By Noelle Laury
Marketing technology moves at the speed of innovation, the result of which has produced a dizzying number of platforms, CRMs, apps, and other software choices for small businesses. Attempting to sort through all this technology can make any business owner’s head spin.
Narrowing the lists of nice-to-haves to a list of must-haves is challenging, so let’s start with the basic marketing needs of a small business and work out. Small business marketing strategy focuses on moving targets along the buyer’s journey in a manner that not only leads to adoption or purchasing, but beyond to positive reviews and referrals.
This journey is often segmented into four phases. At ULG we build our marketing strategies to attract, convert, close/adopt, and delight (the fourth phase has variations that include retain, re-purchase, and referral). The fact is if your customers are delighted, retention and referral should not be a problem.
If the old motto "content is king" is indeed true, and we would assert that it is, then your website is like a castle. There is some conversation out there about whether small businesses need websites with so many other channels to traffic content. A website with good UX is a home for your content and the location to which you drive traffic - not only sell and engage, but to capture data to feed your sales funnel.
It is true that other platforms allow you to post and traffic content, but few channels provide you the flexibility that a well designed and expertly hosted website will. In most cases, we consider this a must-have.
Now let’s align some of UrbanLink’s recommended technologies with the phases of the buyer’s journey.
Before you get a target to convert, which includes adopt or purchase, you must get their attention. It’s all about being seen! Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your website content, mobile optimization, and speed. Doing this will increase the site's visibility for relevant searches. Data driven content and keywords are important factors in improving page ranking in search results.
Two tools we use when building and improving our clients’ websites are Google Analytics and SEMRush. The best time to start an SEO strategy is before your site is built (or even better, when you name your business). SEMRush allows you to research keywords and track keyword strategies used by your competition. It scans all your content and recommends modifications to improve your search rankings.
SEMRush helps optimize your content while Google Analytics tracks user behavior and data while on your site. It allows you to track the most popular content and the least popular pages. Most importantly, Google Analytics tracks the effectiveness of your online marketing campaigns, driving traffic to your website and ultimately leading to conversions.
Once you have the eyes and ears of your targets, it is imperative to hold their interest. The conversion phase is like dating. You need to create a connection with your target. This means hanging out where they hang out and stirring up conversations that interest them. This is where a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and marketing platform becomes essential.
Many technologies have moved to an integrated model that combines CRM with marketing tools, however, these platforms can be expensive and are not always as user friendly as they claim to be. There are two tools that we can recommend-MailChimp and HubSpot. Choosing one that is right for your business or organization will depend on the objectives, size, and scope of your marketing needs.
MailChimp has long been a small business go-to for email marketing. In recent days, the platform has added useful features including CRM, audience segmentation, landing pages, surveys, and social media marketing/advertising tools. If you plan to DIY your marketing efforts, MailChimp has user-friendly with predesigned templates and drag and drop options. It's a great platform to get started with, but may not be the solution for medium-sized to large scale businesses.
Enter HubSpot, an integrated marketing tool with all the features of MailChimp and then a whole lot more. It is a marketing automation platform build to support digital business growth. HubSpot offers lead funnel options including lead generation, scoring, and nurturing that is important to many digital businesses.
Your target is primed and ready to purchase or adopt, but are you making it easy for them? Whether your website is a single page sales funnel or robust eCommerce site, it must be user-friendly. Load times, navigation, and secure payment options are essential to the customer experience. Fail at any one of these and you will see an increased bounce rate or cart abandon rates.
Circling back, Google Analytics is a must-have to close onthese connections. The platforms reporting will inform you of potential pitfalls and obstacles in your user-experience that may be disrupting the buyer’s journey before a purchase is completed.
Even once a buyer has adopted or purchased the product, you still have work to do. Provided that you have a satisfied, or even better, delighted customer, you are positioned to multiply your marketing efforts with very little investment.
A delighted customer can become a brand ambassador if offered the right tools. Review and referral opportunities can be harnessed with some timely communication and prevalent social sharing prompts.
Technology streamlines this phase as well. The top platform for business reviews is Google My Business. This free service not only connects your business with customers, but allows customers to share their experience with others. Customer reviews build consumer trust and confidence.
Marketing your small business is challenging. Technology can be helpful, but things can get complicated fast. Nonetheless, these tools remain critical to your success. Whether you decide to DIY or hire an agency to help, UrbanLink Group offers free consultations to help you determine the right direction for your company.