Small business marketing hacks every owner should know

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Crafting a small business marketing campaign requires more than merely following the easy tactics. Increasingly, small business owners need to tweak these techniques to truly unlock the underlying potential of the marketing campaign.

When sales are down and profit margins are razor thin, small business owners need to rely on every trick up their sleeve, and then some, to ensure they’re maximizing their investment on marketing and stretching each dollar as far as possible. Consider these small business marketing hacks to optimize the campaign:

Change the metadata for web content
You’ve spent some money creating a digital marketing campaign, including redesigning your website, posting a library worth of content and even uploading videos to your blogs. These collateral should drive web traffic to your site, especially since you’ve no doubt leveraged a well-researched search engine optimization strategy.

However, after a while, as the content lingers around on your website, you might find that the number of online visitors has started to drop off. Since you’ve already spent your marketing budget on the initial collateral, you might think you’re out of options until you draft and implement your next budget.

This doesn’t mean you can’t repurpose and reuse the material to continue gaining value from the initial investment. As noted by MarketingProfs, by sufficiently changing the metadata on your website’s content for the blogs, videos and other collateral, you can potentially fool Google, Yahoo and Bing’s search-and-rank algorithms into thinking you’ve posted entirely new content.

Acquire social proof
Social proof is becoming an increasingly important aspect of the small business marketing campaign. As noted by Kissmetrics, social proof is the combination of reviews, ads, blogs and other indicators of your online presence that has been verified or shared by customers or industry peers. In many ways, social proof is akin to a business “keeping it real” and displaying a sense of authenticity with their products and marketing campaign as provided by a satisfied individual.

For example, 70 percent of customers say they look at online reviews when they’re determining whether to patronize a new company, according to Kissmetrics. This makes online reviews immensely invaluable for spreading the good word about your business.

Case studies and client testimonials are two great ways to showcase this popular online currency. These highlight your customers’ satisfaction while simultaneously providing you a forum to promote your products or services.

Segment your email list
Instead of sending out one cookie-cutter email blast to all your customers, it can help to segment out the recipients into a predetermined marketing demographic. Too many small business owners send out the same marketing message as a monolithic block to all of their clients, website visitors, industry peers, partners, affiliates and more. But each of these groups will have different demands and expectations from your business.

By segmenting your email list into its respective categories, you can target these groups much better, and ideally find a more precise way to engage these individual markets. An email marketing strategy with segmented groups allows you to tailor the message to directly address the demands and needs of a particular cohort.

Consider guerilla marketing
Much like guerilla warfare, guerilla marketing utilizes non-traditional engagement tactics to reach customers in innovative and unusual ways. By reaching out to these individuals in creative attempts, they become more susceptible to your message and the campaign increases the chances of converting the lead.

As noted by Business2Community, these campaigns are typically less expensive and, if successful, can easily go viral. Some examples of guerilla marketing include using graffiti (with permission from the property’s owner), placing stickers in highly visible locations and attempting publicity stunts you can capture on video to post to your social media channels.

With the fourth quarter of the year gearing up, now is a good time for small business owners to begin crafting their advertising and marketing campaign for the new year. This campaign isn’t something owners should just haphazardly toss together at the last minute. Instead, it can be a good idea to test out the latest channels’ ability to connect with current and potential customers and clients.

Consider including one or more of these burgeoning trends in a marketing campaign:

In-store marketing

The popularity of smartphones means people are reaching for their phones constantly to look up products while they shop or chitchat with a friend across the country as they compare prices. In addition, checking in at locations on a mobile device has become much more common. As noted by marketing hub, The DMA, 80 percent of millennials pull out their phones when they’re in a store. Among these individuals, three-quarters of them are open to receiving location-based mobile alerts while they shop.

Retail and other customer-facing, brick-and-mortar companies can take advantage of advancements in beacon technology to provide relevant promotions and deals to customers as they walk in and through the store. This can include providing a digital coupon for those who check-in on social media, or even a pop-up alert of an ongoing sale.

Focus on video and visuals

Including a visual storytelling strategy in the marketing campaign is crucial to succeed in today’s online environment. While many brands are hoping to strike pay dirt with a video going viral, the public’s tastes are too fickle to rely on viral videos as part of a well-crafted marketing campaign. Instead of hoping a wacky or absurd video strikes a chord in the collective curiosity of customers, small businesses should focus on building a process and architecture for delivering insightful information and continued thought leadership in video format.

This also includes live streaming videos, which is also gaining popularity among social media users. Although several platforms have attempted to utilize the live streaming feature (Twitter’s Periscope and the now-defunct Blab), Facebook “Live” has been attracting a lot of attention. BuzzFeed recently live-streamed two employees putting rubber bands on a watermelon to see if it would pop. At its peak, more than 800,000 people were watching the live feed of the event, and 315,000 people commented on the video post. This isn’t to suggest that small businesses should embrace their inner-Gallagher, but live videos can be a great promotional tool to stream a new product launch, a grand opening or some other kind of momentous event.

Incorporate influencer marketing

As the size and scope of social media continues to expand, those individuals with large and loyal followers have the ability broadcast their preferences to massive audiences from their platform, whether it’s YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn or something else. By targeting these personalities and engaging them to promote certain products and services to their base, small businesses can potentially leverage this reach and exposure to their advantage. Dubbed, influencer marketing, this strategy combines word-of-mouth recommendations with social media to drive traffic and spread brand awareness with an amplified message directed at their target audience.

Utilize alternative financing

Crafting a strategic marketing campaign does not necessarily come cheap. While there are certainly ways to bootstrap a marketing campaign on a tight budget, greater resources can create a much more robust campaign that can leverage the types of methods described in this article. Small business owners that utilize a merchant capital advance or a loan to boost their marketing campaigns and include the latest trends have more opportunities to reach a larger audience, which can potentially translate into increased sales.

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