s also a good idea to review your data at least every three months. Citation management tools like Yext allow you to manage all of your citations from one master listing. These services require a paid membership, but allow you to edit your listings across the web in one spot. Imagine having to update your business phone number, and the convenience of updating it at one location as opposed to dozens of individual accounts.
Create an Email Newsletter
Even with new internet marketing channels opening at a frantic pace, email campaigns continue to be integral to businesses small and large because of their impressive ROI.
Newsletters are a common feature of email marketing campaigns, and with good reason. Done correctly, newsletters can drive traffic to your site, help you position yourself as an industry expert, increase brand awareness, educate your customers, and more.
Creating a newsletter can feel like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. Start by choosing a topic or theme for your newsletter. You don’t have to try and cover every product or service that you offer, nor do you have to comment on every important development in your industry. Shorter, focused newsletters can be just as effective as long, detailed ones.
When you’re creating a newsletter, it’s important to remember that newsletters aren’t long and pretty promotional emails. Readers typically expect educational or informative content that corresponds to your area of expertise. Think to yourself, what content would my viewers appreciate and be of value to them?
Of course, you’ll also want to include a call to action (CTA), but try to stick with just one. When considering what your CTA should be, try to choose one that compliments your newsletter’s topic. For example, if your newsletter is about email marketing, include a link to custom email templates you have for sale. If you want to provide some free content to build trust with your subscribers, you might want to make your CTA a link to some free email templates. I am a firm believer in providing free content that shows users you are not only qualified, but you genuinely want to help them. Over time this will help you build trust with your readers, prove your knowledge, and hopefully earn their business.
Once you have a topic and a CTA in mind, it’s time to choose your email platform (if you don’t already have one). Email automation services like MailChimp (affiliate link, but I love and only use MailChimp) and Constant Contact are user-friendly ways to create and send a newsletter.
MailChimp is free for email lists up to 2,000 users, and allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month. Most of these services also have advanced features that can be extremely useful such as list building tools, automated responders, and detailed analytics.
Geo-Targeted PPC Campaigns
As you probably know, a PPC (pay-per-click) campaign is a marketing strategy where your business pays the publisher each time a user clicks on an ad. Almost every PPC campaign can be set up using geography or location as a filter (called geo-targeted campaigns). This means that you can ensure that only customers from a certain area will see your ad, or that you can change the content of your ad based on a user’s location.
"50% of people arriving at a retailers site from paid ads are more likely to buy than those who came from an organic link.” – Unbounce
Geo-targeted PPC campaigns can be a great way to maximize your marketing investment. This is especially true if your small business only serves a certain area (like a restaurant or doctor’s office) or if your services change based on where a user is located (like a financial planner who offers in-office consultations to local clients and video conferences to everyone else). By targeting your message to a specific location, you can increase the chances that you’re paying for a click from someone who is going to be able to use your service or purchase your product.
Once you have planned how to target your ads, or vary them based on location, you’ll need to set up geo-targeting. If you use Adwords, Google has an in-depth primer on how to target ads to geographic location, as well as tips to help you choose the best option for your business. Other publishers, such as Bing, offer geo-targeting options as well.
Know When You Need Professional Help
Claiming local listings, creating a newsletter, and using geo-targeted PPC campaigns are all great ways to boost your small business online, but it takes time. It can also be even more time-consuming if you have to research how to do something. If you find that internet marketing is taking too much time away from actually running your company, it’s a good time to consider bringing in someone who specializes in growing your business online.
Have questions? Considering bringing on a professional? Feel free to Contact Us.