To make your small-to-midsize business stand out in the current marketing landscape, you’ve got to have a solid digital strategy set up to bring massive returns.
Here, you’ll find:
- Marketing tips specific to small-and-midsize businesses
- Ways to make an impact without a huge budget
- How to leverage things like social media, videos, and influencers
- Tips for standing out from competitors
When you’re managing this side of the business, you’re likely stretched pretty thin. Plus, rapid technology changes, the advent of new strategies, and sophisticated algorithms can make it increasingly difficult for small and mid-sized businesses to remain competitive.
If you’ve been barely keeping your head above water with your SMB’s digital marketing tasks, you’re in luck. We’ve gathered some tricks of the trade that can help boost your following and grow your business.
1. Research your competitors
A highly competitive business environment is among the leading reasons why growing businesses fail. That’s why conducting competitor research is key to getting ahead of the curve and standing out.
If you’re in a particularly saturated industry or are stumped on where to begin, start with a simple location-specific Google search. See how your rivals position themselves and design their ads. Next, pinpoint the differentiators that you can capitalize on to show the unique value of your offerings. Even if your products or services are similar, your brand journey and point of view are your own.
2. Enhance your social media presence
With face-to-face meetings and communications still limited across the globe amid the pandemic, people are turning to social media more than ever for connection. As an SMB, you want to be where your customers are. Social media is a great way to reach them as seamlessly and directly as possible.
Being active on social media helps more people discover your business, lets you show your brand’s personality, and can even attract leads through paid social ads. Not only that, but you could attract user-generated content (UGC) such as positive reviews and product photos that you can then ask permission to republish on your own platforms as an effective, cost-efficient marketing tool.
Pro tip: To see and be seen by your target audience, you need to be where they are. Include relevant hashtags in your posts, follow customers and prospects, and seek out industry conversations and live chats that could benefit from your insight.
3. Make calls-to-action (CTAs) clear
When you’re an SMB, every lead could be a potentially game-changing sale. Because of this, it’s crucial to nail your CTAs. A big part of that is ensuring your visitors understand what you want them to do. You can do that in a few ways, such as:
- Adding a call to action, an invitation to share, and a place to comment on your content
- Considering pop-ups that invite a user to subscribe to your newsletter
- Having more than one CTA button on your homepage — and making sure it pops on the page
4. Choose the right channels for your brand
For SMBs, choosing the organic and paid channels you invest time and money into generally begins as an experimental process of trial and error. Creating social media profiles is free, but you may want to test out a few paid social platforms at a time, then dedicate more effort towards the ones that garner the most engagement.
Different industries excel on different platforms. A clothing and accessories company, for example, will likely perform better on Instagram than a niche software brand would.
For ads, particularly paid search, we all know Google reigns supreme. But that doesn’t mean that other formats, like display, social, and remarketing ads aren’t worth a look. Moreover, alternative search engines like Bing may get you more bang for your buck if fewer competitors are also leveraging Microsoft Advertising.
5. Leverage video content
Data shows that 85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool. However, the average attention span website visitors have is just 8 seconds. That means you’ve got a small window of time to make a worthwhile impression.
Here are some things to consider when planning a video strategy:
- Plan out your purpose: Concentrate on the purpose of the video and how it’ll be used. Are you using it as an educational tool? Building brand awareness? Your goal can help determine where you want consumers to view the video, whether it’s on your website, YouTube channel, or another platform. Customize it to fit both your target audience and the location.
- Find the human element: Unless it’s a commercial, the video shouldn’t simply be all about your brand. Video is a powerful medium and most effective when focused on the human part of the narrative. Create stories with a clear idea, passionate message, or practical how-to that shows what makes your brand unique.
- High-quality, not perfection: You don’t need a big-business budget or high-end production equipment. With a solid strategy, content created with a smartphone can have the desired effect. A well-edited DIY video can come across as more authentic than a scripted TV spot when its purpose is clear.
- Don’t forget to optimize: We’ve talked before about the importance of optimizing your videos. A few ways to do that are by: including captions, optimizing the page the video is hosted on, and investing in paid ads for promotion.
6. Go behind the scenes
One of the benefits of being an SMB: less red tape. That means that if you’re releasing a new product or launching a new service, you can share behind-the-scenes glimpses and stories without having to wait for approval from half-a-dozen execs. (Though, depending on your role, you should pass the content by your manager to ensure what you’re sharing is not embargoed or not ready to be public.)
Showing and talking about what you’re working on as a company humanizes your brand and offers a level of transparency you don’t often get from bigger brands. This also lets you showcase your passion for the product or services you offer, and invites people to join your journey. Lastly, it gives them an incentive to follow along and see when your product is officially unveiled and released.
7. Only publish high-quality, shareable content
High-quality content that speaks authentically to your target persona (or personas) is a critical part of your SMB marketing, no matter your industry. It can help promote your brand by attracting website visitors, building a strong relationship with your target audience, and even boosting revenue.
Plus, creating a strong resource library helps make your SMB stand out from the competition as a trusted thought leader. These are just a few ways you can make content shareable:
Make it easy to find (and read) – When publishing content, use bullet points and headers so visitors can scan the content quickly (yes, things are about to get meta). It’s also wise to ensure your website and blog are search engine-friendly through tactics such as:
- H1 and H2 tags for headers and subheaders
- Metadata for categories, titles, and descriptions
- Alt tags for images and video
- Both internal (linking elsewhere on your site) and external links in the copy
- Short, easy-to-digest paragraphs
Focus on educating and helping your audience – Shareable content is often about solving a problem, answering a question, or evoking emotion. The best content is helpful and empathetic, not merely self-promotional. Do what you can to offer useful tips and insights with tangible actions and an immediate value. When you have content that resonates with your customers and prospects, sharing can skyrocket.
Include share buttons – This may seem obvious, but one of the quickest ways to make your content more shareable is by adding share buttons. These are tools you can embed into your posts that allow the reader to share the content on social media with just a few clicks.
8. Explore partnerships with micro-influencers
Did you know that micro-influencers reportedly have seven times the engagement rate on Instagram as influencers with larger audiences? These types of online influencers generally have 1,000 to 10,000 followers, and they’ll often partner with brands to showcase their offerings in exchange for goods or a fee.
Save money and potentially find your biggest fans by partnering with micro-influencers you come across in your niche, if they exist. These online personalities can target specific communities more effectively, bringing your brand to the attention of the precise customers you want.
9. Choose thoughtful visuals
You don’t need the budget of a Fortune 500 company to have sleek imagery on your website, landing pages, and social media profiles. Visitors don’t always read every word — they often scan the page. Images that are relevant and eye-catching typically perform better than text alone.
Inserting well-designed infographics and high-quality images into your content not only makes it more easily digestible, but it also looks more authoritative, cohesive, and professional.
Pro tip: Need a simple infographic or logo designed but don’t have the funds for a full-time designer? Websites like Fiverr and Upwork offer a global network of freelancers, so you can connect with someone who can work with your timeline and SMB budget.
10. Optimize your site for mobile
We’ve previously touched on the growing trend of people favoring mobile searching over desktop. That’s because more and more people surf and shop right from their tablets or smartphones.
Because of this, users should be able to navigate across devices and still have the same fast, easy-to-navigate experience on your website. Making sure your SMB website is mobile-friendly will benefit your SEO and ensure you’re not causing users to bounce.
11. Encourage your clients to write reviews
In marketing, as in many other business aspects, showing is better than telling. Having great customer reviews online is a great way to “show” rather than “tell” the value of your brand.
As an SMB, you may have to do a little legwork to inspire people to take the time to review you. You can do this by creating an email campaign and offering an incentive to those who participate, such as a waved onboarding fee or an entry to win a gift card.
Online reviews aren’t just great marketing tools. They can also offer valuable insights that could help you improve your brand and help you make accurate, informed decisions that are rooted in customer satisfaction.
12. Go back to basics
No matter how many tips and tricks you use or how relevant your strategy, if you don’t have a strong foundation, your efforts may not pay off as well as they could. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly but is also formatted attractively for desktop users.
Optimize for page speed and traditional SEO. If you haven’t already implemented structured data, it can help increase click-through rates and result in featured snippets.
SMB digital marketing is continuously evolving. If you haven’t looked at your content in a while, it may be time to dust it off and update it. Rejuvenate your SEO strategy by adding a few new tactics and revisiting older content. It can be a game-changer when it comes to attracting more visitors to your site and increasing brand awareness.
When you’re in charge of SMB digital marketing, you’ve got a lot on your plate.
By keeping these tips in mind, you can add a little method to the madness, stay relevant in your industry, and beat your competitors to come out on top.
This article has been updated and was originally published in October 2019.