While small businesses remain optimistic about their financial situation, more of them are using digital marketing to get new customers. Are you?
Despite increasing headwinds in early 2020, small business owners maintain a positive outlook on their financial situation. The Wells Fargo Gallup Small Business Survey conducted a web interview of 600 small business owners between January 3 and January 10, 2020, and found that 80 percent of small business owners described their current financial situation as “somewhat good” to “very good”. When asked what they thought their situation would be in 12 months, 84 percent of respondents expect their situation to be the same.
When asked about challenges in a strong economy, survey respondents cited attracting customers and new business as their biggest challenge. When asked about which is the bigger problem of the two, 82 percent of survey respondents stated that attracting new customers was the bigger problem.
As you know, worrying about new customers and actually doing something about it are two different things. For survey respondents, what was their tool of choice for attracting new customers?
When asked specifically what actions they would take to attract and retain new customers, respondents stated that their preferred method consisted of:
- Increasing networking opportunities (65 percent)
- Obtaining customer feedback (52 percent)
- Increasing social media presence (51 percent)
- Updating their website (49 percent), and
- Increasing their spend on advertising and marketing (38 percent)
While networking is something that you can do “off-line” within your community, I am going to focus on those activities that are primarily done online. Specifically, getting reviews, your social media presence, updating your website, and online marketing.
Getting online reviews
Small business owners are right to think online reviews are important. Consider:
- 72% of customers won’t take action until they read reviews
- 15% of users don’t trust businesses without reviews
- Google accounts for 57.5% of all reviews worldwide
Fortunately, there are things that you can do encourage online reviews from your customers. The most important thing is, of course, asking for reviews. The best time to do this is at the time you deliver your product or service and the client is happy with your service.
When you ask for a review, it helps if you have the website address of where you would like your client to post their review. Making it as easy as possible for your clients to submit their review increases the likelihood that they will complete it.
As with search, Google is the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to reviews accounting for almost 60% of reviews, worldwide. The other websites that are important for local business reviews are Facebook and Yelp.
What is the tool that Google uses for local business reviews? Google My Business is the tool where you can post and manage your business information that Google shows across its many online properties.
Increasing your social media presence
Social media is important to your business because most of your customers are likely using social media, especially, if they are from a younger generation. Social media is also important if your customers are other businesses.
Linkedin is one of the largest business social networking platforms where many of the executives, and business owners you need to be reaching out to have their professional profiles. As a result, LinkedIn is a great source of leads if your target customer is another business.
I should clarify that social media marketing is also effective if your target end-user is an individual, rather than a business. In this case, you will want to use the same platform that your target end-user is using.
Social media is important for a second reason. It is the great “equalizer” in that small business social media marketing strategies have an advantage over big companies.
The effectiveness of your social media activities all boils down to engagement. If you don’t engage with your customers, chances are that you will not have much success with social media marketing. Additionally, engagement is also very difficult to scale. It is much easier to engage with 2,500 fans than it is with 2.5 million fans
Updating your website
Your business website is the base from which your online activities should be based. Your website also gives your business scalability. It is “owned media” in that it is the only place where you control your business information. As long as your hosting fees and domain are current, it is your choice as to whether or not your information is posted online.
Your search engine listings, online advertising, and social media profiles are either “paid” or “earned” media, forms of media that you do not own. As a result, the decision to keep your information online is outside of your control.
An example of paid media is Google Ads where your ads continue to run for as long as you continue to pay for them the run. Once you stop paying, your ads come down.
Earned media is your placement in Google’s organic search results. As long as you continue to provide your customers with meaningful content, your search engine results will continue to show in Google search results. Keep in mind that thousands or hundreds of thousands of your nearest competitors are jockeying to knock you down in the rankings. As a result, maintaining your rankings is an ongoing process.
Digital marketing and advertising
While all of these things can be categorized as digital marketing, in this section, I will be talking about digital advertising. Advertising is defined as a form of marketing where you pay to share your message.
The two most common forms of digital advertising are paid search engine and social media marketing, both of which are very effective for small businesses.
Since search is such a core online activity that is dominated by Google, in this case making up 90% of global searches online, it is not surprising that they would dominate several online-related sub-categories. A category that they dominate, that accounts for most of their revenue, is online advertising.
Google Ads, their advertising platform is an ideal tool for small, and local businesses as it offers a great deal of “targeting” options in that you can define many aspects of your messaging. For example, you can define where your ads are shown, to whom they are shown, how much you pay, and so forth.
Search engine marketing also provides you with options for reaching out to your target market, depending upon where they are in their buying cycle. For example, you can deliver one set of messaging designed to appeal to people who are just starting to research a solution that your product or service, and another set of messaging to a group of people who are prepared to make a purchasing decision. Search engine marketing provides a number of options to reach these people in the way that best suits them.
Like search engine marketing, social media marketing is also very effective at targeting your message to your audience. Social media platforms such as Facebook also offer great reporting so that you can see just how effective your marketing is working.
You need to be aware though, that search engine marketing can get very expensive, very quickly. As a result, you need to be on top of things. Additionally, the leading online advertising platforms have functionality built-in to their solutions that are designed to control your costs.
Wrapping it all up
Your customers are online. As a result, your competitors are increasingly going online to reach them, requiring time and money to do so effectively.
A merchant cash advance is a great way to fund your digital marketing activities as the increasing cash flow from your marketing activities, can be applied to paying down your financing. Zip Capital Group offers a number of different ways to fund these activities and others, providing you with quick access to capital at a competitive price.
Get started today by either contacting us or calling 1-(800) 795-3919