Category Archives: Marketing

Content Marketing Checklist for Small Business – Part 2

  1. Pick the right social media platforms.

There are many social media platforms to share your content on, however that doesn’t mean you need to use them all. Pick platforms that will help you reach your target audience best. Also consider what type of content you will share. Visual content like images and infographics would fit best on Instagram or Pinterest, where as links to blog posts would fit best on Facebook or Twitter.

  1. Use time-saving tools.

There are different content marketing tools available that will help plan, research, measure and share your content. Some tools even help you write the content. Here are a few credible content marketing tools to save you time; Evernote (organization), Skyword (development), HootSuite (social distribution), Constant Contact (email marketing). Keep in mind that you should be choosing tools that have been proven to be effective.

  1. Measure the effectiveness of your content.

Once you have gone through the steps above, it’s important to remember to evaluate your content and its effectiveness. Find out how many people have viewed, shared and engaged with your content, and made a purchase. To see how your content is performing, gather this information on a monthly basis using a systemized plan. This will also help you compare your results over time.

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Content Marketing Checklist for Small Business – Part 1

Social media is a staple for small business owners who want to reach customers and forge relationships that lead to increased sales, making it the perfect marketing activity for budget-conscious business owners. It is an effective marketing tactic, however if you don’t have a consistent amount of relevant and useful content to share you could turn off your social media followers.

This is where content marketing comes into play. Follow this checklist to get the most out of your content marketing.

  1. Understand content marketing.

In order to create good content you must understand what content marketing is. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as: “A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” Meaning that content marketing is about knowing your target audience and goals, and creating content that guides them to purchase your product or service.

  1. Outline your content marketing goals.

Your content marketing goals are specific to your business and what you want to achieve, whether it is to communicate with customers, to create new relationships with potential customers, to build up your email marketing list, or to boost your credibility. Identify and understand your goals and the result you want to see.

  1. Pick the type of content you will create.

Now that you know what your goals are and what you want to achieve, consider the type of content you will create. There are many types of content such as; blog posts, videos, images, email messages, press releases, and more. Regardless of what type of content you choose, make sure it is relevant, informative and valuable to your audience and it must be consistent. Set a schedule for creating new content on a regular basis.

  1. Don’t forget SEO.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays an important role when it comes to creating content. SEO is using keywords in your content to help search engines find your content when those key words are entered in a search. Focus on writing your content first, and then plug in keywords throughout to optimize your SEO.

To be continued next week…

 

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Building Your Online Reputation

Here are three key factors to develop your online reputation in the digital marketing world.

Content Creation

The most effective first step to a successful online reputation is creating great content. Customers expect a high level of effort to be put into content, especially if it’s designed to turn them into a paying customer. Many small businesses create this content through blog posts. It is great for Search Engine Optimization and gives you the opportunity to provide valuable information to your customers while boosting your online reputation.

Social Media

Your reputation on social media platforms relies heavily on your activity, your audience will forget about you if you’re not actively posting. But that’s just the beginning… Engaging with your audience can be a bigger hurdle because we’ve been taught to approach social media with a corporate perspective. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of humanity. Keep in mind that social media is meant to connect people and it works best when two people simply have a conversation.

Reviews & Public Perception

This is easily the most challenging aspect of managing your online reputation and also the most important. Online reviews have been a huge factor in determining the online reputation of a business. To the modern consumer, digital word of mouth is a very persuasive way of marketing. It’s important to pursue positive reviews, convincing customers that have had good experiences to write reviews.

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How to Identify Your Target Market

When you start your business you might think you know exactly who your target market is. In reality, detailed analysis must be conducted to determine exactly who will purchase your product or service. Not everyone will be a customer and you should not target everyone- you should specialize and target a specific audience.

When identifying your target market, you must first understand your niche in the market (link): What makes your business unique compared to your competitors? What sets you apart and makes you more likely to attract and retain customers?  Research your competitors and analyze their customers; this will give you an inside look at the industry.

Looking beyond your competitors is also essential. Conducting market research will help you to not only identify your target market, but will provide you with information on the number of potential customers or clients in your area. Keep in mind:

Successful businesses have extensive knowledge of their customers and their competitors. Market research is the process of gathering information which will increase your awareness of what your potential customers look for.  (“Guide to Market Research and Analysis” from www.CanadaBusiness.ca)

Market research includes circulating surveys, gathering statistics, information on local income levels, etc.

Your business plan is another resource to assist in identifying your target market. It will help you to define all aspect of your business, including identifying your ideal customer. A good business plan will include:

  • Income level
  • The characteristics of your ideal customer
  • Population in your target area

Schedule a consultation with your local small business enterprise centre consultant to help you deconstruct your data. This will assist you in creating an outline of your target market to assist in creating a successful branding and marketing campaign.

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Five Key Small Business Website Elements

Incorporate these five important website elements to build an online presence that brings customers directly to your business.

  1. A powerful home page

Your website home page is the first thing your customers will see. Make sure they are getting a good first impression, clearly communicating your brand, what your business is about, and a navigation menu that directs users to other important pages on your site.

  1. User-friendly navigation

Your navigation menu should include logical categories that make it easy for users to find information. Poor navigation is one of the most common reasons people abandon a website. Whether your menu expands across the top or in a sidebar, it should contain relevant information such as; what products or services you offer, the costs, where you are located and your hours of operation.

  1. Search features

Include a search feature in addition to your website navigation menu so customers can use keywords to find the information they need. When customers type a keyword into the search box, they will be presented with relevant information so they don’t have to manually search for it.

  1. Access to help

Customers often want to connect with a human, include a contact us page with information such as; phone number(s), email address and your location so they have the option to meet with someone face-to-face to discuss business.

  1. FAQ page

Include a page of frequently asked questions and their answers on your website to make it easier for customers to find the detailed information they need.

A small business website can be an affordable and effective way to reach and expand your online customers and potential customers. These five elements will drive customers directly to your business.

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Business Website vs Facebook Page

Having a website and/or Facebook page are an important part of building your brand, but do you need both? Here are a few points to take into consideration to determine whether a website or Facebook page will help you reach your target audience better.

Control

Having a website gives you complete control over your entire media brand, whereas with a Facebook page, there is a lack of control and you’re dealing with a third-party website.

Design

Your website can be designed to match your branding, making changes at your own discretion, whereas you can make minor changes and add your logo to a Facebook page, however you’re still at the mercy of Facebook’s look.

Information

Your audience has to make an effort to visit your website, whereas with a Facebook page, you’re taking your information directly to where your audience spends their time to connect with others.

Updates

With multiple website platforms to choose from, not every website operates the same making it more challenging to update your website. Facebook makes it easy to post information, photos or videos and reach your audience quicker.

Revenue

You can sell ad space on your website, setting your own rates and managing the ad to generate revenue, whereas those opportunities are non-existent with a Facebook page.

Statistics

Your website statistics are not on display for your viewers, whereas your fans or visitors can see how many likes your Facebook page has.

Contests

Contests will drive people to your website and can be monitored with your website analytics. Contests on Facebook will build your fan base and generate a buzz as your contest link gets passed around to users.

 User Comments

You have the option to allow user comments on your website. If you do allow comments, it’s important to monitor them and develop a policy for how to deal with them. You still have to keep an eye out for visitors that could cause trouble, but Facebook has an easy system to block comments and users.

Interaction

Your website has limited opportunities to interact with your audience, while Facebook has multiple opportunities to interact and communicate with your audience.

 

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Top 5 Small Business Marketing Tips

Target your customers where they hang out on social media.

To reach the full potential of your social media accounts, you must make an effort to reach your customers where they frequent most often online. Marketing directly to your potential customers on popular fan pages and groups is a great way to gain new customers while staying active online.

Don’t be afraid to sell direct online.

As ecommerce continues to grow, many businesses old and new still don’t have shopping carts on their websites. Not giving your customers the option to buy online is taking away profit from your business. For those that do offer online shopping, make sure it is set up properly so that it can be a painless transaction without question or frustration.

Use stunning imagery to grab your customers’ attention.

Using images in any marketing communications is more likely to catch your audiences’ attention than a block of words. This will not only make your marketing message pop, but it will also be more memorable with a photo.

Market to your customers how they like to be marketed to.

Put yourself in the customers’ shoes, would you want a message every day, week, month? How much is too much for your customers? How do they prefer to be communicated with? Via social media, e-newsletters, texts, etc? Your customers are only willing to absorb so much information about what you have to offer so don’t overkill it.

Hire a marketing agency so you can do more of what you love.

You didn’t start a business to do marketing, so outsource your marketing needs to an agency. If you don’t have the budget to hire a marketing firm, partner with someone you trust who has successfully marketed their business.

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