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If your life hasn't changed drastically in the last few months, prepare for it to be only a matter of time. The Covid-19 virus will affect everyone (perhaps the only exception is the confined participants of a reality show).
From a professional point of view, your habits will change, your company will be put to the test and what is left of the year will be different.
With few exceptions, we will all go through a period of low sales, clients will disappear due to insecurity with the economic scenario and financial adjustment.
Your company needs digital marketing now more than ever and this you must do to adapt
You might also be interested : Adaptation or bankruptcy: Strategies that ecommerce should apply in times of pandemic
And what is the situation of Marketing in all this history?
It continues to be extremely important, but it is time to adapt quickly, because in this crisis, there is no point doing more of the same. At this point, we have to think on two different fronts:
- What should I do to mitigate the problems now?
- How should I act today to avoid future losses?
The acid test for your brand is now
There is a natural tendency to talk about Content Marketing with a strong focus on its predictability and its metrics. In a quiet moment, that makes perfect sense.
But we are not living in a quiet moment!
Of course, monitoring visits, conversions, CAC, etc., is still extremely important, but this is the time to open your eyes a little and target something that has a great impact on the future of your business: how do you is your brand facing the current situation?
Your brand will be tested and this goes way beyond the marketing department. The way you treat your employees, your communication errors, your correct actions and the decisions you make to help society is being observed.
* Change your content for information that helps the immediate needs of people and calms them. There is surely some knowledge, in your area, that can help with this. Here at Andromeda we are investing in content about Home Office and texts like the one you are reading now.
* Stay close to directors to publicize positive actions to combat the virus and prevent messages that could be interpreted as opportunistic from being published on behalf of the company.
* Closely monitor the evolution of the local and global scenario.
* Evaluate all the ways the company can help at this time. In this article, for example, you can find information about Home Office. Also, we have written articles the last few months dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs.
These are just a few essential examples for your brand to navigate this turbulent period and emerge with a positive reputation in the future. And of course helping others which is always the right thing to do.
And the generation of demand?
Well, the first step is to accept reality: the current moment will be scarce for almost all of us, that is, there is a real risk that your goal will not be reached.
On the other hand, it doesn't make sense for us to stand still. Sellers are counting on us and throwing in the towel is not an option! It is time to get creative and take advantage of every possible opportunity.
If you already have a content strategy in place, your funnel traffic will likely not suffer much impact, which will already guarantee visibility and potential customers. The problem will be to convert these leads into customers, since nobody is sure of closing new deals.
You might also be interested : Link Building : Definitive strategies to Grow Brand Authority
- Use the informational content, already mentioned in the sales process, to reduce the anxiety of the leads. One tip is to ask marketers what their biggest fears and objections are, and create top-of-the-funnel content to help with that;
- Examine the main objections right now and create middle and bottom funnel materials to get around them. Here you can use sales enablement materials, case studies and webinars;
- If it is within your means, offer discounts or special payment conditions for a while, until everything calms down. Although this action may not guarantee income, it can at least guarantee the maintenance of your clients;
- Reverse part of your paid media strategy from the bottom to the middle of the funnel, this will accelerate the generation of leads and, at the same time, are actions that can be carried out with marketing and sales automation.
Actions like these will ensure that the loss is not so great, as your sales team will be better prepared to deal with customer insecurity and help them make the best decision.
The advice we have given so far is to help you make the most of an extremely negative situation and reduce its impact on your company. Luckily this moment will pass and we have to be ready to return with everything.
Something that surprised us at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic was that the large number of companies that depend on events to generate demands was evidenced.
In some cases, we saw entrepreneurs commenting that more than 60% of their leads are generated at events.
For many companies, paid media is losing momentum right now, because:
- Ads are generally focused on a bottom funnel.
- People's buying intentions are very low, especially in B2B.
These two factors are specific, since the construction of your brand, reputation and audience lasts over time and will not cease to exist now. Therefore, routine marketing activities should not stop.
As we noted above, facing the litmus test to make your brand useful, relevant, and help others will not only help you survive this crisis, but will create a permanent positive impact. When everything calms down, you can bet it will help you do business!
The audience you are building over time is not going away either. Your top-of-the-funnel content will continue to be useful and sought after by people, whether in the office or in isolation.
Yes, there will be a fall, but it probably won't be that bad, and it's temporary too! So far, Andromeda Computer's traffic has fallen 6% on average.
That is, even if leads are not turning into customers now, at least you continue to generate them and your content is helping people who, in the future, will be better able to do business.
If you are one of the people who does not sleep at night due to event cancellations, I suggest that you start investing in creating your own channels.
It's no wonder so many companies are investing in podcasts, newsletters, and blogs today.
Take care of your team
Moments of uncertainty are complicated for everyone and, professionally, they require great effort and sacrifice. If you have a team, it is your responsibility to help them get through this.
So never stop paying attention to the physical and mental health of your team.
Asking them to not only keep doing a good part of the routine, but also face pressure from salespeople, come up with new strategies in a sensitive setting, produce more and more content, etc. can be extremely exhausting.
To complicate matters, everyone is probably already working in isolation, which helps with anxiety for many people and can further damage work and emotional exhaustion.
Hold frequent meetings, preferably with the computer camera on, always available to help and always ask how they feel.
If you are not a manager, pay attention to your co-workers, because we are in a moment of physical isolation does not mean that we should also isolate ourselves socially. Send messages, make quick video calls.
We are living in a unique moment, that is true, but we can take comfort in the fact that, at least, it is temporary.
It is no secret that link building is one of the most challenging, yet most vital tactics in search engine optimization. Google holds such high regard for high-quality backlinks, because they are the best indicators of whether or not your website is authoritative in the space.
Through basic crowdsourcing, Google can use website data (number of links pointing toward your website) to determine the viability and relevance of your website on certain topics.
Over the years, SEOs from all over the world have been able to manipulate Google’s algorithm through black-hat link building tactics like link farms and link buying. In response, Google has determined what patterns are a result of such tactics and severely punish websites who continue to use these methods.
As a result, websites must now be creative with how they utilize different strategies that result in a higher volume of backlinks naturally. There are several things to consider, however, when executing link building strategies, including:
You may also be interested in: Social proof and testimonials! As a sales engine
When you are approaching link building, it can be tempting for your team to chase after as many backlinks as possible, regardless of where they come from. That may be beneficial for the first few links; however, after a while, you will start to see diminishing returns.
The reason why the crowdsourcing analogy is so helpful to explain this is simple: the more that authoritative websites approve of your website’s content, the more Google will recognize your website as authoritative as well.
If you continue to receive backlinks from the same website over and over, Google may think that you are participating in questionable techniques, and you may be impacted negatively.
By having a goal of increasing unique referring domains, you naturally go after links from a variety of websites rather, minimizing your risk in getting negatively affected by Google’s algorithm.
With that being said, there are plenty of websites that use content aggregation methods, like Databox, where you can easily obtain a link. You will not ruin your authority by submitting content through their website because:
Databox is an extremely reputable source of content.
You may also be interested in: Learn how to create an email list from scratch (a step-by-step guide)
Link flow is defined as the rate at which new backlinks are flowing into your website. To understand why link flow is important, you must grasp Google’s E-A-T guidelines. E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
To determine authoritativeness and trustworthiness in your industry, create new content that gains high volumes of quality links. This continuous flow of content and links shows Google that:
A slow link flow can indicate lost relevance or trustworthiness in your industry or on the internet as a whole. Continue to create relevant content and actively engage your audience in an ongoing attempt to gain quality backlinks. Quality over quantity is the key.
Influence of digital PR
Digital PR (public relations) is a pillar of digital marketing that focuses on media relations, thought leadership, and relationship marketing. While link building is not the primary (or even secondary) goal of digital PR, it can be a pivotal link building tool.
One of the main focuses of digital PR is brand awareness, which can include outreach to relevant podcasts for a company representative to be a guest or pitching the digital media to cover a new company story. Most of the time, when you, your company, or a subject matter expert at your company is featured on a podcast, is at an event, or is in the media, the website will link back to your website.
These tactics do not directly affect your SEO goals, but if your website starts gaining backlinks from highly authoritative websites, your ability to rank for more challenging keywords will improve significantly.
It is crucial to have your PR team and web strategy team work hand-in-hand on digital initiatives. For an effective digital PR strategy, you need:
Some creative teamwork can help improve your digital outcomes drastically.
3 tactics to try on
Because link building can take a large portion of your time, think of creative ideas that are simple to execute on and powerful enough that your return will be worth it.
I have broken down three data-backed link building tactics that have proven continuously to grow brand authority.
Think about all of the blogs, newsletters, or podcasts that you consistently read, listen to, and refer to on a daily basis. For marketing blogs, it’s Marketo, G2, and SEMrush. For general business blogs, it’s Mashable, Business Insider, and Forbes. In tech, it’s TechCrunch, Gizmodo, and ReadWrite.
There is a reason as to why you keep returning to these blogs. Why? They are known to publish content representing high-quality, their content is data-driven, and their pieces are written by experts in their respective industries.
Not only do people constantly refer to them verbally; they backlink to these sites as well.
Business Insider ranks with an Ahrefs rank of 242 (out of the entire Ahrefs database), with over 114M backlinks from over 458K websites.
TechCrunch ranks with an Ahrefs rank of 294, with other 73.1M backlinks from over 319K websites.
Depending on the industry your company is in, these thought leaders differ vastly. However, one feature is very much consistent: good authoritative content generates a high volume of backlinks with the right audience. It’s not rocket science.
Some companies create reports that cover multiple verticals or sub-verticals. For example, for digital marketing that would be content, social media, SEO, email, advertising, web strategy, and market research. They create unique infographics for each research report and make them highly shareable, with little to no friction.
Guest posting (or guest blogging) is the process of sharing content with or writing content for another website, with the hopes of gaining a backlink in return. Companies utilize guest posting strategies to produce high-quality content on authoritative publications throughout their industry. Guest posting can also improve companies’ organic reach through SEO, social media, and more. Overall, it helps your brand be more visible and shows that other companies trust you to share your expertise as well. Think about it, they trust you enough to share content on their own website.
In return, the writer typically includes a useful link back to their website to further authoritative value. Depending on the company you write for, they may reserve the right to remove that link whenever they please. If you haven’t already written the content for them, you might have to burden that risk.
Regardless, guest posting can be helpful in your digital PR efforts and improve brand awareness to audiences that you previously have not had access to. You may gain a link directly from that website, and you also might indirectly gain backlinks from the subsequent readers of their website and blog.
Directive utilizes guest posting as one of their main drivers of referring domain growth (as seen below).
Link building is, and always will be, one of the more influential ranking factors in search marketing. Google continues to view quality backlinks in high regard and will continue to crack down on inorganic link building schemes that “trick” their algorithm.
Building audiences who continuously consume your content will, at the least, slowly link back to your website. Creating relevant and unique content will organically build links to your website. Creating professional relationships with other websites in the same space and sharing content will continue to build links for your website.
There are other simple link building techniques such as broken link building and brand mention outreach; however, these should not be the centerpiece of your link building strategy.
Understanding the power of the basics of relationship and content marketing will prove to help you out more than anything else. Take advantage of the relationships you have set, and focus on creating more down the road. Continue to provide value to your target audience and to partners you work with, and link building will be smooth sailing from here on out.
The coronavirus pandemic has upended plans all over the globe in the past few months — from events and vacations to marketing calendars and revenue forecasts.
As Robert Burns wrote in a poem more than 250 years ago, “The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew.” For many, that has never felt more true.
In general during the coronavirus, ecommerce seems to be in a pretty good spot. After all, shoppers that can’t go to a brick-and-mortar may turn instead to online shopping. But of course, it’s not that simple.
Factor in economic uncertainty, which you can see reflected in stock market performance, and a shift away from many of the activities we typically enjoy (looking at you, Travel), and the impact on brick-and-mortar retail sales as well as online sales varies widely by vertical and even by business.
As patterns begin to emerge in response to news events of this nature, it will be imperative for companies to learn from these scenarios so they can sustain growth even in times where COVID-19 has uprooted people’s lives. These patterns will help provide leading and trailing indicators to those trying to understand how people will respond as developments continue to play out at different times in different countries. Scott McKenzie, Nielsen’s Global Intelligence Leader
This piece will examine some of those short-term (ecommerce coronavirus) patterns and offer some suggestions on how online retailers can adapt to shoppers’ new priorities. We’ll also look at how to prepare your brick-and-mortar, if you have one, for life after coronavirus.
Here are some interesting ecommerce coronavirus data points from ShipBob’s daily updates:
Baby product sales have surged online, with 237% week-over-week increase and a whopping 1,197% month-over-month, as of March 30, 2020.
Food and beverage ecommerce is up almost 26% MoM and 20% WoW.
With somewhat mixed results, toys and games are down 54% MoM, but up 93% WoW.
Apparel, jewelry, and electronics are all down.
In an interview with Retail Dive, Doug Stephens said that luxury brands who hadn’t yet fully embraced ecommerce would be one of the biggest-hit sectors, and that fear of viral contagion could also have a negative impact on the resale market.
Ecommerce has proved itself essential in days of social distancing and shut-down storefronts. But some consumers have unfortunately found themselves with less or no work as a result of shelter-in-place orders and closures of nonessential businesses, and economists have estimated the U.S. unemployment rate may reach 32%. Others have tightened nonessential spending due to worldwide economic uncertainty.
It’s difficult to predict the full impact of the coronavirus on online sales growth rates overall, but what is sure is that results won’t be consistent across the board. It will depend on niche, changing shopper behavior, and how much longer communities are asked to socially distance — among other things.
1. An influx of online shopping.
Between conforming with social distancing guidelines and accounting for brick-and-mortar store closures, shoppers — based on ecommerce sales numbers — seem to have taken much of their business online. Listrak reports a 40% increase in ecommerce revenue since the U.S. declared a state of emergency.
Sales in some verticals are way up, even leading to some product shortages…but that’s not true across the board.
In some states in the U.S., mandatory shut-downs of nonessential storefronts just went into place last week. This may lead to a larger uptick in ecommerce for some verticals.
2. Ecommerce delivery and supply chain concerns.
While increased demand is better than the alternative, there is a concern that supply won’t be able to meet it. Disruptions to the supply chain — beginning in China in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak — have impacted the availability of inventory and delivery times.
Signs are good, as China begins to recover, that a return to normal may be under way. But for ecommerce businesses in the U.S., they may still have more challenges to contend with, particularly in terms of fulfillment, before the volatility settles.
3. Pausing ecommerce orders.
A growing number of shelter-in-place orders are halting fulfillment and distribution of some non-essential products, further complicating the situation for some ecommerce companies. Victoria’s Secret and Reformation have both halted their ecommerce operations at this time due to the still-spreading coronavirus.
4. Amazon freezes FBA shipments for non-essential items.
To meet the increased demand of necessities like medical supplies and household staples, Amazon confirmed on March 23 that it would be prioritizing the shipment of those types of products to its warehouses. Other product categories getting the go-ahead include baby products, health and household, beauty and personal care, grocery, and pet supplies.
That leaves shipments of other goods delayed for up to a month. An Amazon spokesperson credited the change to efforts toward easing logistics pressures and keeping employees safe, according to an article in CNET. Third-party sellers on Amazon will be hit particularly hard — those with products outside of the categories deemed “essential” will not be able to use FBA, Amazon’s fulfillment services.
5. Online stores are diversifying products.
In the face of rapidly changing consumer lifestyles and shopping habits, businesses are finding the need to pivot quickly to stay competitive in today’s landscape.
Some ecommerce sellers are adding soaps and other hygiene products, medical supplies, or various DIY or self-care related products to meet consumer demands. Others have had to change their delivery models to offer curbside pickup, or offer digital versions of their products/services to avoid shipping and fulfillment altogether.
6. Rise of purchasing groceries online.
Social distancing, the hassle of dealing with crowds and lines, and frequent inventory shortages have been increasingly frustrating people out of the grocery stores and onto the web. Online grocery delivery services are booming, acquiring new customers even outside their previous majority demographic.
A survey from mid-March 2020 found that one-third of those interviewed had used online pickup or delivery services for their grocery needs in the past seven days, and 41% of those were using that service for the first time.
7. Increase in coronavirus-related ecommerce stores.
The rise of SaaS ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify have lowered the barrier to entry to sell online — and that’s a positive thing for retailers providing quality products to their customers.
Unfortunately, with the rise of the coronavirus, some sellers quickly stood up online storefronts to sell products they claimed could protect against or cure the virus — claims that are unfounded and completely unsubstantiated by medical professionals.
Ecommerce + Coronavirus: Adapting Your Store
If coronavirus has negatively impacted your sales or your ability to conduct business as usual, all is not lost. While the impact of coronavirus on consumer preferences and demands may last beyond the virus, life will return to normal — even if it’s a “new normal.”
In the meantime, here are nine tips for adapting your ecommerce strategy in this changing world.
1. Contact your manufacturers.
As we’ve discussed, there are a lot of factors at play here. You may see a surge in demand on your online store; you may not — but, either way, supply could become an issue.
Talk to your manufacturers about where they stand on production and how they anticipate coronavirus impacting their business. You can’t plan for what you don’t know, so do your best to be as informed as possible about all aspects of your supply chain.
2. Search for alternative providers.
When coronavirus first appeared, it was largely centered in China — which is also where many sellers source their products. This did cause inventory shortages for some sellers who were unable to find alternate suppliers.
There is evidence that China is slowly but surely returning to business as usual, but other countries are feeling the strain (including the U.S.). Having a few different options to lean on as the situation evolves globally can help you mitigate risk.
3. Conduct a customer needs evaluation.
Think about your target or ideal customer groups — what’s their current situation? Are they working from home, serving on the front lines as essential workers, or furloughed/laid off? What are their particular needs and concerns right now?
Once you better understand their current needs, you can assess your readiness to meet them. Consider whether you currently have the inventory to support their needs or if you should consider pivoting to better serve them.
CBD for Life did this by adding (CBD-free) hand sanitizer to its product line, saying in an email to customers, “We originally created our hand sanitizers to support our sister dispensaries during this unprecedented time and we are now making them available to everyone.” (They’ll also be making donations to hospitals, first responders, and essential businesses.)
4. Shift towards an at-home audience.
One of the most obvious impacts of coronavirus is the increase in spending much more time at home than usual. Think about how you can shift your strategy to better serve their needs, or even delight them in these stressful times.
Restaurants are a great example of this. Since they’ve had to close their dine-in services, they have ramped up curbside pick-up and delivery services to make ends meet and keep customers fed.
On the ecommerce side, some stores have begun stocking new items and/or featuring collections of existing products that are more relevant to many people’s day-to-day lives now — specifically, staying at home. Son of a Sailor, a shop focused on gifts like jewelry and other accessories, has a product collection page of “Boredom Busters” featured on their homepage.
5. Embrace new sales channels.
One of the consequences of people being asked to stay at home is, of course, a large decrease in brick-and-mortar foot traffic — or even shop closures. This is a great time for brick-and-mortars to start an online store if they don’t already have one or, if they do, to double down on their online presence and digital marketing.
6. Update product pages.
In times of uncertainty, you want to make sure to communicate with your customers if any of your services will be changing.
Coronavirus has presented a situation that may cause supply chain issues, even on a per-product basis — and if that’s the case for your business, keep your product pages updated so your customers know what to expect. You may learn that certain products will be out of stock for a while, that shipments are taking longer to reach their destinations, or some of your products are selling out more quickly than usual.
This is all important information for your customers to have as they shop your store. Be transparent and provide as much information as you can. By managing expectations, you’ll be more likely to have satisfied customers — even if you are experiencing a slow-down in service.
You can even outsource this to a freelancer for efficiency.
7. Have a data mindset and people focus.
One of the biggest keys to a successful business is being able to recognize and fill the needs of a certain subset of customers. Even in the face of today’s global situation, that fact remains the same.
Luckily, our connected society offers so many opportunities to collect data. Use it to your advantage and observe the difference in customer behavior. If you focus on meeting their needs as they are today, you’ll be better equipped to weather the storm of uncertainty.
8. Be smart about PPC advertising.
It stands to reason that with more people at home, there are more Google searches going on — and some are turning to ecommerce for products they would have previously purchased in person. But other verticals have seen a decrease in traffic.
It makes sense to consider PPC if you’re not already doing it, especially if your store has items that are relevant to the change in our lives due to coronavirus (including things to entertain kids stuck at home) — but it won’t be right for every business.
Make sure to watch your data closely, and adjust your bidding strategy if necessary. If you see that certain times of day have much lower conversion rates, reduce your bids for those times to save money.
9. Find opportunities for a special offer.
Economic uncertainty, layoffs, and lost jobs may increase price sensitivity in some shoppers. Consider offering a special discount across your store or on specific items that may have higher demand. If consumer spending in your store is down, discounts could be a good way to draw shoppers back.
10. Create an undeniable loyalty program.
It’s been said numerous times in countless retail blogs that most retailers can bank on 80% of their future profits being generated from just 20% of their existing customers. The current times are no different, in fact, it’s now more important than ever to ensure that you’re recapturing your existing customers and encouraging their loyalty! This is where a powerful, data-driven loyalty program comes in. Customers are currently more active than ever online and rewarding them for shopping with you right from purchase #1 is the perfect way to keep them coming back.
By using a loyalty program that encourages your customers to repeatedly shop with you, you’re not only ensuring the longevity of your business, you’re also ensuring that your customers feel appreciated and valued. Promote customer satisfaction by creating a loyalty program that rewards customers for completing certain actions, like giving points when they first sign-up so customers are closer to redeeming their first reward, or even creating exclusive rewards that are only available in May to help re-engage your existing customers with your loyalty program.
Singapore-based lingerie retailer, Our Bralette Club, has mastered this with a generously comprehensive rewards program, the ‘OBC Peach Party’, that is sure to delight all of their customers. With VIP tiers and a wide variety of generous rewards, customers are able to claim and redeem rewards such as $5 off a purchase or a free tote bag with their order. Our Bralette Club is even offering a 20% off coupon code to encourage their customers to continue shopping online during lockdown and beyond.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and even go COVID-19 specific with your rewards program, just make sure you’re keeping tabs on it! If you find that customers aren’t really redeeming your rewards, it could be a good opportunity to the communication of your loyalty program, edit your rewards, change up your emails, or even look at what other businesses are offering at this time.
Preparing Your Online Store for After Coronavirus
In addition to adjusting your current strategy, you’ll want to take steps to ensure a quick recovery when we return to business as usual.
1. Prepare for a building demand.
An article published on Entrepreneur.com suggests that, based on what’s happening in China, “the post-coronavirus economic recovery might be faster than we expect.”
Some verticals, particularly those that saw decreased sales during the pandemic, may see a huge resurgence in demand once consumers begin to return to everyday life. Make sure you’re prepared so you’re in a strong position to bounce back quickly.
2. Address technological shortfalls.
For brands who are seeing a slowdown, this is a great opportunity to evaluate your tech stack without worrying as much about disruptions.
Look closely at your ecommerce platform, integrations, and marketing to make sure you’re ready for the return of shopping as usual. Improving your site’s SEO, ensuring page speed, and optimizing your checkout experience are just a few of many beneficial ways you can spend your time to set yourself up for future success.
The bottom line is that no one can predict exactly what will happen; the magnitude of impact from coronavirus truly is, to use a word many people are quite sick of at this point, unprecedented. No longer does anyone have the choice to be fully proactive — we all have to react in real time to changing information and situations around the world.
Now is the time to make small adjustments in response to the shifts in shopper needs and behavior, while also preparing for a return to normal. Above all, stay positive and think strategically, and you can help your business weather the storm.
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Content, brand stories, and social media have been dominating marketing conversations for years now.
Big brands are creating whole platforms of content that may or may not even feature their products. Social media is exploding with businesses that don’t advertise any other way. And it’s all moving a mile a minute.
It makes a small business wonder if any of this applies to them. Can a small business use social media or content marketing to help boost their brand, or is it just for the big guys?
The truth is, small businesses need to brand themselves to stand out, too. They can harness the power of content, social media, and email marketing to boost their own conversions.
Here are a few suggestions on how to launch a successful online marketing campaign as a small business.
You’re probably not the only real estate agent or online origami paper store out there. So how do you make yourself stand out from your competition?
Before you do anything else, think about who you are as a business and what you provide that makes you unique.
There are a number of ways to do that. Let’s look at a few.
Like I said before, before you do anything else to boost your small business brand, you need to figure out just what that brand is.
Who are you?
What’s your story?
These are important questions to answer if you want to stand out.
Did you know that Millennials are more likely to pledge their loyalty to a brand if they have a clear story and a mission? They want to create change in the world and they want their brands to do the same.
One of my favorite brand examples is Dove personal care products. In 2004, they began The Real Truth Behind Beauty campaign to change how we think about beauty standards. They now sponsor programs that teach body confidence in kids and offer free resources for parents to do the same.
When it comes to small business branding, I offer this example: I have an architectural client who specializes in sustainable building and spiritual spaces. I’m leveraging both of those aspects of her business to build a brand story centered on wellness at the individual, community, and environmental levels.
Email marketing platform Klaviyo held a summit discussing best practices in ecommerce. One thing they stressed was standing out through good customer service.
When you create enough value, people are willing to pay what your products are worth. You can find cheap items anywhere on the Internet; what’s rare is amazing customer service.
–Steve Deckert, Co-Founder at Smile.io speaking at Klaviyo:BOS
Addressing customer issues quickly and anticipating their needs will brand you as a quality business and earn you customer loyalty. Not doing so will chase your customers away.
In fact, according to Salesforce, 50 percent of consumers will switch brands if a company doesn’t anticipate their needs.
3. Branding Through Design
We’ve all seen how effective branding through design can be. It’s why Victoria’s Secret wraps your purchases in that distinctive pink tissue paper and your Shutterfly photos come in that bright orange envelope.
When the tissue paper sticks out of your bag and the envelope sits in your mailbox, everyone knows where you shop; that you belong to a tribe.
Come up with your own unique feature that speaks to your small business brand. Maybe it’s the color of your shipping boxes, or maybe it’s a certain border you use on all your Instagram posts. Whatever it is, make it as identifiable as that pink paper.
Content Marketing for Small Business
You probably know you need some kind of blog to get your business ranked on Google. You may even know you need to choose the right keywords and place them throughout your site. But there’s so much more to content marketing than that.
Let’s take a look at some of the key differentiators between an okay small business content marketing campaign and a great one.
You’ve got a blog and you contribute regularly. You’re even doing your research to find out what your users are reading and what kinds of keywords will work best. That’s great!
You may be seeing some life from your efforts, but are you seeing the results you expected? You might be seeing a whole lot more if you diversified your content marketing portfolio.
Much like your retirement portfolio, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, or you risk losing money if something goes bust.
To diversify your content marketing strategy, consider other ways to publish your content. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
YouTube has just over 1 billion users logged in per month. That’s a lot of eyeballs for your business. Look at what kinds of content businesses in your space are creating. Is there something you could offer?
How-to and unboxing videos are very popular. If you can create useful content for your users via video, you may be able to attract more users to the top of your funnel.
If you want to see an example of this done well, our friends over at Zaius recently launched an excellent video series called Marketing Unboxed, where they analyze how popular ecommerce companies are converting customers and increasing brand loyalty.
Since their target audience is ecommerce marketers, this is a great way for them to attract just the right leads to their content.
Offering any of these types of content helps you establish authority, which we’ll explore more deeply in the next section.
White papers and eBooks let you speak more deeply on a topic and offer real insights to people who are looking for advice.
One bonus with these types of longer-form content: you can “gate” them with an email capture form.
Request an email address from anyone who wants to download, and you’ve suddenly got a lead with real interest in your area of expertise.
On the flip side, infographics help you break up a lot of information into more snackable statistics that users can then share via social, or cite in their own content.
Podcasts are incredibly popular around the world, with South Korea leading the way. Particularly if your customer base is younger, podcasts are a great way to reach potential customers, and reach them beyond your own borders.
Of course, the kind of content you create is all going to depend on your audience and your business. Depending on who you are, you can experiment with comics, GIFs, or Spotify-like playlists.
The key is to tap into your audience’s needs and preferred method of consuming content
EAT stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness; something talked about often at Klaviyo’s Ecommerce Summit.
When a person searches for information online, they’re usually looking to solve a problem. They want content from sources they can trust; sources that have some authority and expertise on the topic.
If you can show that through your content (white papers, videos, blog posts written by leading experts), then you can gain followers and convert them into customers.
By the way, potential customers aren’t the only ones looking for these traits in brands. Since 2015, when Google released their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, we’ve known that the search engine has put a lot of emphasis on EAT as a measurement of good content.
Social Media Marketing for Small Business
Once you’ve got great content, it’s all about getting it out on the right channel. Some brands would place social media marketing in its own category, but I see it as an essential part of your content marketing overall.
After all, 68 percent of American adults still use Facebook, according to Pew Research.
Using the right social channels to promote your content and products can bring more shoppers to your site. For instance, if you’re a beauty brand, like Sephora, Instagram is a great way for you to showcase beautiful images of your products.
Again, keep in mind who your audience is. I managed a parenting site whose user base was mainly millennial moms. For them, Pinterest is everything, so we boosted our Pinterest posts and saw a pretty nice gain in social traffic.
For the longest time, most businesses were looking at pageviews as their only benchmark of a successful campaign. And if those pageviews weren’t hitting the target, they blindly wondered what they could do about it. So came the death of many a content marketing campaign.
There’s so much more to metrics than pageviews, though, and there’s so much you can learn in the process:
If you’re tracking video, for instance, what is your complete rate (the percent of viewers who complete the video)?
At what point in the video do viewers start to drop off?
For white papers, it’s not all about how many people downloaded it. How many people got to the email field and then bailed?
For blogs, how far did people scroll down a post before they left? How many other pages did they view after the initial post, and what link brought them there?
How many people have linked back to your infographic or shared it on social media?
And don’t forget conversion rate. How many conversions did you get against all of those other metrics?
These are all important metrics when it comes to small business content marketing. Because, let’s face it, your blog post and your video aren’t going to get the millions of views, likes, and shares that the big guys command. For you, it’s all about quality of views, and how many ended in a conversion.
Email marketing is so much more than sending out the occasional discount coupon or business update. Let’s look at some of the ways you can use email marketing to stay top-of-mind with potential leads and convert them into regular customers.
Email marketing is still a big deal. In fact, email marketing outperforms social media marketing, if you can believe it.
Email newsletters are a cost-effective way to stay top-of-mind with customers, and how you use them depends on your business.
Shops (online or otherwise) might feature new products or announce a sale. Content businesses might feature their latest posts.
The point is, the emails you’ve collected through purchases or sign-ups aren’t sitting idle. And as long as you’re giving your subscribers content that they find relevant and useful, you’re likely to find yourself with repeat customers.
Not sure how to get your own email newsletter started? Check out our email newsletter design guide.
Personalized service is as old as commerce itself. Everyone loves being greeted by name at the bar as the bartender hands them their favorite cocktail. So, too, do online users love being greeted by name, with purchase suggestions. Why do you think Amazon does so well?
Leverage the power of personalization, not just on your site, but in your email campaigns as well. According to Campaign Monitor, 26 percent of emails with a personalized subject line are more likely to be opened.
Use email automation software to send emails at various stages of the buyer journey. If they purchased something from you in the past, use their buyer preferences to generate suggestions for similar products.
Here’s a great example. Shutterfly knows I buy holiday cards every year. So they’ve already (in September) started hitting me up with offers, even including my name in the subject line. At the very least, I’m going to check out the site to see what kind of designs they have this year.
Automated software can also help you respond to new subscribers or customers quickly. If someone gives you their email, don’t wait to thank them. Do it right away!
Send your latest newsletter, a discount coupon, or even a friendly welcome message that invites them to check out your latest and greatest.
According to Experian, emails triggered in real time are 10 times more likely to result in a transaction than those that are batched.
Here’s one I got from Starbucks right after I signed up to their newsletter. It’s simple, with just a few links to helpful information. Honestly, I would have added a call to action to find my local Starbucks or take advantage of a sale, but it gets the point across.
So, can small businesses take advantage of content, email, and social media marketing?
Can creating a brand story for your small business help extend your reach and win you new and repeat customers?
The answer is an improv comic’s go-to motto: “yes, and.” Yes, and it’s all about tailoring these tools to meet your needs and the needs of your customers.
You don't have a plan for your business yet?
When I ask the question “Will You Find Your Next Client — or Will They Find You?”, it is a direct challenge to business owners to define an inbound marketing strategy, a combination search, social media and content marketing, to attract a clearly defined audience who are ready to buy. Content marketing is the foundation for a successful inbound strategy for without content there is nothing to optimize and nothing to share on social sites.
There are many content marketing benefits regardless of whether you are marketing to businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C). Content marketing:
With all these benefits, it’s no wonder that according to Hubspot’s 2018 State of Inbound Marketing report, 74% of marketers prioritized an inbound approach to marketing. In addition, companies are nearly 4 times more likely to see higher ROI on inbound than outbound.
With all these positive benefits, why is it so difficult for small business owners to successfully implement content marketing? Inbound marketing is not a “set it and forget it” marketing activity. It is a process that requires regular, consistent delivery of focused content to increase your visibility and demonstrate your expertise.
The biggest challenges facing small businesses are:
Share your knowledge and expertise
Every business can successfully market their products or services by offering content that educates and provides a solution to your customer’s biggest challenges. When a prospective customer finds you through the content you provide, they begin to form a connection with you built on trust.
When you share your knowledge and expertise freely with no strings attached, the giver’s gain philosophy takes hold and you become the recipient of wealth:
Don’t wait to get started on this effective marketing strategy.
Now that you know the content marketing benefits and challenges, share your tips to make content marketing more successful for small businesses. And if you have any content marketing questions or questions inbound marketing in general, contact me to discuss your marketing needs.
We can help you implement the strategy for your business,
You don't have a plan for your business yet?