Marketing Trends for Your Small Business – 2019 and Beyond

The business world is highly cluttered. The battle for consumers’ trust is constant, and things are even more difficult for small businesses. You’re not only facing direct competition with locally, but also indirect competition from around the world thanks to the internet. Ordering something from halfway around the world is not much harder than from down the street in today’s digital world.

Considering that 14% of startups fail due to poor marketing, it’s become essential for startups and small businesses to rethink their digital marketing campaigns. In this post, we’re going to look at the top digital marketing trends that small businesses have to embrace if they want to be successful.

Content Marketing

You could spend a lot of money looking for hacks to get your site to the top of the search engine results. There’s one catch – trying to beat the search engines at their own game is like trying to play baseball with a blindfold on.

You might get in a few lucky swings and hit a ball or two out of the park, but you’ll also waste a lot of time and energy which would be better spent on building up an evergreen content base that will bring in leads for many years to come.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is something of a misnomer. You’re not going to attempt to sell your products with these pieces at all. Think of it more as thought leadership or providing information. It’s more valuable to your consumer than an outright marketing plug.

What Are the Benefits?

It’s difficult to pin down the exact ROI from a content marketing campaign. You’re not necessarily going to get business from each piece of content. What you are doing, however, is providing your prospect with a valuable resource. This helps them form a more favorable impression of your brand.

Content marketing also fits in perfectly with what Google has been telling us that they want for years: high-quality content. It’s one of the few ranking factors that the search engine will admit to.

It’s useful for:

  • Improving your SERPs
  • Building brand awareness
  • Establishing your company as a subject matter expert

It’s also more likely to be shared than your standard adverts and helps keep readers on your site longer, which has a positive effect on SEO.

Artificial Intelligence 

If you’re using CRM software, you’re probably already using some form of AI. It helps analyze consumer behavior and identify what stage of the customer journey they’re currently in. AI can be a very useful asset for improving the client experience.

A smaller business doesn’t necessarily have the funds or employee base to run a full-blown customer support center. This has become a popular application for AI since chatbots can be created on a relatively small budget and provide your clients with improved user experience.

Say, for example, that someone is trawling the internet at 9 pm on a Saturday. They see an item they like and wonder if your boutique currently has it in stock. In the past, they’d have to wait until regular business hours to call in or send in an email.

Neither option is unreasonable, but today’s shopper wants instant results. They don’t want to have to wait for someone to get back to them, so they move along to look elsewhere.

It’s a problem that can quite easily be solved by implementing a simple chatbot. This can be done relatively inexpensively and allows simple questions to be answered on the spot. This is the next evolution in digital marketing.

Automation

Marketing has always been about getting the timing right. You make a connection with a prospect, and then nurture that connection until they are ready to buy. You then build the relationship further to facilitate buying in the future.

This is how things are supposed to work in theory, but in the modern world, full of looming deadlines and a never-ending stream of leads which need to be followed up, it is becoming more difficult. This is why automation is the next big digital marketing trend to take on board.

Follow-ups can easily be automated. After your meeting, simply make an entry in the system. The system can then send a follow-up email to check whether the client needs more information or update them about new products.

Automation offers even more possibilities. Imagine if your client comes into your store and buys a dog bed. There’s a good chance that he’s got a dog. What if he were to receive a discount voucher on his receipt for the purchase of dog treats or toys? The system can be programmed to identify related products and provide offers accordingly.

Data-Driven Marketing is Key

Big data used to be the province of large corporations. Collecting and analyzing data was once too expensive for a small business to consider. Nowadays, this is no longer the case since AI allows you to process data at a rate that has never been seen before, while providing far better insights than ever before.

It’s a lesson Target learned the hard way. A few years back, the retail giant decided that it wanted to boost baby-product sales. Their team decided that they needed to find a way to ascertain which purchases might indicate that a woman was either trying to fall pregnant or was already carrying a child.

As a result, they analyzed thousands of pieces of data and drew up a profile. This helped them identify clients who might be pregnantso they could provide them with deals geared towards new parents.

The idea backfired when a concerned dad confronted the company about ads which were being sent to his teenage daughter. It turned out that she was pregnant but hadn’t told him about it. In the end, the campaign was dropped because people were uncomfortable with the brand knowing so much about them.

This serves as a telling example of just how effective data-driven marketing can be when conducted correctly.

Final Notes

The world of digital marketing is one that is in constant flux. One minute, influencers are all the rage – the bigger, the better. Then research shows that micro-influencers might be a more effective way to get the message across.

It’s hard to keep up, but that’s essential if you want to succeed. Not sure that you can manage on your own? Then why not partner up with professionals to get the help you need?

About the Author:

Oleh KoropenkoAvid learner, Oleh’s curiosity is a never-ending source of inspiration that drives him to research, revise and apply new things. He is an experienced blogger and a passionate traveler with a great sense of humor, who cannot leave a stone unturned in the pursuit for greater knowledge and understanding. Reach him out @DMGeekcom.

What Can Impact Your Local SEO Rankings

So much attention nowadays goes to digital, global businesses that operate successfully without any borders. And yet, the entire world is brimming with small, local businesses that help grow the local economy, bring innovation to their society, and improve the quality of life for their community. These businesses are in the majority, as they take up a large portion of the business world, and they are, by nature, highly competitive. That brings us to SEO: why should small companies, some counting even fewer than 20 employees, rank better in a crowded local search realm?

To put things in a bit of perspective: 60% of American adults use their smartphones and tablets to search for local services and products. The same study shows that 78% of local mobile searches end up becoming actual offline purchases. What if your potential customers don’t come across your store in the results and head to one of your many competitors? Fortunately, as complex and competitive as this ecosystem may be, there are simple procedures you can introduce that will make a major difference for your ranking in search engines.

Online consistency

Search engines go through piles of information every day in order to decide on which brands to put at the top of the results page every time one of your customers enters a search query. One very relevant SEO factor, no matter what industry your business belongs to or where you’re located, is the information consistency you provide online. If your physical address, contact information such as phone numbers and emails, and even your full company name are not consistently presented across the web, you risk showing up much lower on the results page – if you make it to the first one at all.

It’s a reflection of the service you provide. One customer might end up at the wrong address, the other might waste their time calling an unrelated phone number. Not to mention diminishing the reputability of your business with inconsistency, because consistent information is used to verify the trustworthiness of your business. All in all, it doesn’t look good when you scatter different bits of information across the web, sending many customers as well as search engine crawlers on a wild goose chase.

Data-based SEO strategies

What Can Impact Your Local SEO Rankings

General rules, time-tested approaches, and a wide array of approved tactics are always welcome when a business tries to rank higher to get in front of a larger audience. This especially makes sense for companies that work in a densely-populated community, both in terms of potential customers and existing competitors. As an example, New York has 2.1 million small businesses, employing over half of their population, and taking up 99.8% of the entire NY business ecosystem. Standing out in that particular crowd takes so much more than standard industry tips and tricks.

In order to achieve optimal results, strategies for successful SEO in New York and similarly crowded business environments need to be tailor-made to every particular business in question. Your local SEO strategy needs to go beyond simple vanity metrics (as handy as they may be for certain aspects of your strategy), as well as general industry-relevant keywords. To make sure you are ranked better than all those thousands of competitors in your local ecosystem, make sure to truly abandon cookie-cutter solutions and carve a brand-unique approach to gain a significant advantage.

Displayed testimonials

The digital world is so much more than merely a massive shopping cart we’ll gladly forget about as soon as the products we ordered are delivered. We have started using the digital in very similar ways to our real, offline world, and it drastically impacts our decision-making process. While we used to talk to our friends to find out their favorite brand of yoghurt, we now rely on an endless database available online to make even the simplest buying decisions. The store with the best reviews that’s closest to us will be the most likely winner. Unless you’re willing to go all the way to Greece from your home in Singapore to try genuine Greek yoghurt.

In essence, search engines serve as a database of word-of-mouth for your future customers. You need to use your website, as well as all available and relevant platforms to showcase your current customers’ impressions in order to attract more people to your store, gain traction online as well as offline, and build your brand’s reputation.

Game-changing local content

It’s no news that content is one of the most influential factors in terms of your SEO game. Brands, local or not, that do not invest heavily in content creation and dissemination often fail to maximize their SEO potential, and their bottom line suffers the consequences. If you want your customers to find you with greater ease, then you need to give them a multitude of valuable reasons to look for you, or for search engines to place you high in search results.

For local brands, that means localizing their content, as well. If you’re running a local pastry shop, you need to make sure that the locals know about you by providing locally relevant pieces of content filled with locally relevant keywords and links. That means anything from coverage of local events relevant for your niche, incentivizing customers to post images of consuming your products around town (local hashtags help, too), all the way to posting local recipes, organizing local cook-offs, you name it. Be creative with how you localize your content, and search engines will love you for it.

Conclusion

Local SEO deserves much more of your attention, especially if you run a business in a competitive local market. Use these tips to your advantage and make sure that your brand stands out in the online and offline worlds alike.

About the Author:

Keith Coppersmith is a business and marketing expert who has experienced both the rise and fall of many businesses. As a regular contributor at BizzmarkBlog, he enjoys writing and providing insight of the marketing industry based on both practice and theory.

So, you’ve done all the planning, research and legwork, and now you’ve got a compelling article that is destined to convert. All that’s left to do is hit the publish button, sit back, and watch the visitors roll in. Right?

WRONG!

Content is king, but if you want to be a serious contender in the running for a place in the top 10 search results, you need to dig a little deeper into the anatomy of a successful blog post.

This process, also known as on-page SEO, may sound tedious and unnecessary. But the competition is fierce! And in a sea of relevant, engaging articles, good structure is what will set your blog apart from the rest.

The Ultimate Guide to Structuring Your Blog Posts

Appearance is Everything!

Blog structure doesn’t just impress the search engines. First impressions really do last, and an article that’s easy on the eye reduces the bounce rate as well as ensuring that your readers make it to the end of the piece.

First and foremost, you are writing for your target audience. Short chunks of information are a lot easier to digest than large walls of text, so keep your passages sweet and succinct.

Double spacing between paragraphs gives the reader a millisecond to absorb what they have just read, while also preventing a blocky effect.

Aim to have no more than 2-3 sentences per section. This gives a conversational feel, which further engages the reader. However, beware of using short single sentences line after line, as it disjoints the article and makes the reader feel like you are talking at them rather than to them.

F It!

People have a natural tendency to read web content in an F pattern. The downside of this is that they won’t be reading your article word for word. The upside is that once you are armed with this knowledge, you can use it to your advantage!

The F pattern involves reading horizontally across the top of the content, followed by a second horizontal scan below, ending in a vertical skim of the left-hand side of the page. All very scientific and complicated, but the takeaway from it is:

  • The first two paragraphs are the most important. If you haven’t hooked your reader by then, you might as well say adios amigos
  • Headings, paragraphs and bullet points should ideally begin with information-carrying words, because it draws the reader further along the page as they scan vertically

Picture This

The Ultimate Guide to Structuring Your Blog Posts

A picture tells a thousand words, and with the rise of the Instagram generation, pictorial content is more important than ever.

According to marketing expert Jeff Bullas, articles with images get a whopping 94% more views than articles without.

User engagement is the main purpose of inserting images in content. Who doesn’t love a pleasing image of a cute furry kitten? Or even better, a short and enlightening infographic that depicts the information in the text below?

The sad but true fact is that people are time-strapped (not to mention a little bit lazy) and will actually avoid reading the text at all costs. Cue the eye-catching, stimulating image that will impart the information quickly, with minimal effort on behalf of the user.

Pictures have the added benefit of breaking up the text so that the reader doesn’t feel like they are wading through an ocean of words.

Width Matters Too!

The optimal width for blog content is 500-600 pixels. For us mere mortals, that means lines that are approximately 100 characters long. Problem is, as much as people like text that is arranged to suit their eye movements, they actually dislike too much blank space on a webpage.

The rule of thumb for bloggers is that content should take up no more than 60% of the width of a webpage, and any sidebars or menus should be placed in the right-hand margin.

This gives the eye a break when it reaches the end of a line of text, without giving the impression of an expansive white space. It also provides the perfect opportunity to promote the other fantastic content that your site offers!

Remember that F Pattern from earlier? The left-hand side of your webpage is the premium space, so save it for the critical information.

Be Bold!

In the olden days, bolding text, and especially keywords, was an important SEO technique to improve rankings. This is no longer the case, and in fact, bolding too much text might actually damage your search engine position.

However, there is still room for a little boldness in your articles, as long as you know how to use it correctly. Readers tend to slow down as they approach boldened text, so the surrounding words will make a bigger impact.

This means that it can be used effectively at crucial stages of your blog to ensure that vital information is emphasised.

Link It In

Internal linking is a great way to direct your users to other relevant pages on your site that they might like, thus boosting your page views.

But that’s not the only benefit. Internal linking also helps to build the authority of your page, and it makes it easier for bots to crawl and index. Which means that a lot of links will ensure that your site is highly optimized and ready for the influx of visitors.

Conclusion

It may come as a shock to some that “content marketing” doesn’t simply involve killer content. And though the main focus for marketers is on page rankings, Google’s main aim is to guarantee a good user experience. So, concentrate on what the user wants, and the results will follow!

How to Set Social Media Advertising Budget
Source: freepik.com

Planning a digital marketing strategy for 2019 could be more difficult than ever, as the competition is becoming denser by the day, and the technologies and trends are changing by the minute. It’s worth considering these novelties and shifts, not only in social media marketing but also in social media budgets. By researching which platforms businesses are spending the most on, you will see where they’re seeing the best returns, and this will help you learn the best approach for your business, which must not be a mere copy of the trends.

Nearly 70% of digital marketers who participated in SMT’s 2018 Social Media Spending Survey said that they are planning to spend more, however, this doesn’t mean they are taking the right approach. According to Orbit Media’s 2018 Blogging Statistics Survey, a better approach to take would be to invest in professional writers who would write original content.

Let us try to make the task of setting a social media advertising budget easier for you, by taking these and other important facts into account.

How much should you spend?

According to an analysis by The Content Factory, the industry average when it comes to social media marketing is $4,000-$7,000 per month ($200 to $350 per day). The accurate number, though, will be influenced more by your annual revenue. On average, companies spend between 10 and 13 percent of their annual income on marketing, with 25% of that budget going to social media marketing spending.

When you are budgeting for social media advertising, you also have to take into account the past revenues based on the social media strategy, and your marketing goals.

Which costs should the social media budget include?

We already made a distinction between paid ads and content writing in the intro. But it is imperative to differentiate these things when planning the budget and allocating the funds. There are four areas of social media spending businesses need to pay attention to:

  1. Paid advertisements
  2. Technology and tools
  3. Social media managers and the creative team
  4. Service costs

Paid ads encompass those ads you are paying directly to social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. It can be a very cost-effective marketing approach, as long as you target the right audience.

Technology and tools used to launch and optimize social media campaigns are diverse, and they range from photo editing software to analytical platforms. It is always recommended to use a social media management tool, for a more effective social media strategy and efficient scheduling.

The team behind the whole story will not work for free, regardless of whether they are an in-house team or freelancers. Hiring freelancers can be more affordable, especially if your firm does not require the constant labor of, for example, designers, photographers, etc.

Another option is to leave everything related to social media or any kind of marketing to a specialized digital marketing agency. In that case, you will have to calculate the price based on the services you are getting (managment of social media accounts, on one or more platforms, designing campaigns, etc.).

Where to spend?

You know how they say, “don’t spend it all at one place”? It is the same with social media marketing. A blunt example would be: it is not cost-effective to have a retirement home ad campaign on Snapchat because more than 70% of Snapchat users are under 34 years old.

The platforms you should consider, depending on your line of work and target audience, are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, and LinkedIn.

To choose the right platform for your business, first, you will need to do research of your customers and audience. The network (or networks) you choose should be most frequently used by your target market.

How to get more for less?

It is the question that has been “bugging” the business community from the moment when the first goat was traded for a bag of flour, and in social media marketing, it is finally possible to succeed at it. Here are some basic things you should know, and you can take it from there:

  • Set clear and measurable goals and monitor the progress.
  • Capture the audience’s attention with inspiring and engaging ads.
  • See what is popular among your target audience and use it for generating an appealing campaign.
  • Experiment with your ads, and learn from customer feedback.
  • Adapt the social media campaign to different platforms. Facebook and Twitter users will never react the same to an identical message.

Tailoring the budget to your needs

To summarize, these were mere guidelines which should help you tailor the budget and the fund allocation based on your business’s revenue, goals, and target audience. It is not possible to find one solution that fits all businesses. It is up to you to do thorough research and establish a strategy based on the results and the specifics of your business. Don’t expect it to hit immediate success, though. It is a process, and you are meant to experiment and learn from your mistakes. It is the only way to grow.

About the Author:

Natasha is a web designer, lady of the keyboard and one hell of a tech geek. She is always happy to collaborate with awesome blogs and share her knowledge about IT, digital marketing and technology trends. To see what she is up to next, check out her Twitter Dashboard.