Running a small business is no easy task. There are tons of different things to attend to when you’re acting as entrepreneur-in-chief.
You need to manage your resources, for one, to make sure that the pot doesn’t run dry. You also need to continue to grow your business, increase your revenue streams, implement effective marketing strategies, and manage your customer base.
It’s a lot. And statistics show that doing all of these things early on is the hardest part: 20% of businesses do not make it past the first year of operation, while a whopping 50% don’t make it to the fifth year.
While those odds may not be in your favor, there are tons of growth marketing strategies that can help you beat ’em. Whether you’re an ecommerce entrepreneur, a blogger or just a small business with an online presence, there are tools you can use to jump ahead of your competition.
But first, a primer:
What exactly is growth marketing?
Growth marketing is intelligent, data-driven marketing geared towards adding revenue to your business. It’s not about brand-building, it’s about cold, hard numbers.
And I’ll be the first to tell you: it works, no matter what stage your business is operating at.
So, without further ado, here are the top growth marketing strategies for small businesses.
Growth Strategy #1: Content Marketing
You may be familiar with the old adage “Content is King” – and let me just say, it is. Content marketing is a key piece to any growth marketing strategy, but it is especially effective for small businesses, where you may be targeting a niche audience.
So what is content marketing?
Well, content is all of the things that your business creates to engage with customers. That’s email communications, blog posts, infographics, videos, and more. Content marketing, then, is leveraging those creations to get customers for your business.
According to DemandMetric, content marketing costs 62 percent less money and generates up to three times more leads than traditional marketing, making it an especially valuable asset for small businesses.
And it isn’t just the low price and the high conversion rates that make content marketing work – it’s also the fact that by using your company’s blog (and creating useful, engaging content for your users), you’re presenting yourself as an expert in your industry. This is going to make your customers feel more comfortable spending money on your product.
Growth Strategy #2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Okay, so this one is really a subset of content marketing. But, it is so effective, we thought it warranted its own little section.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is all about taking the billions of people searching for things on Google and getting them to come to your site.
It sounds more complex than it is. All you have to do is write content that is related to your business, put it on your website’s blog, and optimize it for Google.
This is an especially effective strategy for local and small businesses because there is very low competition for ranking locally on this kind of thing, which means you should have an easy time getting your content on the first page of google – perhaps, after your Yelp listing.
To do SEO most effectively, consider signing up for a free trial with an SEO software tool. Simple SEO tools can guide you through what to write to rank on google, so that you don’t waste time writing content that won’t help your cause.
While SEO strategy warrants a full blog post, suffice it to say that SEO is about creating great content, distributing that content across the web, and garnering site visitors who are prepared to take action and/or buy your product.
Growth Strategy #3: Collect Emails and Social Signups
If you’re running a small business and looking to jumpstart your growth marketing, one of the most important things you can do is collect emails.
Getting the contact information of everyone and anyone who engages with your product online is crucial to growing your customer base. This is because it creates a free channel of communication between you and your customers.
Once you have their email address, you have their attention, and you can continuously reinforce the value of your product through email marketing.
How to collect email addresses
- Email signup forms: If your email provider has a signup form builder (like Sendinblue has), you can easily create an email signup form and place it in strategic, highly visible locations on your website (i.e. your homepage, checkout, blog, contact page, etc.).
- Pop-up Windows: This is an awesome, inexpensive way to optimize your site for lead generation. There are tons of free (or at least free trial) pop-ups out there that can do the job of collecting emails for you. Most email providers, like Sendinblue have integrations with tools like OptinMonster and Unbounce.
- Lead Magnets: A lead magnet is a piece of original content that you create and offer to your customers for FREE (in exchange, of course, for the entry of their email). If you ran a gardening business, for example, you might consider offering a free guide to gardening in the spring.
- Sticky Top-Bars: These are similar to pop-ups, but instead of showing up as a box in the middle of your users screen, the sticky top-bar does exactly what it sounds like: it sticks to the top of the browser and continuously calls out to your user to act. Put a text offer on there (10% off when you sign up today!) and then collect your users’ emails in exchange. It works.
If you’re in the market for an affordable, comprehensive email solution, try out Sendinblue. The free plan lets you send up to 300 emails per day.
The opportunities for engaging with your audience are endless – you should be creative and not shy away from interesting activations that will peel your customers away from Netflix!
Growth Strategy #4: Use Social Proof
There is a reason that every single product-selling website you go on will feature customer testimonials and other forms of social proof. If you’re a small business, your users have no reason to believe that you’re the real-deal. You likely do not have the brand recognition required for users to trust you right off the bat.
Social proof (i.e., customer testimonials, media features, and social shares), help combat that. Here are some ways to generate this trust:
- Media Proof: Did a local paper feature you? Or a niche blog write about you? Tell your customers that! Featuring logos of publications that have written about you on your site is a sure-fire way to gain the trust of your customers. Include logos above the fold, so your readers’ eyes are immediately drawn to your accolades.
- Social Proof: Get those social media shares. Send out an email to your current customers asking that they share your product on social media. Or, better yet, ask your friends and family to do it. Creating this sort of background-buzz will absolutely help boost your brand value and ultimately lead to faster growth.
- Customer Testimonials: Place some quotes on your site that show your customers having a pleasant experience with your product. This shows your users that other people are using your product, which is invaluable to your brand growth.
Don’t have any of these things? Start working on getting them! Reach out to customers for testimonials or reviews of your product. Ask local media to write about your exciting new site! And of course, ask for those social shares.
Test These Growth Marketing Strategies Yourself
Will these growth marketing strategies work for your small business? There’s only one way to find out!
The internet is a very crowded landscape. Don’t waste your time trying to do everything available to you – it will backfire in the long run.
Find strategies that work and stick with them. Try a couple of the things we suggested above and see whether they work. If they do, awesome, build upon that and keep pushing.
If they don’t work, great! That is also good information to have. Remember: growth marketing is about failing fast and letting the data guide you. Now you can move on to the next thing and stop wasting your time (and money) doing things that aren’t helping your business grow.Growth marketing is about failing fast and letting the data guide you. You can easily move on to the next thing and stop wasting your time (and money) on things that aren’t helping your business grow. Click To Tweet
Similarly, don’t try to make your business everything and anything. Focus narrowly on your main offerings, and people will start to associate you with your product.
Making money and growing your business isn’t about offering everything under the sun — it is about investing in what you do offer and making it great. So go do that! And watch your business grow in front of your eyes.
Post by Mark Spera. Mark is the founder of Growth Marketing Pro, a blog focused on SEO, marketing software, and growth hacking. He lives in San Francisco where he surfs and eats pizza for nearly every meal.