Running a small business is hard. You are pulled and pushed in a million directions. Traditional marketing channels are getting more expensive and less effective. Digital marketing looks like it will work, but it’s all very confusing. So how can you manage a plan that delivers effective online marketing?
It’s hard, but it’s not impossible.
You can hire a reputable resource, give them clear direction, and let them manage it for you. Depending on what you have them do this can cost from $200 per month to $750 per month or more.
Or you can do it yourself. We’re going to present a strategy that we know works and propose a place to start that we’re sure will work for you.
A Strategy for Effective Online Marketing
“Selling your winners and holding your losers is like cutting the flowers and watering the weeds.” – Peter Lynch, Billionaire Investor
In a word, focus. Focus your time and budget on a few things and watch your results improve. Focus on what’s working, eliminate what’s not.
It’s not rocket science, clearly, but this doesn’t make it easy. There are many distractions. Beware the new shiny thing. It’s the same for marketing. Effective digital marketing comes from doing a few things well and then building on successes.
Don’t try to do too much. It’s a known fact that boiling the ocean isn’t possible. Learn how to say “No.”
“No, we’re not going to try that. Somday, we might add it in, but for now, we need to improve what we’re doing before we add something else.”
If you plan to use content marketing and generate traffic through SEO then that’s what you should be focused on. Everything else you do is in servitude to this plan.
Where to Start?
It’s not Fancy, but Email Marketing Still Works
It takes some work, but if you put an hour or so a day into it, Email marketing can take you a long way. It’s a great way to reach your current customers and remind them that your products and services are what they need. It’s a proven fact that your current customers are much more likely to buy from you again. Use email marketing to reach them.
We use and recommend MailChimp. Many others also work well. We like MailChimp because it is reasonably priced and relatively easy to use. We’ve invested time and effort into learning how it works. For effective online marketing, focus on what works, learn how to use it well, and you will be better off. Don’t chase technology.
Use the automation tools available from most Email Service Providers. Automation will simplify your efforts. It takes a bit of work to set up, which may be a place where investment in support will pay off, but once it’s in place, it runs itself. Then, spend your time monitoring the results and making adjustments to messaging and offers.
The Social Media 70:20:10 rule also applies to email marketing. 70% of your content should be information that creates value, content that shares what you know and helps your customers use your products and services more efficiently. 20% of the content should be curated content, information that you’ve found that your customers will value. The final 10% can be sales-oriented. By focussing on value creation in the bulk of your messages, you’ve earned the right to make an offer, to sell your stuff.
Here are a few automation ideas. Some are focused on e-commerce but you can adapt them to other situations and business objectives. For example, a lead funnel connected to email marketing is a powerful solution. Over time you will refine things to best suit your needs.
Be consistent and stay focused.
- Use a popup with a lead magnet to drive newsletter signups
- Include a limited time offer in the double opt-in confirmation
- Send a thank-you email with a related product cross-sell after the first sale
- Use reminder emails, send one if a user hasn’t logged in for a month
- Periodic, non-sales emails to purchasers are a good idea. Design the content to add value to the business relationship
- You can also send targeted sales-oriented emails to purchasers based on past purchases
- Send periodic sales-oriented emails to nonpurchasers
- You get the idea
Finally, if you are going to focus on what works, then you need to test. Test everything, but test big things. Blue versus green is not a big thing. Offer A versus offer B, now this is a big thing.
As your experience and comfort with digital marketing improves
Effective Online Marketing – Conclusion
Focus on a few things, do them well. Start with email marketing. A small business email marketing strategy will work hard for you if you work on it. Commit the time and resources and watch your results grow.
So what’s working for you? Are you already using your website as a fulcrum? Are you maximizing its leverage?
Author: James Hipkin
James brings over 40 years of professional sales, marketing, and marketing consultation services to the table. Serving global brands along with small businesses, Hipkin leads a highly-skilled team of full-time developers, producers, content specialists, and project managers who are committed to your success.
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