It’s nearly impossible to keep up with new marketing trends these days—much less have the resources and time to build them into your marketing plan and execute on a small business budget.
This year, instead of trying to do it all, choose just a few new things to try, even if they aren’t new in the industry (hello, guest posting). A refresher may be just what your plan needs to boost engagement, impressions and overall marketing success.
Read on for the 5 things you should add to your marketing plan:
Video Marketing Tests
Video marketing is one of the fastest growing areas of the industry, with 65 percent of marketers planning to increase their mobile ad budgets to account for video (Hubspot). This year is a great time to test your video marketing chops and see what excites your specific audience.
There are a variety of video options small businesses can try, regardless of the size of your budget. Here are two to consider:
- Social media video: Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and Snapchat all provide your small business with a chance to test video and boost social engagement, without spending any extra money.
- Embedded email video: Video in email lead to a 200 to 300 percent increase in click-through rate, as reported by HubSpot. One fun idea: Instead of writing your message, say it in a video—better yet, have your CEO say it.
If you’re able or ready to spend a significant amount of money, also consider drone videography and testing YouTube ads.
A Guest Posting Program
Guest posting gets a bad rep thanks to “spammy” outreach and poor link building practices. However, I’ve now successfully run three guest posting programs and, as I explain in this article for Bitly, it’s actually one of the best ways to get high-quality content for free. If you do it right, you’ll get free blog posts, from experts in the field, on a regular basis.
Not to mention, it’s a great way to get high-quality links back to your website if you choose to write a blog post for them as well. Still, guest posting is only valuable when you follow a few basic, but important, rules:
- All websites that guest bloggers want to link to must be high quality. Use traffic, domain authority and/or trust flow, social presence, frequency of posting and more to measure. If your company uses different metrics, consider checking for those as well.
- Authors must be experts in some way, whether they’ve written on the topic a number of times for other high-quality sites or are professionals in that field.
Create guidelines to ensure the work that’s coming to you will need as minimal editing as possible. You’ll slowly build a pool of authors who are good writers, passionate about the industry, and can contribute more regularly.
Regular Non-Sales Email Marketing
Email marketing is still one of the best methods for reaching customers and staying front-of-mind. In fact, a shocking 80 percent of marketers said email was their primary channel for lead generation, according to Mailigen.
To keep customers interested, it’s important to send a mix of emails—not just sales-based. One too many sales emails will cause subscribers to lose interest; soon enough, they’ll delete any email from you without reading because they don’t want to hear another sales pitch.
Here are a few new types of emails to send:
- Content-based: Send a weekly blog roundup of your posts for the week, or write an article in the email with a link to finish reading on your website or blog.
- Video: Most email platforms now allow you to embed video into your emails. Try this with your audience and check the metrics to see if they liked it or not.
- Discount or coupon announcement: Email is a great distribution channel for sharing coupons and discounts with customers (see below). Make it exclusive and add a timeframe to boost urgency and effectiveness.
- Freebies: Everyone likes a freebie. For example, a free tax resource from a CPA provides value outside the paid interactions between business and customer.
A Coupon Distribution Plan
Coupons, or online discounts, are a great way for small businesses to drive new and recurring customers. In fact, coupons have the potential to increase monthly revenue by up to 40 percent, according to a November 2016 survey by CouponBox. Surveyed retailers reported earning $29,435 in monthly coupon sales.
However, if you don’t distribute your coupons and announcements about discounts well enough, they won’t be effective. What good is a BOGO deal if no one knows about it?
While adding a banner to the top of your website is smart, there’s more you can do to drive coupon-based sales. Here are a few ideas:
- Email the coupon to the segment of your audience that you think would be most interested, based on your research and knowledge of the customer. Look at past purchases, demographic data and more to determine who will be in this segment.
- Share a “new customer only” deal on your Facebook page and boost the post to be seen by more people.
- Create content with your coupon or deal featured prominently. If a specific product is on sale, for example, write a fun or interesting piece about the product, and announce the sale at the top and bottom of the article. Remove the discount or coupon when the sale is over and keep the article as a stand-alone piece of content.
Drip Email Campaigns
Companies like Hubspot make it easier than ever to set up drip email campaigns. These allow you to stay in touch with every potential and current customer, whether they’ve just signed up to receive announcement emails or purchased a product.
The set-up process is simple: You create a variety of tracks for each type of potential or current client, and set a timed email flow that automatically delivers the correct email based on parameters you’ve selected. For example, a free trial campaign may look like this:
- 1st email: When they sign up for free trial—“Get ready to be blown away…”
- 2nd email: Five days into the trial—“How are you liking it so far? Did you know you can use this feature…?”
- 3rd email: 20 days into the trial—“Don’t forget, your trial is up in just 10 short days…”
- 4th email: One day before trial ends—“We don’t want you to go, for just $20/month you can have…”
Expand your marketing plan in 2017
Whether you’re interested in video marketing or plan to expand your email marketing portfolio, 2017 is the year to do it. Ever year it gets increasingly harder to stand out among a crowded group of competitors, especially with small business budget and resource constraints, but being forward-thinking with marketing is the one of the best ways to set yourself apart from the rest.
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