With over 4 billion people connected to the internet, online marketing solutions offer an easy and measurable method to reach the masses and grow your small business.
Regardless of the tactics that you choose to employ, online marketing comes down to developing a robust strategy, remaining consistent, and measuring what does and doesn’t work through trial-and-error.
To expand your reach, here are some tips and tactics to make the most out of the various online marketing solutions available.
1. Get to Liking: Social Media Marketing
As of 2017, 81% of the American population had a social media profile. By leveraging this two-way street of communication, you can natively advertise and promote your products to a large audience and create an engaged following. Whether you choose to easily (and freely) join a Facebook group or promote your product on Facebook Live, you can have millions of potential eyeballs watching and interacting with your brand.
If you want to put a budget towards social media, Facebook Ads Manager leads you through the process of developing an ad campaign through guided creation, where you can target different demographics and geographies and A/B test content to see what performs the best. The real-time ad reporting lets you know what’s working and what isn’t so that you can actively manage your campaigns. Since Facebook purchased Instagram, you can create Instagram ads in the same way if you prefer to and have highly visual content to attract an audience on the photo-sharing platform.
For example, Skullcandy created a sponsored ad that showed their product in action, but because they placed the content on Instagram, they stuck with the platform’s intended use and made it look like user generated content. In this way, when people scroll their feed, the content looks native, rather than like an advertisement, and still catches attention while promoting the brand. The strong call to action of “learn more” directs traffic to their product page, but rather than using the words “shop now,” it plays on a person’s curiosity to learn about the product’s benefits.
Going hand in hand with social media marketing is the rise of social media influencers, and in turn, influencer marketing. By establishing relationships with these media stars who have a mass and highly engaged following, you can leverage their network to showcase your products.
Whether you send them free products for their usage or pay to create a robust campaign across their platforms, you can expand your brand awareness in a natural way. On average, marketers have found a $6.50 return for every dollar spent within the social media influencer industry.
So how is this done right? Whether you choose to go through an influencer marketing agency to devise your campaign, or reach out directly to influencers on social media platforms or via email, targeting your audience and creating a specific campaign is a good starting point. For example, on National Donut Day, Dunkin’ Donuts worked with an agency to have eight influencers around America takeover their Snapchat account and create content that lasted across three time zones. The influencers pushed their audience to take advantage of Dunkin’ Donuts special free donut offer for the day, and even supplied the influencers with unique geotag filters that they could find on Snapchat when in their local stores. This drove user engagement and helped encourage user-generated content to spread the word. The campaign reached 3 million people, and Dunkin’ Donuts gained 10 times more followers on Snapchat than compared to an average day.
When it comes to social media marketing and the integration of influencers, it’s important to know your audience and create campaigns that are geared towards what they typically seek. In this way, your brand becomes like a friend interacting and creating content they are interested in for its value, rather than simply remaining promotional.
2. Start Sharing: Content Marketing
Content marketing can generate 3x more leads than traditional advertising methods. By becoming a thought leader in your industry and providing value through content to your audience, you grow your reach organically and can leverage other businesses and groups to spread your message.
According to research, websites with a blog tend to have 434% more indexed pages and 97% more inbound links. By creating a blog on your website, not only will you have another route to your website and an extra avenue to increase your SEO ranking, but you’ll also be providing your customers another reason to come to your site to receive good content. You can use this for inbound marketing by interacting within forums like Quora and Reddit and linking back to your blog to drive traffic.
Additionally, by offering free content and resources through your blog, including white papers and e-books, you incentivize your customers to remain engaged and also even share your content. If you want to reach an audience other than your own, you can promote your work and be a guest contributor on other sites within your business’ industry as you establish your role as a thought leader.
Blogging is considered one of the top marketing tactics to use, and it establishes trust in your brand. The customer relationship should be more than just transactional. Successful businesses that attract and retain customers provide value beyond the purchase, and naturally valuable content is low-hanging fruit to drive forward this trustworthy relationship with your clientele.
3. Get Feedback: Encourage Reviews
Because of the nature of business and natural incentive to maximize your bottom line, customers like to hear from others how their experience was before they buy a product or engage in service as it adds a layer of trust without potential ulterior motives. In fact, 85% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
The use of customer reviews offers an important measure of credibility and can be all the difference in gaining a new customer. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have reviews on your website and monitor third-party review sites like Yelp to measure your ratings. Whenever you find reviews online, respond to them and interact with your customers in that arena so they know you’re listening and care about their feedback. Companies should be responsive to both negative and positive reviews. Most customers expect companies to only respond to negative reviews in defense, but 30% of people consider it critical and judge businesses by their ability to respond. If a customer leaves a negative review about your business, responding with an apology and then offering a solution to make-up for their poor experience could be the key to retention. It also provides a way to show other customers that you really do care and listen for what people say about your business practices.
Service industry companies provide for great examples of why this is an important marketing tactic. For example, nearly 33% of reviews on TripAdvisor receive responses for hotels. When hotels start responding, not only did they receive 12% more reviews, but they also received an average of 0.12 more stars. Since TripAdvisor rounds up for ratings, a hotel with 4.26 becomes 4.5, as opposed to 4.24 becoming a 4. Additionally, airlines do a really good job at responding to reviews, but also using social media like Twitter to address customer feedback in real time. JetBlue has continuously been ranked highly in surveys for customer satisfaction, and their methodology includes using social media to respond to customers. According to J.D. Power and Associates, social media is the number one platform for feedback for this industry, and when an airline responds to commentary, the increase in customer satisfaction has been noted and measured.
Furthermore, encourage customers to take the time to post reviews by offering incentives and discounts for feedback and making it easy for them to get in touch with you through whatever avenue their prefer most – social media messaging, text, emails, phone calls or chat centers. Take a look at Best Buy as an example. The company gives members 25 points for every review posted, for up to 200 points within a calendar year. They also showcase customer ratings on every product in both the search page and within a product page, and include a Q&A forum for each product so that both the business and other customers can get involved in providing answers for prospective customers.
Customer reviews can help you better your products or services, promote brand trust, increase customer satisfaction, and draw in new customers as it makes for a credible experience.
4. Higher Your Rank: Optimize SEO
Search engines work off of algorithms and continuously update to optimize, which means you have to constantly alter your SEO tactics. To begin, you can check in with the basics like Google PageSpeed Insights, Google Search Console, and Google Rank My Business to ensure you’re following best practices. Site speed, content, header tags, onsite linking and more will affect your page score and SEO ranking, so it’s important to check in at least monthly to see how your website is indexing.
Some best practices to enhance your SEO include using keywords that are the most relevant to your site in headers and titles and following with synonyms within the copy. This is because Google uses latent semantic indexing, or LSI, to crawl your site and recognize patterns within the text. Furthermore, it’s important to include “alt text” on all images, incorporate links back to your own site within your content, and have H1 headers on each page with keywords in the meta tags. You can use companies such as Yoast who provide traffic light feedback for each page for any market leading suggestions on how to stay on top with SEO for your site. Most importantly, making everything mobile first is crucial since this is how Google initially ranks sites.
5. Widen the Net: Run an Affiliate Program
If you’re looking to widen your reach, you can create a network of people to promote your brand on your behalf with affiliate marketing. By creating a partnership program, you enlist other individuals or network sites to list your product or service and share the revenue with them as payment for spreading the word. For example, you can offer a discount or commission for every new customer than an affiliate brings to your business.
Affiliates can advertise for your business using traditional online methods like pay-per-click advertising (PPC), email marketing, content marketing, SEO and display advertising. It works much like an influencer marketing network, and you can even use influencers as affiliates.
One way to get started is by joining an affiliate marketing network like Commission Junction or Share a Sale. After deciding how much cut you’re willing to give and finding a partner that suits your needs, you should create tracking links or use a plug-in that will track affiliate marketing progress so you can measure ROI.
6. Discount It Up: Coupon Deal Sites
Somewhat similar in theory to affiliate marketing, coupon discount sites offer a wide network to capture new clients while taking a percentage cut. Sites like Groupon offer their audience discounts on various goods and services, and if you place your product on their site, you will have to discount it by at least 50% and share revenue, but you’re expanding your reach to capture customers that may otherwise not have known about your brand or been willing to spend full price on your goods or services.
This is especially useful for local businesses. For example, Groupon helped Books & Brews, a small business in Indianapolis, grow their business by 25% in the months they ran a promotion on the site. Not only does your brand have recognition on the site in searches and eventually with customer reviews and feedback, but these sites also send out email blasts to their subscribers with promotional offers based on their interests and location. In this way, you’re already growing your brand name and recognition through leveraging their marketing efforts.
At the same time, sites like Groupon and Livingsocial also incorporate user reviews and customer ratings so your business can gain credibility from new customers before they make a purchase.
Online marketing solutions continue to expand and update with the digital environment and new technologies. With that being said, all of these tactics offer a measurable solution to expand your small business’ reach to a mass market with immediacy and creativity.
From leveraging networks of influencers, affiliates, and discount sites to running social media ads and creating valuable content as a thought leader within your industry, the more platforms and digital solutions you engage with, the further your message can be broadcasted to maximize your marketing efforts.