Marketing 101 for Small Business Owners
Running a small business is an all-consuming job. Getting your product right and perfecting your service takes a lot of time, and it's no wonder that Marketing is often neglected. Most small business owners are entrepreneurs without a background in Marketing and as a result, the topic can seem daunting and a potentially huge waste of time. In the long-term however, this approach usually backfires because Online Marketing is vital in growing your business.
The more small business owners I speak to, the more I realise that these bright and driven individuals, really just need a concise primer to point them in the right direction. This blog post is designed to be just that.
If you're a small business owner who has yet to make a first foray into Online Marketing, this blog post is for you!
Getting some data
Our first port of call must be installing Google Analytics and Search Console. Both are free services provided by Google which perform the crucial role of giving us data! Specifically, Google Analytics will tell you:
- How many users visited your site
- What percentage of users return
- What your best performing content is
- Whether your visitors spend time consuming your content or not
- Which pages result in the most conversions
Here is a screenshot of the Google Analytics dashboard of an empty site I set up to illustrate the point:
Besides this, Google Analytics will also give you invaluable information about who is visiting your site. The age, location, interests, gender and device preferences of your audience are just some of the data-points available here. With this information, you can target the content of your website and customise your products to the needs of your core demographic.
On top of that, Google Analytics will allow you to track the success of your Marketing efforts. This will be crucial if you ever try out facebook ads, SEO, SEM, or any other form of Marketing for your business.
In short, Google Analytics will form the backbone of your Online Marketing efforts.
Search Console is your best way of tracking the success of your SEO. We will go into what SEO is and how it can help generate revenue below, but let's briefly touch on the power of Search Console here.
As a webmaster you need to know which search terms are driving traffic towards your site and Search Console will tell you. Additionally, this powerful tool will show you which pages have the potential to drive more traffic in the future, and help you prioritise your SEO efforts.
How to install Google Analytics on Wordpress
Both Google Analytics and Search Console are free services, and can be easily integrated on any site. Most sites are built on Wordpress, so I would point you towards this excellent blog post which explains how to easily set up Google Analytics and this one for Search Console.
Don't worry if you don't use Wordpress; simply input: "How to set up Google Analytics on [NAME OF CMS]" into Google and you will find the answer.
Understanding the value of Marketing Channels
Now that we have Google Analytics and Search Console set up, we can focus on Marketing our website. The first thing to do now, is to understand the key marketing channels which are open to you. But first, a simple definition:
A Marketing Channel is simply a method by which you can reach an audience.
With that under our belt, let's discuss the key Marketing Channels you can use to drive revenue:
1. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO refers to your ability to appear in the Search Engine results for specific search terms. As an example, if I have a website on which I sell women's Nike shoes, I want to appear as a result when people put "women's Nike shoes" into Google, Bing, Yandex or any other Search Engine. It's not good enough to be hidden away on page 6, but instead I need to rank on page number 1 - ideally right at the top.
If your brand new to SEO I highly recommend your read MOZ's excellent introduction to SEO.
Now, SEO is a huge topic and this blog post is designed to be lean and provide the essential set-up for you to grow your revenue.
With this in mind, the important thing you need to know about SEO is this:
- SEO is a long-term strategy (expect first results in 3-6 months depending on your niche)
- SEO is the best tool we have to grow sustainably
- Traffic from SEO typically generates more revenue than from other Marketing Channels
As you can see, SEO should play a vital role in your business growth strategy, so how do you take advantage of this awesome Channel?
The first thing you need to do is head over to the Adwords Keyword Planner or KWfinder and do some keyword research. Keyword Research is the way you find relevant search terms which people are using in Search Engines. To illustrate this point, let's assume I sell blue Nike shoes. Here are just some of the relevant search terms around this topic, which people are searching for:
If the content you create matches Google's expectations, you will begin to rank in 3-4 months; helping drive new customers to your site.
Picking the right keywords = The most important thing to consider here, is that you need to pick very specific and action-oriented keywords. "Nike shoes" = bad; "Used Nike shoes for women" = better; "Buy used Nike shoes for women" = great.
Once you've created content targeting relevant search terms, the next step is to build links to help you rank. If you're business is location-dependent, ie. you own a physical store in downtown Chicago, you should also check out local SEO.
Local SEO is a highly effective form of local online marketing. It allows local businesses to promote their services to local customers at exactly the time they’re looking for your type of business.
2. Email Marketing
Email is the real MVP!
205 billion Email are sent every day and this number is only going to grow.
For small business owners, the important thing to know is that Email Marketing provides the highest return on your investment of any Marketing Channel!
The main reason for this incredible ROI, is the relative ease with which Email Marketing can be done well. Using software such as YesWare, MailChimp or Mailjet, you can send thousands of personalised Emails a day for very little cost.
While sending Emails is cheap, collecting them is even cheaper. If you're running Wordpress, I highly recommend using a plugin called ConvertPlug. It costs $13 and works exceptionally well. Additionally, you can use services such as Salesforce Data or pay someone on Upwork to manually collect the contact information of potential leads.
That's how simple Email Marketing is from the perspective of customer acquisition, but it plays a more important role in customer retention. ECommerce sites in particular can harness the power of Email to inform their existing customers of sales and new items.
Sending a weekly newsletter should become a habit no matter which niche your in.
Newsletter Pro Tip = Open rates on Newsletters tend to sink to 5-8% quite quickly. To counteract this, re-send the newsletter with an altered subject line to anyone who did not open the first Email. This works surprisingly well.
3. Social Media
As a small business owner you really want to focus on Facebook. Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube are also excellent channels but Facebook currently offers particularly sweet results, so stick with that for now.
Facebook paid ads allow you to cheaply reach a highly targeted audience. To start, follow the screenshot and click on "Manage Adverts".
From there you will be able to set up your first test campaign.
Tracking links in Google Analytics = In order to track the results of your Facebook campaign, create a UTM link using Google's builder tool or a spreadsheet as outlined here.
The value of Facebook goes beyond paid campaigns however. I have found that Facebook groups can actually be more effective at driving revenue, especially for bigger-ticket goods and services. Someone who sells expensive music software for example, will find that posting in relevant music Facebook groups is more effective than running a paid ad campaign.
4. Paid campaigns on Adwords or Bing
Using SEO to rank for relevant search terms takes quite a while. To see results immediately, the most common approach is to pay for ads on Adwords and Bing.
This involves targeting your audience, creating a text or image ad, setting your landing page (URL), determining your budget and launching the campaign. For text ads you can expect a CTR of 2% and a conversion rate of 8-15%.
To begin with, your targeting should focus on specific keywords (search terms). For the term "Nike shoes" the end result might look something like this.
The important thing to keep an eye on when using Adwords, is your cost per conversion. You will have to define your conversions in Adwords and add cost/conversion to your columns. It will then look something like this:
Importance of cost/conversion in Adwords = Make sure to determine the amount you are willing to spend for every purchase. If you have a $4 profit-margin on a small ticket item, it makes no sense to spend $5 for every conversion/purchase.
The power of remarketing
Have you ever visited Amazon, checked out one of their products to later find yourself being followed around the internet by an ad for that same product? That is called image remarketing and it works incredibly well for businesses of all sizes.
To get started visit Adwords, and go to "Shared libraries" to get your remarketing snippet. This is a line of code which you can put into the head section of your website. Here is a guide on how to easily implement the code.
Once this step is completed, you can create lists of users who visited specific pages. As an example, let's assume you run a small travel agency. Using remarketing you can show an ad for "Cheap flights to Cuba" to a user who visited your "Flights to Cuba" page. As a result, these targeted ads have a much higher conversion rate than normal ads.
The killer advantage here is that you only pay per click. This means that your ads might be shown and seen thousands of times at no cost to you; reminding customers of your service for free.
Remarketing for Facebook = Remarketing is also available on Facebook. Thus, by implementing the Facebook tracking code on your website, you will be able to show ads on Facebook to users who have previously visited your site. Depending on your niche, this can be a highly effective strategy.
Conclusion | Marketing 101 for small business owners
Understanding and using the Marketing Channels described above will help you grow your business. The question now is whether you have the time to follow through and test which Channel works best for you.
If you need help figuring this out email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below!
Thanks for reading 😀