Running a business isn’t easy, and so isn’t trying to market it properly and, what’s more, effectively.
But hey, we’re here not to scare you off. Not everything is so tragic if you know where to start and what exactly you need to do to reach your desired goals.
So, if you’re a small business owner, whether it’s a new ecommerce store or a trusted local business, this article will walk you through the top essential marketing strategies you should focus on to find the right audience and grow your business.
But before we begin digging deeper, let’s clarify that we won’t be touching all possible marketing strategies out there…at least for now. Instead, our task is to ensure you’re aware of the most crucial steps you should take when trying to navigate the digital marketing world without wasting your money and time.
And don’t worry if you have already tried marketing your business and things didn’t work out as you expected. Here, you’ll also discover how you can revamp your existing marketing strategy and efforts to boost results.
Top 7 Must-Do Marketing Strategies to Fuel Your Business
While each business is different, some things in marketing just have to be done for every single one of them.
It’s like if you want to drive your kids or friends around, you need to have a car (and driver’s license, know the traffic rules, be cautious, and…you got it.)
So if you want to use online marketing, you must have a website or a landing page. By the way, I assume you already have one of them if you’re reading this. But in case you don’t, we can help you create a sleek and modern online store for your products or build a user-friendly website for your local services, no problem….just let us know 😉
Now, back to where we started. Must-do marketing strategies you can’t avoid if you want to increase your sales or generate more leads online. So, here we go.
Search Engine Optimization
If you want potential customers to find your business online, you have to optimize your website for search engines. In other words, make it pop up in Google, Bing, etc., when someone is looking for the products or services you offer.
Let’s say you already have your website visible. What’s next? Or is that it, and you can continue running your business as usual? Well, I wish it was all you had to do. But as an SEO expert, I can tell you that it’s only the beginning.
Having your website appear in search results is great. Still, what’s more crucial, you need to ensure that it appears for searches relevant to your products or services and attracts the right folks who actually want to buy them, aka high-quality, intent-driven traffic.
(It’s much harder to rank higher in search results for general terms like “shoes” as your competition will be immense. However, if you manage to find more specific search terms that people are looking for, this task becomes much easier.)
(If your local photography and videography studio is based in Syracuse, NY, your website doesn’t need to rank for the terms just “photography” and appear all around the US. Instead, it’s better to focus on local terms like “photography in Syracuse, NY”, “wedding photography near me”, etc. to faster attract relevant people to your business.)
And that’s when keyword research comes in handy.
Building your website around relevant keywords is the key to a friendly relationship with search engines and your site visitors. However, please don’t mistake it for stuffing your website with tons of keywords just for the sake of having them there.
Firstly, it’s not good, and we (together with Google) highly recommend not falling for such deceptive practices.
Secondly, you’ll lose trust in the eyes of Google and might jeopardize all your efforts. This huge search engine prefers business websites built to provide exceptional user experience, not those that make users read hundreds of keywords divided by commas.
And thirdly, if you do that, you’ll make me roll my eyes…because, well, I “told ya.”
But if you do end up having your website SEO-optimized properly and start capturing relevant traffic, you’re on the right track. Just remember that search engine optimization is an ongoing process that includes both on-page and off-page configurations. And it might take a while (sometimes, it might take many years, depending on the niche and competition) to occupy those sweet spots on the first page of Google or other search engines. But as long as you’re working on it, you’ll get there sooner than later.
Plus, organic listings are free (unlike paid ads), making it even more crucial to prioritize SEO setup and management for your small business.
Landing Page Optimization
Having a bad website or landing page isn’t better than having none. At least, it’s my honest opinion as an avid online shopper and, since it happened to be so, – a digital marketer. I’ll never buy anything from a website that looks like it hasn’t been updated since the time I was born or simply seems scammy. And I believe many fellow online users will agree with me.
(No caption needed…)
As a business owner, you need to remember that your website represents your brand. It’s literally the face of your business, whether you want it or not. And if you want people to take your business seriously, you must maintain your website and ensure it provides a user-friendly and high-quality experience to anyone who visits it, just like a brick-and-mortar store if you also have one.
Your website and its content is what makes people want to press “Add to Cart” or “Contact Us.” So even if you manage to have it listed on the first page of Google search results (either with the help of SEO or ads) but users don’t find what they expect from it or are simply not impressed with what they see on your website, you’ll lose them.
That’s why it’s essential to always work on conversion rate optimization (aka, CRO) and test various CRO technics to increase user retention rate, boost sales, and generate more leads.
Some of the CRO practices include:
- ensuring an easy checkout process
- creating seamless form submission flow
- cross-selling products
- adding a lead generation magnet
- offering a good deal
- upgrading website design
- highlighting what differs you from your competitors
- adding reviews and testimonials
…and this list can go on for at least a few extra pages. So yes, it might take a few ups and downs before you find out what works best for your particular website and industry. But the sooner you start testing and optimizing, the sooner you’ll reap the benefits.
And if you hesitate about whether you can do it on your own, there are many specialists out there who can help you create a high-quality converting website/landing page, including our team at Zima Media.
The rule of thumb: if your website isn’t able to convert users into customers, who should then? It’s the last stop in the sales funnel, so make it bring a “wow” effect to anyone who decides to visit it and discover more about what you have to offer.
Your website can’t be just a blank page with one sentence and a button. And if it is, please don’t tell me about it; finish reading this and fix it ASAP.
Content on your website is as crucial as the products or services you sell. It includes understandable descriptions of those products and services, informational blog posts (like the one you’re reading right now), FAQs, and basically anything one can see and read on your website.
Content is king and will most likely reign in the digital world for a while.
So, whatever you decide to write on your website, always make sure it’s built around your users’ interests and needs.
(Blog post examples on a Shopify store that sells analog film and provides film processing services)
For example, if you received 100 messages asking you whether your product is hypoallergenic, maybe it’s time to add it to the FAQ page and explain. Or if your potential customers are constantly asking why your service is better than the one from the guy “next door,” maybe you should write more clear service descriptions and highlight its perks. Or, if people aren’t sure how to use your products, you should add a “How-To” blog post and explain it in a few simple steps instead of typing it in every email. Of course, these are just some examples, but I bet you’ve encountered many situations like this while managing your business.
So, focus on writing valuable and unique content on your website. You’ll see that customers will start spending more time on your website, be more curious about your product range, and hopefully decide to choose you over your competitors.
P.S. Remember that keyword research I mentioned before? You can easily use it to get inspiration for your blog post topics and ensure you’re keeping up with the current search trends in your niche.
You can rely on nothing in marketing as firmly as on what you already own – your contacts – users who reached out to you via a contact form or purchased something and left their email or phone number. No one will take this info from you unless you somehow lose this data or forget to include a disclaimer that you might send promotional offers and newsletters.
So why not take advantage of it?
Email marketing is one of the owned media types. You have complete control over it, and the bigger your email list gets, the more chances you have to upsell your products and services.
An example of a sale email notification I’ve received from the famous fashion brand Ted Baker that I’m subscribed to.
Email marketing may include:
- Sending out weekly/monthly newsletters
- Notifying subscribers about seasonal sales and promos
- Letting your customers know about the launch of a new product
- Gathering feedback from previous customers
- Conducting surveys
- Sending personalized emails that remind users about products they looked at but didn’t end up purchasing
- Building stronger relationships with new and existing customers
Like any other marketing strategy, email marketing also requires a lot of A/B testing, automation integration, and clever email copy.
The bottom line: don’t neglect your customer list. Unlike other media channels, this one will always be with you, and you can start using it to boost your business right now.
Search Engine Marketing
We’ve talked about search engine optimization (SEO), which helps your website appear in search results for free. Well, now it’s money talk.
Search engine marketing means running paid ads on Google, Microsoft, or other search engines. Of course, Google is usually the first choice because people conduct 8.5 billion daily searches there. But you can also run Microsoft Ads or other smaller ones to ensure you cover searches on both platforms.
While SEO takes a lot of time, ads can help you get sales and leads relatively fast. But it only makes sense to run ads if you have an advertising budget to help you place your ads in the first 3 to 4 spots above organic search results. People rarely scroll to the bottom of the page, so I don’t even mention the number of people who reach the second and third pages.
So here are the essentials to running successful paid ads:
- Competitive ad budget (discover how to figure out your Google Ads budget)
- High-quality, mobile-friendly, and fast landing pages that convert
- Relevant content on the landing page
- True ad copies that correspond to the products or services you offer
- Proper Google Analytics and conversion tracking setup
- Using the latest automated and algorithm-based advertising strategies
I know it might sound overwhelming and strange if you’ve never done it before. But that’s why there are PPC (pay-per-click) experts like me and my colleagues who can take that task off your shoulders and let you run your business while we manage your ads. So don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to discover more about this paid marketing channel.
Once you launch your ad campaigns, remember that many things define their success. Be reasonable, know your market and target audience, observe your competition, and always work on improving your website. It’ll be much easier to navigate the advertising space and succeed when you have those points covered.
Social Media Advertising
I wish I could tell you that one daily post on your social media accounts will help you grow your audience and boost sales. But unfortunately, those good old social media days are long gone. Now, all platforms want money from you if you’re going to earn money from them. Quite logical, huh?
So, depending on your industry and niche, you might use different social media platforms to attract new customers and update the existing ones. These might be Facebook and Instagram (aka Meta), Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, etc. And whichever one or ones you choose to use, focus on advertising rather than spending time on multiple social media posts that might bring a few likes but no sales.
An example of an ad recently shown to me. Facebook algorithms already know that I’m a remote worker/digital nomad living in Greece for the time being. Selina is one of the popular co-working space branches around the world. By advertising this new spot in a beautiful location to me, they might have already gained a new paid visitor.
Of course, if you already have a significant following on one of these platforms, you have to keep posting to maintain users engaged. But if you’re just starting, test the preferred social media platforms with ads and stick to the best-performing ones. And even if you have a little following but a lot of imagination and time, you can go ahead and post as much as you want. Just beware that it will not increase your revenue significantly or at all (sorry for this brutal honesty.)
In simple words, remarketing (aka retargeting) is used to market your products again to your existing or past customers/site visitors. It’s also one of the best-performing marketing tactics every business should be doing. Just think about it. If someone already liked and purchased your service or product, why not entice them to do it again or try another range of your products/services?
People are busy and tend to forget things by nature. Sometimes, a user adds to the cart but gets distracted and forgets to finish the purchase. And retargeting is a great way to remind them about that and ensure they finish what they started. In addition, this helps you engage the audience already ready to purchase. You don’t even need to “warm them up” as they already discovered your brand, compared it to your competitors, and decided to go with what you offer.
Remarketing audiences can be used on various platforms, including email marketing (newsletters, automated sequenced emails), paid advertising (Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Pinterest Ads, etc.), and even content marketing.
An example of Asos store using information about recent page visits to remind users (in this case, me who visited their website) to come back and keep on browsing.
But to retarget your past and existing audiences, you first need to ensure you have Google Analytics connected to your website and all the other marketing platforms you’re using. If you don’t have a system that tracks who visits your website and what actions they take on it, you’ll never know what’s going on with your business and what channels contribute the most to getting results.
5 Complimentary Marketing Strategies [Because Why Not?]
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we’ll focus only on the most critical marketing strategies…seven of which you already know. However, I’ve got time and inspiration to let you know a few more methods you can use on top of those discussed above. So, if you’re curious about how else you can refresh your overall marketing efforts, scroll down.
Public Relations (PR) is one of the first marketing pioneers. Its goal is to help you market your business using third-party companies. For example, it can be a press release about the launch of your new product posted in one of the big online magazines or on the website of the business you’re friends with.
Giving your brand some more exposure in a reputable medium will never hurt. But that exposure doesn’t mean that people will drop everything and start buying your products or services. So when you use PR, make sure you choose the platform where you can reach the most relevant audience. Plus, remember that it won’t be as easy to count precisely how many sales that PR appearance brought you as you can do with ads.
Note: PR can include much more than just press releases, and usually, you’d need to hire a PR agent with good connections to help you navigate this marketing approach.
Social Media Presence
While I have emphasized that social media posting is unlikely to bring you sales or leads effectively, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. You should, just with another perspective on why you’re doing it.
Posting on your social media channels means keeping your followers engaged, updating them with what’s new, and basically letting them know that your business is operational and you care about them.
It could be even one post per week or month as long as you keep your posting schedule consistent. You can also use posts to discover what your followers like and get valuable feedback.
Social media posting is good for keeping your accounts active, not letting your followers forget about you, and showing the new users coming from ads that you’re a legitimate business. That’s pretty much it.
The word “influencer” is probably very well-known to you, and you might have seen tons of those “cool kids” advertising different products and services in their social media posts. If you have the right niche, this might be gold, and you should do it.
But before you decide to dump hundreds of dollars to some Instagram creator, make sure to check:
- How many followers do they have, and how much engagement do they generate? (Because those could be just 5 million bots that follow them)
- What audience forms the majority of their followers? (You don’t want to advertise your vegan-friendly anti-aging face cream to a million teenagers)
- Is the influencer curious about your product? The worst is to see someone talk about something with zero excitement and no desire to even try it by themselves)
- How are you going to track your results? (Maybe it’s a unique promo code or link that would help you know the return on your investment)
Influencer marketing works great for some brands and fails for others. The only way to know is to try it and see (but only if you have enough spare budget, the right niche, and the desire to do it.)
Affiliate marketing is an excellent way to entice people with websites to talk about your services and products.
For example, you’re selling these new concept office chairs. Somewhere out there, there’s a person who has a blog where they review the best office furniture. If that person sees that you have an affiliate program available, they’re more likely to test your product and write about it in their blog. As a result, their readers would see it and might be interested in buying it. In return, the person who wrote that article would be getting a small percentage of sales from each purchase placed through the affiliate link you provided them with.
It might not work for every single business. But if you believe that you have a product or service that has the potential to interest affiliate marketers, then it’s worth a try.
Referrals are a great way to encourage your current customers and clients to share your business with others. Usually, if you provide exceptional services/products, it happens via word-of-mouth anyway. But if you want to get even more, you can set up a referral program on your website that would give little bonuses to users who decide to let their friends and family know about you and bring in a new customer.
For example, it could be something like, “Get a free T-Shirt when you refer us to your friend and they complete their first purchase.” Here, you can let your imagination fly as long as you ensure this won’t bankrupt you.
Or, if you have a business that you partner with, you can give them a small percentage of revenue if they refer you to their customers and vice versa.
Effect of Marketing Strategy on Your Business Performance
As you’ve probably already figured out, marketing can be confusing at first and requires quite a few combined efforts to reach your end goal and maintain a thriving business. However, while there are dozens of marketing strategies out there, it’s not that complicated if you start from small and move from there.
To have a good and strong basis for your future marketing expansion, you need to ensure that:
- Users can find your website online
- Your site provides an exceptional user experience
- The content on your website is relevant and useful
- You make good use of your existing contact lists
- You find high-intent potential customers by running ads in search engines
- You discover new customers by interest via social media advertising
- You reengage with your past site visitors via remarketing campaigns
Of course, not every single strategy we mentioned might work the same for your small online business or local store. But marketing is based on constant testing and figuring out what works better. And once you find the strategy that brings you the best results, you’ll know how to allocate your ad budgets better to increase revenue.
And if you’d like to have someone by your side to help you execute your marketing aspirations, the Zima Media team is here to create a marketing strategy that works for you. Contact us to let us know more about your business, and we’ll tell you how we can help you grow it.