Not long ago, I was asked by a small business owner the following question: What marketing strategy works best to acquire new customers?
I was ready to reply with the same-old same-old recipe when I thought of the times I got the same question and of one number that signals the importance of small businesses:
In the USA they represent 94% of all businesses, in Spain for instance they make up 95% of the pie - this number is consistent accross all countries worldwide.
Over 90% of all businesses have from 0 to 9 employees.
Given the number of times I got this very same question, and how important are small businesses for our economies and society as a whole, I decided to write the marketing strategies that are proven to make a difference and help a business win its competitors.
Before getting started, though, it's important to understand the following, which we will walk you through in a second:
Google's search results page is broken into three sections
Google AdWords: They receive 20% of all clicks.
The top section of Google’s search results comprises up to 4 paid results known as Google AdWords. In another article we delve into how Google AdWords work in detail. These results, which can be from one up to four, garner approximately 20% of the clics. In other words, out of one hundred people who search for any given term, say “car sales”, 13 will click on the top results.
Google Maps: They receive 10% of all clicks.
If you search for a local service, often you will see right below the paid results, a map with few local businesses offering the searched service or product. This results garner approximately 10% of all clicks.
Google organic results: They receive 65% of all clicks.
And finally, we have 10 organic results including the websites that Google deems as the most relevant for the search term(s). Sixty five percent of searches end with a click in one of the organic results.
If twenty of percent of searches end up with a click in the paid section of Google, ten percent of them do so in a result within the Google maps area, and sixty five percent click on an organic result, where do the remaining five percent go? Well, they go to the second page of Google. That’s it - only five percent of Google users bother with anything beyond the first page.
Let’s start by ranking our website in the bottom area, the so-called organic area of Google, or also known by the free results of Google.
We wrote a detailed article where we delve into what it takes to rank in Google - to sum up and in order to have a page ranking in the organic area, your webpage needs to have the following ingredients:
Lengthy: over 2,000 words please.
SerpIQ performed a in-depth research and came up with the perfect length to rank on the top positions in the Google search results. Make sure content is supported by graphics and/or pictures that help readers better understand and digest the information presented. Else, content can be sometimes hard to follow and many readers will not be able to fully understand it unless supporting visual elements accompany it.
Authoritative and relevant: remember that perception is reality.
if readers don’t stay long enough in the page and are not engaged, this page won’t make the cut. Google knows.
Links from other pages: optional but very helpful.
albeit not mandatory, if this page manages to receive few backlinks from other pages, Google will take it as a sign of trust and authority.
Theregore, we can say that:
Creating relevant content is the most important marketing strategy.
Not only it helps us rank higher in Google, but also to be perceived as an authority. And we know that perception is reality.
Yes, content is king and content will allow you to rank in the organic search results as we have seen. These results are limited to 10, though, and often occupied by big-names like Wikipedia, Amazon and the like; giants whose marketing resources allow for greatly optimized websites.
This is the reason why advertising in Google to rank atop the organic results is the best option for most small businesses and the only to be on the first page for key terms.
With Google AdWords, we can advertise our business in the search results as well as appear on websites relevant and related to our business via images.
These images, as well as the ad copies on top of the search results, don’t cost anything unless they are clicked.
The fact that with AdWords businesses pay per click is what throws some advertisers off and make them avoid it.
Yes, we pay per click. No, Google AdWords is no longer an option. Most businesses, whether big or small, shall be leveraging it as one of its main marketing channels.
It is worthwhile bringing up what Mark Thomson, Director of The New York Times said once:
'There is no such thing as free clients.'
This statement is without a doubt quite powerful and a timely reminder that in our competitive business world we need to be aware that investing in marketing advertising is no longer an option. There are quite a few ways we can choose to advertise and not all yield the same return on our investment, however.
Google AdWords is known to be one of the, if not the, cheapest channel to acquire customers because our advert is displayed only, and only when our prospective customers are looking for our product or service. This means, that the click we pay if they so choose to click on the advert atop of the search results is a click paid so somebody who is looking to buy our product or service gets to know our business and what makes it unique and better than its competition.
For our advert to yield a postive return on the investment, we need to be careful not to bid for search terms that do not infer a purchase intent.
For instance, say we have an apparel store where we sell soccer shoes. The terms we would want to bid on would be:
Where to buy soccer shoes
Store selling affordable soccer shoes
We would not want to have our advert displayed when people search for terms that do not imply a purchase intent, or are overly generic since we can be driving paid traffic to our website that is not looking to buy - examples of such terms would be:
Best soccer shoes
Kolau is the first technology that helps advertisers get the most out of their investment by optimizing daily over 30 elements in their AdWords account to ensure they gain more and spend less.
Google My Business: Okay - we’ve already seen how to rank on the first page of Google, in the bottom section, the so-called organic results of Google. We have also seen how to rank on the very top, on the AdWords section where we pay per click. Now, we will see how to rank in the middle-section, the so-called local section because there are up to three results below a map. For our business to be there, it needs to have a physical address or serve customers around a specific area and open a free Google My Business account. This account will also have our business information show up to the right of the search results if the search query is relevant to our business.
Yelp: Yelp is the leading review platform in the US and English-speaking countries where consumers review businesses and can compare them in an easy and intuitive fashion. Creating a business profile, thus, is of the utmost importance as it provides an alternative way for our prospective consumers to find us.
Opening and maintain it - often we see business accounts in Facebook open but...empty, completely empty. Facebook is an outstanding channel to interact with our prospective users, and to communicate with them.
It is a channel that help us keep a more informal and at times faster communication with them. At the same time, it is a channel through which we can ask questions to our audience, creating, this way a two-way dialogue.
Thanks to this two-way dialogue we can find out our target market’s likes and dislikes, adjusting our communication accordingly to win their business in the long run. .
Facebook will never be a quick-click to acquisition, since it is meant to be a communication platform rather than an acquisition channel. But let us don’t forget how important communication is to effectively maintain our acquisition target growth.
You might wonder why do we recommend to open and maintain a Facebook account, yet we don’t say anything about Twitter. The reason why, is that despite Twitter’s reach is impressive, its demographics are more influencer-oriented. Seldom do consumers, whether individuals or businesses, use Twitter for any business-related activity. It has become the channel through which influencers share their thoughts, opinions, and it has almost no value for a business..
The prior marketing strategies focused on marketing acquisition. However, a marketing plan is not complete unless there is a strategy to retain those acquired customers. According to a Harvard Business Review report:
Acquiring a new customers is 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.
The importance of customer retention is, thus, proven. The very best channel to implement a successful marketing retention strategy, is by far, the email. Not only because it is free, but also because it allows us to let our acquired customers know about events, about promotions, about discounts, about the next time they are due to visit the business again. These initiatives help with customer retention. A customer that has been difficult to acquire, a customer that has cost the business money to acquire. It goes without saying that keeping him longer a customer is a terrific idea.
Email after a purchase: The goal of this email is to ensure loyalty by thanking him for his business. We do so by thanking him for choosing our product or service and maybe, by also offering a discuount or coupon for a second visit. This email is to be sent no later than 48 hours after the purchase to ensure that the customer still remembers the business and the experiencie.
Birthday or milestone: Many businesses ask their customers about their birthday. This is an awesome way to gather valuable data that will help us send an special email, with a discount or just with a mere Happy Birthday message, on that very date. This is only once a year, granted, but the effect is long-lasting and arguably one of the most powerful.
Promotions: We don’t want to spam the customer’s inbox by sending daily promotions - no, this is not what the email channel as a retention strategy was designed for. But there are dates when the customer is actually expecting to receive a discount, or coupon, because he is actually planning on buying something then - we are talking Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cybermonday and all other holidays when people buy - this simple. We can also send occasionally emails outside of these typical holidays, but let us don’t abuse or we it will backfire.
Success stories: Another email initiative that helps retaining customers is when we send an email about a success story - this email is aimed at portraying another customer and how much your product or service has benefited him.
We can sum up stating that the aforementioned marketing strategies, if followed as presented and instructed, increase the likelihood of a solid online presence which lead in most cases to customer acquisition. These clientes are also retained generating, thus, additional value to the business.
It is important to be commited towards the implementation of these strategies - consitency in doing so is the key to succeed.
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