Online Marketing for Small Business and Freelancers : Social Media

As a small business or freelancer, social media is a core part of running your business. We’re all familiar with social media; with more than two billion people around the world using at least one platform, social media has become a pervasive part of everyday life.

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Running a personal Twitter account is very different from running one for a company or brand. Many established companies make the mistake of assigning the task of social media marketing to their youngest or most tech savvy person, not realising that, for a company of any significant size, social media marketing is a full-time job and cannot be neglected.

Strategise

Before you embark on your social media marketing journey, ask yourself two questions:

What do I want to accomplish?

Think about how you want your social media presence to help you. Do you want to make more sales? Increase brand awareness? Improve your customer service? Your objectives are up to you and making them clear will help you to carve out a space for your business.

Who is my audience?

Different platforms appeal to and are used by different demographics. The same ad posted on Facebook can be received very differently when posted on Twitter. Observe your customer base and consider which platforms are most appropriate for your brand. Avoid establishing a presence on a platform that you are not likely to use often; blank or sparsely populated social media feeds look unprofessional and can make it appear as though your business or brand is no longer trading. Platforms that have a strong visual element will be essential in spreading and sharing your message.

Plan

Unlike a personal social media account, a company or brand account can’t be left dormant until inspiration strikes. In order to produce regular and consistent content, you’ll need to create a calendar to plan out when and how often you’ll post. Find local and national events that are relevant to your business and plan your content around them accordingly. Major events will often have their own hashtag, so use that as a jumping off point in order to reach more people.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to write a year’s worth of tweets all at once. Plan out the big stuff and then assign some time to plan your content for the week ahead. Social media management tools like Hootsuite allow you to schedule your posts in advance and some even automatically schedule them for you in order to reach the widest audience.

Network

Other businesses may provide a product or service that is similar to yours, but no one does what you do like you do.

Keeping that in mind, don’t be afraid to interact with other similar brands on social media. Building a professional network opens all sorts of doors and creates opportunities for collaboration that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. There is a long list of bloggers and artists who were able to

There is a long list of bloggers and artists who were able to monetise themselves through social media by first building a fanbase. James Charles, a YouTube makeup artist, garnered such a following that he was eventually hired by CoverGirl as a model. Your network is an opportunity to sell not only your services, but yourself!

Engage

Social media gives your customers a way to talk to you, so talk back! People generally prefer to talk to a real person, so let your personality shine through when you engage with them.

Businesses rise and fall based on how they handle interaction on social media. This isn’t limited to customer service; competitions and giveaways are a good way of encouraging your followers to share your content and advertise your business to users who don’t yet follow you. A poll or survey also allows you to benefit from some free market research to expand your understanding of your audience.

Create

Blogging contributes to your SEO, which makes it easier for customers to find you through search engines. Blogs don’t need to be long, but they do need to be regular and contain keywords that relate to your business.

You can blog about anything, from events, to advice and tutorials, to announcing and demonstrating new products. It’s also a great way to give your customers a sneak peek behind the scenes of your business, allowing them to feel as though they’ve been part of your creative process.

Conclusion

Strategise, Plan, Network, Engage and Create are the bedrocks to succeeding at online marketing and social media for small business and freelancers.

If you would like to discuss how to grow your business and leverage online marketing for your small business, please get in touch!

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Innovative Digital Marketing Ideas for SME’s

Need a new way to reach more customers? Try out some of these innovative digital marketing ideas.

The digital marketing sector is innovating at a tremendous pace. New and interesting marketing techniques are being developed to reach out, engage with and attract new customers. Small businesses now have a new list of tools available to increase sales and grow their business.

Innovative Digital Marketing: Video Marketing – Live Video

This year video, and especially live video, is going to be a part of many digital marketing strategies. Facebook Live, Instagram, Periscope and twitter will allow you to reach new and existing customers in a personal, eye-catching and memorable way.

Related: Video Marketing for small business

With live, unlike recorded, there are no fancy edits. Your customers get a personal view of you, your business and how you can help them. Small businesses will be able to reach local, national and international customers. Special events, sales, charity days, sponsored events, partnerships, product creation, tips etc will all make great content. Live video and personal branding are worth taking very seriously and are easy to implement and promote.

Innovative Digital Marketing: Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing focuses on using “thought leaders” to magnify your brand to a larger market. Rather than marketing directly via PPC or social media, you pay influencers to get out the word for you.

At the top end, there are football players, socialites and tv personalities. But influencer marketing doesn’t have to be the top end. It can deliver a great rate of return when stacked up against other forms of online marketing.

Related: Online Marketing Strategies

It all depends on your product and service and who you are trying to reach. As will most online digital marketing, it’s about understanding your customers, who they are and where they spend their time online (i.e. who do they follow, like, linked-in to).

Finding “micro-influencers”, people with smaller followings that align with your brand can deliver amazing results. For starters they are more affordable than big stars, also, they are trying to increase their network, so they will be genuine in trying to help you and attract more interest.

Existing Customers are Micro-Influencers

If you think about it, people who review your site, service or products are already micro-influencers. Make sure you continue to ask your customers for reviews on social media.

Niche and trade sites are important because they tend to attract more engaged audiences. The same idea applies to influencer marketing. A high (and growing) number of people will follow a micro influencers recommendation. You need more brand advocates!

Don’t write off micro-influencers and focus too much on seeking out the most influential people in their areas. Some of the best influencer marketing strategies include a variety of smaller influencers who don’t let ego get in the way. As long as you work with a variety of people and place an emphasis on brand advocacy, micro-influencers can be extremely valuable.

Influencer marketing is growing at pace, there are already some agencies that will put you in touch with people suited to your brand, but make sure you do your research. It is worth reaching out to your local community. There is a chance that you can get some great results for free!

Innovative Digital Marketing: Facebook Advertising

Although not exactly new, the growth, potential and sophistication of Facebook advertising is eye opening. It is certainly worth starting small. It’s fairly easy to blow all your budget and achieve very little. It can take a bit of time to master Facebook ads and make your campaigns properly optimised. Make sure you refine your target audience, create impactful adverts with a strong proposition and call to action. (Call now, Find out more, Start here etc).

Read more about Facebook advertising here

In Conclusion: Innovative digital marketing

Search engine optimisation is being used more as a term for ‘digital marketing’ and less for including keywords in your HTML (although this is still important, no point making it hard!).

PPC, SEO, Content, Social, E-mail are all still essential parts of the digital marketing mix, but now we can include influencer, live video and social media PPC and they are going to be the future (until the next innovation – virtual / augmented reality ?)

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Local Business Growth via Traditional Values & Online Marketing.

Online Mobile Marketing and Local Business Growth

Many customers in 2016 access the internet exclusively through mobile. Attracting these people to your business means adopting mobile as a marketing platform. Social media and a mobile friendly website are essential. Highly valued customers research and buy online. Achieve local business growth by attracting them to your store.

Social Media for Business Growth

Many customers these days expect businesses to be on Facebook. Even local businesses – even micro businesses. And it is not only to raise awareness and sell products.

Facebook is increasingly a social media platform for researching small business products or services. Reviews on social sites are more important than any other piece of information. People rely on them when deciding whether or not to use a business.

This doesn’t just apply to Facebook. Online reviews on any site help people judge local businesses. Google Business is especially useful for reviews. Positive feedback can help your PPC and SEO campaign as well as help credibility. Ask your customers for reviews!

Deals and Discounts

Combine a love of mobile and heavy use of social media with the love of a deal. Running a discount offer on Facebook linked you your website can quickly gather momentum increasing local business growth.

Emailing your customer base with an offer can also boost short-term business growth. Many people still prefer email messages over any other type of marketing communication when they’re on the go

Traditional Values: Local Partnerships

Partnering with local associations can help spread the word out about your company. Local schools or festivals are particularly good. This can generate social media content and attention.

Donations to good causes make you look good in front of your existing customers and helps you find new ones. Obviously, you aren’t doing this just for the business benefits. Doing good in your community has its own rewards!

Be good to your employees

The social media megaphone can really help you if your employees feel appreciated and valued. Being good to your employees will cause others to view your business more favourably.

Putting it all together

Achieving local business growth means you have to have the right mindset. Many people are already predisposed to favour local businesses.

  • Be true to your small business ethics.
  • Partner with other local businesses and associations.
  • Value and appreciate your employees.
  • Share what you’re doing on social media and your website.

This all assumes, of course, that you have a mobile friendly website and keep your social media updated?

Find out more

Online marketing company in Cheadle : Online Customer Solutions, provide websites, SEO and online services to help businesses grow.

Contact us today.

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Understanding Customer Intent is Crucial to Online Marketing

Websites, Online Marketing and Customer Intent.

Ideally, before you had your website developed, you researched how your potential new customers would find you. What would they be looking for, what would they type into the search engines and how you can demonstrate that people should buy from you.

Your website is the first stage in online marketing. “If you build it, they will come” may work in Hollywood, but it doesn’t work with websites. You need to market your website online and understand customer intent.

If you need any help with online marketing, feel free to fill out our contact form here.

Customer Intent

Search engines are putting a lot of effort into working out what people mean when they type words into a search box. AI, or artificial intelligence, is being refined to help search engines understand what people want, and help them find it.

Online marketing to find new customers is all about delivering the service or product that people are looking for. In a previous role, we ran a marketing company which had a call centre. To promote our services we advertised on google with many keywords, but one of them was “Manchester Lead Generation”. Now, consider why people might be searching for “Manchester Lead Generation”.

In a perfect world, everyone would be looking for a Manchester Lead Generation company to purchase services from them. This was rarely the case. (Before going on, I must first mention that we did refine our PPC campaigns so our adverts only appeared to people looking to buy!).

Initially many visitors to the site were looking for a job in a Manchester lead generation company. Others were looking to sell services, for example, utility companies.

Understanding that users typing words into search engines all have very different intentions saves you money. If you can identify people who are looking to buy from you, and not sell to you or work for you, then you won’t be wasting time or budget.

Social Media and Customer Intent

Most towns and villages at least have a facebook group that you can join.

Ensure that your business social media pages are ‘optimised’. This just means that they need to simply and clearly outline what you do or sell. Include keywords so people can quickly identify what you do. Once this is done, you can join the conversation and raise your business profile.

By being clear about what you offer, you’ll get visits from customers whose intentions are better aligned to what you offer.

Customer Intent and PPC

Ideally, your website will be nicely optimised and when people type in what they are looking for, your website will appear at the top of the results and you are getting lots of relevant visits.

If it’s a new website, then this is likely to take a bit of time. You may want to consider pay per click advertising.

PPC advertising is where you create adverts for your business, and when people search for something that you can deliver, you bid to have your advertisement shown to them alongside the other ‘natural’ search results.

If your advert is relevant to what people are searching for (your quality score), and your bid is higher than your competitors, your advert will be shown to the people searching and hopefully, they click on your ad. This then takes them to your website and you pay the PPC engine a fee. There are a wealth of options and variables to consider when setting up online marketing to find new customers (see our other articles, especially the one about negative keywords).

With Facebook, you can set-up your business page and promote it to the people who are likely to buy from you. If you are a child care provider, you may want to target working parents whose child is over 1.

When Online Marketing

  • Understand Customer Intent.
  • Monitor and report on internet traffic and conversion rates (be sure to split out your marketing channels).
  • Keep testing different strategies.
  • Keep your website regularly updated with fresh original content and share it online with blogs and social media.

Find out more

Based close to Manchester and Liverpool in the UK, Online Customer Solutions specialise in helping businesses grow.

Contact us today, we can advise and provide a range of services, from setting up a website, to improving online marketing and conversions.

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Online Lead Generation for Small Businesses

Excluding referrals, Online Lead Generation is the most cost effective way of generating new sales for smaller businesses. For a relatively small budget, you can promote your products and services locally, nationally or even internationally.

Having an online presence is essential for all businesses and the sooner the better. You may already have a Facebook or social media presence, but a good website projects authority and expertise. There are ways to sell on social media but a website gives you much more functionality.

Lead generation is all about getting people interested in your products or services. The days of phoning people up and asking if they are interested are long gone. Apart from the fact that it just isn’t cost effective, 85% of land lines are now registered with the TPS, so can’t be called. People tend not to sit around waiting for a call if they need something.

The first thing people do is search the internet. Unless you appear on the front page of those search results, their business is going to go to one of your competitors.

What about the people that don’t know they want your products services?

For SME’s, traditional telemarketing and direct mail also falls down here. Telemarketing because less and less people are picking the phone up and it costs thousands a month. Direct mail, with the increasing mailing costs and people’s habit of just throwing junk mail in the bin, it takes a significant budget to get any kind of response. Even then, it is unlikely to generate a return on investment.

Online lead generation can help with this. Do you know what type of people are more likely to buy your products and services? If you do, then social media advertising (Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn etc) can display your adverts to these people in the locations that you specify. For example, you may be targeting new parents, Mums in the local area, Men over 40 etc.

Advantages of Online Lead Generation

  1. Have you business found by people looking for your products or services.
  2. Get your business in front of potential customers who don’t yet know that they need your service.
  3. Lower marketing spend.
  4. Control and transparency.

Find out more

Based South of Manchester in the UK, Online Customer Solutions provide solutions to a range of business, but specialise in helping small businesses grow.

Contact us today, we can advise and provide a range of services, from setting up a website, to improving online marketing and conversions.

make sales online with online customer solutions
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Increase Small Business Sales

Every small business is looking for ways to increase sales. Marketing, especially online marketing, is essential. Many small businesses rely on word of mouth when starting out. But after the first few customers and you are sure you have a business that could work, you need to start extending your reach. Can you business deliver beyond your local area? Do you make products that you could ship to the rest of the country, or even the world?

Online Marketing spans a number of areas including:

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Make sure people who are looking for your site can find it!
  • Social Media Marketing – for example Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
  • Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC) – Advertise, for example, on Google or Facebook.
  • Content Marketing – Do you have a blog that you could use to update people on your business?

Online Customer Solutions.com (OCS) specialise in working with small and medium businesses to help them grow.

OCS can setup and run everything, but sometimes – to keep costs down – clients are happy to take over the running of some of the services. OCS set everything up – for example a new website, PPC campaign or social media profile, but then provide low cost ongoing support.

Some tips to increase small business sales:

  1. Make sure you deliver a great service to your customers.
  2. Ensure your website is authoritative, trustworthy and expert.
  3. Build a local presence using social media.
  4. Ask your customers to write online reviews.
  5. Use online advertising to promote your business.
  6. Keep in-touch with your customers.
  7. Research your competitors, make sure you are offering value for money.

Online Customer Solutions can help with all the above (except number 1 – that’s up to you!)

Find out more

Located just south of Manchester in the UK, Online Customer Solutions provide services to a range of business, but specialise in helping small businesses grow.

Contact us today, we can advise and provide a range of services, from setting up a website, to improving online marketing and conversions.

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