Today’s blog post was written by David Mercer, a contributor to SME Pals (http://smepals.com), an online resource dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and small business owners thrive online. David is also a recognized technical author with books published globally and translated into more than 13 languages.
Anyone who works in online business will know how quickly the landscape changes as new technologies and trends take hold. It’s important to keep tabs on which marketing strategies are evolving into effective drivers of traffic, leads and conversions, and which established techniques are falling out of favor.
Here’s a list of marketing hacks that have a low impact on the wallet and high impact on growth – perfect for small businesses fighting for their piece of the online pie.
1. Treat customer service as a marketing opportunity
Instead of viewing customer service as a necessary chore, treat it as a marketing channel ? with the express goal of gaining referrals, positive reviews, and other endorsements that can have a powerful viral type effect on growth.
Customers who have a positive service experience are often happy, provided you strike while the iron is hot, to send on ?goodwill? recommendations and referrals ? making them a valuable inbound marketing channel. By continually ensuring that all interactions end with them being happy and satisfied, you not only get the usual benefits of having happy customers, you can also generate enough goodwill to ask them to do something small to share their experiences with people they know.
Get it right, and you?ll not only have awesome customer service but a fast growing referral network of satisfied customers/brand ambassadors.
2. Keep tabs on new online tools & services
There are a host of really excellent online productivity tools and services that, if used properly, can cut the amount of time, effort and money spent on everything from market research to blogger outreach. For example, you can try something like Pitchbox to automate outreach campaigns for marketing.
This saves huge amounts of time creating and sending out emails, and monitoring the status of replies, and can also help to streamline the lead management process in addition to the contact discovery and email facilities they provide.
They?re not the only ones. Buzzsumo also has great features to help discover important influencers who may be able to get your message across far more effectively than you can.
3. Find ways to show off what you can do
RankTracer Enterprise is a service that monitors the sales of any products sold on Amazon – including those of competitors – in order to help retailers build up a playbook of proven marketing strategies.
The problem this service had was convincing people to try it out, because it is not something that is widely adopted ? even though the value of being able to see how well (or poorly) your direct competitors are selling in real-time is fairly self-evident. Fortunately, they were able to get around this by using their data to show off data of value.
For example, they tracked the sales performance of the books of some leading marketers, and found out that Guy Kawasaki?s book was outselling the rest by a significant margin. They then used this information to create an article about how his book was more popular – complete with data, graphs, and analysis to back it up. They then reached out to Guy on Twitter to tell him about it. He was so delighted he retweeted it to his millions of followers.
This gave RankTracer Enterprise credibility, and now it has partnerships with other sales and marketing related influencers and communities.
4. Use influencer marketing to get around ‘content fatigue’
While influencer marketing has been around a while, it is proving to be more and more important as it becomes harder and harder to get your content in front of potential clients.
There is so much content online that people simply cannot consume it all – instead, they stick to influencers they trust.
Building genuine relationships with niche influencers has proven an extremely effective way to build high value links and increase your reach. For startups with little influence, learning the basics of influencer marketing can help cut the amount of time it takes to generate a steady, growing stream of traffic.
By working with people who have established communities and online platforms, you not only get links on their sites, but also from their fans and followers who share that article on their own sites.
5. Don?t treat all customers like the same person
Online companies often make the mistake of thinking their customer base is one homogenous mass of people. In fact, many online services are used by people all over the world ? who have different interests, cultures, languages and dialects. Instead, capture clients? country and then use that data to segment your email outreach.
This allows you to personalize communications on a regional basis ? i.e. people from the U.S receive slightly different emails from people in England, or Japan.
Mentioning something simple (literally like the weather, or some sporting event, etc ? that is personally relevant to them) shows clients you have put in some effort to relate to them. Since existing clients should always form an important part of your continuing growth (via referrals and word of mouth), this can have a big impact on the bottom line.
After all, customers who feel valued are far more likely to recommend your company to friends and colleagues.
So those are my favorite hacks for businesses venturing into 2016. What other tricks have you found effective? Share your tips in the comments.
Matt Clark is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Amazing.com, a serial entrepreneur, and investor. He’s been featured on Forbes, CNBC, and Entrepreneur.com.