In this post I’m going to look at five excellent digital marketing strategies for small businesses.
But first, just take a moment or two to think back to the moment you decided to take the plunge and set up your own business.
Remember what it felt like?
If you’re honest with yourself it probably felt like you were taking a bit of a risk. You know, putting a bet on yourself.
But taking a calculated risk isn’t the same as gambling. You had enough faith in yourself and your knowledge, skills and possibly your network of contacts to take the plunge and set up your own business.
But having gone this far, are you really making the most of the opportunity?
Are you grasping the opportunity that digital marketing offers businesses or are you just playing it safe with what you consider to be less risky options?
So here are 5 digital marketing strategies – are you afraid to try them?
Let’s find out…
Strategy #1: Create Definitive Guides
Somebody needs to be the voice of your industry.
So why not you?
Being an authority figure has plenty of advantages, not least of which is that you can become the leading business in your area. Basically people want to do business with the leaders not with mediocre businesses.
So how do you go about this?
Well as good a place as any to start is by creating authority content in the form of a number of ‘Definitive Guides’.
These days, Google is looking for long form authority content to give in it’s search results. This is especially the case since they released their hummingbird algorithm update.
Basically Google wants to give people the most trusted, authoritative content when people search.
Now I can hear you saying something like “but Tony, I’m a plumber/accountant/kitchen fitter, what am I going to write a Definitive Guide on?’.
It’s quite straightforward really.
All you need to do is sit down with an imaginary prospect. Someone who is not yet a client and they want to ask you a few questions before they decide to use your services.
They want to see that you have the necessary expertise before they commit to you.
But most importantly they want to feel reassured that you can address the problems or issues that they are facing or the need that they have.
Here are some examples to help you get some ideas:
|Plumber||The Definitive Guide to Gas Central Heating|
|Kitchen Installation||The Definitive Guide to Kitchen Work Surfaces|
|Accountant||The Small Business Guide To VAT|
|Printer||The Complete Guide to Lithographic Printing|
|Jeweller||The Definitive Guide to Engagement Rings|
You can see that they’re all dealing with a particular area. You don’t have to create the Definitive Guide to Plumbing or Accounting etc.. Just choose a subject that’s not too narrow but not too broad either.
In terms of length, try to make it in excess of 2000 words. Now again, I can hear the groans from some of you, but if you think about it you’ve probably got most of this stuff somewhere already. It’s usually on your hard drive or in your outbox.
If not then it’s definitely up in your head. Think about all of the conversations you’ve had with people before on these subjects.
Try to think of all the questions they might have, all of the objections too. This is perfect content for you.
But ultimately this type of content says clearly that you are an authority and you can be trusted.
Enough said, let’s move on.
Strategy #2: Set Up A Company Blog
I don’t know where to start when it comes to the business benefits of blogging – there are just too many.
But the bottom line is that businesses that blog get more traffic to their websites.
Where’s the proof? Well we recently studied over 540 UK local B2B websites and the businesses that had most content (pages) had the best results. In fact they had over twice as many pages as lower ranking sites.
And a blog is a perfect way to create content on an ongoing basis. And when I say ongoing that means at least one piece of content per week.
“What!” I hear you cry “How can I commit to that?” But again, this is about stepping outside of your comfort zone.
All you need to do is to answer common questions really. Sure you’ll run out of ideas from time to time but there are loads of things you can blog about. For example:
- Repackage those Definitive Guides (see above) into bite sized blog posts
- Review and compare products and services
- Create Buyer’s Guides
- Top 10 Lists
- Productivity Hints and Tips
- Money/Time Saving Tips
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Even if you’re in a perceived ‘boring’ industry there are loads of ways to create content for your blog.
Remember, people have an issue or a problem and they’re looking for a solution. That’s not boring to them – it’s important and sometimes urgent.
Try to avoid falling into the trap of writing for your peers though. I often see this where people write content that’s full of jargon and can only be understood by people with a degree in that subject.
Keep the tone conversational and informal and remember who your audience is – potential and existing customers.
Strategy #3: Embrace Live Chat
I’m going to admit it – I love Live Chat.
Its one of the best tools we use in our business and I would strongly encourage ANY business to adopt it as a priority.
Why? Because it will give you an almost instant return on investment (ROI).
“But my business is different, Tony. My clients don’t like Live Chat”.
Yeah right. Heard that one before.
Your customers don’t like Live Chat? Are you sure about that?
That’ll be the same customers who spend ages on their phones chatting away on WhatsApp every day.
Try to look past your fears about live chat and just accept that chat is an accepted part of our daily lives these days.
It’s not as if it’s even that expensive. There are loads of Freemium chat tools out there which give you a limited version of the tool.
A lot of them even work on mobile too so you can chat on the go.
The thing is that the speed of business is accelerating and Live Chat gives you the opportunity to respond in real time. None of this, “I’m not here to take your call right now, leave a message after the tone” nonsense.
These days people expect instant answers. Not in an hour or so and definitely not tomorrow. They want answers instantly and if they don’t get them, bang, they’re off to the next one.
So go on, give it a go, I dare you. You won’t regret it.
Strategy #4: Use A CRM
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.
Yuk, sounds complicated doesn’t it.
I think that was the name given to these tools when only massive companies could afford them and they needed a flashy name to justify the huge costs involved.
But things have moved on and these days this type of tool is available for even the smallest, newest business.
In my opinion they should change the name from CRM to ‘Get Your Leads and Customers Organised Tool’ because that’s what they do.
But maybe GYLCOT just isn’t as catchy as CRM :-).
The reason they’re important and make the list is because the vast majority of small businesses are notoriously bad at organising their leads. Usually when a prospective client gets in contact with them the process looks something like this:
- Customer gets in contact with business by phone, email, contact form, social media etc..
- Details are scribbled down somewhere, e.g. note pad, post it note, back of envelope
- Information provided to prospect
- Wait for client to get back to you/purchase
- Don’t hold your breath
- Forget about them and move on
Does that look familiar?
Well it doesn’t need to be like that. With a CRM you have a way of logging everything – emails, live chat, contact forms even phone calls.
Once they’re in the system they are treated in a systematic way depending on how you set the system up. You can set reminders to call people back once you’ve sent them a proposal or you can automatically send a sequence of personalised emails over a number of days or weeks.
The beauty of this is that suddenly you have order where before you had chaos. You are effectively ‘Systemising’ your business. Once you have (good) systems in place things start to improve.
Suddenly you don’t forget to phone people back.
Suddenly people are replying to your emails (even if it’s the seventh or eighth one you sent in an automated sequence). It can take up to 8 emails to convert someone from prospect to paying client after all.
Suddenly you’re the business who shows your prospect that you really want the business.
Suddenly you find that there are opportunities all over the place as you start to follow up with customers who haven’t used you for ages or you start to send out seasonal offers to your database.
So don’t be frightened by the term CRM. These tools can make a huge difference to your business.
Here’s a great CRM that’s perfect for small businesses.
Strategy #5: Guest Blogging
Hopefully by now you’re convinced of the benefits of setting up a business blog and creating regular content.
So once you’re into the habit of creating content for your blog and demonstrating our expertise why not do the same on other people’s blog?
This is called Guest Blogging and it has a number of advantages for you.
The most important ones are that it introduces you to a new audience as well as earning valuable backlinks to your website.
Now if you do some research on guest blogging you might read a few posts that say it’s a spammy tactic that’s not valid anymore. And it’s true to some extent, guest blogging has gained a bit of a bad reputation.
But that was more to do with websites that were set up with the specific intention of allowing paid guest posts in return for a backlink.
That’s not the type of guest blogging we’re talking about here.
Basically your approach is as follows:
- Identify blogs that share a similar audience to yours
- Check that they are cared for, well curate blogs and only feature good quality content and are updated regularly
- Build a relationship with the blog owner – use social media or comment on their blog to get on their radar
- Offer to create some great content for them and show them examples of your work, i.e. your best posts and your Definitive Guides (see above)
The trick is to focus on building relationships rather than just getting your content featured. Often you can end up writing regularly for them if your content works well.
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not the easiest strategy. You’ll get your fair share of rejections. But don’t let that put you off. There are loads of people who would love to feature your expert advice in their blog.
So don’t let that fear of rejection put you off – this type of thing is what will set you apart from your competitors.
When you set up your business you knew it would be a bumpy ride. That’s why staying in your comfort zone can do more harm than good. You need to be up for the challenge.
These five strategies will help you set yourself up as an authority (Definitive Guides), attract a new audience (blogging, guest blogging) and help you convert visitors into paying clients (Live Chat, CRM).
So don’t be afraid of trying them. You won’t regret it.
So are you trying any of these digital marketing strategies or are you planning on introducing them to your business – don’t be scared to leave your thoughts below.