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Top Tips for Small Business Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing tipsBig businesses have more money and more staff for their digital marketing strategies, but digital marketing is no less important for small businesses, and with fewer resources, they may need to be smarter about how they market digitally.

This becomes even more important for entrepreneurs who are sole traders. Owners of small and sole-trader businesses may feel that digital marketing is a luxury, but in fact, it is a necessity in today’s world. An effective digital marketing plan can make the difference between a small business’s success and failure, whether that business primarily operates online or off.

There are a number of ways a small business or single operator can take advantage of digital marketing even with time and cost constraints.

Let Others Do the Marketing

This doesn’t mean hiring someone else to do the work; instead, companies need to figure out how to get others talking about their brand online. Most small businesses can’t create a publicity stunt that goes viral like Morton’s Steakhouse did by turning up at the airport with a steak for customer who tweeted about wanting a Porterhouse, but small companies can create interesting or entertaining content that followers will want to share with others.

Content can cover any topic relevant to the customers such as interesting industry-related news, tips and how-to’s. New product information is generally of interest to customers but should not make up the bulk of the content. Guest blog posts from non-competitors are another way to provide strong content with a minimal workload.

Use Available Tools

A number of tools are available that make digital marketing more effective. Google Analytics measures many factors including how much traffic a website is getting, where visitors are coming from and how long people remain on pages.

Programs such as Mailchimp can be helpful for managing email lists and databases. WordPress, Blogger, Weebly and other sites and tools make it possible for anyone to build professional-looking blogs and websites. These tools can save time and money for a small business that doesn’t have a huge marketing team.

Tailor Digital Marketing Strategies to the Customer

Small businesses and sole traders should think about who they are and what they can offer customers via digital marketing that is unique. A company does not have to do business online or be a high-tech company to take advantage of social media or digital marketing.

For example, one boutique shop posted prom dresses that had already been purchased so girls would know what others were wearing. Small businesses can take advantage of the fact that they are more flexible than large companies to survey their customers using social media and find out what they want, what makes them happy and what they dislike.

Offer Practical Solutions To Customers

One key component of digital marketing for small businesses is offering practical solutions to customers. Customers can check a restaurant’s specials for the day, express their opinions on the service they received or interact directly with business owners on social media, and these are all invaluable opportunities for small businesses to successfully promote themselves using digital marketing.

Perhaps you would like to share what Digital Marketing tips you have for small business and enterprises. If you are an experienced Digital Marketer then tell us what strategies you employ and what works best.

Steve Minks has over 25 years of IT & Digital expertise with a background in Property Development, Telecoms and as an accredited Health & Fitness professional. Outside of work, Steve enjoys writing on a range of subjects, functional exercise, visiting historical places and spending time with his family.

Inbound Marketing on a Budget

Inbound Marketing tips by icesugarmediaInbound marketing can be done on a budget, but a caveat is needed. Doing something on a budget doesn’t mean doing it halfheartedly.

Too often, businesses hear “inbound marketing” or “social media” and assign an already-overworked employee to put up Twitter and Facebook accounts which then end up neglected, giving the impression of a company that isn’t on top of things and can’t be bothered to communicate with customers.

However, even a business with a small budget can use inbound marketing effectively to generate leads and retain customers.

So, what exactly is inbound marketing, and why is it so important? Inbound marketing is marketing in which the customer or potential customer comes to the business or organization rather than the other way around.

In other words, it invites customers in via blog, e-newsletters and social media along with other methods as opposed to using such outbound marketing methods as direct mail, cold calling and television or newspaper advertisements. The good news is that inbound marketing is usually less expensive than outbound. What are some tips for a business on a budget?

Human Resources

Most companies above a certain size will have at least one or two employees who are savvy about social media and the internet. Rather than outsourcing marketing or hiring someone new to handle it, a company may be able to identify someone from within and add this to the job description. This does mean that the person or team will need relief from other duties to allow sufficient time to develop and implement a marketing plan.

Consider Freelancers

Content is the way forward for inbound marketing, and this means making sure that the information delivered to customers is engaging and relevant. Freelancers or contract workers are cheaper than full time employees because businesses do not pay for benefits and overhead; however, just as businesses should not skimp when allotting resources in-house, it is important to look for freelancers who balance reasonable prices with delivery of good content. Buying poor content at rock-bottom prices will cost a business in the long run.

Develop a Focused Strategy

Big companies with huge budgets can afford multiple methods of inbound marketing, but a business on a budget should focus on just two or three types of inbound marketing and do those well. The demographics of the customer should be the guide as to the best choices. For example, Twitter might be a good medium for communicating with twenty-something’s but an e-newsletter might be more effective with the retired set.

Consider Marketing Automation

Software tools, some of them fairly inexpensive, can assist with some of the most repetitive tasks associated with marketing such as lead generation and management, organization of customer data, mailing lists and more. These can be particularly helpful for small businesses that lack outside consultants or a full marketing team to take care of these aspects.

Inbound marketing can be done on a budget, but nothing in life is free including good advertising. With a modest investment of time and money, however, this type of marketing can pay great dividends.

How innovative have you been with Inbound Marketing and how has this affected your budgetary considerations ? Comments are welcome…

Steve Minks has over 25 years of IT & Digital expertise with a background in Property Development, Telecoms and as an accredited Health & Fitness professional. Now empowering businesses through improved Digital Marketing strategy designed for those seeking to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. Outside of work, Steve enjoys writing on a range of subjects, exercise and visiting historical places.


Top Tips for an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

content-marketing-tipsThe Internet has changed the way businesses market themselves. Content marketing has become a buzzword, but all too often, businesses still neglect to provide customers with valuable content.

The focus is on driving customers toward the website or social media pages for a business, but little is actually there for the customers once they arrive. Too often, content becomes an afterthought, and in such an environment, it is unlikely that content will be produced that has anything to offer customers.

A content marketing strategy is a key part of a company’s overall marketing strategy, and can make the difference between a marketing failure and success.

So, what are some of the top tips for creating effective content?

  • Dedicate adequate resources to the task. Too often, businesses do not commit fully enough to content marketing strategies. Employees need the time and proper expertise to develop and execute an effective marketing plan; this is not something that can be piggybacked on to other duties.
  • Understand the objectives. The content marketing team must come up with a list of specific goals for the content marketing plan. For example, this means that the goals should not be “attract new customers to the site,” but specific; a better goal would be “attract x number of new customers per week for four weeks.”
  • Know the target market. Who is the audience the content marketing should reach? This will dictate channels, content and more.
  • Choose the right channels. These channels will vary depending on both the audience and the type of content offered. Product information may be best delivered using blogs or YouTube while promotions could be best offered using Facebook, Twitter or an email newsletter.
  • Put it all together. A content marketing strategy worksheet can be invaluable in examining information, objectives, the audience, the right channels and more and putting it all together into a coherent master plan.
  • Offer something valuable. This is where many companies stumble. Content needs to have a point. A technology company might inform customers about new products; a design company might use a photoset to demonstrate a new look for interior design.
  • General Mills found great success with a tip for using pie pastry. The point is to both know the customer base well enough to identify customer wants and needs and to genuinely offer content that the customer can’t get elsewhere.
  • Keep standards high. As part of offering something valuable, the content provider has to go beyond churning out dry content that resembles dozens of other pages on the web. It’s important for content strategists and those who write content to think like journalists. What is fresh and exciting about this content? How can that enthusiasm be conveyed to readers? What story does the company have to tell, and what is the most engaging way in which to tell it?
  • Vary types of content. All too often, companies box themselves in with their content. It can be particularly easy to become too reliant on text when podcasts, video, photography and various types of interactive content like forums can increase customer engagement. Ultimately, the message should drive the type of content meaning that if text is the best way to deliver the message, then text should be used, but companies may find that there are a number of different ways to present content.
  • Remember longtime customers; content marketing is not just for new business. The idea behind content marketing is that it creates more dedicated and loyal customers who are less likely to be drawn to competitors by things like lower prices.
  • In other words, the customer needs to feel that a company provides value on a number of levels. For example, a technology company with a products forum could appoint valued contributors to be moderators. This gives longtime customers a sense of belonging.

Establish ways to measure return on investment. Outside marketing circles, this is one of the most controversial points in content marketing, and marketers often have a difficult time convincing CEOs and sales teams about the worth of content marketing.

One of the main reasons is that unlike many forms of traditional advertising, content marketing does not always lead to immediate sales. On the other hand, it has been shown to be an effective strategy that over a period of months can in fact be more effective than traditional marketing. For example, Sears uses page views, membership increases, and more to measure ROI.

Some companies may shy away from content marketing because they see it as overhyped. In fact, content marketing represents a significant shift in the way advertising is perceived and delivered, and solid statistics support its effectiveness. A well-planned content marketing strategy can provide a company with a strong advantage over its competitors.

About the Author

Steve Minks has over 25 years of IT & Digital expertise with a background in Property Development, Telecoms and as an accredited Health & Fitness professional. Outside of work, Steve enjoys writing on a range of subjects, functional exercise, visiting historical places and spending time with his family


Inbound Marketing and Your Business

creative inbound marketing ideasThe idea behind inbound marketing is that the customer comes to the business. If that sounds counterintuitive, it’s only because we are so accustomed to the idea that bombarding people with blatant advertising is the best way to ensure our message gets out there. Does Inbound Marketing have real value?

Inbound marketing suggests that there may be a way that is both subtler and more effective in both the short and long term for attracting customers.

Inbound marketing focuses on piquing the interest of potential customers, drawing potential customers in with something that is of value to them and building long-term customer relationships. This means that the aim of inbound marketing is not just to attract new customers but also to retain existing ones.

Inbound marketing is important to any business that needs to connect with clients or customers, but in order for it to be most effective, some best practices should be observed.

Timing is important. Studies have shown that companies that follow up with prospects in minutes fare better than those that wait hours; after a lag of days, the lead created may have gone cold.

Even worse, many companies believe that they respond to leads much more quickly than they actually do. Clearly, companies using inbound marketing need a good system in place to ensure that contacts are dealt with quickly.

Leads from inbound marketing must be treated differently from outbound marketing leads. If a company is going to respond quickly to those leads, then there needs to be a way to differentiate the highest-quality and most promising leads from the rest.

Inbound marketing needs a good content strategy. Once a customer has been persuaded to visit a company’s website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, YouTube channel, blog or forum, the company needs to offer something of value. This could range from coupons or exclusive information on early-bird promotions to important information about products or new developments in the field.

Content must focus on bringing in new customers as well as continuing to engage with existing customers. For example, if a business is one where a forum is appropriate, that discussion place can be welcoming to newcomers as well as comfortable for longtime visitors.

What inbound marketing means for businesses is that it’s important to be timely, to understand the customer base and to give customers something valuable. By responding quickly and intelligently to promising new customers without neglecting current customers and offering something of value to both groups, a company can make the most of inbound marketing.

How does Inbound Marketing affect your business and what strategies do you employ?

About the Author

Steve Minks has over 25 years of IT & Digital expertise with a background in Property Development, Telecoms and as an accredited Health & Fitness professional. Outside of work, Steve enjoys writing on a range of subjects, exercise and visiting historical places.

What is Digital Marketing

digital-marketing-tips-icesugarmediaFrom words and phrases like content marketing to social media marketing to pay-per-click and SEO, the brave new world of the Internet has given rise to entirely new approaches to advertising and marketing as well as unfamiliar jargon to describe those approaches.

Digital marketing is a kind of umbrella term for this new approach. It refers to any marketing that is done using electronic devices from laptops to smartphone and tablets to game consoles. Even advertising on digital billboards are considered a form of digital marketing. So while digital marketing includes marketing on the Internet, it also encompasses the use of other types of technology.

Digital marketing can be further divided into two different types, push and pull digital marketing. The former refers to marketing that is pushed onto the receiver such as banner ads on websites or emails. The latter refers to having the consumer seek out the information; for example, a customer might visit a blog or video on YouTube to learn more about a product.

One difficulty with discussions on digital marketing is that the channels and ways of delivering a company’s message are changing all the time. For social media digital marketing, as an example, it’s difficult to predict what will be the next Facebook.

While marketers can strategize an advertising plan based on existing technology and the most popular sites and ways of delivering information, the same plan is unlikely to be as viable a few years later. Therefore, it is crucial for companies to dedicate enough staff and resources to digital marketing; assigning the Twitter feed to an already-overcommitted employee to check in a few times per week is not sufficient.

A business needs a dedicated marketing team that stays on top of the latest developments and is flexible enough to shift strategies as needed.

Besides crafting compelling marketing plans that remain fresh and contemporary in terms of how people are currently using technology, the other major issue for businesses using digital marketing is measuring return on investment.

Good data is crucial to the success of a digital marketing campaign. However, digital marketers are becoming increasingly aware that the relationship between this type of marketing and consumer behavior is not always easily measured.

Customers engage differently with many forms of digital marketing in ways that may not lead to immediate sales but often produce more engaged, more loyal and longer-term customers who are unlikely to be easily lured by competitors.

As a Digital Marketer what strategies do you employ in pursuit of a successful campaign? Your comments are welcome.

About the Author

Steve Minks has over 25 years of IT & Digital expertise with a background in Property Development, Telecoms and as an accredited Health & Fitness professional. Outside of work, Steve enjoys writing on a range of subjects, functional exercise, visiting historical places and spending time with his family.