Struggle is a term familiar to most business owners. When starting out, I’m sure at some stage we’ve all experienced a couple of slow weeks or months, and have wished we could stand up high with a megaphone and attract brand new customers from far and wide.
Luckily in 2016, the internet is the largest possible megaphone, and a well planned mobile marketing strategy is key to broadening your customer base and preventing those dreaded, slow weeks.
Advancements in technology have effectively provided small businesses with the lifeline they require to climb and compete against the ‘big players’.
Consider the last time you received a text from your phone provider alerting you of a usage update, could you have called back that number and spoken to an individual?
How about the last time you received an email from your gas or electricity provider — could you reply if you’d wanted to, or did their address contain a ‘no-reply’ warning? Big corporations are typically not in a position to connect with customers through technology in the personalised ways small businesses are able to.
Connecting with your customers or clients through online marketing is the key to conversion in modern times.
With more than two thirds of Australian traffic now going to smartphones and tablets, online marketing is synonymous with mobile marketing. Small businesses can still have a human face, rather than an automated voice, behind the screens that the Australian public are gravitating towards — and this, is invaluable.
What a lot of business owners don’t realise is that maintaining your own website is only the first step, attracting traffic from search engine results is the real battle. Just like finding customers in real life through physical promotions and advertising, attracting new customers to your website requires similar calls to action, only online.
Aside from maintaining your own personal website, it’s imperative you create accounts on third party sites that are frequented by your audience. No matter your audience, it’s likely that Facebook and Google+ are two of the most important accounts you could create in order to increase your conversion rate. Conveniently, each are already available as mobile applications, saving you a bunch optimisation issues from the get go.
Being directly (and obviously) affiliated with Google, Google+ plays a very important role in search engine optimisation (SEO). On a basic level, this means that having an updated account on Google+ will increase your chances of organically ranking for your company’s keyword search terms.
Google+ has the ability to recognise you as a the owner of your business, meaning that you’re able to adjust variables like your opening hours and contact details with ease and efficiency — a task much more tedious through alternate avenues.
Notably, most big companies and corporations will have a Google+ account, so in some respects, creating an account will afford you the same online visibility as your strongest competition.
Some tips and tricks:
- Upload and update as much information as you can: the more detail you provide, the more beneficial for your SEO and the easier your audience can locate you.
- Engage in Google Hangouts: Google Hangouts is effectively a virtual meeting. Allow your customers to connect with you, consider setting up a Q&A session about your product. Invite your manufacturer’s into the hangout session and provide transparency.
- Include an image in your thumbnail/headshot: whilst it could be the company logo, an image of your company spokesperson is preferred as it’s more personable and relatable. Google+ connects to a bunch of third party applications that will preview this image, so it’s important whoever is viewing the relevant content is visually able to be notified of who’s directly associated with such.
If your business is not on Facebook, your business is irrelevant. With over 1.71 billion monthly active users, Facebook can offer small businesses incredible growth opportunities. Business owners are able to connect directly with customers, target niche audiences with specific advertisements, gauge the success of campaigns and polls, receive reviews, conduct competitions, obtain audience insights — the list goes on. Additionally, Facebook’s business tools are simple to use in comparison to alternate options available online.
Some tips and tricks:
- Ask customers to ‘check in’ from their smartphones when they arrive at your venue location and reward them with discounts or entries into draws. Their ‘check in’ will be viewed by their friends, essentially marketing your business for you.
- Make a genuine and consistent effort to respond to your Facebook comments, complaints and reviews. Customers crave social reaction, they want to know that their voice is being heard. Note that deleting negative reviews will often appear to be an admission of guilt, it’s always better to respond in an understanding and timely manner.
- Facebook provides you with the tools to target certain audiences by age, geographic location, gender, etc — utilise these in your marketing strategy.
- Videos often obtain huge engagement rates, so try to incorporate them in your posts. Even better; why not try your hand at being the cameraman/woman yourself?! Film a ‘home video’ and introduce your audience to yourself and your staff. People want to know the individuals behind their screens and one of the benefits of running a small business, is that you’re in a position to introduce them to your company’s staff.
Finally, invest time into researching mobile optimisation. Make sure that everything you push out is accessible and simplified on mobile devices. Open your website, your emails, your advertisements on your own smartphone before they’re live to check they are legible. One
When optimising for mobile and tablet screens, you’ve a lot less space to work with, so be sure to simplify your message in order to keep your reader engaged with your content longer.
Business owners are frequently mobile, out of the office, in a restaurant, shop or bar running errands. Remaining connected should be a priority; you could meet a new manufacturer and want to share a photo on your Facebook, you could have to deal with a customer complaint that’s receiving attention on Google, you might have to make a last minute order due to unforeseen demand. Keep connected and make sure you have a plan that can keep up with your company.
Being a small business in a modern world is exactly where you want to be — utilise the technology around you to optimise your online presence and advance beyond the competition.
Fred Schebesta is the CEO of finder.com.au, Australia’s most visited financial comparison company