By Mark Clisby, Marketing Director at Yell.
In this article, you will find my top ten digital tips for small businesses, including social media, marketing and focussing on the customer.
- Find out who your customers are, and what they want
Part of the selling process is to understand more about what your customer wants and the reason behind their purchase. Therefore it’s important to make sure you find out exactly who your customers are and exactly what they are looking for. Simple ways to do this are to check your website analytics – it will show you the most popular search terms that people use to land on your website; run a survey – this will help to delve further into your target audience and find out what they want from your website; lastly check your onsite search, if available – this can be a rich source of data to improve your content.
- Choose your social media channels wisely
Any social media strategy will depend on your business itself and what exactly you’re looking to achieve. Each of the key social media networks has a slightly different aim and audience, so it’s important to only choose those that are relevant. Instagram might be a good channel for a company that sells products, but is probably less important if you sell a service. LinkedIn or Twitter on the other hand might be ideal.
- Learn from your mistakes
If traffic to your website is increasing but your website analytics show that high numbers of visitors leave after visiting just one page on your site, this will affect the bounce rate (the percentage of your website visitors who visit just one page) and as a direct result, your search engine ranking. This might not necessarily be due to the quality of the content but due to the absence of a call to action. Therefore make sure you include a call to action when creating content to encourage people to stay on your website and hopefully go onto purchase or make an enquiry.
- Start small and scale up
Don’t feel like you have to do everything at once. If you want to make sure your business has an online presence, start by setting up a Facebook page. Once this is up and running, think about creating a website or blog where people can find out more information and order products or services from you. Once you’ve successfully mastered one form of digital marketing then think about how you can improve on it – it may be adding a blog to your website or making sure you’re present on Google for local searches related to your industry.
- Be social and keep your customers in the loop
Social content that hooks onto recent news or trends will help to keep customers engaged. Use social media channels as a platform to engage and update rather than just a selling tool. If someone mentions your business on a social network then make the effort to share it on your social channels and thank them for it – at the end of the day it’s all free PR and it will make the customer feel valued.
- Don’t underestimate the power of offline
As well as engaging with people online, get out and about in your community by going to talks and other relevant business events. Here you will meet influencers in your field of work and it gets your name out there. These will also give you interesting content and updates to share on your blog, website and social channels that will help develop the personality and profile of your business.
- Plan, execute, hone, repeat
When creating a digital presence for your business, it’s always best to make a detailed plan of your digital strategy. Think about where your customers are online, what they are searching for, what you want to be known for and what your online offering is. Once you have a strategy in place it’s easy to apply it to any form of activity you’re doing, keeping your messaging aligned and making it easy for people to find you.
- Don’t try and do everything yourself
Avoid DIY website building services if you are time-poor and don’t have the technical know-how. Taking time to learn new skills can be beneficial, but when you’ve a business to run time is often of the essence, so make sure your skills are being used to their full potential and not spent trying to be a jack of all trades. Yell offers a number of digital marketing services that can take the pain away e.g. search engine-optimised website design & build and pay-per-click advertising campaigns, so you don’t have to go it alone.
- Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive
There are lots of free tools out there now to help with all your marketing needs. Think about each channel and which tool can best be used for each. Some tools can help across channels to make things simpler to manage. Here are some of the best free tools out there: hootsuite.com helps you manage all your social networks in one place; sumall.com is a powerful data analytics tool that allows you to view all of your online data in one simple, easy-to-use dashboard, and answerthepublic.com is great for finding consumer insights.
- Think about design from a customer’s view
When you have your own business, you may have a vision or idea in your head of how you want things to work and look. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and think about it from the customer’s perspective, as you can be biased to certain designs and assume the customer knows where to find things, when in reality they may not. Test your website design with customers to get a better understanding of potential problem areas and things you may not have thought of.