Grab a coffee and turn off any distractions! If you give me your undivided attention, I promise to make it worth your while. In this article you’ll discover exactly what’s needed to guarantee small business marketing success online in 2019.
This particular article is geared towards small business marketing in the U.K but if you’re from elsewhere don’t leave just yet. Most of this will be transferable to your location.
You may be just getting started in business or perhaps you’re established already and looking to take it to the next level. Your approach will of course be different and depend on a variety of factors such as budget, time and of course the type of business that you’re in. Whatever stage you’re at I want to introduce you to a concept that will keep you in good standing across Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and pretty much every search or social platform you’re likely to come across.
C – CONSISTENCY
A – AUTHORITY
R – RELEVANCY
T – TRUST
C.A.R.T is a concept that we here at WDM have borrowed and adapted (it was originally A.R.T) to fit our core strategies. Whereever you want to be found online, following these 4 core principles are key to maximising the results of your efforts.
1 – CONSISTENCY
When you want to get your business found online you have to be consistent in everything you do. I’m going to use Google as the obvious example here but, let’s say you’ve decided to generate traffic by writing (or purchasing) content for your blog. You could post a series of beautiful articles that are well researched, well written and extremely informative. Each one may take hours to put together.
This is a fairly typical scenario and businesses across the U.K do exactly this. What usually happens is they’ll fill their website full of fantastic content by adding a new article every few days. But as time goes on things begin to slow. Focus shifts onto something else and that posting schedule goes out of the window.
Those daily or weekly posts become monthly (or worse). Sound familiar?
Wherever it is you’re posting content (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, etc) you MUST be consistent. However, you market your business online (lot’s of small business marketing ideas to come) you have to keep doing it if you want to see results. It’s no good adding 20 posts to your website or a bunch of amazing Instagram snaps and then posting nothing for the next few weeks. You won’t be rewarded by Google or any other platform for doing this. If you want to gain visibility you need to show them that you’re in it for the long haul.
Equally, your results will also dip if you keep moving from one platform to the next. Just because you posted every day for 3 weeks on Facebook and got no results, that doesn’t mean you should give up and try Pinterest instead. You may simply need to change what (or how) you’re posting.
Have you ever known or had an employee that started off great, but over time began to slide as the novelty of a new job wore off and they lost interest. That’s exactly how your presence is viewed online if you don’t remain consistent with your efforts.
Consistency is the backbone of any business marketing strategy and will help ensure that Authority, Relevancy, and Trust are yours long-term.
2 – AUTHORITY
It won’t have escaped your attention that it’s often the big names that seem to have the most authority online. It’s so easy for them to appear in Google, Get loads of attention on Facebook or thousands of people liking and sharing their Youtube videos. I know that this can be extremely frustrating as a small business. We don’t have 6 figure monthly advertising budgets or large teams of in-house marketers at our disposal.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t become an authority in YOUR field!
Whether you’re a plumber, a doctor, a restaurant owner, a recruiter or an accountant – You can still become an authority in your “niche”. You may just have to think outside the box a little. We’ll get into more detail soon but let me give you a real world example.
We at WDM specialise in web design and marketing (specifically SEO). Our site is very young compared to some of our competition and we don’t have the budget to compete (from an advertising perspective) with the big names in our industry.
If we were to try and compete for the phrase “WEB DESIGN” or “SEO SERVICES” on a national level it would take huge resources and at least a year before we hit the top #10 in Google. So it makes sense for us to come up with other small business marketing ideas. We look for less competitive keyword phrases that are less generic and have a higher buyer intent.
For example, we can still become an authority in our field by concentrating on local areas and/or by targeting specific types of marketing. So instead we’d look to be the ‘Go To’ company for web design or SEO services in a local town or perhaps county.
So, your business is online, you’re posting content regularly and you have some great backlinks. If you’re not ignoring your visitors/followers and you’re posting good content the the next bit should come naturally. I’m talking about engagement. If people are engaging with your digital content then you are demonstrating that you’re providing a quality service and they like what you do. Whether you’re on Google, Facebook, Youtube or any other platform you’ll be rewarded with better visibility.
You may have already noticed that if one of your Facebook posts gets some likes quickly then it will often get a lot more over the next few days. That’s because the initial engagement indicated it was something people would like to see and so it appeared in more feeds across your network of friends/followers.
Authority doesn’t happen overnight but once you have it in your specific area, you’ll find it much easier to gain exposure for similar/related topics. This will allow you to gradually expand and snowball your efforts over time.
If you’re true to you brand and follow the principles on this page then relevancy is something that happens naturally. But what exactly does this mean in terms of small business marketing?
Just like consistency, this needs to take place across your digital empire. If you provide accounting services, then your content should be about all things accounting. Your visitors will want to hear about latest tax rule changes, and how to best show expenses. Equally they may want to hear about a local charity event your business sponsored (this may not be about accounting but it does involve your brand and helps to increase trust – coming up).
But they won’t want to hear about things that are outside of your area of authority. Your visitors (and the platform they find you on) will trust your accounting knowledge and that’s what they expect to hear from you. It’s fine to give your content a personal touch but stay on topic.
Equally, your backlinks should also be relevant. Sticking with our accounting theme – A link from your friends Facebook post may have some worth, but not nearly as much as a link from an established accounting website. But don’t get confused, customer reviews can be an AMAZING tool for gaining exposure. You just have to get them in the right way (we’ll discuss this further down).
Last but not least in our cart philosophy is Trust. It should go without saying that if people don’t trust you, they won’t be interested in your products, services or anything you have to say. Similarly, If Google, Facebook etc don’t trust you, they won’t send you traffic.
You may be able to gain trust from your customers fairly quickly but it could take a little longer before search and social platforms see your business in the same light. If you’ve followed the first 3 points then most of your work is done. But there are some things you can do depending on the business you’re in.
I’m going to talk briefly about businesses that serve the local area (more to come on this). If you serve your local area in any way then there are a couple of things you can do to gain trust (particularly from Google).
1 – As mentioned above, make sure your ‘NAP’ (Name, Address, Phone number) for your business is the same everywhere online.
2 – Get “Google Reviews” from your customers. Have them login to their own google accounts and then leave a review for your business.
3 – Upload photos of your business (or you and your colleagues at work) that are geo-tagged. I’ll tell you why later, but for now, trust us on this.
Now we have the core principles nailed down let's get onto the real nitty gritty of small business marketing...
Below you’ll find a treasure trove of marketing tactics geared towards small businesses.
Aside from being a web design company we are also a small business marketing agency. We specialise in helping small to medium sized businesses market themselves online in a cost efficient manner that provides a healthy return on investment. So, I’d like to think we’re well positioned to give some real take home advice.
How Do I Market My Small UK Business?
Have An Excellent Website
We may have an ulterior motive to this one but if you’re marketing online you should probably have a website. You may already have one but is it up to scratch? If you’re going to have one, make sure it’s a great one! Be the best in your niche.
Whatever stage you’re at, make your website truly reflects your brand and is fit for purpose. Keep it fresh, organised, fast, and appealing to the eye. Make sure your readers can easily find what they need. Treat every page as a funnel. If you give the reader too many options they won’t know where to go and will probably leave. Make sure your website helps to guide them to the right place or to take a desired action.
If a new website or redesign is on the cards then take a look at our 6 Golden Rules for Hiring a Web Designer.
The majority of small business (but of course not all) serve their local area or community in some way. If your business doesn’t then skip ahead to Social Media Marketing.
For the past few years now, Google has been showing local maps results for location based searches. This could be anything from “web design Suffolk” (one of our own target keywords) to “Restaurants near me”. In a past post we went into great detail on how to rank your business on Google Maps so click that link for details, but here’s an overview on getting traffic from your Google Maps listing.
First up – You need to claim your listing (if you haven’t already). Head over to https://www.google.com/business/ and add all your details. Choose the most relevant category you can find for your business.
NOTE: It’s important that you verify your listing as this is the first step to Gaining trust.
You’ll notice above that I said ALL your details. I meant this quite literally! The more information you provide, the better it will serve you (and your customers). Don’t be tempted to leave things blank. If it’s possible for you to add information then do so.
Google Maps SEO
Just as with standard Search Engine Optimisation, Google uses algorithms with weight given to specific factors in order to determine how to rank your business. Nobody knows the exact algorithm but research shows that the following 7 factors carry the most weight when ranking your business (you’ll notice that these fit our ‘C.A.R.T’ philosophy very well.
1 – SITE AUTHORITY
Just as described in our C.A.R.T philosophy, If your website is an authority in Google this will help to rank your local maps listing higher in the search results.
2 – GOOGLE REVIEWS
We mentioned this earlier and it’s all about trust. If you can encourage your customers to leave Google reviews this can really help boost those rankings.
3 – OWNER VERIFIED
As above – This is simply a case of verifying your listing with Google. It proves to them that your business is real.
4 – CITATIONS
Remember ‘NAP’ – Name, Address, Phone Number? Make sure your business is listed online locally with these details. Online business directories can help with this.
5 – WEBSITE PAGES INDEXED
This is linked to authority. The more good quality pages that your website has in Google’s index, the more authoritative you are likely to be.
6 – IMAGES
By adding photos of your workplace and regularly adding pictures of your work of your business operations in general, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you’re active and give visitors an insight into what you do. BONUS POINTS – Do this from the Google My Business Ap’ on your mobile phone (Android, IOS) as your images will be geo-tagged.
7 – EXTERNAL LINKS
Again – All about authority. If your website has lots of good quality (and relevant) backlinks, this will help both your site and your maps listing.
For full details you’ll need to visit our other post (Google Maps SEO Tips).
I’ve not listed it above but don’t forget consistency. When you’re logged in you’ll have the ability to create posts on your listing (completely separate from your website). You are provided with call to action buttons so you can ask customers to call you direct or visit your website. Create posts here regularly and add photos to each post.
Small business social media marketing
Social Media Marketing is a tricky one to summarise as there isn’t really a one size fits all approach. But, here are some great tips to get you started.
Pick the right channels
You may be great at posting on Facebook but if most of your potential customers spend there time on Instagram or Linkedin then your efforts could be wasted. Find out where your audience hangs out and get involved. If they’re on Facebook, do they belong to any particular groups? If they’re on Twitter, see who they follow. You can quickly build your audience by getting involved with your competitor’s audience.
Not sure where to start? Here’s quick generic stance on the best channels to use:
Linkedin – Best For B2B Services.
Youtube – Great For B2B and B2C.
Snapchat- For younger audiences
Instagram – Great for Younger audiences and utilising influencer marketing.
Facebook – Perfect for older demographics.
2 – Complete Your Profiles Properly.
Whatever platform(s) you use, make sure you complete your profile to it’s full extent and make it look professional. Mediocre is no good here. Aim to be the BEST in your market. Clearly show the benefits that readers will get from following you.
3 – Create Content Regularly.
Keep your content flowing (remember we talked about this in the consistency section). Give your content a tone that represents your business. If you’re stuck for ideas then check out your competition. It’s also fine to share relevant content (sometimes) that you haven’t created. Have a look at Buzzsumo to see what’s already popular.
4 – Engage with your audience.
Build a connection with the people who visit. It’s a social network after all! Ask your friends to follow you. Look for people in your field (even on your competitors pages) who are commenting or asking questions. Respond, help them out if you can. They may well come and follow you too. Just a note here – Don’t spam your competitor pages with links to your own profile. You need to be subtle and gain trust.
5 – Numbers aren’t everything.
It’s FAR better to have 100 engaged fans than 1000 who never interact. Seeing a high follower count might look good to you (and even your visitors) but if those people aren’t responding to your content it doesn’t look good and your visibility will suffer.
Should I Consider Influencer Marketing?
Many small business owe their success to influencer marketing. You may think this means paying famous celebrities extortionate sums to endorse your product or service but that doesn’t have to be the case. You need to work with an expert or someone who is respected in your niche. Use their influence to gain loyal followers. Influencer marketing is really a form of paid advertising that has the benefit of appearing organic. Testimonials, product reviews, and explainer videos can significantly boost your sales and conversion rates.
But, be transparent. If an influencer is being paid to endorse anything, that should be made clear to the consumer.
Isn't Email Marketing Dead?
Email marketing used to be considered the highest priority for anyone marketing a business. But as open rates dropped and other forms of marketing became available, it began to get a bad rap. But unfairly so! Building an email list of loyal fans and customers allows you to sell your products/services to those who are most likely to buy. It’s also virtually free. Once you have their email address (and permission to email to them) you can build up automated marketing funnels and email series to keep them engaged and wanting more.
Just remember not to sell all the time. Run a newsletter, give free tips and advice. As long as you keep providing value they will have no reason to unsubscribe.
Search Engine Optimisation
It may sound a bit technical but you need to get this right. Of you don’t clearly tell the search engines what your page is about then they won’t be able to give you credit or send you traffic.
Here are 6 of the main factors to consider:
2. Page speed
3. URL structure
4. Keyword research
5. Title tags and meta descriptions
6. Schema markup
This really encompasses everything shown above. Search engines want to see your brand performing well across multiple platforms.
Follow along with C.A.R.T and you’ll be on track. Whether it’s on your website, your social channels, your local maps listing (or better yet – All of them), be consistent and keep providing good quality content.
Perform keyword research before delving into your topic. Make sure people are looking for the content you provide.
You’ll also need good quality and relevant backlinks to your website (not just your homepage). Some of this will happen naturally through your efforts above. but you can give this a boost in a number of ways (without being spammy). Press releases are a great way to get the ball rolling on this. They’re great for a short burst (for example if you release a new service).
I hope the above has given you some great local marketing ideas and a little clarity on a marketing strategy for your small business.