Throughout the U.S. there are businesses that provide the highest quality of products and services yet struggle to compete simply because they can’t get their business name out. The need is to improve their presence.
Presence has always been a big factor in a business’s ability to succeed. Before the digital age, the famous quote was “location, location, location.” This still stands true, but instead of a physical location, it is all about how you are positioning your business to be found both physically and digitally.
Most small businesses are aware they need to do something but many simply don’t know what to do. In this article, we are going to break down the various strategies that will work for businesses in 2022 and what businesses should focus on.
Strategies to Focus on in 2022
1. Gain Visibility on Search Engines like Google
81% of consumers search online for a product or service. In our modern business landscape, you need to be found online when someone is seeking what you offer. An old business partner of mine would always start off our marketing workshops with a joke, you’ve probably heard this one. “Where’s the best place to hide a dead body? Page 2 of Google.” It’s silly, but the truth of the matter is that if you are looking to gain new clients, you will need to be found in Google among other search engines.
There are three ways to make this happen.
- Ads – Creating ads is the quickest and easiest way to show up on the front page of a search engine. However, it can also be the most expensive and can produce the lowest ROI if not done well.
- Organic search engine results – Showing up organically for search results is often the most profitable way for your business to be found. Essentially, someone is asking you for your services and it’s your job to show up and say “I offer what you’re looking for!” The downside to this, however, is that it can take a level of expertise you don’t have to show up at the top of organic results.
- Improve your presence on Local Packs. – If you’ve ever searched for a local business such as a restaurant, mall, insurance agency, contractor, etc. you have likely seen the list of businesses and reviews closest to you. This group of business listings is known as the local pack. Unfortunately, there aren’t ways to organically make your business show up higher as it is mainly based on distance from where you are searching, but you can improve the likelihood that you are chosen by improving your presence within the pack.
I have seen businesses rise and close based on their ability to show up on Google. When it comes to positioning your business to gain clients, look to search engines and how you can help your business gain more visibility.
2. Improve Your Social Media Brand Presence
In the early days of Facebook, a business could grow its brand and generate sales with ease simply by posting content. Over time, social networks grew and evolved. Gone are the days of local businesses posting on Facebook and reaching a large audience with little effort and money but there is still much value in building your brand’s social presence.
There are many ways a business or brand can use social media to grow their business:
- Build an audience and post engaging content
- Connect with prospects, clients, and like-minded people in groups
- Run ads to gain visibility and/or to generate leads
These are all great but I believe the evolution of how consumers use social media has created an unexpected expectation for businesses. This expectation is simply having your brand well represented for prospects and clients to see.
What do I mean?
You see, when it comes to most consumers engaging with local businesses on social media, it’s simply to check out what they are all about. If you are wondering if a new restaurant has good food, you will take a look to see if they have pictures of their food and a menu posted on their social accounts. You will check out their reviews to see what other locals are saying. Or, maybe it’s a potential professional relationship. In this case, one might check out the individual or organization on LinkedIn.
There are plenty of tactics you can use for social media but the most important question to ask yourself is “what will prospects think when they check out my social accounts.” Use social media to your business’s advantage by telling your story and painting a visual picture for consumers that when they see it they will know that your business is definitely the one for them.
3. Explore offline opportunities
Am I really going to discuss offline opportunities in a post about improving your digital strategy? Absolutely.
As more and more businesses have pushed their messaging through digital channels it has created a lot of noise in digital spaces. This has caused “banner blindness” a term to describe how many consumers ignore digital ads. This is very similar to how people have grown to ignore billboards, tv ads and how children automatically go to skip ads on Youtube.
Believe it or not, but offline marketing tactics can still generate a positive ROI and can help a business build its presence.
One of my favorite examples of this is when an organization I worked for in the past bought a marketing automation platform from a direct mail campaign. Yes, you heard that right. A digital marketing organization bought a completely digital product from a mail campaign.
When people hear this, their first response is often similar to this: “Haven’t businesses begun going digital because it was more effective than traditional forms of advertising? Why go digital if traditional offline tactics work just as well?”
It’s important to know that this was no ordinary mail campaign. They had some very unique aspects and we just so happened to be in the market for what they were selling. This campaign was successful for them for several reasons:
- It was creative and caught our attention
- They didn’t just sell, they educated
- The physical mail had digital integrations (QR codes, weblinks, a digital meeting link, etc.)
- Their campaign was developed based on marketing and sales data they collected
- It added value. They addressed all of our organization’s pain points.
Direct mail, networking, speaking engagements, and traditional sales processes can still work in a digital age. It doesn’t matter if it’s offline or online, it is all a matter of providing value to the consumer. If you can get your marketing message into their hands, it’s creative enough to grab their attention, it adds enough value for them to respond, and then you give them a way to learn more in a way that is convenient to them (i.e. digitally) then it is a win-win.
4. Grow your Brand’s Prominence across the web
As consumers, we buy from brands we trust. As businesses, trust is getting harder to create.
Consumers have more choices in businesses than they ever have. Not only do local businesses have to compete with area businesses but they also have to compete with digital competitors as well. With so many options for consumers and with so much competition businesses need to find better ways of reaching their audience and building trust.
In order to do this, you must think like a consumer and understand who they trust.
Social trust is and always has been important. 66% of consumers look for social proof such as reviews or testimonials before purchasing a product.
Consumers rely on “expert” opinions. Even before the internet, we as humans would always rely on the opinion of experts or friends when unsure about a purchase decision. People value the opinion and thoughts of their peers, thought leaders, experts, and even their favorite podcasters.
People naturally tend to focus on what is popular and what they see often. There are two psychological phenomena that help explain this. One is called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon and the other is the Band Wagon Effect. Essentially, when people see your messaging over and over or when your brand seems to be highly favored by other consumers, it will lead more consumers to your door.
As a business, it is important to be aware of how consumers think and to understand the best ways of building their trust. A business can’t force consumers to trust them or buy from them, but they can utilize strategies that help consumers come to that conclusion on their own. Here are a few:
- Develop social proof
- Engage in influencer marketing
- Create local and digital PR
- Build referral networks with business partners and other like-minded businesses
The more people see a brand in a positive light or see others having a positive experience with the brand will entice them to at least consider what the brand has to offer.
5. Improve your Website Functionality and Design
There’s nothing to drive your visitors away faster than a poorly designed or outdated website. This is something that really hits home for me, not because I work for an agency that creates award-winning website designs, but because it is something that frustrates me nearly every day.
When a consumer lands on a website, they not only expect to find the information they are looking for but they also want a good experience.
One study found that 42% of people will leave a website due to poor functionality.
A different study performed by Google found that over 50% of people say they won’t consider purchasing from a brand that has a poorly designed mobile site.
There are countless studies that reveal how important website design, look, functionality, and experience are to web users.
What is your website experience like? Is it hard to navigate or find information? Do your web pages load instantly or are visitors forced to sit around and wait for pages to load. When people land on your site do they feel more confident in your services?
You don’t necessarily need to build a brand-new website (though sometimes that is the best option). But you need to ensure that visitors are doing what they came to do. There are no exact measures to tell if visitors are leaving because of a site’s functionality unless they tell you. Fortunately, there are a couple of simple indicators that will give you good insights.
- Review your website’s bounce rate. A bounce rate can be found in most analytic programs and indicates the percentage of people who come to your website and leave without interacting with it or visiting additional pages. A high bounce rate could indicate that a page is loading too slowly so visitors are leaving instead of sticking around.
- Review your website’s conversion rate. The conversion rate is how many visitors become leads or clients. A low conversion rate could indicate that your site is not instilling enough confidence in people to stay or they are not able to find what they need.
- Or, if you don’t have analytics installed you can phone a friend. Ask colleagues, employees or even family to check out the website. Have them tell you their experience with how easy or hard it is to navigate the website and find information on your services.
If you are going to spend the time, energy and resources to build your digital presence, promote your business, and generate interest, then why throw it all away with a poorly designed website? Having a beautifully built site with a great user experience should be a top priority for businesses looking to take advantage of improving their digital presence.
6. Focus on a Holistic Digital Strategy Instead of Individual Tactics
Businesses try tactic after tactic hoping to generate results but often find themselves spinning their wheels. For some, they’ve gone as far as dismissing digital altogether convinced that it’s a fad or doesn’t work for their business model. The problem with focusing on individual digital tactics is that they are only a piece of the puzzle.
The customer journey is not a linear one. If you are in a “relationship-based” business, you understand that the customer journey is not cause and effect but rather a number of small little steps taken to build trust with a prospect. This actually happens with every consumer, however, the steps to building trust and the time it takes vary based on what’s being bought. You’ve probably experienced this as a consumer yourself and may have not even thought about it.
How often do you buy a product or a service the very first time you are introduced?
If you approach marketing one directionally by focusing on this tactic or that then you will likely find your results falling flat. Instead, you should take a more holistic approach to marketing.
Think about what we’ve already covered in this article. Offline strategies are great but can be more effective with digital applications tied in. Generating traffic can be done from various sources, but a good website is often needed to close the loop. You see, your marketing initiatives should be woven together adding value at each step in the customer journey.
Here’s a simple snapshot of what this looks like:
- Certain tactics such as SEO and advertising introduce consumers to your business.
- Your website and branding initiatives help to build trust when they discover you.
- Retargeting and email communication improve the lifetime value of a customer by generating repeat business and referrals.
By approaching digital strategies with a holistic approach, a business can better understand how each tactic fits into the puzzle. This creates a better understanding of the client-business relationship and ultimately leads to a higher marketing and sales ROI.
7. Make better decisions with Analytics
All the best strategies and tactics mean nothing if you are unable to measure how well they are working. In my years of working with businesses, especially local businesses, I came across a disturbing trend. Businesses who were struggling would come to me to help improve their business, but when we looked to re-strategize, they would insist that the tactics they have always done continue to be effective. When asked about the data, it was more of a gut feeling rather than any tangible evidence.
This is dangerous thinking especially if a business has been on a downward trend.
As digital technology has developed so has the ability to measure and track results. Businesses can now track just about anything with the right analytic programs:
- Web traffic and what generated the web traffic
- Visitor behavior and engagement
- Phone calls
- Revenue per client
- ROI of marketing campaigns
- And more
With the right analytics, you can even gather data from offline sources.
The best part is that there are free and very affordable analytic programs available. There are no excuses for not utilizing some type of analytics.
Believe me, building a digital presence can take a lot of time, energy, manpower and financial resources. When a business seeks to make an investment such as this, it’s important that they have something in place to help track the ROI of their efforts.
Digital Strategy Can Be Overwhelming, So Simplify It!
Figuring out the best way to approach your digital strategy can be overwhelming, especially for a business that is sticking its toe in for the first time. There is a lot to do, a lot to learn and can feel nearly impossible to implement. However, most businesses understand that they need to adopt a better digital strategy if they want to continue to grow and thrive.
My advice for these businesses is to simplify it!
- Start small and take it in steps – you don’t have to try every tactic at once. Do what you can, but don’t stay there. Continue to grow and try new things.
- Take what is currently working and look to improve upon it with or duplicate it via digital channels. If your business already has some type of successful sales or marketing tactic then start there. Digital strategies can be used to improve the success of ongoing sales or marketing efforts.
- Invest in help – it’s important for businesses to look at digital as an investment and not a cost. If manpower is a business’s roadblock to continued growth then it’s worth investing in manpower to see more growth. Look to hiring internal help or a marketing agency like MOJO with the expectation that the investment will pay off.
Crafting a digital strategy can be tough but it is not impossible. Review the information again as needed, take a breath, and then get to work! We are rooting for your business!