SEO- Help Your Customers Find YOU!

If you don’t have a website set up yet, we highly recommend taking a look at our breakdown of the pros and cons of the top website builders and Content Management Systems (CMSs) before reading this article.

A lot of marketing strategy focuses on how to find and communicate with your target audience.

But what about the other side of the equation – how can you help your target audience find you?

What the heck is SEO?

You may have come across the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO) before. SEO is a technique for making sure that the original content you put up on your website makes it easy for people to find you through search engines.

For example, if you are a hair salon owner offering a colouring treatment unavailable anywhere else in your area, you want to make sure that someone typing the name of that treatment + the name of your area into their search engine sees your salon in the top page of results.

SEO specialists are marketing consultants who are highly trained in understanding the complex algorithms search engines use to sort results and prioritise those which are the best fit. 

If this sounds complicated, that’s because it is! But fortunately, if you’re a small business owner using a third-party CMS (like we recommend), this process becomes much simpler.

Four Main SEO Concepts

We’re going to quickly walk through the four main ideas of SEO for small business owners today so you can take some of these strategies and use them in your own content.

 

  • Technical SEO: If you’re a small business using a site like WordPress (as we recommend) for your CMS, you don’t need to worry about this – it primarily deals with how the website is set up.
  • On-site SEO: Make sure your site is well-organized and easy to navigate. Use the words you most want associated with your business in page titles (services offered, location, brand etc.). 
  • Content: Your website content should highlight your services and location, establish your credibility, and position you as an expert customers want to work with. Use the keywords you want associated with your business throughout your content consistently (but in a natural writing voice), and especially in your page titles. Using our hair salon example, we might want to write a blog post or have a page advertising new services – making sure to use the name of the treatment in a header or page title along with the information that you are the only salon offering this service in a given area. 
  • Off-site authority building: Incorporate links to other websites (within reason), for example, to share a relevant article. Our hair salon owner could, for example, share a write-up about the popularity of the new treatment on offer.

 

These tips should help you get started and hopefully feel less overwhelmed by SEO. 

Remember, think about what your target audience might search for to find you and try to make your website match those words/phrases. That’s a great place to start! 

For more advice on how to make the most of your custom content as part of your marketing strategy, you can contact us here or check out our article on Cascading Content here.

Hubspot. An All-In-One Business Solution

We’ve already talked about the power of email marketing and how Mailchimp is a great solution for small businesses or those just starting out.

However, if you’re looking to scale your client base to several thousand contacts, you’re having trouble manually responding to and tracking every new lead your business develops, or you simply have more budget than time – we’d like to take a moment to introduce you to Hubspot.

As business owners we can easily mistake sales and marketing as two separate things. To me thats like saying you’d like to take the rum out of a pina colada! They work beautifully in usison when they work together. Separately, meh not so much!

So why Hubspot?

Hubspot is an industry-leading all-in-one software suite for businesses. It has a huge range of tools, including social media marketing, content management, web analytics, landing pages, customer support, and search engine optimization. You will still need to design like a pro though! 

 It is a great solution for businesses looking to make the most of their teams’ time by automating out much of the drudgery of scheduling marketing communications and tracking sales leads. If you find yourself struggling to follow-up with potential leads or close deals as you scale, Hubspot might be the perfect solution for you.

Hubspot also offers integration with hundreds of applications and will likely complement software your team already uses.

If you’re interested in learning more about Hubspot and whether it is a good fit for your business, check out their assessment tool here.

A word of warning

We should probably note that we have no affiliation with Hubspot and are not getting paid to write this article – we’re just big fans!

But just because Hubspot has the functionality to do everything under the sun does not mean it is the right solution for everyone.

If you are just getting started or have a small business, the pricing and seemingly limitless features of Hubspot may be overkill for what you need. Furthermore, if your business is largely offline or you aren’t comfortable with using complex software tools, you may feel overwhelmed by Hubspot.

If you aren’t going grey and tearing your hair out, you aren’t doing it right!

We recommend taking a look through their site and thinking carefully about how the software fits into your business plan before spending the time and money needed on getting set up.

Lastly, any implementation of any system is always difficult. If you aren’t going grey and tearing your hair out, you aren’t doing it right! Don’t believe what they say about how easy the transition is because there is always something that you need that you may have to find a workaround for! If you get stuck or just need to commiserate, you can always give us a call on 0274 38 20 38. or pop us an email here. 

Skip anything BUT Email Marketing

Whether you are just starting out or already have a dedicated customer base, email marketing can be a powerful tool to build your brand and encourage customer retention.

Email can be easy to overlook in favour of social media, but if you ignore the inbox you could be missing out on one of the best channels to engage with your target audience.

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

  • 99% of consumers check their email every day
  • 59% of respondents say marketing emails influence their purchase decisions.
  • >59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI.
  • 78% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months

Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/email-marketing-stats

Pretty impressive! And it makes sense – if someone is subscribed to your newsletter, they are either an existing customer or have expressed interest in your product. 

Compared with paying to advertise to a group of people who may or may not care about your business, with email marketing you are talking directly to someone who has told you they care about what you have to say.

Email marketing should function as a tool to maintain that relationship with your audience by keeping your communication consistent and valuable. This means reaching out consistently with information that people actually care about.

So what is the best way to start marketing through email?

Most email clients (Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook etc.) offer some form of mail merge, which will allow you to email, multiple people, at the same time. 

However, these platforms have limited functionality and if you are serious about scaling your business we recommend using Mailchimp for your email marketing unless you are looking at an all-in-one system like Hubspot. If you are looking into that kind of set up check out our blog on Hubspot here. 

Mailchimp is a dedicated email marketing system which will allow you to create mailing lists (so you can send some email to existing customers vs. prospective customers for example), create professional newsletters, automate your email campaigns (set it and forget it), and integration with your e-commerce platform.

It also offers templates for all kinds of email communications, as well as signup forms you can drop on your website to collect new email addresses for your database.

Mailchimp also tracks what happens with your emails (e.g. which emails were opened, which ones went straight into the trash) and provides you with analytics to help you make more informed communications choices. It can be a powerful source of sales leads.

Most importantly, Mailchimp is affordable for small businesses and those just getting started.

Important tips:

  • You should have an existing relationship with anyone in your database (in other words, they should have “opted-in” to your emails), otherwise, it is probably not legal for you to be mass emailing them
  • Resist the temptation to pay for databases of contact information online – these are unlikely to convert to sales and may be a violation of the terms of service of your email provider
  • Take time to familiarize yourself with the features and look for articles online to walk you through the most commonly used features.

While we’re on the topic of email, don’t overlook one of the easiest ways to look professional while maximising free advertising… setting up an email signature!

Design like a Pro!

Are you a small business owner trying to build your digital marketing strategy?

How you present your brand is just as important as what you say and where you say it.

Have you ever come across a website with clashing colours, difficult to read the text, or distracting images? How did it make you feel about the company who put the site together?

Online platforms are largely visual mediums, and your brand’s credibility can be helped – or hurt – by how well you take advantage of this fact.

Creating compelling images for your social media posts or consistent design themes across your newsletters and blog (for example) will present your business as a professional and detail-oriented outfit, helping build trust.

Making your own designs 

If you have some experience with design or more time than a budget for marketing, it is worth it to build your familiarity with online design tools.

We recommend Canva (we use it ourselves!) for ease of use and budget-friendly options. 

If you are trying to decide whether you need the free or premium version of Canva, check out our article discussing the benefits of each here.

Why we like it

We like Canva because it helps you avoid making common design mistakes like using low-quality images, poor proportions, or discordant styles, colours, or fonts. 

If you already have a logo, you can use this tool to get your brand colours and save those in Canva so they’ll be readily available every time you make a new design.

Canva also has dozens of templates that let you simply drag-and-drop your text and images in – it doesn’t get much easier than that!

Even the free version of Canva will give you access to a large library of professional photography to take your designs to the next level.

This can feel a bit overwhelming at first, but keep it simple – use the templates and don’t try to create anything too complicated and you will have some great designs in no time. There are also plenty of articles and other resources available online to learn more about designing on Canva.

Outsourcing your designs

Of course, not everyone has an eye for design or the patience to create their own designs. If this is the case for you, it is probably worth it to set aside a small budget to contract out your design work.

If you are just getting started: you can hire a graphic designer on platforms like Fiverr or Upwork to help you create a logo and decide on your brand’s colour scheme, fonts, and style tone. You will then use this style guide for all of your future designs.

If you already have a style guide for your brand: finding a contractor is even easier – just send over your details and what you want the designer to create (e.g. flyers for an upcoming event, a banner and posts for your Facebook page, a template for your newsletter).

Tips on hiring freelance designers:

  • Read reviews and look at ratings
  • Saving a few dollars up front may cost you more in the long run if you need to re-do something
  • Communicate your expectations clearly and in as much detail as possible upfront

And that’s everything you need to take your brand’s image to the next level – substance AND style!

Need some help getting started? We offer Canva tutorials! Contact us here for next steps.

Attract New Clients with Events

 

Events should play a role in most marketing strategies for small businesses. Hosting an event is a great way to get your name out there and establish your credibility on a specific topic.

Events can be anything from free online information-sharing sessions to paid in-person workshops – whichever suits your business best.

How do small businesses successfully use events to drive sales?

The key to getting the most out of an event is to make sure that the amount of time and energy you put in to the planning pays off in the outcome. You can do this by:

  1. Delivering value to your target audience so they want to do business with you; and
  2. Minimising time (and headaches!) spent on event-planning logistics.

Let’s break this down in more detail.

How can you deliver value to your target audience?

    1. Be clear on your purpose (what you want to achieve – for youself and your attendees): Establish the purpose of your event. Have you noticed that many of your existing customers have similar questions on how to use one of your products and might appreciate training? Are you looking to build your name recognition in a new industry or area? Think about what your ideal outcome would be (e.g. gain new clients, build existing customer loyalty) AND what attendees will get out of the event.
    2. Objectives. Make sure you set some SMART objectives. Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely objectives come in really handy when you are reviewing the success of your event.
    3. Define your scope: This is where we consider our who, what, when, where and how. Making sure you have a great run sheet organised will help you not only with your list of resources, but also – consider what kind of budget you will need to run your event.  

 

  • Plan your event: Settle on a date, time, and location, leaving yourself at least a month to prepare. Create an invitation for your event and circulate it to your target audience.
  • Deliver! Prepare your presentation well in advance, be prepared to answer questions, and show up with a smile.

 

What is the best way for small businesses to market their events?

If you’re a small business owner, you don’t have time to spend hours on planning an event and worrying about poor turnout. Make sure you get the most out of your efforts by streamlining your event planning and marketing your event widely to get a good turn out.

We recommend using Eventbrite to create and manage your events. Eventbrite is an online event-planning site that will let you create a page for your event, register attendees, and even sell tickets.

Simply create an account and a new event. Eventbrite will walk you through a form to fill-in the particulars for your event (which you should already know from the steps above!). 

We recommend taking a little extra time to fill in some information about yourself or your business in an organizer page.

It is also worth it to include an eye-catching event cover photo, which you can create easily in Canva. For more information on what Canva can offer and its pricing check out our article on Canva the $Debate here.

After your event page is looking great, Eventbrite will give you a link which you can share with your target audience. We recommend sending an invitation to your business’s database at least 4 times during the month leading up to the event. We also recommend sharing the link across all of your social media channels.

So how does it measure up?

Eventbrite offers easy integration with Xero, Mailchimp, and Facebook accounts, among others – easy as!

Eventbrite charges 2.5% of the ticket price for each registration, plus $0.99 per ticket. If you use Eventbrite’s payment gateway (recommended), the platform will take another 3.5% of the ticket price. 

If you are using Eventbrite to host a FREE event there is no charge to use the platform.

If you get a little stuck you can always ask for a little support. We run training programs or can help with your event administration. Just contact us here. 

So what are you waiting for? Get event-ing!