8 Digital Strategies To Grow Your Small Business

Digital marketing can be a great way to help grow your business.

You’ve probably heard it all before from self-professed social media ‘gurus’ and digital marketing ‘experts’.

But they have a point- when used correctly digital can have a great impact on your business.

Whether you advertise your business through social media channels or produce a consistent and informative blog, digital can expose even the smallest of businesses to highly relevant consumers.

As with anything, however, great results take time to achieve.

You must be prepared to test what works, analyse results and spend time cultivating your strategy to work out what constitutes best practice for your business; everyone’s unique.

That said, there are certain digital measures we should all take to help grow our businesses. Below, I’ve outlined 8 of my favourite ways to help businesses grow.

 

 

Start a blog

Let’s get the most obvious out of the way first: start writing a blog. This is probably the most time consuming point on the list, but it’s also one which will drive relevant consumers to your site and ensure they stick around.

According to Hubspot’s 2012 Inbound Marketing Report57% of companies who blog have acquired at least one customer from doing so.

It might seem glaringly obvious, but it’s surprising how many businesses don’t blog. Even if you simply talk about your company news, you might find your traffic spikes.

Better still, offer people actionable tips and advice regarding your area of expertise, whether you’re a lawyer, fashionista or a butcher- there’s an audience of potential customers who want to hear from you.

How to keep it up: It can be annoying when your blog isn’t getting any traction, but keep going. You’ll find inspiration in unlikely places such as by following your competitors’ blogs. Your rivals success can be a powerful motivator. But make sure your content blows theirs out of the water by following industry leaders across social so you can stay at the cutting-edge of your profession.

Still struggling? Here’s 10 Insanely Useful Content Marketing (blogging) Tips from expert Greg Strandberg.

 

 

Engage Influencers

 

So you’re following industry leaders for motivation for the blog. But the relationship doesn’t need to be one way. It’s amazing how approachable people are on social media.

From a comment on top digital marketer and entrepreneur Neil Patel’s blog, our Director Ryan managed to convince him to give us an interview. We also approach people via Twitter and Google+ and ask them directly for interviews and quotes.

Not only does this lend weight to our articles, the influencer often shares the article with their own following, this leads people back to the blog who have never heard of us before:

John Sparks Tweet John Sparks Tweeting Our Article

 

How to keep it up: It’s a long road but if you send messages out in batches of 20 and set aside half an hour each week, you’ll probably get one response per batch. Once you’ve built a bit of momentum people will start reaching out to you.

Since we started seriously blogging last January, our traffic has quadrupled, here’s how we initially doubled it.

 

 

Start a newsletter

 

Once influencers are sharing and interacting with your work then your average consumer is bound to want to do the same. Now you capitalise on these interactions by getting people to sign up to your newsletter.

The newsletter doesn’t have to be revolutionary and time consuming- you could simply share your blog posts within it. But people can access those blogs anyway, so you need to give them an incentive such as exclusive content only for newsletter readers or exclusive offers when people sign up. You often see:

“Sign up to our newsletter to receive exclusive offers”

This may work for massive retailers but it’s probably not appealing enough to your average consumer, so tie it in to specific deals:

i.e. 10% off a t-shirt when you sign up to our newsletter

or how about

33% off a digital marketing workshop when you sign up

Why is a newsletter useful?

Because you’re reaching people who are specifically interested in your product and you’re reaching them every time you send out an email.

A Facebook  post won’t achieve this- only 16% of your likes (who are online when you post it) will see each of your post.

How to keep it up: Use Mail Chimp for a start, it’s free up to a point and affords decent usability. Also be sparing with the frequency, don’t spam people. Set yourself a feasible amount of newsletters to send out i.e. once or twice a month and ensure the newsletter goes out at, generally, the same time every time. By keeping it consistent it will become routine and by being sparing you’ll save yourself a bit of time.

 

 

Utilise Employee Advocacy

 

The difficulty of achieving organic reach on Facebook applies to most platforms. Twitter shows your tweet for a fleeting second before a barrage of tweets pushes it down into the abyss; while people will flick past your Instagram picture without a second glance.

Just as when someone retweets your tweet it gets shown to their followers, when someone likes your LinkedIn or Facebook post it gets shown to more people too.

Kick-start your digital marketing with employee advocacy

The average person will see 1,500 pieces of content on their Facebook newsfeed each day- Facebook doesn’t want to add to the noise. So their algorithm is selective (probably too selective), if nobody likes a post it will probably only be seen by a very small percentage of your followers.

But the more engagement your post receives, the more people Facebook will show it to.

Devious digital marketers, such as me, get round this by using employee advocacy. Ask your employees, or if you’re a small business get your friends to like, retweet, comment on and share your posts. This engagement will ensure it gets shown to more people, giving the post the best chance of succeeding.

How to keep it going: Reward employees for the best and most frequent engagements.

 

 

Work out what’s working on social and streamline

 

Are you using every social media platform under the sun?

Unless you have someone specifically doing your social media it isn’t possible to have a good presence on every platform alongside running a successful business. Time to be selective.

There are a few ways to work out which platform you should be using. I’d suggest looking at the following metrics to determine the optimum platforms for your business:

  • The engagement you get on each platform (Shares, Likes, Comments, Retweets etc.)
  • Which platform your competitors are doing well on
  • Which platform drives the most quality traffic

 

Engagement and quality traffic are likely to be linked. If you get neither of those, analyse where your competitors get the most engagement, how they do it and start to do it yourself.

To see whether a platform drives quality traffic setup and access your Google Analytics account (it’s free and easy, if you’re confused see this article.) From there view the acquisition and social tab. You should see something like this:

Kick-Start your digital marketing with analytics

 

What we found when we started analysing our social media analytics was that whilst Facebook and Google+ were bringing us the most traffic, Twitter’s traffic tended to be of a higher quality than G+ and equivalent to Facebook.

This means that users from Twitter stay on our site longer (average session duration) and look around more (lower bounce rate and higher page per session).

Google uses such things to determine a site’s quality. We therefore decided to focus more time on enticing users from Twitter.

In a two week period we were able to increase our twitter traffic five fold by being more active on the platform. Interestingly, the quality of that traffic didn’t deteriorate as it increased:

Read our Ten Tips to Mastering Twitter to see how we did it so quickly.

 

Google Analytics Screenshot

 

Using analytics allows you to make informed choices.

If we had put effort into G+ -because it brought in more traffic- this would have been damaging in the long run. Knowing Twitter provides quality traffic allows us to build a long term strategy around the platform.

How to keep it up: Simply by dropping social media platforms that aren’t working you’ll lessen your work load and increase your efficiency. If you want to tweet more, why not use TweetDeck to schedule up tweets- it will save you time. Or automate your tweets with software like Tweet Jukebox.

 

Want more advice on putting the tips in this list into action? Why not sign up to one of our digital marketing workshops. For December only we have 33% off them!

 

 

Social Media Advertising

 

Well we would say this, wouldn’t we?

Yes we do offer it as a service, alongside everything else on this list, but we’re not suggesting it so you jump into our arms- although I wouldn’t begrudge you doing so.

The fact is- and we’re going to mention it again- nobody is engaging with your content, let alone even able to see it due to the stringent algorithms Facebook & co. employ.

So if you’re failing to reach people organically, why not pay to reach them?

It doesn’t cost much. From £1 a day you can reach potential customers who you target based on everything from their location, age and interests to their gender and even relationship status.

This will allow you to drive people, who you know are interested in your product, straight back to your website where they can buy it.

How to keep it up: It’s costing you money so you’ll check it- trust us.

 

 

Maybe you won’t enact every point on this list and fair play to you if you don’t need to pay to reach your target audience. But some points work symbiotically. A blog won’t work without being shared on social media and without employee advocacy people might not see that Facebook post anyway.

It’s not all hard work. You can derive a serious ROI if you’re consistently enacting good digital marketing practice, so make sure 2016 is the year you kick-start your digital operation.

 

Guest Post

 Now you’ve started a blog it’s time to move your content creation up a gear. A great way to achieve this is through guest posting.

Guest posting effectively refers to writing an article for other websites.

Why would you give away free content?

 

-It positions you as an expert in your field

-It exposes your business to new audiences

-The article will link back to your site (good for SEO)

-It will impress your audience

-It will drive traffic back to your blog/website

 

Not only is guest posting great for SEO purposes, it helps position you as an expert in your field. To achieve this you should aim to write articles in publications that:

 

-Are relevant to your business

-Have a large following

 

A good way to check if a website is worth posting to is to check the site’s domain authority or check its Alexa Rank, the higher a website’s domain authority and lower the Alexa Rank the better it is to post too.

You might have to work your way up to the bigger sites, but guest posting can help to grow your audience and, in turn, grow your business.

 

How To Publish a Guest Post

Editors are thirsty for expert-led content, especially if it’s free. If you have certain sites you would particularly like to target then find a relevant contact to email on LinkedIn or through the website.

Then pitch them an article alongside your credentials for writing and be aware that there is a hierarchy. If you’re going for big publications make sure you can link to other guest posts you’ve written to prove your credibility.

Here’s an example of an approach email I wrote:
Hi guys,

I’m currently writing my first e-book, which will be aimed at helping
those starting a business. Throughout the writing process I’ve been
interviewing entrepreneurs and experts and have accumulated a decent
log of content which can be viewed here: riweb.uk/blog

I’m a big fan of Startup Savant and I would love to help by
contributing articles in the build up to the release of the e-book.
I’ve already interviewed a number of social entrepreneurs for the
project, including the co-founder of Fail Forward and the founder of
Durban’s first Innovation Hub. So I feel I can share some useful
information that your readership will appreciate based on my findings
so far.
One such article could broach the subject of failure and setbacks and
how these experts have dealt with their own.

Many thanks,

Henry McIntosh

 

That email led to this article. 

 

Where To Publish

I’ve already mentioned that the best websites will have good Alexa ranks and high domain authorities, but how do you find such websites?

Not every site accepts guest posts, so you don’t want to write tonnes of emails to get nowhere. Instead, why not try a Google search to start with. Simply type in your niche + the following terms:

 

-Digital Marketing Guest Bloggers wanted

-Fashion Writers Needed

-Fitness Blogger Needed

 

Alternatively, there are plenty of sites that share guest blogging opportunities, I’ve listed a few below:

 

Technorati

All Top

My Blog Guest

 

Video Content

Experts are predicting that by 2017 video will account for 69% of consumer traffic. On top of this, it’s a highly effective medium.

Why it’s so effective was nicely summarised in The Living Room’s blog:

Why is video so popular amongst consumers? In an age where the average adult’s attention span is 3-8 seconds, consumers are more receptive to the ease and speed with which video can display information.

The accessibility of video is invaluable. Not only does the medium make it easy to reach consumers on a huge scale, but 80% of viewers remember the videos they have watched.

The article goes on to highlight other ways video can grow your brand, including:

 

-46% of consumers take action after watching a video

-74% feel they understand products better after watching videos

-Product videos can increase conversions

 

Video will also add variety to your content, helping you to gain better engagement on your social channels. Research from Performics into variety shows that:

 

44% of people are more likely to engage with branded content that contains an image

37% are more likely to engage  with video content

 

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And there you have it, 8 Digital Strategies To Grow Your Business.

 

Anything you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.

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