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4 Smart ways for frugal small businesses to use online marketing

Competing against larger competitors in your niche or sector is difficult at the best of times. It’s not always a level playing field either. When the bigger competitor with greater revenue enjoys a more substantial marketing budget, it’s tougher for a small business like yours to compete.

The good news is that when it comes to digital marketing, it doesn’t always require huge marketing budgets to make a meaningful impact with the people who count. Where once TV advertising or full-page newspaper advertisements took aim at a large chunk of the market, your smaller business can be nimbler and more targeted in its approach.

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Here are four smart ways that small businesses on a tighter budget can use digital marketing for continued growth:

1.     Use social media to dominate your niche

Social media is a confusing landscape for SMEs. Most small businesses only have a few members of staff or just a solopreneur at the helm. Taking the founder or one of the critical members of staff away from their regular duties to handle the social media accounts is often a losing strategy. Also, it’s difficult to justify employing a full-time social media manager because of the cost and a lack of belief that their salary package (plus benefits) will deliver an ROI for the business through increased sales.

As entrepreneur Tai Lopez commented in this entrepreneur Magazine article, the social media landscape is a rapidly changing one. While sales trainers like Grant Cardone previously live streamed video podcasts on Periscope and Meerkat –the darling of 2015’s SXSW – now Facebook, YouTube and even Twitter are in on the act (Periscope is owned by Twitter).

For SMEs, the best idea with social media is to hire a social media agency to handle their accounts. A dedicated agency has the required skill set and is far better able to keep abreast of the changes in the social media landscape. The agency can agree on a price plan based on the number of accounts handled and the posting frequency to match the SME’s available budget.

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2.     Invest heavily in email marketing

While technology features such as web browser notifications and mobile apps have proven useful for internet users, nothing has replaced or surpassed the power of email. Small companies shy away from building a mailing list because they worry about what type of content they can produce and how they’ll organize it. The content marketing tends to be their stumbling block and that’s even for businesses that already publish a company blog.

What’s important to understand about email is not even the messaging aspect; it’s that organic traffic is changing. While there’s a clear difference between the clickthrough rate from Google’s search results for commercial vs informational content, the more alarming insight is the 37% decline in clickthrough rate over a recent 23-month period from May 2015 to March 2017. Google is sending less free traffic to companies that rank well on the first page for meaningful search terms. Small businesses must make up the difference by generating their own repeat traffic.

Email marketing, with the opt-in from site visitors who supply their email address and agree to repeated emails (per new EU GDPR regulations), is one way to ensure a prosperous future. Subscribers can be emailed about new blog posts, price discounts, new product launches and helpful industry information that makes the brand look good. For businesses selling high-priced products that need repeat visits before a visitor makes a buying decision, capturing their email address is vital.

3.     Use photographic imagery to inspire

The web is increasingly a visual medium. With photos shared on Pinterest and Instagram, and videos on YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook, content marketing with a visual component encourages more people to visit your website and follow your social media accounts.

Look at all the images used on your website and social media accounts. The headers on social accounts could surely do with an update. Find a way to inject some life and personality into them even if you’re an SME selling small home improvement tools.

Whether publishing a blog post or adding content to an Instagram account, you’ll see a bump in the number of followers and more people clicking through to your site when using attractive imagery. Take a look at the stock photos by Dreamstime to get an idea of how their inspiring photographs can be used effectively in your marketing.

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4.     Gain visibility through industry guest posting

Most SME’s don’t really understand the concept behind guest posting. It seems like a lot of work for little gain, but this is actually not the case. When you find a website that focuses on the same or similar target market as your own with a suitable demographic mix, then there’s bound to be some likely customers there. The idea is to go where your potential customers are, publish a post, and grab their attention!

According to SmartBlogger, most people do guest posting wrong. Their focus is on guest posting on blogs that receive many comments and generate interest instead of looking for related sites with substantial traffic.

Providing sufficient value to the reader so they’ll click over to your site and opt-in to your company’s newsletter is a worthy goal. Capturing their interest and their email address allows the company to follow up later. Subscribers can be sent a series of marketing emails offering different solutions or special offers that will hold appeal when choosing the right sites to publish a guest post on.

Focus on gaining visibility for your brand within the niche or industry you’re operating in. Better brand recognition leads to increased sales over the medium- to long-term. In the short-term, sticking to the higher trafficked industry websites is a better bet for growth than trying to get one hundred guest posts published on low-traffic, less-related sites. It’s also a more manageable digital marketing strategy for an SME with fewer resources too.

Small businesses must always focus on their marketing budget. Making sensible choices about which campaigns are the most affordable and deliver the highest ROI should be top of their priority list. Doing so maximizes available resources and offers the greatest potential to boost growth.



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