The Nine Step Guide To Online Marketing For SMBs

Many business owners feel like online marketing is rocket science. They pay money they don’t always have to make the challenge of finding customers someone else’s problem (though, to be honest, it is always going to be their problem).

But what about those businesses that can’t afford to hire a marketing consultant? Don’t they deserve to find ways to reach new customers?

This article is probably going to get me on the hit lists of many marketing consultants, but I’ll take my chances. You don’t need a consultant to do your marketing for you, if you’ve got time to invest and the inclination to learn. Here are the ways to take your marketing campaign into your own hands.

1. Get Involved In Social Media

Social media isn’t a mystic language; it’s just networking. If you’ve ever attended a networking event, you can handle social media. Don’t let jargon like “retweets” and “likes” scare you off. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Ask questions. Engage. Don’t push your sales agenda.

Secret Tip: Use a social media dashboard like HootSuite or SproutSocial to schedule updates to all your social platforms. You’ll save a ton of time and make it look like you’re constantly on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

2. Start Blogging

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it; you might surprise yourself with the quality of your writing. You’ve already got an arsenal of topics to cover, since you know your industry inside and out.

Blogging has many benefits, such as building brand awareness, credibility, and authority. It also has been shown to increase conversion rates and even search engine rankings, as I outlined in my article, “Why an Active Blog is Necessary for a Successful SEO Initiative.”

Secret Tip: Writing a blog post isn’t the same as writing a college essay (that may be the last thing you wrote). Use tips for formatting that allow for easy skimming and digestion of your content. Also, keep a spreadsheet of ideas handy so you never run dry on topics.

3. Build Relationships With The Media

Public relations is an important tool in expanding your reach online. But PR consultants don’t have the corner on building relationships with journalists and bloggers. In fact, many members of the media might prefer to work directly with you as the business owner.

Secret Tip: Follow journalists on Twitter that cover your industry, and start sharing their content and responding to their tweets. Comment on their articles. Get on their radar long before you want to pitch your news.

4. Offer Content Your Audience Wants

Connecting with potential customers is easier when you deliver tailored content that they can actually use. In fact, 61% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that delivers highly relevant content.

Secret Tip: Keep your audience’s pain points at the center of your content marketing strategy, and develop whitepapers, ebooks, guides, and blog posts that provide value to your customers. Center them around a particular product or marketing goal you have, then amplify their reach through social.

5. Pay Attention To Analytics

It’s simple: the channels that send you more web traffic are those you want more from. Those that aren’t netting you results should be discarded. You don’t need to pay someone to understand that.

Secret Tip: Set up your analytics platform to send you a weekly or monthly report so you can stay on top of how well your marketing strategies are working. If, for example, guest blog posts are sending tons of traffic your way, write more of them.

6. Make Sure Your Emails Speak To The Recipient

Despite all the other marketing tools at our fingertips, email still remains a successful way to get in front of customers and get them to buy from you. And the more targeted these messages are, the more successful they are at sending people to your website.

Secret Tip: Spend more time on your subject line than anything else; 64% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line, so it’s worth the extra time to craft one that will guarantee opens. And remember: subjects with 10 or fewer characters can see open rates of 58% or better, so keep it short and sweet. For help, see my article, “The Online Marketer’s Guide to Writing High-Converting Headlines.”

7. Perfect Your On-Site SEO

Make sure the keywords on your website are the ones you want to be found for. If they’re not, you’ll have a higher bounce rate and fewer conversions, not to mention lower search rankings.

Secret Tip: If you’re a local business, don’t overlook local search trends. They’ll help people near you find you faster. And avoid duplicate content. Google doesn’t like it, and will lower you in search results if you have too much of it.

8. Try Guest Blogging

You can only reach so many people on your business blog, so expand that number by contributing guest posts to other more popular blogs that target your audience.

Secret Tip: I preach guest blogging, and I love to practice what I preach. It really works! Here’s a guide I wrote that outlines exactly how to kickstart your guest blogging initiative: “The Ultimate, Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Business by Guest Blogging.”

9. Make Sure The Pieces & Parts Work Together

All these moving parts are easy to focus on individually, but make sure they all move together toward a common goal.

Secret Tip: Before you do any marketing, establish what you want to accomplish. Do you want to increase traffic to your site by 50%? Grow sales by $200,000? Boost sales of a particular product? Every marketing task you complete should move you toward that goal.

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