7 Ways to Improve Your Small Business Marketing raising bars on orange background

7 Ways to Improve Your Small Business Marketing

Summary: Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or you’re just starting out, we’re here to help take your small business to the next level. From defining your audience to investing in your website, here are some of our favorite small business marketing strategies.

 

You’ve decided to take the plunge and launch your own business — or take your existing business to the next level. That’s an amazing goal! So, we’re offering up our best tips and tricks to make it an achievable one — and ramp up your small business marketing. 

How to Define Your Target Audience

Before you can do almost anything else, you need to define your audience. If you’ve decided to launch a business, you probably already have at least one customer — so look at who’s responding to your current marketing efforts and break your audience down. Make sure to consider anything that could impact a client’s choice about your product or service. Being deliberate and thorough about your target audience will both save you money in the long run and make your existing efforts more effective. 

Bottom line? Meet your audience where they are — and you can only do that if you know who they are. 

How to Choose Your Social Media Platforms

So you know who your audience is, but how do you find them? If you’re selecting a social media platform, use Google to learn about the demographic usage of each and what time of day is most active. Keep in mind that social media isn’t an exact science, so trial-and-error is still your friend.

When you’re starting out, think about what you see in your own social media feeds. Are there specific types of content you’re more likely to engage with? Instagram tends to work well for highly-visual businesses, while Facebook may be a better choice for services. 

 

7 Ways to Improve Your Small Business Marketing list of top seven ways

Why You Should Invest in Your Website

No matter what, you need to have an effective site. All roads lead back to your website. What does that mean in practice? Your site needs to be easy to use and navigate. That way, when an interested customer arrives at your site, they can easily find what they are looking for. There should be nothing preventing them from making a purchase or signing up for your services.

An effective website has a lot of moving pieces: it needs to look good, have clear calls to action, load quickly on mobile and desktop, and be ADA-compliant — just to name a few. While there are free templated options you can use (like Wix, WordPress, or Squarespace), they’re often less customizable. WordPress websites have really become the gold standard. 

 

All roads lead back to your website.

 

An upfront investment in your website design will more than pay for itself over time — especially when designed with a classic, timeless style. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, find a student studying web development: they’ll get real-world experience and you’ll get a solid website that you can afford. That’s a win-win. 

How to Test Your Marketing Campaign

You’ve diligently researched your target audience, chosen your social media platform, and designed your website. Now you get to tell the world about what you do.

If you’re creating a pay-per-click (also known as PPC) or social media ad campaign, use a small portion of your budget. Run it for a short amount of time (for example, one week), and see who responds. Testing different keywords and demographic targets on a small scale will save you money in the long run and make your full campaign more effective.

A “good” click-through rate — the number of people who click on your link, not just see the ad — varies by industry and type of advertising. On a basic level, a 3-5% return on impressions is a success. If you’re using a PPC campaign, a good rule of thumb is you should return at least $2 for every $1 spent. Until you reach that point, keep tweaking your ad campaign.

Once you’ve nailed down an effective campaign, you can typically run it for about six months, assuming it’s evergreen and continues to perform well. Of course, all campaigns will reach a plateau — that’s your indicator to start testing new strategies.  

How to Effectively Use Your Business Budget

Investing in infrastructure will make your marketing more effective and give you a more manageable workload. Here are three of our favorites.   

  1. Email Marketing: Building a great email campaign comes down to your message, design, and a good email marketing platform. But they don’t have to break the bank. In fact, most platforms have a free version (or an inexpensive one) and built-in templates to get you started. MailChimp and Constant Contact have multiple products and price points to help manage interactions with existing and prospective customers. Whatever general email address you’re sending emails from — or offering up on your site or business cards — needs to be straightforward and professional, like [email protected]. But choose wisely since some email platforms will bounce emails from addresses they see as spammy. 
  2. Social Media Scheduling Tools: If you create social media profiles, invest in a way to schedule your posts out and track analytics. With tons of options to choose from, you can find one that works best for you. Social media management tools allow you to be deliberate and consistent with posting, rather than racing against the clock to post in real-time. They’ll also help you spot when the best time is to post based on interactions and engagement. 
  3. High-Quality Collateral: There’s also something to be said for high-quality collateral or “leave behinds” — those tangible pieces that help make a memory and give interested customers something to hold onto. These can be anything from postcards to brochures that you can share with prospects at meetings or events or send out digitally. 

How to Get Your Business Noticed Online

Part of your business’s online presence is your brand’s reputation including any media coverage and reviews. Work to gather good, real reviews on your business. You may be able to encourage customers to leave a review by asking for them in your email campaigns or rewarding reviewers — or prompting site visitors to complete a survey. Once you start getting reviews, respond to both the good and the bad — how you respond is half the battle. Make sure you’re set up with Google My Business (which lets you promote your business profile and site on Google Search and Maps, as well as post updates), GlassDoor, Yelp, and other platforms that your audience might be searching on. Keep a list of your profiles to easily keep all your pages up to date.

Stay Ahead of the Trends

Another change in the algorithm on Facebook or Google? Keeping up is half the battle. For Google rankings and search engine optimization (SEO), you want to create genuinely helpful content. Bonus points if it’s question-and-answer based. Whatever content you’re adding, it always needs to be more than an SEO grab since the search engine prefers to rank articles that are truly helpful to users rather than those that are stuffed full of keywords. 

Social media has trended towards video in the last few years, and that will likely continue. Most algorithms promote video, meaning your static image might get lost in the shuffle. But for businesses starting out, video can feel expensive and time consuming. If you’re working on a limited budget, think about how you can get more bang for your buck by breaking one video up into smaller clips that you can distribute over time, or splice together in different ways to serve a variety of purposes. 

Curious about other small business tools? Let us help. EarthLink offers everything from high-speed small business internet to free business listings to brand reputation management. It’s all part of making the right connection. 


Employee working at their desk, holding a tablet.

Every Small Business Should Be Doing Video Marketing

Nothing engages like video.

Video is a powerful platform to promote your business, your services or simply to get your message out telling prospects why you stand out from your competition. Get the scoop on how video marketing can work for your business in our infographic below.

Video helps boost your marketing in a number of ways:

  • Improve your ranking in Google: Video is an effective way to engage visitors, increasing the amount of time visitors spend on your website. Google takes visit duration into account when determining page ranks, on grounds that if people are spending a lot of time on your website, it must have quality content.
  • Showcase your brand’s personality: Use video to introduce your brand to newcomers, answer your website visitors’ questions, or create an emotional bond through humor. The best videos can create a favorable and lasting impression.
  • Improve results: Businesses that include video on their website generally see higher engagement rates, higher click-through rates, and higher conversion rates.

Use video to promote your business on Vimeo, social media, and add video to your website to engage your visitors.

Small Business Video Video Marketing Earthlink Infographic

 

EarthLink has a special offer: Get a new logo for your business, and we’ll include a logo reveal video! As a business, you get one chance to make a great first impression with customers. Work with a designer to create a custom logo that you can use on your website, social, in print, and everywhere else.

Plus, right now you can launch your new logo with a logo reveal video, included with your logo design! Check out sample designs and logo reveal videos: http://earthlinklogodesign.com/. Call 1-866-528-0117 to speak with an online marketing consultant to learn more.


How to Make Your Company Website More Effective

Summary: Your company’s website is one of the first places potential customers interact with you, so it’s crucial that it remains competitive. Here are a few quick tips you can implement today to strengthen your online presence.

Are you wearing multiple hats at your company? Are you tasked with making sure your company is competitive in the market? Below are quick tips you can implement in no time to make sure your website is competitive.

Is your site mobile friendly? Nearly 60% of all searches are done on a mobile device. Google prioritizes sites that are optimized for mobile devices. You can minimize lost business opportunities by ensuring your customers can easily navigate your website on any device.

Is your website up to date? Did you know that 88% of people research a website before visiting in person or making a purchase? Stale content hurts search engine ranking and can create distrust with your customers. Add new content related to product and service updates, new offers, videos, tutorials, and helpful information to give your visitors a reason to come back to your site.

Do you have videos? Your website has less than 20 seconds to capture your clients’ attention. Using video can draw attention and keep them on your site. A great video simplifies your messages and engages your visitors. Create product videos or overviews, client testimonials, or share stories from your team and show your company’s personality.

These are just some of the many ways you can improve the effectiveness of your website for your customer and when it comes to ranking on Google.  Want to know how your website is performing? Get your website performance score in under two minutes.


Google 2018 SSL Certificate Changes

In July 2018, Google will release an updated version of their web browser Chrome that will mark websites without SSL certificates as “not secure”. Other browsers, like IE, Edge, Firefox will also be adopting this policy. Why is this important for your small business's website design and digital marketing? Let's take a look.

What is SSL?

SSL (or Secure Sockets Layer) is a standard security technology for web browsers, encrypting information passed between a website’s server and a visitor’s browser. Websites with SSL certificates appear in your browser URL as “HTTPS” versus “HTTP”.

SSL helps create a safe and secure connection for your web pages, keeping customers’ information safe from hackers, criminals, and other unwanted eyes.

 

Why use SSL?

Your business and website needs to look credible to your website visitors. Websites marked as “not secure” may cause potential customers to lose trust in your business, so it’s becoming increasingly important that every website is secured with SSL. If your website transits sensitive information like credit card details or personal information, it’s essential your business and your customers’ information is protected with SSL.

 

Secure your website and your Customer's information before July 2018. If your site does not have an SSL Certificate, you can learn more about EarthLink's SSL Certificate by calling 1-800-201-8615 or learn more here.