5 Ways to Prepare Your Small Business for Marketing Success This Year
As a small business owner, you’ve come to expect the typical ups and downs that come with managing budgets, employees, and economic fluctuations. And now, thanks to the lingering pandemic, you’ve probably also dealt with a whole other set of issues, such as market changes, labor shortages, and virus mitigation measures.
Here at Stellaractive, we’ve seen first-hand how businesses have adapted since 2020 to not only survive but to achieve a higher level of success. We believe that by taking a few proactive steps, your business will be able to handle just about anything 2022 throws your way.
#1 UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE
The pandemic caused a huge fluctuation for businesses that primarily focused on in-person services. This shift caused many businesses to transition to eCommerce sites and take their businesses virtually to fit the growing and rapidly changing needs of their customers. The post-pandemic need to prioritize online web presences has increased by 25.7%, according to eMarketer. These increases in global eCommerce trends are only expected to continue growing.
If your business’ website predates the pandemic, it’s probably time to look at it with fresh eyes. After all, customers are checking out businesses online at a record pace. They won’t settle for a stale, unattractive, or – even worse! – a poorly functioning website, so you shouldn’t either. Time to be proactive! Even if you’re not ready for a complete redesign, there are steps you can take to improve your current website:
- See if anything is broken. If you haven’t looked at your site much recently, there’s never been a better time! On the backend, check to see if any need to be updated. Then go through each page to look for broken links, strange formatting, missing and/or outdated content, and poor-quality images.
- Audit your SEO. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a broad concept that basically relates to the signals your website sends to search engines to improve their ability to rank your site and its content in web searches. Important stuff! To keep your SEO game strong in the coming year, review your website for relevant keyword use in your headlines, title tags, and content, and make sure your site responds well on different size screens — especially mobile devices. You’ll also want to be sure your SSL certificate is valid (this is what allows your site to offer a secure — https — connection), and that your website has a good load speed.
- Review visuals and content. When you read through your site, consider your messaging from the perspective of your target customer. Are there any obvious holes or missed opportunities? Check for low quality or outdated images, as well as anything that doesn’t jive with your current branding. Read each page with fresh eyes and update anything stale. Make sure to expand content where you can so you’re giving customers more information about yourself (and giving search engines more information to use in ranking you well against your competition!).
- Check usability. UX, or user experience, is more than just a catchphrase these days. The way your visitors get around your website is critical to business success — after all, if they can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll quickly bounce over to your competition instead. Ask yourself: Does my website’s navigation work intuitively? Can pages be accessed easily? Does the site work well on desktop computers and mobile devices? When a visitor gets to the bottom of the page, am I offering them options on where to go next? Google analytics can offer great insights here — let the data lead you! High bounce rates, low traffic to certain pages, and low conversions are all indications of a poor UX experience.
#2 Be Active on Social Media
Like many small business owners, you probably wear a lot of hats and don’t have hours to spend on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, or Tik Tok promoting your business and engaging with your prospects and customers. The good news is you don’t have to spend all day at it for social media to positively impact your reputation and your bottom line. Even if you don’t have the staff (or the interest!) to cultivate a strong social media following, there are many benefits to taking a few basic actions on your social channels:
- Consider which social channels might be a good fit for your business. Facebook is still a commonly used channel for businesses, so it likely makes sense for you to be there, too. If you have access to great photos of your products or services, consider a visual platform like Instagram or Pinterest. If you have a strong business-to-business focus, then maybe LinkedIn is for you.
- Test the waters by creating a simple content calendar for the upcoming month! Use a mix of sales-related content that links to your website, and sprinkle in company-focused photos and details that showcase your personal side. Even sharing external links can demonstrate that you keep up with the latest-and-greatest in your industry.
You might be asking yourself: “Why should my business even have a social media presence?” If your business relies on people in some way, then you want to be where they congregate and communicate, right? Join the conversation! Plus, having even a sleepy social presence lends legitimacy to your business. There is no doubt that social media users are growing at an enormous rate daily. According to “SmartInsights,” around 57.6% of the world’s population uses social media daily to connect with their favorite brands, find new companies, connect with loved ones, or stay on top of the news. With so many users, and about 13.5 new users every second, using all of the functions social media has to offer is great for your business and brand awareness!
Think about it … If a potential customer is sizing you up, their first stop will likely be your website. Next stop? Your social media accounts! If these prospects see an outdated profile from 5 years ago, you’re going to lose some street cred in their eyes.
Another bonus to having current social profiles? The links you can put to your profiles directly from your website! There is a major SEO benefit to linking your website to reputable sites like Facebook. Plus, links from your social accounts that go back to your site are beneficial, too. These links increase your domain authority, which helps to increase your site’s search ranking. It also improves the credibility and trustworthiness of your site.
No matter what social media channels you use, consider the following:
- Keep your business information up to date. After all, you want your customers to be able to contact you!
- Make sure you’re using a business profile. This gives you tools and options that aren’t available on personal accounts.
- Post consistently on your social channels. Even a post once or twice a week shows your customers that you’re active and paying attention.
- Engage with your followers. Acknowledge their responses and make sure to follow everyone who’s following you.
#3: Touch Base with Your Customers
Most established businesses keep track of their customers and prospects. This is valuable information. Don’t let those contacts collect dust – market to them! Email is a useful tool for your contact lists. Emails that request Google reviews or product reviews are a vital marketing tactic. You can also consider abandoned cart emails, thank-you emails, sales notifications, and newsletters that provide useful information. No matter what type of emails you send, make sure the content is valuable so you’re always top of mind, even after your customers have made a purchase.
Direct mail is another valuable tool that should be in your arsenal. It can be extremely effective since most people retrieve their mail daily (and are more likely to look at it, too!). Plus, according to JWM Business Services, on average the rate of return on direct mail is about ½ to 2 percent. Half of the consumers who receive direct mail are estimated to click and view, and half of that number is anticipated to complete a purchase.
#4: Run Ads Online
If you’re looking for a little extra exposure or want to make a big splash with a new product or service, then you should consider advertising. Whether it’s a long-term digital campaign through a search engine (like Google or Bing) or through social media (like Facebook or LinkedIn), ads are perfect for getting in front of your targeted audience. These ads can be affordable – even for small businesses! – and they’re a convenient way to reach a large group of potential customers. Some social platforms, like Facebook and LinkedIn, have one-time ad options called “boosts.” If you have one organic post that you want to increase visibility for, you can easily boost it for a set amount. While this option isn’t as comprehensive, it’s a good way to test the water! According to Statista, 91.9% of US marketers use social media for marketing purposes. Almost 51% of businesses utilize digital advertising to promote their business and reach larger, more targeted audiences. While it is important to run digital advertisements, it is more crucial to have a marketing strategy to better understand your target audience and reach prospective customers.
#5: Start a Blog
A blog is a great way to establish your position as a thought-leader in your industry and to demonstrate the expertise that your clients and prospects seek. Plus, continually adding new content to your website can improve your search engine ranking as it positions your website as a source of useful, relevant information. Search engines want sites to be credible, so the more pages that can be indexed, the better! Plus, blogs provide opportunities to create links between different pages on your site and link out to reputable sources – more good ways to improve your search engine optimization!
Blogs also help your site rank for specific keywords and can serve as a “back door entry” into your website. People are always searching for information, and if your blog provides answers to their questions, you’ll attract new traffic and hopefully convert more and more leads or customers.
Bonus? If you’re searching for solid social media content, then blogs are a great source of info. Pull out snippets of interesting blog posts and share them on social with a compelling graphic. Not only is this interesting content for your followers, but you’ll be driving traffic back to your website!
Need a little support elevating your brand? Contact Stellaractive for your website and marketing needs!
Stellaractive is a strategy-driven creative agency in Portland, Oregon. We help companies elevate their brand through websites, print, branding, and digital marketing solutions that connect, engage, inform, and inspire. We’ve been helping clients across the U.S. build their online presence for more than 15 years, and we can help you, too. Request a quote or call us at 503-384-2413 today!