Small Business Marketing: 5 Tips to help you increase your visibility

Small business marketing presents many challenges, one of which is determining how to best allocate limited resources. Understandably, your first focus as a small business owner is on running your business and making a profit.

Unfortunately, this sometimes means small business marketing opportunities are overlooked. Whether your goal is to boost engagement within your existing local area or you're looking to branch out into another market, there are some cost-effective ways to get a better return on your marketing investments.

To give you a better idea of how to effectively use your resources and reach your intended audience online, we wrote this short checklist for you to implement into your current strategy.

Tip 1: Use Social Media

The Internet has more than 4 billion users – and roughly 3 billion of them use social media. So, if social media isn't part of your small business marketing game plan, you're definitely missing out on some prime opportunities to boost your online visibility.

What's great about social media is that accounts can be set up for free. Just remember to pick platforms that work best for your business and customers. For instance, if you want to primarily showcase your products, consider more visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.

First, set up your profiles on your preferred platforms. Next, you'll need a solid engagement strategy that includes:

• Fresh, relevant content specific to what your audience prefers (e.g., fast facts, discount or deal announcements, contests, short surveys, fun questions, videos, images, etc.)
• Appropriate links back to your website
• Responses to comments and feedback made within a reasonable period of time
• References and links to related content found elsewhere, such as longer blog posts
• Promotion of important business-related events like new location openings or special in-store events

Tip 2: Ask for Reviews!

More than half of all consumers select a business based on reviews seen in Google's Local Pack; and most people trust online reviews as much as they do recommendations from friends.

But if your small business doesn't have many reviews online, it can be more difficult to convince searchers to choose you over competitors with an abundance of reviews. The easiest way to generate a steady stream of online reviews is to simply ask for them!

Make it easy for customers to post reviews with links to review sites right on your website. You can also ask customers who've just made a purchase to share their feedback online.

So, how can reviews increase your online visibility? Consider these compelling stats and facts:

• Reviews can improve local organic search results
• 56 percent of online searchers click on businesses with reviews posted online, according to one study on reviews and CTRs
• Positive reviews help build customer trust
• People are more likely to spread the word about a business with positive reviews prominently visible online

Tip 3: Build an Email List and Create a Campaign

Email is far from dead! In fact, email marketing has an average ROI of more than 120 percent, which means there are plenty of ways you can use email campaigns to boost sales for your small business and build and maintain customer relationships.

Get started by building an opt-in email list from customers who've actually expressed an interest in receiving your emails. Avoid the temptation to purchase email lists. Aside from sometimes being a questionable practice, purchased lists are often hit-and-miss in terms of results.

It may take longer to build a substantial email list with opt-ins, but you'll definitely get better results. Research suggests email lists of this nature often result in:

• Better email click and open rates
• Fewer instances of "unsubscribes" and spam reports
• More effective email deliverability

Of course, you also have to make sure you offer useful, relevant content within your emails. One way to do this is by segmenting your email lists based on interests. Emails can also be personalized based on previous purchase habits.

Tip 4: Utilize Paid Search to Help Increase Awareness

Results of an experiment conducted by Google and a company that measures media responses show that paid search increases top-of-the-mind awareness by as much as 80 percent – even when searchers don't actually click on an ad.

Small business marketing involving paid search can be more impactful if ad placement is based on a thorough understanding of your intended clicker. Therefore, each ad should have a clear purpose. Further increase awareness with your paid search efforts by:

• Aligning your ads' associated landing pages with your goals and customer journey – if you're trying to boost brand awareness, don't focus entirely on conversions; instead, offer informative content about your business and products/services
• Collecting email info from clickers not yet ready to convert so you can nurture those leads later with email campaigns
• Looking at "brand relevant" metrics like related website visits, engagement with your site, and share of voice through clicks and impressions
• Keeping your brand's name front and center in your ad copy
• Using keywords in your ad copy likely to put your ad in front of the right searchers

Tip 5: Paid Social Marketing Works! Use It

Yes, it's free to set up social media accounts. However, sometimes you need to make more of an effort to get the attention of preoccupied social media users. An often-overlooked small business marketing solution that could help achieve this goal is paid social media.

Paid social is simply sponsored advertising or content on various social media platforms – like sponsored tweets or Twitter. Paid social media marketing (SMM) can be effective because it allows you to reach people who may be actively following your business socially.

What's also appealing about paid SMM is the ability to target people that fit within your preferred demographics – or those within your preferred geographic area if you want to encourage in-person visits or the local use of your services. You can also target social media users who've previously shown some interest in your products and/or services. Paid social is also beneficial for the following reasons:

• Paid social has an excellent ROI – especially if increasing brand awareness is your top goal!
• Audience response and engagement rates can be viewed in real-time – so you can adjust your campaigns immediately if these levels drop off!
• Paid social can be a great way to boost your website engagement results – nearly 80 percent of people who view a paid ad are more likely to visit that brand's website, according to one estimate

Make sure to optimize each step so that it works best for you. Remember you don’t have to use each tip! For some businesses, maybe social media doesn’t work out so well, or perhaps paid search advertising is a waste of money.

That’s okay!

When it comes to small business marketing, the best method is always, and I mean always, the one that works best for you. If you aren’t happy with previous results, maybe try switch something up before you try again.

Just because a specific tactic is recommended but doesn’t work for you, doesn’t mean you have to use it. A lot of businesses find that 2-3 tactics work great, and they should focus on building those up rather than continually experimenting with the ones that aren’t doing so great.

To help you come up with some other strategies and tactics, we went online and found this small business marketing checklist.

Remember, always measure and track your progress! It makes a world of difference when you know exactly where your visitors are coming from and their behavioural pattern once they’ve reached your site. Once you’ve got a set routine down it’s time to Rinse and repeat!

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