This article was written by Jared Hecht, co-founder and CEO of Fundera.
Digital marketing trends can be a major game changer for your small business.
For some local business owners, getting into the world of online marketing might seem overwhelming. But beyond the practical necessity of having a website and a basic internet presence (ex. a Facebook page), trying your hand online marketing trends can make a huge impact on business, and does not have to be intimidating.
Digital marketing is accessible, it doesn’t have to be expensive, and it can be a creative opportunity to illustrate exactly what makes your business special.
There are ways to tap into online marketing and ad trends that might actually be fun to experiment with as you grow your small business. The internet is your oyster, my friends, so take some tips from leading marketing experts and capitalize on what’s hot in digital marketing.
Video Content Is Critical
Great video content can shift everything for a small business. Tabitha Naylor of Smart Advantage Media points out that because most people now consume content on the go, video is a powerful way to reach people. And it’s possible to get creative with what you put out there.
“For small businesses, video tutorials are effective because they provide value by helping viewers solve a problem,” says Naylor. “Live streaming video can also work well when your business is unveiling a new product.”
Having live Q&As is also a great way to deliver information to your audience while increasing engagement.
No idea how to approach video marketing? Read our Beginner’s Guide to Video Marketing!
Geo-Conquesting wins for small businesses
Naylor recommends that small business owners take advantage of something called geo-conquesting. “It’s a local marketing strategy that lets you create ‘virtual fences’ using location-based ads around areas where your competitors are located. When someone visits a business within that area, your company sends push notifications that offer discounts or offers that are better than what your competitor is offering.”
Geo-conquesting is great for small businesses that are competing with similar companies in a specific geographic area, because it targets people you already know would be likely to look at your offers.
Leverage Your Customers’ Networks
Whole new waves of customers might be much closer than you think. Matt Edstrom, head of marketing at BioClarity, says that due to advertising overload, consumers have learned to ignore traditional advertising channels.
These days, people relying heavily on the endorsements of their friends, family, and social influencers. “While this has been detrimental to the effectiveness of traditional marketing,” says Edstrom, “it has opened up a tremendous amount of opportunity in the social media space.”
While there are many ways for businesses with a limited budget to use social media for marketing, an effective social media strategy that he uses to grow his business’s audience is leveraging target consumers’ personal networks to do the advertising.
“This tactic is similar to a social influencer campaign, however, we are using our actual customers,” says Edstrom. “We incentivize our customers to share our products and their experience with us on their personal social accounts, which allows us to tap into their network of friends and family, effectively amplifying our advertising efforts and helping us earning new business through these personal endorsements.”
Incentivizing and building a following of brand ambassadors is a simple tactic, and a great low-cost way for small businesses to kickstart their social media marketing efforts.
Unsure of how to spend limited marketing dollars? Check out How to Craft the Perfect Small Business Marketing Budget.
Use The Ad Networks
Scott Bishop from Up And Social says that online ad networks quickly place your message, product, or service in front of a targeted niche. What’s great about online ads is that you can specify who sees your ad based on your own specific parameters, like demographics, browser history, search activity, and location.
Bishop says, “Successful online marketing campaigns utilize a variety of ad providers such as Google, Yelp!, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Bing. These ads are typically only 100 words or less. They may or may not include a picture, and can show up organically in news feeds, on a video someone is watching, or as a part of search results.”
And when a person clicks on your ad, Scott says, you can link them to a custom page on your website that’s designed to really drive your message and to generate those leads.
Enlist the Help Of Influencers
Bishop says that one of the great things that the Internet can offer small business owners is the ability to tap into online influencer marketing. This can be as simple as finding someone with a large online network of people who represent your ideal customer that will talk about your business.
The trick here? “An influencer refers or recommends your product or service, without you being involved on the surface,” says Bishop.
While paid influencers are legally required to use hashtags and comments that clearly state the nature of their relationship or engagement with you, their networks still provide extremely valuable reach. You can also consider micro-influencers — people with a smaller but highly engaged and more niche following, which can have stronger results.
“This kind of marketing is very effective because people listen to people they trust and have a relationship with,” says Bishop. “Platforms such as IZEA can help you get started with influencer marketing.”
Develop Great Content with a small business blog
A truly great content marketing campaign is all about reaching your ideal customer with the valuable content they’re looking for. “Resource roundups, how-to articles or videos, product recommendations and comparisons, industry trends, infographics, and case studies are all forms of content marketing,” says Bishop.
“Providing valuable content via social media networks and your business blog is a sure way to establish authority in your industry,” he adds. The best approach is to be as consistent as possible, and to really diversify the content you’re providing. Try to bring something new to the conversation, rather than be the thousandth blog on the exact same topic.
Be sure to add your content not only to your business blog, but to social media networks such as Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even Tumblr. “Content marketing together with strong calls-to-action can generate organic traffic to your website and generate a constant flow of targeted leads.”
Double Down On Your Facebook Presence
Andrew Schutt of Elevated Web Marketing says that “the biggest and most profitable trend that local business owners can take advantage of right now is Facebook Advertising.” But most small business owners aren’t actually using it to its full advantage.
With organic Facebook posts seeing less and less traffic, many businesses are simply giving up on the platform. But all you need is a small advertising budget to make Facebook work for you.
Schutt says it’s all about creating a strategic Facebook advertising campaign. “That means creating a short educational video ad to help pique people’s curiosity about your product or service. Then, to maximize the effectiveness of your ad spend, set up retargeting ads to be served to those who watched over 75% of the original video.”
Once you have a significant number of people who have completed this action, Schutt explains, you can take advantage of Facebook’s Custom Audiences feature. You can create a custom audience of people who are similar to those who watched over 75% of your video, since this new audience will likely also be interested in your product or service.
Cool, right? Now you can go have a bit of fun figuring out which of these trending marketing tactics works best for your business. You might just be surprised at the results.
Jared Hecht is the co-founder and CEO of Fundera, an online marketplace to help business owners secure financing. Prior to Fundera, Hecht co-founded group messaging app, GroupMe.