In order for your business to succeed you need to market it – that’s a given. But there is an ever-growing number of options where you can focus your marketing time or budget. The question is, how do you know which marketing channels get results for SMEs? How do you know which ones will work for you?
Focusing on the right marketing investments for your business is important so that you don’t waste your efforts. The right marketing channels can help you get new customers. And more than that – they can get you the right customers, which will help you build your business the way you envision.
To help you create a marketing strategy that gets results, we have summarized some of the best options for small businesses.
1. Website: It’s Your Virtual Storefront
This likely isn’t a surprise. The need for online presence has dramatically shifted during the COVID-19 era. With many brick-and-mortar businesses closed due to restrictions, marketing strategy moved to a digital focus. And your website is typically the lynchpin to a successful online presence. Here are some more good reasons why you need a website.
So if you don’t have a website yet, then yes, you need to invest in one – yesterday. The good news is that a well tailored DIY website builder can be a valuable tool for both the tech savvy and the tech challenged. Using a DIY website builder makes it more affordable to have a professional looking website. And this is key for SMEs. Often, you can make a version for free and upgrade later when you can profit from more advanced marketing options.
If you already have a website, it might still need some fine-tuning to be properly leveraged. For example, having a tailored website with custom landing pages can help you personalise messages. That way you can get more customers to respond.
Let’s say you own a business that makes custom cakes. You can create one landing page that showcases all of your wedding cakes, a second that shows birthday cake designs, and a third that has branded cakes for corporate events. If you’re finding that one type of cake has better profit margins or is ordered by customers that come back for repeat business, focus your marketing efforts on it. What you can do is drive more traffic to that specific landing page from, for example, a Facebook ads campaign.
2. Social Media: Connecting the “Socially Distanced”
As the world became more isolated during COVID, people increasingly spent more time on social media as a means to connect. In turn, many businesses have seen this opportunity to reach their potential clients. They started using social media as part of their increased digital marketing strategy.
Social media is proving to be an effective marketing channel that gets results for SMEs. According to Sprout Social, when a consumer engages with a company on social media, they are likely to visit that company’s website. And a whopping 89% will make a purchase as a result.
Creating social media accounts on multiple platforms such as on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, is easily accessible for SMEs. Yet, the idea of creating a steady stream of content might fuel a knee-jerk reaction. While content creation may seem time consuming or possibly costly, it’s clear that the investment has the potential for good pay-offs.
If you’ve got a bit of a budget, you can also choose to invest in social media pay-per-click ads. These ads can be dialed down to a local radius. You can target specific communities. And you can also focus on potential customers that have particular interests.
However, one of the most powerful aspects of using social media is the ability for customer recommendations, as I’ll explain in the next section.
3. Word-of-Mouth: Now, the Digital Way
When asking about a local business “through the grapevine” we might have previously pictured chatting on the street or perhaps a phone call. Although you might still get word-of-mouth recommendations this way, online formats for communication have become increasingly ubiquitous for even close family members.
According to Trustpilot, nine out of ten consumers read reviews when making purchasing decisions. Good reviews are a great way your existing customers can get you new customers. In other words, you should help your customers make recommendations online, since this has a direct impact on gaining new business. Local communities are likely to have groups in places like Facebook or WhatsApp. You can find interest-based groups that are limited to specific geographic areas such as wedding planning in the UK. Facebook even has a specific post format geared to recommendations within a location.
4. Email Marketing: Personalized Messages for Your Customers
Using email marketing is still a great marketing channel that gets results for SMEs. It’s been reported to have the highest return on investment for small businesses. While open rates and clicks might not always look so attractive, you can work to refine lists, content, and timing in order to get optimal results. Email marketing is a great way to invest in personalising messages to narrow in on communicating directly with your customers. So for example, if you have a cleaning service and would like to target customers that only look for carpet cleaning, you can make a campaign that speaks just to them and communicate seasonal specials.
Most email automation systems provide analytics that allow you to understand how customers interact, or don’t interact, with your communication. That way you can work towards your desired results. Another big plus for using email marketing – it’s affordable and simple for you to run by yourself.
5. SEO: So Your Customers Find You When They Search Online
Back in the olden days if you wanted to hire…let’s say…a local plumber, then your first stop would likely have been the phone book. Though it’s possible to look for a business online in a directory such as Yell.com, 68% of website traffic comes from a search engine. In fact, organic search is the largest digital channel overall. According to BrightEdge research, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) drives a staggering 1000%+ more traffic than organic social media. So if you’re on Facebook but you’re not in the top Google search results that will reach your customers, then it’s likely time to focus on your SEO strategy.
Because SEO takes some time to both implement and take full effect, you can give yourself an immediate boost with pay-per-click search ads. The Google search network can be narrowed down locally, and you can even get your business to come up in results when a potential customer searches for your competition.
6. Video Marketing: Connect with Your Customers
As digital marketing adopts a more personal touch, using video becomes increasingly relevant. For companies that are investing in their online content, video is becoming more important than blogs and infographics. In the past the cost of creating a video may have been a challenge for SMEs. But nowadays it’s become more cost-effective and more accessible for companies to create videos that get results. Even if your company is small or has a limited marketing budget, you can produce videos with the most modest of budgets.
When looking at the current consumer trends, it’s not difficult to understand the value of video marketing. The majority of customers say they prefer to learn about what a brand offers through video. According to Wyzowl, 84% of people are convinced to buy a product or service by watching a video. Considering that videos are widely shared on social media, it’s important to note that videos get more engagement than still images.
To Sum Up
Like we said, there are many marketing channels available out there, but you need to find the right ones for your business’s needs, goals and budget. The above were the 6 main marketing channels that get results for SMEs and will help you grow your business.