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Improving marketing in the digital age

Multiple channels and platforms can be utilized by small business owners to boost their profiles and enhance the sales of both new and existing products in the digital age.

In this article, we have broken down some of the critical steps, considerations, and requirements that will guide you on how to market your business better in the digital age. The main steps we discuss are as follows:

1. The use of multiple platforms (e.g., website, videos, blogs) to advertise and distinguish yourself.

2. Creating and hosting original content aimed at stimulating your audience and inspiring confidence in your own abilities.

3. Being visible by:
– Using social media channels to promote your business; and
– Hosting your own events.

4. Having concrete next steps planned for visitors to your website.

5. Generating leads through special means.

6. Setting up metrics to track success from marketing efforts.

Read on to gain a deeper understanding of each of these issues, and more!

Digital Marketing Industry Info

Improving marketing in the digital age

Improving marketing in the digital age

In this article, we will discuss how best to market your products and services to your customers or clients, both existing and new. 

A recent Demand Gen report asked US marketers (across retail, service, and manufacturing sectors) to rate tactics that produced positive results in terms of lead nurturing. The breakdown: 

Webinars (35%)

Email Newsletters (29%)

Thought Leadership Articles (29%)

Whitepapers (26%)

Consumer/Customer Focused Content (26%)

Sales Emails (21%) 

A number of these channels may not work for small businesses (marked in orange above), who have so far counted on direct and personalized interactions with their clients. However, based on experience, we outline below some specific approaches that are important to consider for small business owners that wish to forge a name for themselves in a digital age.

By the way, DO NOT discount the effects of rampant social media. In order to reach a wider audience, post customized content on multiple social media channels. On an average, people spend three to four hours a day on social media. You can’t afford to ignore it. 

GENERAL OVERVIEW OF APPROACHES/THOUGHTS

The thoughts below apply across all types of businesses that rely on customer interactions:

  1. Use multiple platforms (e.g., website, videos, blogs) to advertise and distinguish yourself.
  2. Create and host original content aimed at stimulating your audience and inspiring confidence in your own abilities.
  3. Be visible by
    • Using social media channels to promote your business; 
    • Hosting your own events. 
  4. Have concrete next steps planned for visitors to your website.
  5. Generate leads through special means.
  6. Set up metrics to track success from marketing efforts.

Let’s discuss a few options that tie in with the philosophies above.

1. Use Multiple Platforms to Advertise and Distinguish Yourself
  • Optimize Your Profile, Step 1: This is very relevant for social media posts as well, but the same goes for your website (see the next point outlined below). Craft your profile to highlight specific attributes that you want your visitors to focus on—namely, what you offer. If you are a community activist or regularly host community events, highlight those as well. More on that below.
  • Give Your Website a Makeover: Don’t leave stale content out there. Your website should project your core message with crisp content, useful information, and easy navigation. 
  • Use Blogs to Entice: A blog about the desirability of the products you stock and ideas that could help your customers meet their needs better will help visitors know more about you. 
  • Use Success Stories: Whether you are selling products or supplies, use this “space” to brag about the all-around nature of your offerings, or any specialized products you carry. 
  • Share Customer Reviews to Spark Brand Searches: Solicit and list customer reviews from genuine, identifiable people who enjoy what you provide. 

2. Create and Host Original Content Aimed at Stimulating Your Audience and Inspiring Confidence in Your Own Abilities
  • Have Visitors to Your Website Fill Out a Personalized Template: Have visitors to your website sign up for alerts and notifications and/or for special events. 
  • Downloadable Guides: Consider putting out a downloadable “how-to” guide on products you carry or services you provide. For example, if you stock accessories for your customers to host a wine-tasting party, a short guide on what to do may be most appreciated. It may also be helpful to invest in creating an exit-intent popup on your site, where people intending to move away receive a link to download your guide before they leave. 
  • Educational or Instructional Videos: Creating an educational/instructional video usually takes less than 30 minutes, especially when you already know the subject matter. What it does is clearly demonstrate and communicate your message while complementing your written posts. Uploading such content on YouTube will create additional awareness of your brand. 
  • Have Product Launch Events or Activations: This adds an element of community to your brand and shows your innovations—namely, how you are creating and engaging in the latest trends. Additionally, holding pop-ups within your location, even if it puts the spotlight on someone else’s product, can be beneficial. At the least, it exemplifies you as a leader in your field and a brand that helps bring others up. 

3a. Be Visible (Part 1): Use Social Media Channels to Promote Your Brand

You should plan to post your content to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and other platforms. Be aware that some platforms are good for posting content (you have to choose between long and short versions), others are more discussion forums. 

Tailor your approach to the audience and make sure of certain necessary steps (see below). 

  • Optimize Your Profile, Step 2: When posting on social media, ensure that your profile highlights all of your messaging and product information, allowing interested parties to contact you, sign up for your newsletter, shop, and more. Whenever possible, include “Call-to-Action” (CTA) buttons. For example, if you run a restaurant or an event management site, include “Book Now” or “Get Tickets” buttons. 
  • Create Clickable Leads/Content: If your content is not crisply packaged and up-to-date, you will not catch the attention of browsers. Fresh content can be promoted on different social media channels—for example, you can tag products in your Facebook Shop; create and swipe up on Instagram Stories and/or Create Instagram Posts; shop the Look Pins on Pinterest and Create YouTube Cards and End Screens.
  • Look into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies: This may require some expert help, but if your website and communications hit the right keywords, you will come up more frequently on Google search pages and achieve more lift for your marketing and messaging. 
  • Use Social Lead Ads: Different social media platforms offer specific means of placing social lead ads. For example:
    • Facebook offers a specific lead ad format. Download Facebook pixel on your website to track leads and measure their cost. 
    • Instagram offers similar lead ad formats that can be partially pre-filled. 
    • LinkedIn offers Lead Gen forms that allow you to place message ads and sponsored in-mail on the platform. You can also utilize LinkedIn Dynamic Ads, which feature direct calls to action that can help generate leads. 
    • Check out YouTube TrueView for action ads to place lead ads on the media. 
  • Outreach through LinkedIn: Join chat groups to send out relevant information to a targeted audience. 
    • For example, you can also work with LinkedIn to narrowly profile customers and have a hundred reach outs a day. LinkedIn can then use other tools such as Dux-Soup to find other target audiences and lead them to you. 
    • The other tool you can use is Long Form Updates, where a message goes out to your audience with a short hook; something as simple as “Wow!” to catch their attention. 
  • Join Social Media Groups: Join social listening groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram to find like-minded people—share your thoughts to create brand awareness. 

3b. Be Visible (Part 2): Appear as an Expert at Multiple Forums, Host Your Own 

In conjunction with the efforts above, create a brand image. 

  • Answer Questions on Forums like Quora: Knowledge forums like Quora may be an ideal investment of time to write a short (500-1,000-word) answer to a question that pertains to what you are trying to sell and promote. It may consume 30-60 minutes of your time, but dozens (or hundreds) of upvotes and tens of thousands of views can help establish your brand out in the market. Try to (tastefully) link your website for the Quora audience to click through. 
  • Leverage Niche Online Communities: Whatever product or service you wish to promote, there will usually be multiple online communities (going beyond the LinkedIn type of groups) where you can join, present, upvote, like, comment, or share a competitor’s offering. Certain communities can help you uncover targeted prospects who have expressed interest in what you have to offer. 
  • Host Events: If you are able to, invite your favorite/targeted customers to events, as often as you can (within reason and whenever there is an occasion to). There’s also the opportunity to align with community festivals or events and be the star of the show. 

4. Have Concrete Next Steps Planned for Visitors—Utilize Calls to Action and Other Means 
  • Initiate a Call to Action: After they browse your site, what are some next steps that you want your visitors to take? Initiate a CTA—it could be directing them toward a gated content offer or simply asking them to become part of a group of customers.
  • Host Promotions and Giveaways, Offer Incentives: A promotion or giveaway (maybe a contest or a sweepstakes, discount offers on a product, or early access to new or specialized products) could be an ideal tactic to occupy the mindshare of your targeted audience. Make the offer sound “exclusive” (who doesn’t like free stuff?). If you are able to afford it, ticket giveaways to a concert or sports event in the area attract new customers.
  • Make Your Visitors Feel Special: As an extension to the point above, make your visitors and repeat customers feel special when they show up at your events.
  • Have Reasons for Visitors to Return: Whether for your store, or your site, think up new promotions and future events that will entice them to check back in or return.

5. Generate Leads through Special Means 
  • Send an Attention-Grabbing Direct Mail: This could be effective if you do it right. First, don’t blast to all and sundry; instead, send topical mails to a select group that you know share keen interest. Second, include something (e.g., an offer) that would hold their interest. 
  • Utilize Email Marketing: After channeling customers to your website and gaining their contact information, create a segmented subscriber list. Have an opt-in strategy to ensure that subscribers on your list are happy to receive emails from you. Send them topical (e.g., promotional) emails with embedded content, information on upcoming events, offers, etc. 
  • Use Copy & Paste Templates Judiciously: Everyone uses cold call templates. Create the ability to personalize initial and follow-up emails by cutting and pasting content to create a more customized approach to targeted customers. 
  • Appear in Directories: Having your name listed in local business directories that are specific to your product offering, whether through contacts or through active solicitation, can pay dividends, especially if you can include an eye-catching advertisement or banner. 
  • Find Unique Cross-Promotion Opportunities: If there are other businesses in the area that provide complementary services or products to yours, reach out to see if you can tout each other’s capabilities to expand each of your customer bases.

6. Set Up Metrics to Track Success from Your Efforts 

As in all endeavors, ROI is key. Whenever you undertake a marketing initiative, track success by time period (first 30 days, first quarter, etc.) to see if you are getting the returns that you expect. If the results are disappointing, go back and tweak things to see if you could be doing better in terms of content, channel, or new customer capture methods. 

If you are running special promotions, results from branding “lifts” and non-brand marketing activities—if the latter is expected from a promotional event—should be distinguished.

Utilize Technology Platforms to Track Data Efficiently

Marketing technologies should be a crucial enabler to help you measure your marketing effectiveness. Many provide multichannel platforms to launch, manage, and maintain your marketing activities while helping to maintain your customer data, which is key to improving measurement. This industry is also very crowded, noisy, and will continue to grow. 

We advocate a simple approach and mindset here: 

  • Squeeze the juice out of every technology investment before considering incremental investments,
  • Choose larger platforms to start instead of a multitude of point solutions,
  • Carefully evaluate the depth of the solutions the platforms/products are offering, and 
  • Always maintain the integrity of your sources while compiling and updating customer data, otherwise the platform will lose its power. 

In the Operations Article, we discuss how to go about choosing a vendor and provide the operations perspective for adopting technology in your business. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

The full roster of activities above can be overwhelming, but there are ways to create an achievable set of targets and track results.

For example, creating a list of the steps that will be most useful to you and creating a marketing calendar—a roadmap for when the measures will be instituted and how you intend to track the success of each initiative—could be a critical first step.

We at Unravel have helped clients create such systems in a thoughtful and rational manner. We are here to help and have the knowledge to guide you through your next marketing technology investment, help unify your marketing data, build your measurement strategy, or plan your marketing calendar. We are confident that you will succeed and are eager to hear about what you have in mind. 

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