As a small business owner, we are tasked with making our business run. That often means wearing many hats – service provider, marketer, data analyst, business development, office manager, etc. And often the best-laid plans get derailed by a down website, an email or a text. And yet, according to the latest spam in my inbox, this one magic elixir will drive customers to my website and have them begging to do business with me. OK, so I’ve been down a few of these paths and the result? Let’s just say, I can hear the crickets in the back 40.
The are no quick fixes, and unless you have a substantial AdWords budget, it’s going to take time.
So that’s the bad news.
The good news? There is always room for continuous improvement.
Here are 10 things I’ve learned from almost 20 years of online marketing –
- Consistency is key. Whatever platform you choose whether it’s Twitter, Instagram or Linked, you must show up regularly and be consistent. I chose Twitter to promote This Week in Digital Health (@TWDigitalHealth). I set a goal of 10 posts a day via Buffer and quickly generated 100,000 impressions a month. A year later that number hovers 200,000.
- My goal is always user-generated content. We opened Understanding eCommerce to guest posts and now they are the primary source of our content on the site and the fresh content drives consistent traffic.
- I know what I want for users – traffic, conversions, sales – but none of that matter. Anything we do must begin with a focus on “What’s in it for them.” You don’t care about my conversions, you care about what I can do to solve a pain point in your life.
- Automate whenever possible but never at the expense of customer experience. There are a whole host of tools that make our lives easier – Buffer, Yoast SEO, dash.grum.co, right relevance – but if they don’t add to the user experience, none of it matters. Having said that, of course, if you can find tools to make your life easier, why wouldn’t you?
- Don’t build on rented land. Over the years, we’ve leveraged many different social media platforms. Inevitably, what once was a huge traffic driver goes away. Either we piss off the social media gods with some obscure TOS violation or the platform itself dies – I seriously thought Google+ was the answer to my marketing prayers. Google search has got to love its own product, right?
- Own the contact – whether it’s an email list or some other form of contact, you need to be able to reach your customers directly. If all your social media platforms dry up tomorrow, can you still reach your end users?
- Write then optimize – Don’t start with a list of keywords. Start by solving a customer’s need. What value can you offer? What pain point can you address?
- Don’t just push content – Respond to comments, congratulate new jobs, celebrate birthdays, offer responsive, timely customer support. There’s a good likelihood your customers can get similar products elsewhere, it’s how you treat them that determines whether they come back.
- Engage your customers where they are – If your customer is on Facebook, then you are on Facebook. If they prefer slack groups, then Slack it is. Don’t expect them to conform to the platform you choose.
- Solve your own pain points – there’s a pretty good likelihood that if it bothers you, it bothers others. But don’t forget to engage your clients in the process. They may have different perspectives that you need to understand true customer engagement.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what we sell or even what we want. It’s the customer journey that matters. Did we fix something, did we make it easier, did they feel valued and listened to?
If we nail the customer experience, the rest is easy!