Getting Your Small Business Noticed Online, On a Limited Budget
If you’re a startup or a small business, I’m willing to bet you’ve been in this boat— a limited budget, rising overhead and challenging revenue goals to hit. And with the increasing cost of technology, supplies and headcount, a hefty online advertising budget may not be something that’s quite in the cards. Especially in the beginning, when a full marketing team has yet to be established, getting your name out there can seem like swimming upstream in some rough rapids, full of established competitors that have already learned to navigate digital’s murky waters.
So when it comes to small business marketing, what can you do to get your SMB noticed online, especially when you’re operating on a tight budget?
Create solid content
First thing’s first: you’re not going to get anywhere with less-than-stellar content. The goal here is to create a strong strategy, including interesting and valuable blogs, collateral, videos, etc. Be sure to focus on the challenges and needs of your target audience, giving them information, research and tips on the things that matter most to them. This isn’t the place to be self-absorbed (who likes having a conversation with someone that’s obsessed with themselves?) Remember, value is key.
Keep in mind that, as a small business, it’s a given that you’re probably not going to have the bandwidth or cash to create a massive content catalog (especially one as large as companies with established marketing teams and mega-budgets). This makes staying organized and efficient more important than ever (shameless plug: we suggest using something like Bolste to organize your thoughts, collaborate on documents and store assets). But luckily, it’s quality, not quantity, that matters. Need some inspiration? Check out some tips here.
Don’t skimp on reporting
I need you to absorb the following words: Always listen to your data.
No, seriously. Numbers don’t lie. And assuming you’re able to get your content pushed to a reasonable audience size, the marketplace will tell you if your content is helpful and valuable to your target readers. Of course, it’s crucial that you’re tracking that data in the first place.
Metrics like clicks, opens, referrals, shares, etc. are going to be incredibly important to understanding not only how your content is being consumed, but how valuable it truly is to your audience. You’re going to want to use those stats to gauge which content types, subjects and formats are most popular and more, are leading to your desired results (form fills, shares, website visits, etc.). This should drive future content calendars, allow you to optimize, and give you the data you need to report to your boss and/or to communicate to the rest of your team.
Don’t forget, it’s also important to check in with your business development reps and sales team to get an idea of which content is helping them to accomplish their goals. They can give you an idea of the content they’re utilizing to close deals, increase response rates and what they feel could help even more.
If you’re not quite sure where to start, there’s a pretty helpful Hubstaff blog you can take a look at to give you the deets on metrics and tools.
Invest time in syndication
Having great content doesn’t help you if it doesn’t leave your desktop, right? Be sure to share the pieces you’ve spent effort and time to create. This should be a key piece in your small business marketing strategy. There are a few channels that can help make this easier:
- Social Media: Post your latest masterpiece on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other social channels that have proven successful for your business. Even if you haven’t invested much time in building a following yet, compelling content is a great way to begin garnering an audience and proving yourself as a thought leader in your space. Test different times, days, quantity of posts, etc. to figure out the best circumstances to get the most from your efforts.
- Internal Sharing: Encourage your internal team (and partners, consultants, freelancers, etc.) to share your content across their networks. If it’s something that can help their audience, you might find yourself getting reshared, retweeted or emailed out to a substantial network of their followers.
- Pay-to-Play: Services like Outbrain or Taboola offer paid content syndication. With a little bit of budget, the platforms can get placements linking to your article published on some pretty high-traffic sites, increasing your website visits and visibility. The caveat here is that you need to watch bounce rates closely and optimize well, since bounce rates may not be ideal, especially in the beginning.
Getting your voice heard through the noise of thousands of other companies can be a challenge, especially with minimal spend. But making the most of your bandwidth, investing in solid content and most importantly, making sure the things you create are shared with the world can make a huge difference. Not only can this attract your ideal audience, it can help you to create a solid process, from unique content ideation to creation to sharing.