Do you want to learn how to advertise your small business? Digital marketing, SEO, social media, email marketing, and other topics are covered in our guides.
Chapter 1: Online marketing for small business
How many people have heard of your online store or eCommerce site? How many people do you believe are familiar with Facebook, Google, or Amazon? BigCommerce, the eCommerce gurus, explains how to use online markets to expand your reach and earnings.
Introducing omnichannel marketing
More than ever before, consumers can interact with a brand in a variety of ways. They could look through your internet store, go to a physical store, look at a print brochure, hear an advertisement on the radio, or contact you through an app.
Omnichannel marketing is when you promote a product across multiple channels. BigCommerce goes a step further in its definition. They encourage small businesses to sell their products on a variety of online platforms, including Facebook, Pinterest, Google Shopping, Amazon, and eBay.
It’s a brilliant business decision. Consider how much additional brand exposure and income you could gain. And, best of all, it won’t take a lot of time or money. You can manage all of your shops from one dashboard if you choose the correct eCommerce platform.
Why it works for small business
You can cast a larger nett with omnichannel marketing. You’ll be there when customers go to their favourite shopping sites — the places they frequent the most. It’s simple, low-cost web marketing for small businesses that will increase the number of people who see your stuff. Furthermore, you’ll benefit from the sites’ reputations for dependable shipping and secure payment processors.
While your personal eCommerce site will always be the centre of your business’s online activities, it makes sense to use major online marketplaces to reach out to additional clients. Here’s how to do it without adding a tonne of work to your plate.
Many companies already have a Facebook page in addition to their main website. As you post material to your Facebook page and grow your audience, think about how you can turn those fans into paying clients. Don’t make things more difficult by directing customers to your website to make purchases.
Allow them to make a purchase immediately on Facebook.
It’s a very simple approach for small businesses with a Facebook profile to increase their online marketing. To create your shop, go to your company’s Facebook page, choose the Shop area, and upload photographs and information about your products.
Customers who have already ‘liked’ your page will be notified when new products are added. You may also reach out to new customers by using Facebook’s cost-effective advertising choices.
Putting your products on Facebook can help you increase sales, brand recognition, and ‘likes.’ Using cover, product, and profile photographs, it’s quite simple to make your Facebook store consistent with your brand.
Native Union, a tech accessories firm, experienced an immediate impact after opening a Facebook shop. “It’s an additional route for prospective customers to learn about our business,” says the company “Tanya Keller, the owner, says “Facebook promotes traffic to our store and raises awareness of our products.”
Think of Pinterest as more than just a place to save inspiration boards. It’s amazing online marketing for your small business, with 100 million active monthly users. You can publish things for members to pin or purchase there. And they purchase:
- 93% use Pinterest to plan purchases
- 87% have purchased because of Pinterest
Users may save shipping and payment information on Pinterest, so they’re only two clicks away from making a purchase.
Pinterest may be simply integrated with a flexible eCommerce platform. You’ll be able to manage both your Pinterest store and the shop on your company’s website from one location.
Selling on Google allows you to access clients from all around the world. When someone in the neighbourhood is looking for products, it also indicates that you’re a local store.
Organic Munchkin, a baby-goods company, increased its revenue after joining the programme. According to Peter Baseio, the company’s founder and CEO, it brought in customers they had no idea they could contact.
“Using Google Shopping, we can list our products in a more natural way, improving brand exposure in our specialised market.”
You gain access to a number of promotional tools when you use the service, including AdWords, shopping campaigns, remarketing tools, and product ratings.
To begin, create a Google account and then log into the Google Merchant Center to submit your product information. If your website’s store is powered by BigCommerce, you may simply transfer that inventory to your Google store. Any modifications you make to your website’s shop will be reflected in Google’s search results.
With the proper small business eCommerce platform, setting up a Google Shop is simple.
Amazon and eBay
With 45 percent of buyers beginning their product search on Amazon, it is the most popular marketplace on the planet. eBay has 162 million users and makes selling and tracking items a breeze.
Finding an audience is one of the most difficult aspects of web marketing for small businesses. You’re up against giant internet retailers who spend a lot of money on ads and have good Google rankings. With their built-in following of eager purchasers, online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay can level the playing field.
The Dairy Fairy uses Amazon for search but promotes their own e-commerce business as well. Emily Ironi, the owner, claims it has doubled their sales.
“What it tells me is that a lot of people were unaware of my existence until they saw me on Amazon.” For me, it’s far superior to a Google search.”
She believes it is critical for small enterprises to maintain their own retail presence.
“I believe that having your own shop is still important.” You have a lot more control over everything, including your customer interactions. It’s all about striking the right balance.”
Branding your Amazon or eBay business is more difficult than it is with other online marketplaces. These stores, on the other hand, can be managed on the same eCommerce platform as your main website, making it simple to track orders and manage inventory.
Make it easy on yourself
The idea of omnichannel marketing is appealing, but how can you keep track of everything? It’s difficult enough to run a single online store.
Thankfully, you can manage several stores from a single location. BigCommerce’s Channel Manager, for example, provides a single dashboard from which you can manage all of your storefronts, including your own website and several online marketplaces.
Having a single piece of software for all of your needs makes it easier to:
- monitor and manage inventory
- maintain a single database for all of your consumers, regardless of where they purchased your goods.
You can process, fulfil, and track sales from one central place, regardless of where they are made. You’ll broaden your reach and increase your revenue potential without increasing your workload. It’s the pinnacle of web marketing for small firms with limited time and resources.
Bring it all together
When it comes to multichannel marketing, integration is crucial. Your eCommerce platform should have the ability to manage several storefronts and integrate with your accounting software. Your revenue and tax data will be processed in real time this way.
A large portion of your business will be automated if you have a system like this in place. By reviewing a few dashboards and verifying stock orders, you can remain on top of everything.
Online marketing for small business is getting easier
Convenience and flexibility are important to today’s consumers. Nobody gives them more than large internet marketplaces, which provide:
- trusted payment gateways
- swift delivery
- masses of products
Why not advertise your goods there and profit from the opportunity?
Keep in mind that omnichannel marketing entails more than just having various storefronts. Consider it as a way to create a brand experience that reaches clients no matter where they are. It’s critical to deploy consistent messaging across channels to provide customers with a consistent brand experience no matter how they buy your products.
Chapter 2: Email marketing for retail stores
Despite social media’s rise, email remains one of the most successful marketing channels. It’s often the most effective approach to interact with your customers. So, how can you use email marketing to boost your retail sales?
Make email work for your retail business
Email is the most dependable way to communicate with your consumers. Almost everyone who makes a purchase from you has an email address. And that email address is likely to stay with them for a long time. It is far more trustworthy than a physical address.
Email can help you grow your business, whether you’re running an online store or a brick-and-mortar location. It’s not just about selling; it’s also about establishing and maintaining a relationship with your clients. A solid approach can help you:
- increase sales
- improve lead conversion
- reach new customers
- enhance brand engagement
- deliver customer loyalty.
Eight key ways to build an email marketing strategy
It’s a good idea to develop a strategy before diving into the details. Consider your marketing objectives and how email might help you reach them. Consider the following ideas to get you started:
- Establish a voice for your business
What do you want people to think of your company? Serious, humorous, authoritative, or eccentric? When you send an email, you can create a voice that your consumers will hear as they read. Consider carefully how you want it to sound.
- Build trust with your customers
Consumers are wary of parting with their hard-earned cash – and their confidence. Every day, they receive dozens of emails. As a result, establishing trust is difficult. However, there are ways to accomplish that while still adhering to your legal requirements not to spam people:
- Make sure your email marketing is opt-in. Allow users to subscribe to themselves rather than automatically collecting email addresses.
- Make unsubscribing as simple as possible. Customers have the right to alter their views at any time. Demonstrate that you value their decision.
- In easy words, explain the benefits to the person who is joining up. Make sure they know what they’ll get out of it.
- Give them a say in what kind of information they get from you and how often they get it. This will give them a sense of control, which they will like.
- Avoid spamming customers by sending too many emails. There’s a narrow line between entertaining and aggravating folks. More than a third of consumers unsubscribe due to too many emails, according to a BlueHornet poll. Offering customers the option to opt out of receiving emails is a good touch. Many of them may be discouraged from opting out altogether as a result of this.
- Offer relevant information
Make sure you know who your target audience is and that you only send them emails that are relevant to them. To do this properly, you may need to segment your mailing list — that is, create a smaller list from your entire client information. As a result, you’ll need to know how to make use of the data in your database. Short, focused emails are clearly more effective than large, broad communications.
- Integrate email with other channels
Email is most effective when used in conjunction with other marketing platforms. Your website and social media profiles may fall within this category. Maintain consistency in your messaging across all mediums. Use targeted ads, social media, your website, and sponsored advertising efforts to coordinate across platforms. All of them will aid in improving the effectiveness of your email marketing.
- Measure everything
Smart software can be used to track and monitor emails successfully. To learn how customers interact with your emails, use analytics and properly picked metrics. This information will assist you in customising and fine-tuning your strategy.
- Track every email
This will assist you in determining what is and is not functioning. You could use the following key metrics:
- number of emails sent
- number delivered
- percentage delivered
- number bounced
- number pending
- number opened
- percentage opened
- number of clicks
- click-through rate (CTR)
- number of unsubscribes
- percentage of unsubscribes.
- Ask your customers for feedback
Customers will feel more engaged if you ask for input, and you will be able to fine-tune your marketing efforts.
- Analyse your results and act accordingly
Find the optimal portions, phrases, and timings for your campaign. Continue to improve your email marketing by tweaking it.
After you’ve established a broad approach, you can focus on the specifics.
Around 70% of individuals read emails on their mobile devices. On a small screen, make sure your marketing emails are easy to read – and act on.
How to make sure your emails are read – and acted upon
If you send emails without carefully considering the content, the recipients may ignore or delete them. To guarantee that you send high-quality emails, follow these guidelines:
- Personalise your email newsletters
Make sure each recipient’s name is included. With sophisticated email marketing software, this is simple to accomplish. It will reassure your customers that the email is authentic and demonstrate that you are meticulous in your work.
- Hone in on your best customers. Ranking the most profitable and committed clients is one approach to do this. Reward them with a special deal or encourage them to purchase merchandise that you need to sell.
- Target your emails based on behaviour. Consider your readership’s demographics, lifestyles, and hobbies, as well as their recency, regularity, and monetary value (RFM). One of the most effective targeting approaches is the latter.
- Focus on your subject line – and A/B test it. The lure that entices recipients to open your email in the subject line. Use powerful words and keep it to roughly 60 characters. Words like ‘your,’ ‘everyday,’ and ‘a bonus’ are regularly used by retailers. To ensure that your emails receive a high open-rate, test your subject line with email marketing software.
- Use everyday conversational langua.
Always ensure that your material is written in straightforward English and is devoid of jargon. Make use of short sentences and direct language. Avoid flowery language and a sales-oriented tone, as well as being pushy. That will be counterproductive for the vast majority of customers.
- Use key dates to send emails at the right time
You can use a calendar to help you send emails at the right times. For example, on specific holiday dates, some retailers conduct more than 60% of their business. Back-to-school and tax-filing deadlines are also hectic periods. Consider your customers to see what additional dates are important to them.
- Make sure your content reads well and looks great on mobile devices
Around 70% of consumers read their emails on their mobile devices. On a small screen, make sure your marketing emails are easy to read – and act on. Enlist the assistance of a capable developer. Make sure to include tracking information so you can see who is utilising mobile devices.
Making email marketing a core part of your business
It’s worth integrating email marketing into your daily operations rather than treating it as an afterthought. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways:
- Send order-related emails
It’s worth integrating email marketing into your daily operations rather than treating it as an afterthought. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways:
- Send milestone-related emails
If you know your customer’s birthday is approaching, send them an email with a special offer. Personalized emails are popular with customers, and they’re a fantastic way to express how much you care about them. You might even send them an email on the anniversary of their first purchase.
- Send trigger-related emails
Send an email to a consumer who has an item or products in their shopping cart but has not completed the purchase process. Provide an incentive, such as a discount, to encourage them to complete the transaction.
Give your customers what they want
When both the sender and the recipient profit from email marketing, it is most effective. You want to create more retail sales and, as a result, more money as the sender. Giving your customers what they want is the best approach to accomplish it.
Send them a few well-targeted, well-written emails every now and then, delivering something of value. Deals, special offers, and shopping suggestions will entice your customers to make a purchase.
If done correctly, email marketing can convert first-time visitors into repeat customers. It will aid in the retention of customers. It will also inspire customers and clients to stick with your company. That’s a remarkable accomplishment for such a basic – and free – mode of communication.
Chapter 3: Small business marketing & how to do it
Marketing data can be found in customer emails, social media posts, and sales receipts. We chatted with Constant Contact, an online marketing firm, to learn how small businesses may best utilise this information.
Marketing on a budget
Because it’s not enough to offer a product or service – you also have to tell people about it – large companies frequently have dedicated marketing departments with large expenditures.
Small firms are at a disadvantage because they lack the resources or personnel to conduct large-scale marketing initiatives. In fact, in a small organisation, the marketing manager may also serve as the public relations manager, customer service representative, and advertising director!
Small businesses, according to Constant Contact, have advantages in other areas. They have the ability to move quickly, are nimble, and have access to resources that can assist them in marketing on a budget. Connected solutions are convenient because they leverage the cloud to delve through corporate data quickly and efficiently to identify important leads.
You most likely already have all of the information you need to run a successful marketing campaign for your small business. All you have to do now is correctly analyse it. Constant Contact has made staying in touch with customers and persuading them to become loyal customers a breeze.
Five ways customer data contains hidden gold
Business operations create a large amount of data on a daily basis. Email correspondence with consumers, POS (point of sale) records, and social media interactions all include useful information. Because some of this data isn’t processed or’mined’ for business purposes, analysts refer to it as unstructured data.
This is a pity — and potentially a financial loss – because this data can help firms grow. Consider the following scenario:
- Seasonal trends
T-shirts sell better in the summer and woolly hats sell better in the winter, as we all know. But what about seasonal fluctuations that are more subtle? What’s the best stock to buy in the middle of the spring or towards the end of the fall? Do trends follow the months of the year precisely? How much of the variation can be attributed to the weather? POS data can help you out here, but only if you correctly analyse it.
- Who’s buying what?
T-shirts sell better in the summer and woolly hats in the winter, as we all know. What about more minor seasonal differences? What’s the greatest stock to buy in the middle of the spring or at the end of the autumn? Is it accurate to say that trends follow the months of the year to the month? What percentage of the variation can be attributed to weather? POS data can assist you in this endeavour, but only if you correctly analyse it.
- Multiple purchases – how are they linked?
Every sales transaction, including data of products purchased together, will be recorded by your POS system. This can aid in the creation of special linked promotions, but first you must extract the data from the system and convert it to a readable format.
- Marketing new products
Customers may enjoy your product, but they want it to do new things or do things differently. Analyze your consumer comments on social media and email before beginning the purchase or design step for an improved model. It will inform you what your customers want, saving you time and assisting you in marketing the finished product to them.
- Complaints patterns
Are you getting the same complaints again and over in emails and on social media? Analyzing this data will assist you in identifying and correcting issue areas in your company. Then you can inform your clients about your enhanced service, which is a type of small-business promotion.
As a result, looking at business data can reveal useful information. It can tell you what kinds of things your consumers prefer, whether they prefer to buy in-store or online, when time of year they buy the most, and even what time of day they buy the most. It can also tell you why they could return anything you’ve purchased, as well as what fresh stock you should consider purchasing or generating.
You may create intelligent marketing efforts to sell more of your items or services once you have this information. However, you must first extract the data you require.
What tools are available?
Sales receipts, Facebook Insights, and Google Analytics reports are just a few of the data sources available to small businesses. Ideally, you’ll want to combine your own sales data with that of your customers. This will provide you with the most accurate understanding of how your customers act and allow you to use that knowledge to your marketing campaigns.
Because it tells you how and when money flows through your business, this data can be viewed as financial data. As a result, it makes sense to use your accounting software as a central location for storing and managing marketing data.
That may have been tough just a few years ago, but cloud-based accounting software has come a long way since then. Hundreds of additional software products can be plugged into the greatest cloud account packages today. Some of them are intended to assist you with customer marketing.
As a result, you might have an accounting system that’s integrated with a CRM (customer relationship management) package, data mining tools, reporting software, and marketing programmes. And because it’s all stored on the cloud, you can access it whenever and wherever you want.
Communicate with your customers
What do you do with valuable customer data you’ve derived from corporate data? Simply put, to figure out what your customers want and then deliver it – and tell them about it! Consider the following scenario with a neighbourhood hardware store:
- Follow seasonal trends
The hardware shop owner may identify what kinds of things, such as gas grills versus charcoal grills, sell the best at what time of year by looking at seasonal purchase trends for items like barbeque grills, outdoor rugs, and sun lotion. They may then ensure that their inventory is in line with demand.
- Offer helpful free information
This information can also be used in a marketing strategy, such as by sending out an email newsletter that promotes popular seasonal items. They might provide some ideas on how to throw the perfect summer party because this adds value and promotes client loyalty through content.
- Match offers to buyers
This might be taken a step further with unique offers to entice people to buy specific things. For example, the merchant may launch focused marketing for gas grill owners that offers propane savings and a targeted campaign for charcoal grill owners that offers charcoal discounts.
It’s possible that you won’t have time to do this for all of the items you sell. However, you can still have a successful marketing plan if you focus on one item properly. Sending out monthly email newsletters with useful and engaging material is a good idea. Are you interested in learning the top 10 email marketing tips? In the second half of this guide, you’ll learn more.
The top 10 must-have tips for email marketing
Part I of this article focused on how to market a small business on a budget and what tools to utilise. From direct mail to phone calls, web banners to radio commercials, and Facebook to Twitter, there are a variety of ways to reach out to your clients. Email marketing, on the other hand, frequently yields substantial returns for firms.
That’s because, according to Constant Contact, consumers check their email frequently and spend a lot of time in front of it. It’s also inexpensive to send an email, but how can you get your point across effectively?
- Build relationships with your readers
Your readers aren’t all the same. Some consumers may be long-term customers, while others may be new to your company, thus segmenting your email lists is critical. When sending an email, have a goal in mind, whether it’s to attract new consumers to your store, increase traffic to your website, or simply raise awareness. The way you create your message should be guided by that purpose. Take your time to consider this so that your customers feel a sense of connection with you.
- Start small
Sending your first email newsletter to your complete mailing list is not a good idea. Begin with a small group of people, perhaps a few dozen or a few hundred. Then wait for the reaction. Send it to additional people if it’s okay. If it isn’t, make changes and test a fresh version.
- Make it easy to opt-in and opt out
Permission-based email marketing is used. Customers have stated that they wish to receive emails from you (through a website sign-up form or a variety of other methods). They may, however, change their minds. It’s just as vital to make it simple for people to subscribe to your emails as it is to make it simple for them to unsubscribe. If you don’t follow their instructions, you’ll be labelled a spammer.
- Personalise your emails
It’s pointless to send emails promoting cheap football boots to 50% of your consumers if they’re middle-aged ladies. Is that the case? If their children participate in sports at school, they could be the ideal consumers for you. This is why having access to corporate data is so critical. Make no assumptions. Utilize the data to learn what you need to know, and then deliver the appropriate offers to the appropriate customers.
- Use good content to keep your readers engaged. Consider your email receivers to be more than just customers. Consider them as readers as well. Give them a tale to go with the things you’re selling. Assist customers in engaging with your products and finding a way to incorporate them into their daily life. Emails should be utilised for more than just selling; they should also be used to build connections. Make sure to give useful ideas and best practices that your readers will appreciate. Maintain the relevance of your material by keeping it exciting and fresh. This is how you will develop an engaged audience of devoted customers.
- Strike a balance with the length
When it comes to email length, it’s critical to find the sweet spot. You must determine what will be most beneficial for the majority of the people on your list. Keep in mind that many emails are viewed on mobile devices, so you’ll have less real estate to deal with. An email, on the other hand, maybe too brief. If your email doesn’t have enough material to hold your readers’ attention, they’ll go on to the next one. It’s all about experimenting with several possibilities until you find one that works for both you and your audience.
- Get the tone right
There’s a thin line between marketing emails that provide value and are welcomed by the recipient and’spam’ or garbage mail, which is quickly deleted. Don’t use exclamation points or make outrageous claims. Use a friendly, authoritative tone that isn’t arrogant. Your goal is to win the customer over and keep them on your side.
- Offer something of value
It’s fine to simply mention your products and their prices. For those who are already seeking to buy, this is useful information. However, you can go even further to persuade those who are undecided. Offer discounts to individuals who order after receiving your email. There are many methods to provide value and encourage your customers to spend more. Two-for-one deals, discounts on multiple purchases, free shipping for orders over a certain amount – there are many ways to add value and encourage your consumers to spend more.
- Track email responses
Email marketing, with the correct tools, allows you to track the success of your campaigns by including unique URLs in each letter. The following are some examples of response metrics:
- Who opened your email.
- Which links in the email were clicked.
- Who forwarded your email to others.
- Who shared your email on social media.
- Which emails led to sales, online reviews, event registrations and other destinations.
This will give you insight into the types of material that your audience is most interested in, as well as a standard to work towards each time you hit “Send.”
10. Don’t spam!
Sending out generic, over-the-top sales text via email is a waste of time for both you and your consumers. Existing subscribers will leave faster than new ones would join. Effective email marketing needs thought, consideration, and time. You must concentrate on developing relationships.
Email communication is an excellent approach to improving your marketing abilities. You can go on to other venues, such as social media and mobile marketing, once you’ve mastered it. Despite the differences in platforms, many of the abilities and tactics required are the same.
Understand what your customers want
The two primary objectives of marketing are to obtain recurring business and to gain new clients. With the proper attitude and the right software, even small businesses can succeed. The trick is to figure out what your customers want and then persuade them you can give it to them.
You’ll wonder how you ever managed without it once you’ve gotten used to analysing and applying business data for marketing objectives. This business expertise is best described as “insight,” because without it, you are oblivious to your clients’ behaviour and wants.
With the appropriate mix of cloud software and marketing strategy, you can create hyper-targeted marketing campaigns that reach out to your customers at the right time, in the right place, and with the right information or offer. Your small business’s marketing has never been more effective.
Chapter 4: Selling products to retailers is getting easier
It used to be impossible to sell wholesale to chain stores. They desired well-known brands and a large quantity of merchandise. However, small firms are finding it easier to sell their items to stores. Laura Curtis of Malvi Marshmallow Confection has done it, and she advises that you should not be afraid of the big boys.
Chain stores have mellowed
Laura’s Malvi Marshmallow Confections are available at major retailers such as Anthropologie, Dean & DeLuca, and Wholefoods. They approached her, and she claims that small businesses will be amazed at how easy it is to deal with big merchants.
Howard Saunders of 22nd and 5th, a retail futurist, says the retail environment has altered dramatically since the global financial crisis, and this is a fantastic time for small producers.
Common concerns when selling products to retailers and chain stores
It can be intimidating to sell your goods to a chain retailer. You’re undoubtedly concerned that you’ll have to do the following:
- giving away everything of your knowledge and ideas
- dealing with a legal team
- keep an eye out for any hidden fees or fine print
- make a lot of money by giving significant discounts and never making any money
In truth, chain stores recognise the advantages of working with small-batch producers like you – and they aren’t only about price and profit margins.
Why big retailers suddenly care about brands like yours
Small brands, according to Howard, have significant attraction for modern consumers. Customers today are looking for items that are authentic – things that have “values, not just value.”
As a result, chain retailers are on the lookout for artisan and craft products made by local artisans and craftspeople. It earns them kudos while also bringing customers into their establishments.
The real value is your story
Your product isn’t actually needed by big merchants. They already have a lot on their shelves. And, according to Howard, they’re not going to earn a lot of money selling your wares. Your brand is the true measure of your worth to them.
If you want to sell things to shops, make sure you use your narrative to your advantage. It doesn’t matter how little you are; if you’re different and intriguing, you’ll make their store more appealing.
“Small batch makers think they have to look big and sophisticated and already out there, already corporate,” Howard continues. “But that’s not what the shops want at all.”
Don’t waste your time attempting to appear well-dressed. Concentrate on creating an engaging brand story:
- Be local
Do you use any materials or ingredients from the area? Are your products manufactured with local methods?
- Find your artisan angle
Is there anything remarkable about the ingredients or the way you create your product?
- Stay real
Make your packaging seem and feel as if it were handcrafted – You want to set yourself apart from the glitzy mega-brands.
How to approach a chain store?
Laura worked as a buyer for stores before starting Malvi Marshmallow Confections. She provided us some pointers on how to get started as someone who has been on both sides.
- Find the right person
Examine a firm’s website and use tools like LinkedIn to find the relevant person to contact within that company.
- Go to them. If possible, bring samples to the corporate headquarters of the chain retailer. However, if you want to book an appointment, send an email ahead of time.
- Get your product out there. By selling at local markets, obtaining customer endorsements, and remaining active on social media, you might try to create some buzz around your product.
Laura landed a deal with Whole Foods after one of the company’s marketing execs saw her goods at a local diner. The simple message is to get out there because you never know where your break may come from.
Tips for negotiating with chain stores
You’ll need to work out a supply deal with a major retailer if they show interest in your products. Don’t be alarmed. Many big-box stores are eager to work with you on a reasonable pricing. Treat it like any other negotiation: be open, flexible, and knowledgeable of the contract’s requirements.
The following is some advise from Laura and Howard:
- Don’t lose sight of the bottom line.If your brand is sold at a chain store, it will acquire a lot of exposure and credibility. You could be tempted to offer a discount to get your products on their shelf. That’s great – it’s a negotiation, after all – but make sure you’re still profitable.
- Changes in the process should be avoided. Retailers may request modest changes to the packaging or labelling of your goods. Laura says that while it may appear to be a simple task to complete in exchange for a discount, it could severely slow down your business. She refuses to offer it to chain stores if they ask for it.
- Tell us about yourself. Recognize the importance of your contribution to the chain store. To boost your brand’s attractiveness, pay attention to how it’s exhibited in stores.
Retailers are your partners – everyone should win
If you’re a small firm, don’t dismiss chain stores as a source of wholesale goods. Selling products to stores of that magnitude used to be difficult, but that’s no longer the case. It’s a fantastic way to raise awareness of your product and expand your business.
It’s never too late to consider major stores.
Chapter 5: SEO for small business
As a business owner, you must understand how important it is for your website to rank well in search engines. It could even be your golden ticket to huge income. But how do you do it? Search engine optimisation is the solution (or SEO).
How SEO improves your website’s visibility
The technique of making your website visible in search engine results pages (also known as ‘SERPs’) is known as SEO. And it’s quite a procedure. When deciding which websites to show for a given search query, the Google algorithm examines over 200 parameters.
Your website is the first point. Google uses automatic ‘robots’ (also known as spiders or ‘crawlers’) to visit every page on every website on the internet. These robots collect data from each webpage and store it on one of Google’s numerous servers across the world. When someone searches for a phrase that is connected to your site, the Google algorithm goes to work, digesting all of the data gathered from your site and similar sites. The system then identifies which sections are the most authoritative and useful for a given enquiry. The outcomes are displayed in an ordered list, with the best alternatives at the top.
Consider the internet to be similar to your local library. The librarian is the Google robot, and your site is a new book that has just arrived. She gets to know your book and decides which section it should be displayed in. A visitor to the library is unaware that your book exists, but they are intrigued by the genre or topic. So they go to the appropriate section, go through the various titles, and eventually opt to read your book since it’s exactly what they’re searching for. Success!
SEO is constantly evolving
Since the internet’s inception in the 1990s, website owners have been considering ways to improve their sites’ search engine rankings. Some SEO experts discovered techniques to deceive the algorithm into believing their site was more relevant and authoritative than it really was. The term “black hat SEO” was coined to describe this form of optimisation. Due to the unpleasant experience it provided for site visitors, it immediately became frowned upon. Some SEO strategies were once permitted (known as ‘white hat’), but when they got abused or the web evolved, they were relegated to the black hat category.
Black hat approaches are becoming less effective as search engine algorithms are constantly modified to make them less effective. Because SEO is continually changing, it’s crucial to note that what worked a few years ago may suddenly be ineffective or outright discouraged. If Google’s crawlers detect black hat SEO on your site, it could result in a penalty and a significant loss in search engine ranks. The greatest strategy to avoid black hat SEO is to continually ask yourself if you’re increasing the user experience on your site by offering useful and unique content. If the answer is affirmative, you may rest assured that your website is optimised for search engines.
Seven ways to optimise your website for search engines
If you’ve ever attempted to learn about SEO, you’ve probably heard thousands of different recommendations. Trying to find out where to begin might be difficult.
The following list is a good place to start:
These are the terms that your prospects are likely to look up when looking for a company like yours. Start with the obvious ones, then utilise a keyword research tool to find more terms that could lead visitors to your site. You may use this information to determine how competitive terms are and how frequently they are searched for, and then go from there. Once you’ve created your keyword list, double-check that these terms appear across your website.
It’s crucial not to overuse keywords, as search engines will penalise any content that appears to be spammy. Aim for a keyword density of around 2%.
- Page copy
It should include your keywords, but don’t go overboard. Because Google crawlers scan the material in the same way that humans do, it’s even more critical that the copy is readable and well-written. Many people overuse keywords in their website material, assuming that by doing so, they are actually telling Google what phrases they want to rank for. In actuality, they are writing poor text, which creates a negative user experience and may even harm their website’s rating. Double-check your copy before publishing a new page. If your English teacher in elementary school didn’t like it, neither will search engine crawlers.
- Title tags
This is the copy that shows in SERPs and tabs of most web browsers as a clickable link. It serves as the title for each individual page, so it’s important to search engines. Make sure each title tag is unique, contains important keywords, and is formatted consistently throughout your site. It’s a good idea to incorporate a page-specific keyword. If you have room, provide your company’s name as well. To separate terms from your brand name, use a hyphen (-) or a vertical bar (|). To ensure that the copy is not too long to display, keep it within 55 characters.
- Heading tags
You have six distinct heading tags to choose from (from H1 to H6). The H1 heading tag is the most crucial to search engines and should be used in the page headline. It’s critical not to use the H1 element more than once per page, as this could result in a Google penalty for over-optimization. On a single page, the other title tags can be used several times. The H1 tag can be used as the headline on a page with a lot of copy, and H2s can be used for each sub-title. By splitting material into discrete pieces, this format provides signals to search engine crawlers while simultaneously providing a rich user experience.
- URL structure
URLs provide another opportunity for search engines to see your keywords. Make sure they’re in the resource path, which is the section of the URL following the domain name or /. When optimising URLs, it’s ideal to use all lowercase letters and hyphens to separate words. Rockyardshoes.com/running-shoes is a nice example.
Because search engine crawlers are unable to perceive images in the same way that humans do, they must rely on the coding underlying the image to decipher what is being presented. The alt tag, image title, and filename are all used to gather information.
- When an image can’t be displayed because it failed to load or the user is visually handicapped and uses a screen reader, the alt tag text is displayed in its place. For the alt tag text, you should offer a concise description of the image. ‘Woman in jogging shoes,’ for example.
- When you hover your cursor over an image, the image title appears. The copy should expand on the description provided by the alt tag text. Consider it a caption for an image. ‘Orange jogging shoes for women,’ for example.
- When a picture is saved, it is given a name called a filename. Image337.png, for example, isn’t very good. Running-shoes-women.png, on the other hand, is. Make sure it’s descriptive and that you only use lowercase text and hyphens to separate words.
- Meta descriptions
A meta description may look intimidating, but it’s simply the name for the two lines of text that display behind the clickable link and URL in search engine result pages. If you don’t supply a meta description for your page, Google will display random text from your page that may or may not be relevant to a user. Although meta descriptions no longer affect search engine rankings, they might assist searchers decide whether or not to visit your site by giving them a sneak peek at what’s to come. Keep the material between 150 and 155 characters long and add a call to action. ‘Start your free trial today,’ for example.
Editing HTML code is generally required to update your website. Many modern content management systems, such as Squarespace or WordPress, allow you to create and edit a website without having any coding experience.
Commit to SEO for the long haul
You’ll need to develop an ongoing SEO plan once your website has been optimised for search engines. This is the most difficult aspect of SEO, yet it is what will set you apart from your competitors. Consider it similar to going to the gym. You must invest time and effort, stick to a strategy, and wait patiently for results.
Three ways to provide visitors with great content
The internet, according to Google, is all about the exchange of information. This means that the quality of the content on your site, as well as how frequently you publish it, is given a lot of weight by the Google algorithm.
Content refers to the descriptive content on your webpages, as well as blog posts, articles, case studies, films, infographics, and slideshows, among other things. Content is defined as everything that delivers useful information and is available to search engine crawlers.
The key to creating outstanding SEO content is to keep it new, relevant, and original.
- Publish new stuff on a regular basis. This informs Google that your site is still operational. If you have old information in a prominent location on your site, it will quickly become stale.
- Maintain the relevance of your content. Your material should be relevant to your website and the services you provide. Don’t wander too far from the topic. It may perplex search engine crawlers as well as site visitors.
- Always maintain your individuality. You should present information that is not available on other websites, or that is available on other websites in a different way. Never take content from other websites and paste it into your own. It is more likely to cause harm than good.
The importance of inbound links
Inbound links are links on other websites that go back to yours, and they play a big part in getting good search engine rankings. Inbound links are essentially other sites endorsing what your site has to say if the web is all about exchanging knowledge.
However, not all inbound connections are created equal in Google’s sight. A single link from a prominent website, such as nytimes.com or bbc.co.uk, can be worth more than a dozen links from smaller sites.
Creating excellent content and earning inbound links are inextricably linked. When you publish an excellent blog post or guide, it will have an impact on Google’s crawlers. It will also impress your site’s visitors, who will want to share it on social media and link to it from their own websites.
Be visible to local searchers
If you own a physical store, you want your website to persuade people in your neighbourhood to come in. Local SEO is the process of optimising your website to appeal to people in your immediate vicinity.
Make sure your core keywords contain your location. If you own a seafood restaurant in Boston, you’ll want to make sure that local searches looking for a seafood restaurant can find your website. To help Google know where your business is located, you’ll want to optimise around the term ‘seafood restaurant Boston.’
Signing up for a Google My Business account is also required. This ensures that your company’s contact information is the same across Google search, Maps, and Google+. It also boosts your company’s visibility in search results. Customers can submit reviews, which attracts new customers naturally.
SEO will help your website succeed
As you can see, having a strategy in place is critical if you want your company to prosper online. You will have a higher search engine rating than your competition if you regularly enhance your website and produce quality content. That’s all there is to it.
Chapter 6: 7 digital marketing strategies for your business
It’s easy to be intimidated by the thought of online marketing. There’s a lot to think about with Facebook, Twitter, websites, viral campaigns, Google+, email, and blogs. So, here’s all you need know about digital marketing.
1. Learn by example
Digital marketing, like any other area of running a small business, is all about effort: the more you put in, the greater the outcomes will be. You don’t need a large budget to experiment, but you do need the motivation and desire to learn from your mistakes.
One of the best places to begin is by studying the digital marketing methods of successful organisations to see what you can learn.
Examine companies in your field as well as those whose brands you appreciate – Apple is a popular pick for a reason. Look for businesses with a large, devoted web following since they must be doing something right.
2. Understand your audience
In some respects, digital marketing is similar to traditional marketing. The idea is to engage potential customers with your brand so that you can sell them a product or service.
You can’t accomplish that if you don’t know who you’re attempting to market to. As a result, take the time to:
- Requesting feedback on your products or services, and making it as simple as possible for consumers to react.
- Using discussion forums, social media, email, and blog comments to engage with your customers wherever they are.
- Accepting complaints — our guide on “How to Handle Customer Complaints” might help you figure out what you could be doing better.
- Conducting market research to gain a better understanding of your clients’ requirements and desires.
You’ll be able to launch targeted digital marketing efforts with a high possibility of success if you have all of these information.
3. Communicate with your customers
Diverse audiences respond effectively to various digital marketing strategies. Younger customers, for example, prefer smartphone apps with ‘push notification.’ This is when you provide a consumer information about new deals without them asking for it. Customers over the age of 50 are more inclined to prefer email – but not unwanted email. Here are some pointers on how to make the most of various communication methods:
Email is the prefered marketing tool for 75% of internet adults, therefore it should be a key component of any digital marketing plan. Consider the structure of your emails, from the subject line – which should include a strong call to action – to the content and design.
You can have a blog apart from your website or as part of it. In any case, it’s a valuable digital marketing tool because it provides a personal perspective on your company, making it feel more human and approachable. It can also serve as a venue for client feedback, allowing them to feel more emotionally involved.
Having an app developed for your company costs money, although not nearly as much as you may think. Smaller businesses frequently have apps that they use to bring clients special offers and updates.
- Social media
A presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and others will help you boost your profile. It can also assist you in engaging with potential clients and gaining insight from their feedback. However, because this is a time-consuming task, start with one or two networks. Don’t overextend yourself; instead, start where your clients are currently.
- Viral campaigns
When a tiny marketing effort goes well beyond its intended audience, it is called a viral marketing campaign. Some businesses attempt to make their ads ‘go viral,’ but this is a dangerous endeavour. If the wrong message becomes viral, it may be disastrous for the business, so be cautious.
Monitor your social media and other online activity replies with apps like Hootsuite, Sprinklr, and Sprout Social. And keep going – a lively Twitter feed or Facebook presence that then becomes silent is not a good advertisement for your business.
Content that is useful to search engines is like Google juice to them.
4. Understand the power of Google and SEO
Search engine optimisation, or SEO, refers to the process of ensuring that your website appears high in search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others.
Because search engines frequently update the algorithms they use to rank websites, SEO is a shifting target. But you don’t need to know everything; if you focus on the four core areas we’ve identified, you can accomplish a lot.
Search engines strive to give helpful search results to those who use them. As a result, the best strategy to attain good SEO results is to assist the search engines in accomplishing that goal. Here are four key areas to think about:
Your website should include pages that address the fundamentals, such as an introduction or welcome, ‘about us,’ contact information, what you can do for your consumers, and why they need you. Once you’ve got the fundamentals in place, you may gradually extend your site.
Use analytics to figure out which pages on your site are the most popular landing pages – the ones that get the most direct traffic. Then you can make sure those pages are jam-packed with valuable information that stimulates sales.
Content that is useful to search engines is like Google juice to them. You’ll be rewarded with improved search rankings and visitors if you can write about your business in an engaging, helpful, and instructive manner. If you are unable to do so, hire someone who can. It’s a wise investment. To learn more about how to guarantee your website ranks effectively in search engines, see our guide ‘SEO for small business.’
Gone are the days when businesses could rank at the top of search results simply by stuffing keywords into their web pages. If you try ‘keyword stuffing’ on your site these days, it will almost certainly be penalised or deleted entirely from search results.
Keywords have a place in the world. They can be used in page metatags, category tags, and page titles. However, use them selectively and wisely, and select ones that are relevant to your company. You can use tools like Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner and Google Trends to assist you.
Make sure your website works on a variety of devices and browsers. Check it out on your phone, laptop, or tablet, as well as any browser you can find. Is it effective on all of them? If it doesn’t, have your web developer make the necessary changes. Everyone, regardless of device, should be able to visit your website.
The majority of your website traffic will come from search engines if you do SEO correctly (such as Google). That means free sales leads for your company, so doing it correctly is critical.
5. Let your customers build your brand
Customers can help you with a variety of things. Some sports clothes or luxury automobile brands, for example, are so well-liked that customers proudly display the company’s insignia. You may do something similar with your own brand on the internet.
Fiskars, for example, makes scissors that are popular among scrapbookers in the United States. Fiskars and Brains on Fire delved into the scrapbooking community and discovered Fiskars scissors being used by members. They formed the ‘Fiskateers,’ a group of Fiskars brand ambassadors, including these individuals.
Any small business can do something similar online with a little effort and the correct reward structure – and let the customer spread the word.
6. If all else fails, pay
Although exceptional digital marketing results can be achieved with effort and patience, it is occasionally worthwhile to pay for a quick return.
Online adverts for PPC (pay per click) are targeted to specific audiences depending on their keyword searches. PPC ads are costly, yet they can be effective:
- Only when people click on your advertising and visit your website do you get paid.
- With tracking code, you can track the source of each click in great detail.
- You can target a specific demographic or market.
- You can experiment with new keywords for a little fee.
To learn more, go to Google AdWords or Bing Ads (for MSN and Yahoo).
7. Focus on sales
At the end of the day, digital marketing is all about making money. It makes no difference how well you plan or develop your marketing initiatives if they don’t result in increased sales. To compare and rank the success of your campaigns, consider implementing marketing automation software.
Keep track of your online marketing expenses and compare them to increased sales revenue with good accounting software. Change anything that isn’t working. Remember that utilising unique URLs in conjunction with Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics, you can track the performance of your online campaigns in great detail.
Keep your marketing campaigns fresh by experimenting with new concepts and keeping an eye on e-commerce companies to see how they promote their products. Continue to be active and learn new things.
The digital landscape is always shifting. Your small firm will benefit from your nimbleness and determination.