Get Virtual Access to ProBlogger Training Event 2016

Buy Now

ProBlogger Event Virtual Ticket

Buy

Give me 31 Days and I’ll Give You a Better Blog… Guaranteed

Check out 31 Days to Build a Better Blog

Give me 31 Days and I’ll Give You a Better Blog

Check it out

A Practical Podcast… to Help You Build a Better Blog

The ProBlogger Podcast

A Practical Podcast…

FREE Problogging tips delivered to your inbox  

The 6 Step Online Marketing Strategy Every Small Business Should Follow in 2015

Posted By Guest Blogger 26th of January 2015 Blog Promotion 34

This is a guest contribution from Jawad Khan.

2013 was the year when people started taking content marketing seriously. The momentum grew in 2014 and thousands of corporations, small businesses and startups invested heavily in content creation. 2015 will see this trend grow even further. Thousands of new blogs and millions of new blog posts will be created over the next 12 months.

Perhaps the biggest revelation is the way local bricks and mortar businesses have taken up content marketing. From search results to social media, the internet is getting more and more local. Many local businesses have realized that content is the cheapest way to build trust and attract customers from online channels. And the way people are turning towards Google for suggestions about their local outlets, means that more local businesses will start investing in different online marketing activities.

But with increased competition, content creation alone is not be enough to win you customers, especially if you own a local bricks and mortar business. You need to come up with a comprehensive promotional strategy to make your business stand out.

To simplify this for you, I’ve divided this strategy into six key activities. In 2015, you need to stay focused on these six areas to get ahead of your competitors and boost sales.

1. Content Marketing

Content marketing is the foundation of this strategy. Creating high-quality, actionable, and useful content is not an option anymore, it’s a necessity. If you want to be perceived as a company with in-depth knowledge and expertise of your industry, you need to create high quality content that addresses the problems and questions of your target customers.

This includes creating content for your own blog, guest blogging on other established blogs in your niche or a niche that complements your industry. Target the blogs where you can engage your potential customers.

Take your content right where your audience is. Get active on forums and discussions websites like Quora, LinkedIn groups, Twitter and any other platforms where you can talk directly to your customers. Share your content on social networks, create engaging and educational email courses, and write eBooks and Whitepapers on industry issues.

Make sure everything you know about your industry is out there in the form of your content.

2. Reputation Management

You’ve created a great blog with high-quality content. You have also been featured on high-traffic blogs in your niche. You have traffic flowing in to your website from different sources.

But when a customer decides to visit your outlet or buy from you online, what does he do first? He looks for reviews about your company.

Generating positive reviews and maintaining a strong online reputation is crucial, especially for local bricks and mortar businesses.

Research shows that dissatisfied customers are twice as likely to write an online review as compared to satisfied customers. So even if you have lots of happy clients, your reputation can be tarnished by just a few unhappy customers, because they speak out more often.

To counter this, make sure you have lots of happy client reviews on the web. Your reputation is at stake here and, with it, thousands of dollars in potential sales.

I personally recommend automating this reputation management process with Reputation Loop, a smart online reputation management tool.

Untitled

It maximizes positive reviews from satisfied customers using a series of follow up emails and updates, and minimizes negative reviews by proactively approaching dissatisfied clients for feedback. So before they can write negative reviews about your company on a public forum, they’re given an outlet to express their anger and dissatisfaction.

In short, the online reputation of your business is the gatekeeper for all other forms of marketing. So take it seriously.

3. Influencer Outreach and Networking

Every niche or industry has certain influencers who command respect and enjoy a large following. They’re perceived as the ultimate industry experts and their opinion holds a lot of weight. Your target, as a local business, should be to get in the good books of these influencers. Even a few words of endorsement from influential figures in your industry can skyrocket your reputation, credibility and sales figures.

There are different ways of getting in their radar. For local bricks and mortar businesses, the best thing is to associate with the influencers in real world. But to do that, you’d first need to engage with them in the online world.

You can start by following their Twitter account and joining their blog’s mailing list. Tweet the different posts from their blog (don’t forget to tag them), comment on their posts and respond to their Tweets. Do this for a while so they start recognizing you. You can then invite them to your outlet or offer them something complementary (even if that means sending a gift through a courier service).

You need to invest time and energy in building your network and engaging the influential figures in your industry. These relationships can pay back dividends

4. Email List Building

If you’re not building an email list, you’re not building your business (even for a bricks and mortar business). In this age of competition, where companies are approaching customers through multiple channels, you need to engage your customers regularly even when they’re not buying from you. Keep reminding them about your presence and stay in touch with them through informative emails, exclusive offers and discounts.

Make sure your website and blog are optimized for email conversions. Place email opt-ins on multiple prominent locations of your website. Use pop-ups and free giveaways to seduce your visitors.

1

I’ve personally found great results with SumoMe List Builder. Even its free version has lots of great options for maximizing email conversions. You can use it as a pop-up, activate delayed appearance and many other useful features to get the attention of your readers and increase opt-ins.

5. Offer Ecommerce and Online Shopping

 

If you’re currently not offering online shopping options on your website, seriously consider doing so. The global ecommerce growth, thanks to smartphones and tablets, is reaching unprecedented heights. Just recently, the Chinese ecommerce giants Alibaba made more than $9 billion sales in one day. Even local customers are much more likely to buy from your online store as compared to previous years.

 

Thankfully, adding ecommerce features to your website or setting up an online store is not difficult these days. You can create a fully functional online store and add complete ecommerce features to your website with tools like Selz.  It’s an easy to use ecommerce and shopping cart solution that is equally effective for selling digital and physical products and services.

 

 

2

Selz handles everything from product listing and store creation to payment collection and list building. You can embed a Selz store to your website by copy/pasting a simple html code or using their WordPress plugin.

There are other great ecommerce tools that you can choose as well. Here’s a useful comparison chart to help you.

6. Facebook Advertising

If there’s one paid advertising mode that I’d gladly recommend any day of the year it has to be Facebook advertising. It’s by far the most economical, targeted, and effective paid advertising mode especially for local small businesses. You can choose your target audience based on interests, age groups, location, Liked pages and many others criteria.

It’s most effective for boosting your list building activities. My personal formula is to create a landing page (use LeadPages or create a simple one on your blog), add a free giveaway on the page and use Facebook advertising to route traffic to the email list. It’s almost like switching a traffic button on.

But if you’re using it for the first time, start with a small budget. Test $20-30 ads with different configurations. Once you get the right combination, increase your budget gradually.

If trends from the previous years are anything to go by, 2015 will be a rocking year for small businesses that are prepared to take advantage of the different online marketing, advertising and promotional channels. The significance of content marketing will increase even more. But you’d have to combine smart reputation management techniques with it to ensure that visitors convert into customers. As I said at the start, if you stay focused on these six points, it’ll be hard for your competitors to catch you.

What are your thoughts? Which one will you be trying this year?

Jawad Khan is a content marketing consultant and a freelance blogger for hire. Follow him on his blog Writing My Destiny, Twitter, and Google+.

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above. If you'd like to guest post for ProBlogger check out our Write for ProBlogger page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community.
Comments
  1. I love the Selz mention Jawad ;) This online store and Amazon are my 2 sellers of choice.

    As for good old content marketing I vibe with your #1 listing. Small businesses with an online presence should build their foundations on a bed of helpful, usable and entertaining content. I doubled down about 3 months ago. I went from publishing daily to publishing one, 7,000 word blog post weekly. My goal is to make an impact and goodness gracious by getting serious about making an impact, it happened ;) I figure, if you give away enough free value then good things will flow your way. The challenge lies in getting serious about creating something comprehensive, in-depth and super helpful, and your small biz will grow as you make this commitment.

    Keep on inspiring Jawad!

    Ryan

  2. Content marketing continues to be the most effective way of not only promoting thyself in search engines and on social networks, by driving traffic organically a making money from affiliate programs full-time from the comfort of your desktop computer or laptop. Content is and always will be king on the World Wide Web.

  3. i love email list building, its a good way to make some market in blogging.

  4. Thanks Jawad for this excellent, well-written post. All very good points, which I’ll have to attend to with my own website.

    I also appreciate the insights on 2013-2015 trends. Very good to know!

    Last year I watched buddy Ryan (above) put all these points into practice with very impressive results. Time for me to get rolling, too.

    thanks again.

    cheers, Lash

  5. As a beauty blogger I see so many bloggers rely strictly on one social media channel and neglect the others. This would really worry me because what happens if that channel becomes the next Myspace or AOL. OR Worse, what if they shut your account down. Then how do you continue business. That is why it is important to one play by the rules and two follow the advice in this article. This is why I think list building is number one!

  6. Email marketing is always the choice of every internet marketer. I agree that we need to put the opt-ins form on multiple prominent locations of the website, better put it on the top center of the website. But the important thing that how can we supply them the best give away bonus. Sometime we need a little investment for an awesome bonus which make people contact you immediately to get it for themselves.

    • Absolutely agree!

      Your freebie needs to be high quality to attract the right subscribers. There’s no point building a list just for the sake of it. You need the RIGHT subscribers, and for the that you need to create the RIGHT freebie.

  7. here given info is very important and very unique for me and all king newbie
    thanks for sharing with us
    Good job
    Have nice day

  8. Excellent article, I have never heard of Reputation loop, I’m going to check it out now…love this site!

  9. Hi Jawad

    Hope you’re well – great post.

    The three main takeaways for me here are email marketing, content marketing and influencer outreach.

    They all fit neatly together and complement each other as stages of creating and promoting content – and attracting and nurturing readers.

    Email marketing for me has been a major focus over the last six months – and has been a revelation. I now get over 10% of my total traffic from email – and the engagement rates are much improved from email traffic too.

    Cheers!

    Loz

    • Hey Loz,

      Great to see you here.

      I see you’ve been doing great with your blog, creating detailed posts and awesome podcasts.

      Email marketing is the real deal, and still very very relevant.

      Cheers
      Jawad Khan

  10. people seem not to realise just how important content marketing is these days…im not sure which one is the most important …but i do like building lists :-)

  11. Well as i always repeat someone’s words that content is a king and now days content marketing is become a most important weapon in terms of internet marketing or promoting stuff online and i want to give huge thanks to you to share other parts like reputation management, email marketing , facebook advertising outreach & Networking and online shopping offers of internet marketing apart from content writing.These are also very important key fields for promoting stuff in online to interact with right audience.
    This article is really helpful for me and many of newbies just like me.
    so please keep posting such wonderful article.

  12. Hi Jawad
    So many people are recommending facebook ads these days. I guess I need to try them out too. I have a blog post that I would like to promote.

    I guess you have done facebook ads. What do you think works better? Boosting a post or creating a ad.

    One more thing, is it better to use CPM or CTR? Ramsay from Blogtyrant told be that he got 1.8% ish CTR from one of his ads. Let me know if you have some idea.

    Neil

    • My experience has been great with Ads, not with specific posts. But if you could set out a $5 budget for Boosting every new blog post on Facebook, you can get great results

      Ads are more effective for landing pages and products. I regularly get cost per click $0.01

  13. There’s been a lot of controversy about the validity of the Boost-post feature in Facebook in the past year. Not everyone is happy that their pages are being seen by real accounts. The targeting is second to none though, so there is obviously some value in it.

    • The controversy has been more on fake page likes. But if your ad targeting is accurate, and even if only 50% of your clicks are genuine (just for the sake of argument), and only 10% convert, it still is a worthy investment.

  14. It still amazes me how long it took companies to finally understand that content marketing is effective. The smart ones embraced it even sooner than 2013. This blog post was fantastic, by the way. It’s a nice blueprint for a company’s online success!

  15. Content marketing will still have big influence this year. A lot of people are creating new contents but only a few knows how to engage correctly. I think one good way is to run some research about your target market and write something that they can use, guide them, or solve their problems depending on you target niche. Another trick is to create a viral post that can influence readers to share it to their fiends once they saw it.

  16. This is amazing.You covered many important things in this article and some are new for me.
    Can you tell me which is best website to create mailing list.
    I am using mailchimp free service.

  17. Jawad, great post and good points. I just wanted to add that the very best tried and true method for enhanced search engine rankings is still content marketing. The more content a website has, the more pages the search engines will index, providing more web copy to be search for and found by online searchers. It’s a domino effect that works incredibly well. Social media and many other aspects of Internet marketing have their place – no question about it – but content marketing still delivers almost better than any other strategy. The only real challenge is finding the time, energy and resources for authoring high-quality, professionally developed material, as good writers can be hard to find, even internally within companies.

  18. Thanks for the insight! Just starting to blog my personal thoughts mainly for accountability and discipline for myself!

  19. Kingsley Obi says: 02/01/2015 at 12:47 am

    Thank Khan! what a great insight. Guess want I am currently implementing this method before I came across your article. I hope to reach my goal soon. Happy 2015.

  20. Very good post Jawad, Making a list of email for marketing is a great and effective way in my opinion, i had a bad experience with facebook ads.

  21. Wow! A lot to chew here! I am bookmarking this page ASAP!

    Will consider Facebook Marketing next month. I guess it’s the next step for me.

    Thanks

  22. Business the techniques really good. A lot of it will work for everyone. Thank you so much for such an article for publication.

  23. Justin Spencer says: 02/10/2015 at 8:09 pm

    This a great read. Social media participation, Referral marketing are also going to help in the online marketing.

  24. This is happening right now in Pennsylvania, I think, where a pizza owner is helping homeless people. He is getting links from some of the biggest news outlets, appearing on Ellen, and getting more social and links than he can keep up with.

  25. This website was suggested to me by some of my friends and I really appreciate the information provided here.

  26. When it comes to marketing, there are many routes to take. Some people do online marketing where others prefer to use visual marketing. There is usually a system in place as a base for everything. That being said, I would suggest that you look at getting some kind of professional help.

Comments are closed for this post.