Small business success in a competitive economic environment hinges on strong marketing efforts that bring in new clients and make loyal followers out of current clients. While most business owners know that online marketing is a must, they often don’t know which marketing tactics they should try. After all, new trends in online marketing come and go every year. Crafting a strong brand image and driving sales in the digital world is all about knowing which of these trends to embrace. Consider these 10, which top the list of online marketing strategies for 2016.
Posting strong content on your blogs and curating the best articles and videos for your website is important. However, no online marketing effort lives up to its full potential unless it’s focused on outreach. That means that in addition to posting great content, you have to network with bloggers, thought leaders, and your online audience in order to get your message out there. Building a network of individuals who will share, repost and comment on your content is essential to giving your online marketing efforts a much-needed human touch. Remember that a big part of outreach is creating a conversation. Actively respond to your followers whenever possible.
Almost two-thirds of American adults own a smartphone. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile or you’re not doing any mobile outreach efforts, you’re missing out on big opportunities to reach local consumers. Make sure that your company is doing its best at mobile marketing, and don’t tack it on as an afterthought. Hire a specialist or designate an individual in your company to handle outreach to mobile consumers.
Paid Facebook & LinkedIn Ads
Paid ads on social sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn are emerging as a viable marketing option for small businesses. The incredible targeting algorithms used by these sites ensure that your content is delivered to the consumers who are most likely to be interested in it. Of course, it’s essential to determine which social media outlet will best meet your business purposes before buying paid ads. Remember that Facebook will reach a wide and general audience while LinkedIn will provide the best results for business-to-business and professional services companies.
Social Sweepstakes, Coupons and Contests
Offering coupons, hosting online contests and having sweepstakes-style giveaways are great ways to engage your followers and build your contact lists. Broadcast coupon offers on your social media accounts and via emails. Use unique codes for each type of offer to track the efficacy of your efforts. For sweepstakes and contests, focus on getting online followers to interact with your brand as much as possible. Launch across all social media channels, and encourage sharing. When it comes to contests and sweepstakes, remember that shorter is better. If a contest runs too long, your followers are more likely to lose interest and enthusiasm on social media outlets will tank.
AdWords & Facebook Retargeting
Every business website has visitors who decide not to purchase anything or don’t ask for more information about products and services. With retargeting in AdWords and on Facebook, you can reach out to these customers once they’ve left your website. An anonymous cookie is dropped when a visitor comes to your website. Later, when they’re browsing the web, the same customers will be served a targeted ad that reminds them of your products or services. It’s a great way to reach customers who are on the fence and makes a great investment since you know your ads will reach the right audience.
Creating beautiful emails that display correctly across devices and encourage social sharing is one of the most successful online marketing strategies around. With the help of a service provider, email marketing can help you build relationships with existing contacts and attract new customers. In order to be successful, marketing emails should be short and sweet with great graphics and compelling content. You can use marketing emails to send coupons and special offers, but don’t limit its potential to direct sales efforts. Emails can also be used to get visitors to your website or blog. Be sure to use a service that supports social links so your emails are innately sharable.
Google Business Listings
Google’s business listing service is a powerful, free way to ensure that you’re showing up in local search results from both the web and mobile devices. You can update your business listing to ensure that your contact, location, and hours information is correct. Once you’re listed in Google’s business index, you’ll show up both in Google searches and on Google Maps. Customers will also be able to leave reviews about your establishment so that you can build word-of-mouth business. When you use Google’s business listing utility, you’ll also be able to share photos to boost brand and location recognition among a local audience.
Your online and email marketing efforts won’t get off the ground if you don’t have a solid list of leads. It’s essential to take a multi-pronged approach to list building. First, make sure that you’re capturing and saving all current client information. Then, work actively to grow your list by enabling lead capture on your website and social media profiles. One of the easiest ways to grow your list is by hosting contests or sweepstakes that require entrants to provide their email addresses and basic demographic info. Another great strategy is to offer a one-time coupon or savings code that is emailed to a consumer as soon as they enter their information on your website’s submission form. Remember to optimize your mobile site so that you capture information from all of your online visitors.
No matter the industry or audience that your business serves, there are infographics that will speak to your target audience. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. What information would be most valuable to you right now? What by-the-numbers info would you want to know if you stumbled across your website? Answer these questions, and you’ll have great sources of inspiration for infographics. Of course, great infographics are about more than just communicating with viewers. When you do infographic marketing right, you introduce a powerful link-building strategy. After all, great infographics compel viewers to share them and link to them in their own posts.
E-commerce & Online Shops
If you operate a brick-and-mortar store but don’t have online buying options, you’re likely losing out on interested customers. When you offer online shopping options, you can both capture orders from outside your area and cater to local customers who prefer to have merchandise delivered to their homes. There are many services out there that make setting up e-commerce shops a breeze, so there’s no excuse for small business leaders to lag in this area. Online orders provide a great opportunity for you to add to your customer list and increase sales without driving up overhead costs. Taking orders over the phone is fine too, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s an adequate replacement for an online shop.
Using the right combination of online marketing strategies will help you build brand prestige, attract new customers and grow your overall digital presence. Deciding which strategies are best for your company is all about knowing your target demographic and how they access information. As you consider new strategies, make sure that you bring them in line with marketing goals and carefully track their success.
Consistency is also key when using a mix of online marketing techniques. Make sure that your business has a clear identity across your website, social media profiles and email marketing efforts. It’s essential that there’s unique content on each of your marketing channels, but it’s also important that consumers can easily identify your business with visual and content clues.