In 2020, the face of marketing will continue to change, driven by shifts in consumers’ browsing preferences and the impact of evolving technology. If you’re running a small to medium-sized business, the secret to success will lie in diversifying your marketing channels and adjusting your content to provide a richer, more personalized experience. This year, consider focusing on the tools outlined below to reach a broader audience and provide superior customer service:
Chatbots – AI-powered customer service providers – are nothing new, but their relevance will increase in 2020. Today’s consumers expect instant answers to their queries, but realistically, it’s very difficult for small businesses to provide live 24-hour customer service. Chatbots have therefore become an essential way for most businesses to keep their customers happy while reducing costs: According to a study by Juniper Networks, chatbots are expected to save retailers a total of $439 billion annually by 2023, while increasing profits by $112 billion. If you haven’t already incorporated a chatbot for customer service into your website, now is the time to do so.
2. Video Marketing
Like chatbots, video marketing will become more important in 2020. Rather than being limited to streaming services like YouTube, video marketing now spans across social media channels thanks to the advent of “stories” (bite-sized, shareable video clips). In fact, by 2022, video content is expected to account for 82% of all internet traffic.
In addition to creating content-rich, long-form videos, you should devote attention to crafting short, engaging clips for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you’re providing a B2B (business to business) service, you should also be sharing videos regularly on LinkedIn.
Regardless of where you’re sharing videos, remember to keep them informative and entertaining; 96% of consumers use videos to help them understand products in more detail, so it’s clear that people expect brand videos to be useful, not simply promotional.
Most of us have heard of influencer marketing by now, but many small business owners assume this channel is only available to established businesses with the resources to engage social media celebrities. In reality, however, micro-influencers (those who have under one million followers) can be both more affordable and more effective than big-name stars. Why? Micro-influencers are perceived as being more authentic than their famous counterparts, and they typically have more engaged audiences.
To tap into the power of micro-influencers, look for people in your local area with a social media following that already aligns with your niche. If you run a restaurant in Toronto, for example, search for popular “foodie” bloggers and Instagram users who frequent the local restaurant scene. Once you’ve found the right influencer, offer them an incentive (such as a commission fee or receiving your product for free) to review your business or promote your products.
When done right, influencer marketing is inexpensive, convenient, and highly effective. Currently, it’s the fastest growing customer acquisition strategy, and for many businesses, it accounts for nearly a quarter (22%) of their customers. Influencer marketing also has a very high ROI, returning approximately $6.85 for every dollar spent.
4. Voice search
Smart speaker systems, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, are expanding the reach and popularity of voice search. In fact, 20% of all online searches are now conducted through voice search, according to Google, and that figure is expected to rise to 50% in 2020. To tap into the power of voice search, give your website and marketing content a conversational tone, target long-tail keywords and specific queries, and provide answers to frequently-asked questions related to your niche (e.g., “What is the best sushi restaurant in Brampton?”)
5. Shoppable Posts
Shoppable posts are a new Instagram feature that makes it easier for businesses to tag their products in photos and lets customers buy products without ever leaving the Instagram app. To create shoppable posts, you’ll need an Instagram business account and your business must be connected to a Facebook catalog. Your business will also need to sell physical products; this feature is not currently open to service-based retailers.
If shoppable posts aren’t available yet in your country, use Instagram’s shoppable stories feature instead, which launched globally back in 2018.
6. Interactive Content
Certain forms of interactive content, like quizzes, polls, and video tours, are already well established, and should form a core component of your marketing (and data collection) strategy. In 2020, however, new technology like AR and VR is expected to vastly extend the possibilities of interactive content by allowing consumers to interface with products on an entirely new level. Take IKEA’s AR system, for example, which lets customers experiment with placing an item of furniture in their space via the IKEA app.
Image credit: marketinginsidergroup.com
Personalization is the process of tailoring your marketing content to fit each customer. Some of the most common examples of personalization include addressing customers by name in promotional emails, sending individual customers “happy birthday” emails that contain special deals, recommending specific products based on a customer’s shopping history, and creating personalized “welcome back” messages for your website. Creating unique content for each customer gives your business a more personal, relatable face and makes your loyal customers feel recognized and valued, so it’s an important driver of loyalty.
To personalize your marketing content, you’ll need to perform regular in-depth data analysis to generate customer insights. Alternately, you can hire a digital marketing firm to do it for you.
If you have questions about personalizing content (or any of the aspects of digital marketing covered above) we’ll be happy to answer them and connect you with the services you need. Contact our team of digital marketers in Toronto to begin shaping your marketing strategy for 2020 – and beyond.
Today, most small business owners know they need a digital marketing strategy to succeed, even if they’re only serving their local area. After all, entirely, 97% of consumers now use the internet to find local businesses, and 88% of consumers make purchases based primarily on online reviews. Still, because digital marketing is a lot more complicated than traditional marketing, it can be intimidating to people who are just starting.
In the guide below, we’ll simplify some of the best (and most budget-friendly) digital marketing strategies that your small business should be using in 2020:
1. Social Media Marketing
Social media accounts are easy to set up and generally free, so they’re the natural jump-off point for most beginner marketers. However, there’s a lot more to social media marketing than setting up a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram account and posting occasional discounts or promotions. Ideally, you want to use social media to extend your reach, build your brand identity, and provide customer service across multiple channels. (Almost 70% of people prefer to use social media to resolve issues or pass along positive feedback.)
Before you start posting on social media, sit down and create a social media marketing strategy that includes clear goals and schedules enough time to manage your accounts. When you plan your accounts, start with the basics, like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, then analyze which other platforms will connect with your target demographic. Don’t create an account on every available service just because you can; managing each account takes time, so you want to make sure you’ll get a real return on your investment.
If your products are visually appealing, concentrate your efforts on image-based platforms, like Instagram and Pinterest. If your business is more practical – you’re a plumber or sell machine parts, for example – focus on building an industry-specific blog, then use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to distribute your content. Youtube “explainer” videos are also an excellent option for trades-based businesses.
Regardless of which platforms you’re using, your posts should contain at least 70% valuable content that your customers can use or enjoy, not just direct advertising. Your social media accounts must be engaging if you want to attract and retain followers.
2. Paid Advertising
What’s one mistake almost all small businesses make, regardless of their digital savvy? They assume paid advertising is only for the “big guys.” In reality, certain types of paid advertising are highly accessible, and paid ads are one of the fastest ways to position your business prominently in search results. Depending on how competitive your niche and keywords are, you could pay as little as $1 – $10 per click for Google Ads that guarantee you appear first in consumers’ search results. Facebook ads are even more affordable, starting at as little as 27 cents per click.
Even if you can only afford to run paid ads for a short time, the investment is worth it. Paid ads will give your web traffic a substantial boost, which will generate new leads and help your organic search engine rank increase. Running paid ads also sends the message that your business is reputable and committed because consumers associate paid ads with large, established retailers.
3. Local SEO
Local SEO is arguably the most important digital marketing channel for any small business with a physical location (as opposed to an online outlet). This type of SEO targets location-based searches, rather than general keywords, which makes it easier to reach those customers who are most likely to use your products or services. This approach leverages the power of local directories, notably Google My Business, along with on-site content that contains targeted local keywords.
To get started with local SEO, make sure your Google business profile is filled out completely. It should include your contact information and website, opening hours, and professional-quality images of your premises. Having an informative Google business profile ensures that your company will show up directly under Google’s map feature whenever someone searches a relevant term, e.g., “Toronto bakery,” like this:
Once you’ve completed your Google profile, investigate other local directories, like YellowPage and Yelp, that could amplify your reach. Then, give your existing satisfied customers incentives (such as 10% off their next purchase) to leave a positive review. The more positive reviews you have, the more likely it becomes that people will trust your business over the competition.
Next, you’ll need to research local keywords that are relevant to your business. Fortunately, there are several free keyword research tools out there to help you do this, including Google Keyword Planner and Bing Webmaster Tools, along with others. Once you know which keywords you want to target, integrate them into the existing content on your site, paying particular attention to prominent locations, like your site title and subheadings. If possible, you should also regularly update your website’s blog with informative articles that contain your chosen local keywords. Websites with well-maintained blogs have a staggering 434% greater chance of achieving a high search engine rank (as compared to websites without blogs).
4. Email Marketing
Like social media marketing, email marketing requires very little up-front investment, but it’s capable of yielding excellent results. Over 80% of people open “welcome” emails from companies, and incredibly, 90% voluntarily choose to opt-in to email newsletters.
To make the most of your email marketing campaign, make sure your newsletters are loaded with exciting promotions, new products, and links to your latest blog articles and videos.
Micro-influencers are the 2020’s answer to old-school word of mouth recommendations. Micro-influencers are defined as social media influencers who have between 1000-100,000 followers, rather than an audience of millions.
At first, this concept may seem counter-intuitive – why intentionally target a smaller audience? Reduced advertising cost is, obviously, one benefit of choosing a micro-influencer. Still, the advantages don’t end there: Micro-influencers tend to have more loyal, engaged followers because they interact more regularly with their audience. They’re also perceived as being more genuine than “big name” social media celebrities, so their promotions are typically viewed as honest opinions, not just paid to advertise.
Taking the Next Step: Professional Content Marketing
Marketing is essential to the success of any small business, but there’s no denying the fact that effective digital marketing requires serious commitment. Once your business is comfortably established, handing marketing duties over to a professional firm will free up a significant amount of time, letting you focus on creating excellent products or services.
Digital marketing specialists (like the team at AllinBrand) can also produce high-quality web content, like blog articles and videos, to propel your search engine optimization efforts to the next level.
When you’re ready, contact us to learn more about our affordable digital marketing services.