Today's online landscape is brimming with brands attempting to get their messages out there and attract digital customers. In both the business-to-business and business-to-consumer spheres, brands have realized that a robust presence on the most popular Web and mobile channels is indispensable, as these are the platforms that their audiences are using most. The result of this rush to digital marketing is that people's Twitter feeds, email inboxes and search engine results pages are full of messaging from a variety of companies, whether in the form of branded content or paid advertisements.
In this increasingly crowded online environment, developing and carrying out the right marketing strategies for small business is essential for firms looking to distinguish themselves from larger competitors, as well as other small and mid-sized businesses in their market niche. These four tips can help you ensure that when your audience encounters your SMB on digital channels, your brand stands out among the many other inputs.
1. Get visual
Language and written content remain the primary conveyors of information in today's social media-centric online climate, and to be sure, having a clearly articulated brand message and carefully crafted copy is critical to success. But there's also a visual side to the digital marketing equation that demands an equal amount of attention. In fact, as more and more written content continues to flood online channels, it's even more important that your branding be appealing to the eye. A memorable image or a striking, consistent color palette can be the deciding factor that encourages your audience to read your SMB's post rather than that of a competitor. Once they've become engaged in this way, they've entered the conversion funnel, and your written materials can become the sales-driving tools you intend them to be.
2. Be consistent on social media
There's one central reason why Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networking sites have become critical tools for raising brand awareness: Consumers and business decision-makers alike are spending increasingly large chunks of their days tuned into these channels. But people are often erratic in their personal social media habits. They might check Twitter five times a day during slow times at the office but not post a single tweet during a particularly hectic work week.
For companies, however, this kind of irregularity on social media can be damaging. Failing to post for a few days might make your brand seem inactive and give the impression that its energies are waning. On the other hand, oversaturating social channels with too-frequent posts can seem desperate. Plan a posting schedule and stick to it so that your followers see your brand as a consistent, dependable voice.
3. Attract with expertise
Establishing a social media relationship can be a lead-in to more committed and potentially serious types of engagement. Long-form content demonstrating the expertise of your brand and the expertise it communicates are a critical conversion tool in online marketing for small businesses. In a column for Business 2 Community, marketing writer Drew Hendricks discussed how this process works.
"A good lead magnet might, on the surface, give customers something for free (such as a whitepaper). But to actually obtain the freebie, the person may have to complete a form," Hendricks wrote. "The data you pick up there is priceless, because it gives you the opportunity to interact further and possibly build a relationship."
4. Create a seamless experience
Lastly, it's important to bear in mind that your audience isn't viewing your digital content only on laptops and desktop computers but also on their smartphones and tablets. Be sure to develop a business mobile presence by designing your marketing materials to look good on small-screen formats and/or adapt to the parameters of whatever device they're being viewed on.