New and local businesses face a challenge in a fast-evolving, saturated digital marketing landscape. With smaller marketing budgets, the fear becomes pouring a significant spend into fleeting technology that will soon give way to another trendy innovation.
So in this landscape, how do small businesses and local businesses effectively utilize digital marketing to drive sales? Good news: Your Make It Iconic Team has experience in this arena. Here are a few first steps in establishing a booming brand.
Sweat the Small Stuff: Local SEO
We can’t emphasize this enough: housekeeping is important. Ensure your online listing is accurate and utilize geo-specific key words to establish yourself as the beneficiary of local SEO. It is no secret in the marketing industry that these are critical foundational steps to driving awareness, online traffic and foot traffic. Entrepreneur Magazine Online confirms, “Local citations are a key component of ranking algorithms in Google.”
The Mighty Google Algorithm
Maybe you’ve heard about it and its secret ingredients for churning up a front-page spot on a Google Search, and it’s utterly intimidating to you (or just highly cryptic). Not to mention the fact that it seems to be constantly changing. There IS some low-hanging fruit that you can tackle, starting with smart backlink building. Entrepreneur Online writer Jason Parks encourages local business owners to meet prospective backlink partners face to face for faster responses. “Starting these types of conversations can be uncomfortable for business owners,” says Misty Trompeter, Founder and Chief Client Strategist of Make It Iconic. “If you’re not sure how to drum up backlink relationships, our team creates custom strategies for our clients that align with their brand and target market, and we activate it for them so they can focus on their own clients and products.”
Online Reputation Management
What are people saying about your brand? If the answer is “nothing” or “something negative,” both answers can be equally detrimental to traffic/sales. Shoppers have both lost trust in products, and they’re willing to spend less time “making something right.” Meaning, they want to avoid a faulty product/experience at all costs in an effort to ensure they have the best experience possible. Because of that, an astounding number of shoppers search for and are influenced by customer reviews – with reports quoting around 90% of shoppers taking reviews into consideration and near the same amount valuing those reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation.
If there are no reviews for your product or service, shoppers struggle to trust it. “Listening to your audience, generating shopper reviews, quickly responding to negative reviews and intercepting disappointed customers prior to public reviews can help brands manage that delicate reputation, but that can be a full-time job in itself,” says Misty Trompeter. “When our clients want to focus on their business, we help support their brand by building stronger relationships with their audience.”
Social Media Engagement
Social platforms have of course become a thriving component of the digital marketing landscape. More importantly social is an ideal place to start garnering awareness and interest in your brand. This is also a large part of the afore-mentioned online reputation management. If your business is brand new, it’s tough to know where to get started or where to build that engaged audience. Entrepreneur Magazine online says, “Focus on building an engaged audience with curated, active social media pages. …Create something that interests people, target the right audience and then sustain the momentum with an ongoing campaign to reach more people.” Paid social media advertising can be an important part of that strategy.
Live streaming is getting a lot of attention right now in the digital marketing community, and in some cases it can be an exciting resource for generating awareness and confidence in your brand. TedRubin.com talks about the value of Live Streaming to brands with “the ability to share all video, AND ‘all content,’ in so many more ways, via more apps, with story-telling and engagement at the core.”
Make It Iconic is working on Live Streaming concepts for current clients, and it’s critical to understand how to use the medium in order to drive interest and maintain relevancy. TedRubin.com agrees, noting, “You need to see how you can tell stories, create narratives, build relationships, communicate with consumers, and create learning for your organization. This is way more than just another content fad, but rather it’s online video crossing a crucial threshold… it’s making video social. Because they’re not just streaming what’s happening live. They’re allowing you to engage with those streams… you are now able to be a part of the conversation.”
Leverage Existing Audiences
For new or small online retailers (or any brand driving purchase online), there are enormous benefits to exploring third-party seller opportunities with established online retailers. In 2016, Amazon doubled deliveries for third-party sellers! “Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) shipped 50 percent more items during the past holiday season than the prior year for third-party vendors and doubled the amount for 2016 overall…” writes Reuters.com. While Amazon is a popular partner, it’s not the only one. Make It Iconic can help you choose the right partner based on target market and budget, and craft the right strategy to drive traffic to your space.