By Rieva Lesonsky
Numerous surveys report one of the biggest challenges small business owners and entrepreneurs face today is attracting and retaining customers and clients. So, how do you do that? Marketing is a key component of that, obviously. But then what? Do you rely on the tried-and-true traditional marketing methods or jump into the today’s digital marketing pool?
If you want your business to be successful, you need to marry digital marketing and traditional marketing—updated, of course, for today’s tech savvy consumers.
The goal is to foster customer loyalty, because loyal customers spend more money with you, and refer their friends to your business. Here’s how you can dive in
One of the best ways to attract and retain customers is through social media marketing, which is the modern, digital version of one of the most effective customer attraction tactics ever—word-of mouth marketing.
Creating and maintaining a social media presence is a must today—but, despite it’s proven value, too many small business owners don’t take social media seriously. As consumer markets continue to shift to younger demographics that tend to embrace digital marketing, business owners need to go where the shoppers are—and that’s social.
First, “claim” your spot on all the major social platforms: LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. I’d also suggest you consider Snapchat, Yelp and any social platform that caters to your industry, such as TripAdvisor or Houzz. This will enable you to use them when you want, and prevent anyone else from using your brand.
Social media engagement “rules”:
- Go where your customers are. Ask them what platforms they prefer and start engaging with them there.
- Be consistent. Post at least several times a week, daily if you can. Create a schedule.
- Use photos in your posts. They increase click-throughs and conversions.
- Use 3rd-party apps to manage your social accounts
- Make a trusted employee responsible for social posting—not an intern.
The most important thing to remember about social media marketing is that it’s marketing. Use it to make connections, provide information and promotions, cement existing relationships and drive traffic to your blog, website, or small business.
I’m sure most of you have heard the expression, “content is king.” Content marketing has emerged in the past decade as a key component in reaching new customers and maintaining loyal customers. But, according to Contently, businesses have been misled about the ability of content alone to grow your customer base. This has led to, Contently says, content marketing programs being “cut off from paid marketing programs…In many instances, these programs are even disconnected from organic social distribution and email marketing efforts.”
Instead, Contently says, “The old rules of marketing still apply: You need to create a powerful message based on audience insights and then put that message in front of people.” In other words, “You can’t succeed at content marketing without marketing your content.”
Like social media, content needs to be produced on a regular basis, and scheduled in advance. Content can take many forms, including:
- White papers
- Case Studies
- Blog Posts
- 3rd-party/Analyst reports
- Video/Motion graphics
You don’t need to be a journalist to craft the content you need. To be effective, content should be relevant to your target market, engaging, and written to trigger a response.
Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to effectively reach your target market. As I mentioned several months ago, over 90 percent of consumers check their emails daily. Even more important to small business owners, 74 percent of consumers actually want businesses to market to them via email. And it’s effective—66 percent of consumers bought something online due to email marketing.
It’s key to have your marketing emails designed for mobile viewing. Nearly three-quarters of consumers delete emails that don’t look good on mobile devices. You’ll also want to avoid these other common email marketing complaints from consumers:
- Get too many emails
- Emails are not relevant
- Emails are too hard to read
Marketing is vital to the survival of your small business. Even if you sell the best products or offer the best services, if they’re not marketed—and marketed well, they will likely remain a secret from consumers.
There’s a lot more to learn about the “musts” of small business marketing. To find out more, please join me on September 27th at 2 ET for a Verizon small business webinar on “Marketing Musts for Small Business Owners.”