When was the last time you were able to try out a new marketing strategy for your small business? Was it at the end of 2016 when you set this year’s sales goals? Or maybe it was the last time a friend sent you an article about the latest and greatest social media strategy.
As a business owner, you may not have the time or resources to try out every latest and greatest marketing technique available. But there are quite a few hacks that can help you achieve many of your goals. Here are four tips from marketing experts about how to do just that.
Marketing Hack #1. Get LinkedIn Connections to Come to You.
Kyle Milan, CEO of the marketing firm 5 Fold Consulting, says “LinkedIn is where the B2B market should focus their efforts initially from a social selling standpoint.” But that doesn’t mean you need to pay for the platform’s often-pricey premium services to get the most out of it. A free hack Milan recommends is for a business owner to set up a search in LinkedIn for relevant potential customers based on title, industry and geographic location, and connect with as many as you like. Save this search (the free version of LinkedIn allows you to set up to five searches) and set notifications to come to you weekly. Without you having to do anything, you will be getting an email with dozens of new connections with whom to connect. You should be seeing an acceptance rate of about 35%–50%, expanding your personal network and pool of prospective customers in the process.
Marketing Hack #2. Embrace CRM at Your Small Business.
Purchasing an entire separated digital marketing platform can seem like the solution to many marketing challenges. But this is not only expensive—it often means paying for a lot of extras the average small business does not really need. Better value and effectiveness can be found by boosting your customer relationship management (CRM) system that tracks and analyzes their customer interactions.
“A solid marketing system can send you good leads, but only if the system understands what you are looking for,” says Victor Clarke, owner of marketing consultancy Clarke Inc. “A CRM software system is the best way to score leads and to generate marketing qualified leads for the sales department.”
With free services from the likes of HubSpot and Zoho and small business-friendly packages from the big names in CRM (for example, Microsoft’s new Outlook Customer Manager), it’s more worthwhile than ever for small business owners to invest in a system.
Marketing Hack #3. Automate Your Online Endorsements.
Customer reviews and testimonials are valuable marketing tools for any business—but because the process of reaching out to clients to ask for endorsements can be time consuming or feel awkward, many business owners don’t give this area much attention. However, by automating the review-gathering process, you can gather customer testimonials with minimal time investment. Using a tool such as RepuGen, you can automatically ask customers a simple yes-or-no question (via text or email) about whether they were happy with their purchasing experience. Anyone who had a positive experience can then be automatically asked to email comments back or post a review to a site such as Yelp.
“It helps to let the customer know how much reviews benefit your services as a business, as this provides an incentive, as you can’t pay customers to write reviews,” says Ajay Prasad, owner of the marketing firm GMR Web Team, who has used this approach.
Over time, you will accumulate a healthy number of positive reviews with very little effort.
Marketing Hack #4. Use Unique Keyword Targeting and Title Tags.
One way to help boost your website’s chances of appearing in an online search is to give each page of your site unique focus keywords and title tags.
“Google uses title tags as an indication as to what the page is about,” explains Sacha Ferrandi, founder and CMO of Source Capital Funding. “If you have several pages with the same title tag, it sends confusing signals to Google and they may not list the correct page for certain queries.” He recommends using Yoast SEO for this—a free WordPress plug-in that will implement these tags in a snap.
For those who aren’t already using SEO tools, Ferrandi recommends Ahrefs, SEMrush and Moz, all of which are available in multiple tiers, with affordable options available for small businesses.
“If you have to choose one, I would say pick Ahrefs,” he adds. “It not only has tools to show you about your website, it can offer content advice, look up a lot of data on your competition, and even find opportunities that you didn’t know existed through their link intersect tool.”
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