Organic social media.
Choose your platform.
Where does your audience hang out? For some niches, Twitter and LinkedIn are the best social platforms. For others, it’s Facebook, Instagram or TikTok and Snapchat. Pinterest can drive shocking amounts of traffic for the right target audience. Niche social sites and forums like ResearchGate or Medium may even be a good choice, depending on your audience.
When you look for your platform, don’t make it a box-ticking exercise, look at where the conversations are actually happening. One niche may have a thriving subreddit and a quiet Twitter— another may use Twitter as its primary platform.
Focus on real engagement.
For small business, organic social media is best used to make connections and highlight your unique voice. Posting content to social media drives relatively low traffic to your website, and that traffic is relatively short-lived.
Going ‘viral’ is difficult and hard to repeat—and you may have difficulty keeping up with demand. For that reason, focus on talking to your audience instead of at them, and connecting with influencers. Reply to their replies, ask them questions, and chime in on tweet chats or event hashtags.
Social media can be an effective way to get in touch with influencers. Platforms like Twitter make it unusually easy to tag influencers or comment on their work. Small businesses can get a lot of value out of connections with even one or two influencers.
In the same way that being active in groups can help increase your profile, consider commenting on posts by companies you want to work with. This is a form of ‘Account-Based Marketing’. Although it is a long-term strategy, it may help you stay top of mind.
Communities/groups are one of the best ways to make yourself known. By finding niche communities and actively participating, you can raise awareness of your business.
Search engines drive massive amounts of traffic. Search engine optimisation is the practice of increasing traffic to a website from search engines. Typically, you achieve this by ranking at the top of search results—and once you achieve a top result, you’re likely to keep bringing in free traffic over the long term.
The effects of SEO can take weeks, months, or even years. But unlike paid acquisition, SEO is a long-term, scalable marketing approach. Traffic potential from search engines is high, and lasts much longer than other approaches.
SEO for Your Website: The Homepage.
Your homepage is usually the most valuable page on your website. Homepages tend to get the most links, which makes them the most likely to show up in search engines.
For your homepage, you’ll want to pick keywords that describe your business. For example, a web design agency in Gloucestershire might choose a keywords/keyphrase like “Gloucestershire website design” as their primary term.
You can check how many people are searching for a specific keyword with a free tool like Ubersuggest. Paid tools like Moz or Ahrefs can also give you an idea of how hard it is to rank for a given keyword. In general, the larger and better known your site is, the easier it is to rank for keywords.
SEO for Your Website: Services.
What services do you offer? Your website should have a separate page dedicated to each service. Separating your services into multiple pages lets you do two things:
- You get to choose a separate keyword for each page, which gives you more opportunities to rank in Google.
- Lack of major competitors serving that niche specifically.
SEO for Your Website: Content.
Sometimes, small websites have difficulty ranking for important, high-value phrases. If this is the case, content marketing (through either blog posts or long-form guides) can help you.
It’s often easier to rank for key phrases using long-form content. Additionally, content marketing lets you rank for keywords that are relevant but wouldn’t make sense to include on your core service pages.
Your content marketing program can be as complicated or as simple as you want it to be. The simplest approach for small websites is to create one piece of especially long, search-optimized, valuable content.
Then, within that content, embed a form that offers a lead magnet. This will get visitors from search to sign up for your email list.
Paid Social Media and Search.
Why Use Paid Channels?
Paid social (especially Facebook ads) and search (especially Google) can be a great way to target your customers.
These platforms have a unique ability to target very narrow groups of people—which is perfect once you’ve identified a clear niche.
Paid channels also make it extremely easy to test your funnel. Testing ads and landing pages against each other lets you see what messaging generates the highest conversion rates.
What are the Dangers of Paid Channels?
Although paid search and social can be powerful, there are some risks. Both channels have a bit of a learning curve, which can be expensive, running poorly optimised campaigns can eat into your budget quickly. There’s also the danger of targeting an audience on the wrong platform.
If you target your audience in a channel that they don’t use to make purchase decisions, your ads are less likely to be effective. For example, a study by Nature found that scientific researchers use Facebook, but tend not to use it professionally.
There’s no substitute for facetime. An in-person event lets you talk directly to your audience and build deeper relationships that are harder to get over the internet.
Events aren’t necessarily a must-have, but they could be a strong option depending on your specific niche and sales cycle.
What Kind of Event Should You Run?
Should you run events for leads or customers? There are arguments in both camps (and you could certainly do both).
Running an event for customers can help you build relationships, win repeat business/referrals, or upsell services.
Running an event for your audience helps you make new connections. Usually, an event like this has a broader subject matter and isn’t explicitly about selling your services.
How to Promote Your Event
Use your existing audience to promote your event—your email list is your best friend. Beyond talking to existing customers and contacts, using sites like Meetup and Eventbrite (and similar sites that are more specific to your
industry) can help you spread the word.
Do You Need to Run Your Own Event?
Not at all! Running an event can take a lot of time and energy, even if you stick to a bare-bones approach. Simply attending a lot of in-person local events in your industry can help you build the relationships and connections you need to grow your business.
In part three we’ll cover ‘How to Turn People Into Customers‘.