In honor of 2018 auspicious arrival, my last couple of posts have covered mission-critical concerns small business owners should visit every year, including…
Both of which are important issues to address if you aim to start out 2018 on the right foot!
But there’s another critical consideration to keep in mind as you wade into the new year…
Gaging the effectiveness of your marketing.
Along with calculating your budget and developing your annual goals, the launch of a new calendar year is also the perfect time to evaluate your primary marketing vehicles. And in turn, make any necessary adjustments.
In other words, now is the time to zero in on where your marketing needs to improve and act accordingly.
Now, if you’re small business is like most in professional service realm, your biz could stand some attention in four areas — prospecting, website continuity, email list segmentation, and social media engagement.
So friends, let’s dive in!
1. Customer Relations Management (CRM)
CRM is by no means anything new. But adoption is rising as it increasing proves an invaluable prospecting mechanism.
Basically, CRM is a contact database that automates lead nurturing.
Let’s say you have a hot new prospect…
You create a new entry in your CRM for this smoldering lead. This triggers an initial (preformatted) email sequence that drips out over to the prospect over the next couple of weeks. It adds the prospect to your ongoing drip marketing campaign(s), your monthly newsletter email list, and your blog update email list. And also assigns follow up reminders to reconnect with the prospect, at whatever interval you designate.
Now, this really just scratches the service. When it comes to CRM capabilities, the sky’s the limit. Functionally, CRM can be as complicated (and expensive) or simple (and cheap) as you’ve got the patience to deal with and capital to expend upon.
And if you haven’t delved into CRM, 2018 is the year to finally take the plunge!
2. Website Updates
Have you taken a gander at your website lately? If everything working — any broken links or links landing you on the wrong page? Is your contact and other relevant informational info correct? Does the content and messaging reflect the current — 2018 — state of your business? Over time, both your site’s function and content can degrade, or become outdated, and you may not even realize it…
On the functional side…
If you’re like most businesses, you make seemingly insignificant adjustments to your site over time. You probably also update well as updates to plugins installed on your site. And update your web platform software (especially if you’re a WordPress user, which is the web platform I recommend to small businesses) Well, all of this nips, tucks, and otherwise “minor” shifts often yield unexpected changes that negatively impact your site’s function.
Just like an annual physical with your doctor, an annual review of your website is smart, proactive move. Here’s what I recommend…
Go page by page and confirm:
== > All content and links are in the right place
== > All links are working and lead to the right place
== > Directions and instructions outlined on your site are current and correct
== > Contact information is current and correct
Also, take a moment to reflect if any functional changes have occurred in your business that warrant adjustments, corrections or updates to your informational content, site structure or overall site function.
On the content side…
Your business is constantly evolving, does your website content and messaging reflect this evolution?
Read through your site with a critical eye. Does your messaging reflect the current state of your business? Are there adjustments that could potentially improve your messaging and more accurately represent your present approach?
Consider having a colleague, friend or family member well-acquainted with your business review your site. Does your current content and approach jive with their understanding of your business?
3. Email List Segmentation
At a 40 to 1 rate of return on investment, email marketing remain the undisputed king of marketing ROI!
In other words, every dollar you spend on email marketing generates an average of $40 in revenue. Which is by faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar the greatest Return on Investment (ROI) among the marketing vehicles available to small businesses.
But with each passing year, consumers grow increasingly immune to email marketing messages. “Email fatigue” is a REAL thing.
This is especially true for untargeted, generically “salesy” messages. Which makes highly-targeted, personalized email messages the most effective and least “fatiguing” approach to email marketing.
So, how do you how do you improve your targeting and personalization?
Segment your list!
Allow me to explain… Let’s say you offer three primary services. Odds are, not all of your prospects or existing clients are candidates for all three services.
So, rather than “spamming” your entire email list with marketing messages promoting all three of your services, divide and conquer!
In other words, segment your master email list into three recipient groups. One for each product type.
And then, take your email game a step further and personalize your messages. Here’s how…
Assuming you have at least first names on your email list, most Email Services providers (ESP), offer the ability to “auto-populate” names from your email list.
That means everywhere you insert the code for “client name” in an email, the receiving client’s name will appear. This allows you to broadcast a “one-to-many” message, but make it appear as though you’re sending a personal message to each recipient on your list.
4. Social Media Engagement
OK, right off the top, let’s just dispense with the “social media angst.” Because, like it or not, social media has become a ubiquitous aspect of our cultural fabric. And good, bad or in between, it’s here to stay.
That said, social media is an increasingly important marketing tool. Especially in the small business realm. This is because many prospective consumers spend the bulk of their time online engaging with social media. And if your business is under-represented, or even worse, absent, you’re missing out on treasure trove of prospects,
To remedy this marketing travesty, here are few strategies to up your social media game in 2018…
Update Your Profile
Just like with your website, you should review your social media platforms at least once a year (if not once a quarter).
Here are few items to look out for…
== > Is your contact info correct and current?
== > Are the links to your site and other platforms correct and working?
== > Does your messaging reflect the current state of your business and the services you offer?
Focus on Engagement
As the name implies, SOCIAL MEDIA is a social platform. Users aren’t hangin’ around, hoping some business will come along and sell to them.
If you want to break through, connect with prospects, and move them further down the sales funnel, engagement is key.
In other words, don’t sell, communicate. Share valuable content relevant to your prospects. Ask questions. And foster dialog.
These are all important steps in persuading prospects to “know, like, and trust” you. Which is the gateway to a successful business relationship?
As you may have heard, Facebook has revamped its newsfeed, yet again. And in the latest shift, “Commercial Content” is STRICTLY pay to play.
Meanwhile, though Twitter + Instagram have introduced preferential algorithms, both platforms provide mostly organic reach. And Google+ is still entirely rooted in organic reach (there are NO paid ads on G+). Plus, Don’t sleep on YouTube (the webs 2nd largest search engine), LinkedIn (a business networking tool, rather than a social platform), and Snapchat (the social media platform de jour).
Point being, Facebook isn’t the ONLY social game in town.
You Get What You Pay For… Is it Time to “Pay to Play?”
Not to play devil’s advocate, in contrast to the point above, but perhaps it’s time to move beyond relying strictly on organic reach? Because as the old saying goes: “you get what you pay for.”
And the beauty of social ads is laser-focused targeting. Social platforms have collected TONS of user data, which enables them to create detail personal user profiles. And in turn, serve up HIGHLY targeted ads.
Plus, budget-wise, you can spend as little or as much as you want. The scale slides. So, you can experiment a little without breaking the bank.
How do You Plan to Improve Your Marketing in 2018?
The items outlined above are tasks I undertake myself and recommend my clients consider reviewing on at least an annual basis.
But what about you? What areas of your marketing are you planning to improve upon in 2018? Anything glaringly important that I flat out missed?
Please drop by my Google+ page and share!