Boosting your SEO ranking and why small businesses should do it
Marketing & Social
The marketing tools you should know about
Marketing, or as we like to call it at Holly & Co, amplification, is a term often shrouded in mystery, but ultimately it means telling your story in a way that connects and engages your community.
I’m going to start by saying there’s no one ‘silver bullet’ to success – it’s a tool box and you need to think about which tools to use, where and for who, to achieve the most effective outcome.
There are a lot of ‘marketing’ channels available to you, so before you get started know that you do not need to do them all! Identify the channels best suited to your business, your audience and that work for you. It is much better to do less of them really well, than to spread yourself so thinly across many that the impact is minimal.
Let’s take a look at the channels available and the most important things to remember for each one – from your website and social media to email and paid advertising…
Before I dive in, I want to remind you of one of my favourite phrases – to focus on the focus. This might all seem overwhelming when looking at it as a whole, but by working through each element, one at a time and in the order that makes most sense for you and your business, you can build an amplification loop that will help you reach more people and ultimately sell more products.
You could start by looking at others in your market and seeing where they focus their efforts, or really honing in on your target audience and picking that apart to find out how and where you’ll find them. Do your research then get stuck in, bit by bit!
‘Marketing, or as we like to call it at Holly & Co, amplification, is a term often shrouded in mystery, but ultimately it means telling your story in a way that connects and engages your community.’
This might seem obvious but your website must be a brilliant representation of your brand and your product. It’s the gateway to people completing a purchase with you and their experience whilst on your site needs to build trust and not frustrate or confuse them. Put yourself in their shoes, think about what they want to know about you.
You don’t need to spend outrageous amounts to do this, there are some great website builder tools that you can use that require no technical knowledge (Wix, Squarespace etc.), but you do first need to know your brand inside out and map out how your website will convey it through a screen.
And don’t forget about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). It sounds scary, but essentially this is making it more likely that you will appear in Google’s search results. There are many elements to SEO, but a good start is to think about what phrases or terms people will be searching that you want to appear against, then include them in your titles and descriptions. But keep it relevant and helpful to the user, don’t just shoehorn in keywords. Google favours sites with a good user experience. Do some research and remember it takes a while to build ranking, so be patient and stick with it.
Finally don’t forget to actively drive people to your website. If you don’t it’s like organising a party, setting up the venue and cake but forgetting to invite any guests!
Organic social media (everything you can do without spending any money) is the most powerful amplification tool any business can have. The ‘big five’ social media platforms are Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter, but as I said earlier it’s better to do less, and do them well, than to try and do them all! Each platform offers different things. Learn what is best delivered where and don’t just replicate your content across all platforms. As you build followers be sure to actually engage with them and learn what performs best – types of content, formats of content, times of posting, captions etc. And you need to clearly understand what you’re trying to achieve with your content, so you can evaluate what is and isn’t working for you.
The key word here is in the title – it’s called social media! Remember good old fashioned word of mouth? Well this is like that, on mass! You want to be encouraging conversations and connection, between your brand (you) and your followers, and between your followers themselves. Don’t get hung up on likes and numbers, the true value is in building an authentic, engaged, loyal community.
Paid social and influencer marketing
These are two great ways to reach more people with your content. Paid ads can be run with as little as a few pounds per day and can be set up simply through the app (on IG) or in more specific targeting detail using Facebook ad manager. You can also run ads on Pinterest and YouTube directly through their platform. Depending on what you want to achieve and how much you want to spend, you can achieve great low cost results using ads, but you do need to do a bit of research before you get started!
Influencer marketing sort of straddles the gap between organic and paid in that you will pay for the coverage (either through product or fees) but the end goal is for them to produce organic looking content. Working with influencers can help you reach new audiences by tapping into their followers. The most important thing to remember here is to make sure you choose people who are aligned with your brand, products and values – they will become an extension of all those things!
Email marketing, such as newsletters, welcome journeys and campaign communications, pre-dates most of the other channels, and it’s not an easy one, but when you get it right it pays off massively. In a recent survey, 49% of consumers said they want to hear from their favourite brands on a weekly basis. It’s key to remember that people’s inboxes are overwhelmed, just think of how many marketing emails you receive a day, so you need to really think about how your emails are going to cut through the noise. Your subject line and preview text need to be intriguing and represent what they will find inside if they do open your email, and your call to actions (CTAs) within the email should be clear and easy to follow as well.
Building a subscriber list can take some time, so be patient with this and make sure you’re really thinking about what you plan to deliver in your emails and why people might want to receive that. This should be communicated clearly in your sign up messaging so your subscribers really feel as though they’re receiving what you promised when they handed over their valuable email address!
Think about looking for complementary brands or shops you could partner with to promote each other’s products. As with the influencers, it’s important for both sides that you have the same values and a similar audience – both in people and size – so it’s a fair exchange. This is a great way to connect with other small businesses and grow your community. Start by asking a few people if they’re interested and see where it goes!
‘There are a lot of ‘marketing’ channels available to you, so before you get started know that you do not need to do them all! Identify the channels best suited to your business, your audience and that work for you. It is much better to do less of them really well, than to spread yourself so thinly across many that the impact is minimal.’
Pay Per Click or paid search is something you can consider to reach new people. These are the ads that come up at the top of search results and you pay by number of clicks. The difference is just the amount you pay for each click and that depends on the search term.
Think about what search terms you’d like your brand or products to appear against, type them into Google and see if anyone else is paying to appear against these terms (it will say ‘ad’ next to the listing if they are). If it’s large brands, it may cost a lot to bid against them, so try to refine your search terms and come up with something with less competition. Essentially you’re looking for the sweet spot between the terms that everyone is bidding on because they are so broad, and the terms that are so niche that there aren’t many searches (and so probably aren’t worth the effort).
The most important thing with any of these options is to always put yourself in the shoes of your customer and make sure you’re creating communications that you would expect from your brand, with clear, engaging call to actions. At a basic level, you need a website and you need a way to talk to and connect with your community (aka customers). Once you’ve decided which channels you want to try first and have thought about the customer experience, the next step is to try it and see! And when you find your groove with one, you can think about adding another to compliment what you already have.
1. Test over time: Make sure you give anything you try a fair period to test it – doing something once will not give you any useful information!
2. Take action from your analytics: Learn from the results by looking at your analytics for every channel regularly to see how your customers are responding to what you put out. If one thing doesn’t work, learn from it and move on to test something else.
3. Only test one difference: Don’t test too many things at once, as you won’t know which worked and which didn’t.
Top tips for using Instagram
Gord Ray is the Brand Development Lead at Instagram and a huge supporter of small business. Find out his top tips for making the platform work for you and your business.