Best Online Channels to Promote Local Business

To someone who’s already run a local business for some time or someone who doesn’t need the know-how of online marketing yet, it might seem it’s not important to get involved with internet advertising, but that’s not entirely true anymore. Approximately 6 out of 10 people search for local businesses online at least once per week. Search engines have a vast database and almost every business is promoted online. There isn’t a simple answer to the question of what’s the best way to promote a local business online. It largely depends on the kind of business. Not every online channel will help every business thrive.

It’s important to focus on the ideal customer. Who is your business targeting? Is your product valuable for women, men or both? Are teenagers more likely to visit your facility than elderly people? Knowing your customers is the first step to choosing the best online channels to utilize for your business’s promotion.

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Google

The one online channel that most people know even before they start learning anything about online marketing is Google. Having your business listed in Google is always worth it, because when people search something on the internet, this is where they usually start. In July 2019, Google had a market share of 88.61%, compared to Bing with only 4.98% or Yahoo! with 2.72%.

Your Google listing should include all of your most important information such as the address, phone number, website link, and possibly, the opening hours and directions. Both, you and your customers, will be able to add photos and they’ll have the possibility to write reviews that are a crucial component to the overall success of your Google listing, as well as the star rating. If you register your business with Google Places, that’ll make it easier for people to find it. For monitoring how people talk about your business, there are Google Alerts. It’s a notification service that can be set up to send you emails whenever your business is being mentioned online. These tools aren’t the only ones Google offers. This smart platform is definitely one of the best solutions for online business promotion.

"Having your business listed in Google is always worth it, because when people search something on the internet, this is where they usually start."

E-mail

Is e-mailing still effective and could it really help a local business? YES! For example Gmail has currently around 1.5 billion active users worldwide. People still read e-mails every day and if you use it right, it can be very profitable. Making the e-mails attractive and responsive is key.

These are some of the most effective strategies in terms of e-mail marketing:

  • list segmentation (dividing e-mail subscribers into smaller groups based on set criteria),
  • individualized e-mail messaging (they perform much better than blast emails, because their content depends on the customer’s behavior and interest — this gives people a more personal feeling) and
  • behavior-triggered e-mails (for example a registered customer leaves an e-shop with some products still remaining in their shopping cart — they’ll receive a personalized e-mail about it).

Just like any other marketing strategy, e-mailing can work well. Although, whether or not it’s the way to go for you relies on the compatibility of e-mailing with your business and customers.

Social media

Social media is an enormous space full of great opportunities and inspiration. And when I say enormous I mean all of the 2.82 billion social media users. How can that help your business?

Establishing an active presence on multiple social media platforms is almost essential today. Being on Facebook is good, but it’s not enough. Platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Twitter or even LinkedIn are used by more and more companies and small businesses every year. But in order to get the best results and not waste your time, it should be efficient. Learn about your audience and what they might want to see on your social media.

For example If you’re a café, managing an active Instagram account with nice pictures of the interior, food and drinks offered, it will get more traffic, and therefore likely more customers, than if you had an account which was inactive, with only a few pictures that don’t really flatter the establishment. However, if you want to spread ideas or stories, it might be more useful to have a Twitter account and share your words in tweets or even record videos and share them on YouTube. It’s all about your business’s philosophy. There are also great tools that can help with social media management.

These days, one of the social media trends is live video. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all platforms that use it. Live videos allow you to communicate and get real time feedback from your customers.

Website

Having a website isn’t that crucial anymore but it can be useful. It can be even more useful, when you encourage users to register in it. This helps you monitor their habits, so that you can make the communication with customers more personal and give them special offers according to their browsing pattern or previous purchases.

Whatever the size of your brand, a local business is playing in a narrow sphere and if it the aim is to be successful, it has to answer the needs of a local community. What are the things people might look for in your business? What services that you provide they should, but might not know about? Talking about all of this on your website and including some extra information and resources (such as a local event calendar or lists of “best (…) in your local area”) linked with the product you’re selling could increase your traffic rapidly.

When choosing the best online channel to promote a local business, keep in mind that there isn’t just one. It’s also necessary to stay focused on what and who you’re trying to sell to, whether it’s a product people should see in pictures, read about, or a service you can talk about in a video. Make it easy for people to find you. Provide as much information as they’ll need to understand what you’re offering and always speak simply.

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6 Things to Avoid When Hiring a Marketing Agency

For anyone who’s not an expert in this field, marketing strategies, SEO or social media can be like a maze. If that’s the case, navigating through it can get super difficult sometimes. However, that’s okay! Marketing agencies exist exactly for that reason — to help business owners and entrepreneurs efficiently use their business’s potential in the name of marketing. Naturally, you want your business to grow. You decided that it’s time for you or your firm to start working with a marketing agency. Good for you! But where do you start? How can you make sure that you choose the right one? There are so many questions that might seem tricky, but this list of things you should avoid will answer the most crucial ones.

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How much does Facebook advertising cost?

Well, that’s a tricky question – there are so many variables at play. Depending on your situation, the cost of your Facebook ads could be as much as $10 per click, or as little as 40 cents.

The most important factor is efficiency and performance. Your ads might be super cheap, but if they do not bring any results, it's a waste of money. Define the purpose (the goal) of the ad and what is your cost limit to label the ad as efficient. Many businesses measure success by the number of sold products, leads generated, or potential customers engaged.

There is no rule or benchmark for this, each business is different with different needs and circumstances. Someone might be satisfied with a new lead for $45 and another might not go over $10. One person might consider a $3 cost per click as successful and another would not want to pay more than $2. Calculate the revenue you can get from the lead and think about how much you want to spend per action, this way you can always check whether your ads perform well or not. 

Before you spend a lot of money, try to set up your daily budget for $5 a day. (We will talk about how to set your budget later). Monitor your results. If the ad performance meets your ideas and you have money to raise the daily budget, do it. And do it again, if the ad is bringing you results.

Remember: If your ad is comical, visually appealing, engaging, or all of these combined, people will like, comment or share it more often than they would with some boring copy with a blurry image. If you really want the most from your paid ads, they have to be great to make the people share them and so the ads will be also spread organically. Deciding how much to spend is a good place to start, but always make sure each dollar goes as far as it possibly can. The key is the visual, the text, as well as targeting. Regarding your content creation, read my article about buyer personas, because you should tailor-make it for your ideal customers and you can also find more helpful info in this article about tools for creating visual content.

So, how can you get an idea of how much Facebook advertising costs before diving in?


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No Professional Stuff. Be Natural. Leverage INSTASTORIES.

I know, I have been there too… You are about to create a piece of content — a nicely done cappuccino in your café or a beautifully pictured house that you want to sell. But how the heck do you begin? With no professional equipment or experience — you want to produce the best content for your social media profiles, business website or email campaign, right?

Well, how do you go about it? The key is you don’t have to be perfect, in fact, that’s part of the magic of this medium! Be natural, be spontaneous, and be active. Your new audience will expect funny, educational, engaging and UNPROFESSIONAL content. In a world where marketing aims for the ideal, your audience wants someone or something that they can relate to. A picturesque cappuccino is nice to look at, but what about a customer savouring their morning drink, only to burst out laughing because they have foam on their upper lip? Capture it and share it! Sometimes less is more. And something is always better than nothing

In this article, I will show you how you to use a (relatively new) medium that not only allows you to share your unprofessional and spontaneous content, but REQUIRES IT! This medium is called Instagram Stories aka Instastories. As the name says, it can be used on your Instagram profile (both personal and professional). Below see an example of what an Instastory looks like:

AirBnB Instastory
AirBnB Instastory

Let us first clarify what Instastories are. They are vertically shared pictures, videos, animations that were originally used by Snapchat. After some period of time, Instagram and Facebook implemented them and extended their platforms. Instastories disappear after 24 hours which makes them an instant, spontaneous and engaging piece of content.

But why should you actually care about them? How are they relevant to your business? As we regularly discuss in other articles, webinars and private Facebook groups, ask yourself a question before you get started: Can I reach my audience on this channel? Instagram is used daily by one billion users and Instastories by more than 500 million people. That truly means 500.000.000 people. Every. Single. Day.

Going back to where we began. You are probably asking yourself: “Do I need professional equipment, a best-of-breed creative studio with the best of the best?” Not at all. Be natural, be spontaneous, and certainly, go ahead, and be unprofessional! This platform requires it. Your audience expects you to be natural. They expect to see what’s going on behind the scenes and what your daily updates are — share with them the best moments that can describe you or your business. Tell STORIES! Because that is what this platform is about.

Let’s break the stereotype: You do NOT need to be a professional to create great, engaging content for Instastories.

Let’s get practical. How do you really begin?

  1. The premise is: You already have your business/ personal Instagram account (if not, get one).
  2. Visit the Instagram app and tap your icon (with the + sign) on the top panel/ or simply swipe right.
  3. The interface where you create Instastories will open up. Choose either to make a picture, create a video or choose any of your pictures/ videos in your gallery. The options you have when it comes to content creation are hundreds (check out all the features like Boomerang, Live Stream, polls or uploading Gifs to your story).
  4. After you are done, click “Send to” and choose either your Instastory platform (yes, this is the one) or send it to some of your friends/ followers.
  5. Done. Your Instastory will now be public. Make sure to check the results afterwards. You can see who watched your story (within the first 24 hours of posting it) and how they reacted.

You know how to get started. Get inspired before you jump into the content creation. See a series that shows some examples of really nice — BUT STILL UNPROFESSIONAL — Instastories which you can do within a few seconds.

There are plenty of cool features that you can use to make your content visually more appealing. Amongst them, there are live streams (even shared streams with other coworkers, partners, and followers), galleries of Gifs, options such as slow motion or boomerang effects, coloured backgrounds, many text fonts, polls, quizzes and questionnaires (ways to engage with your audience), chat windows and tons of emojis. Again, choose what correlates with your business image (branding). I may be repeating myself, but less is sometimes more…

Key takeways:

  • Instastories offer an opportunity to reach out to your audience — potential customers/ followers.
  • Be yourself! Be natural and spontaneous, when creating Instastories.
  • Do not insist on the best-of-breed equipment — less is sometimes more.
  • Follow the 5 steps stated above to get started with Instastories.
  • Inspire yourself with our Series of great examples of Instastories.
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6 Reasons Your Online Advertising Brings No Results

Let’s be honest — some online ads simply don’t work. At least we think that they don’t. Or better put, we judge them before knowing the real reason they don’t… Now, there are almost unlimited ways to reach your target audience on the internet: targeting people who search on Google with your search ad, capturing people’s attention with your promoted social media post, direct messaging on LinkedIn or creating a short video on Youtube. There are many channels and many types of ads that can use to target your potential customers.

But why the heck don’t they work for you? Many businesses have rapidly grown thanks to online advertising and yours hasn’t. What is it that makes your campaign inefficient?

First of all, be clear on the problem you are facing. What metrics say that your campaign is not working? Is it the ROI (return on investment — easily put, how many dollars are you making out of 1 dollar you invest in the ad), cost per lead (in case of lead generation campaigns) or number of people your campaign reached? When reporting on your marketing efforts, make sure to be as precise on the desired metrics as possible. “Thoughts” are the worst reporting tool.

Secondly, who is running your ads? Is it you who has access to all the important metrics and reporting or do you outsource ad management to someone else? If so, are they fully transparent on the process of a campaign setting? Do they let you “watch the chef while cooking”?

Let us be clear: this point is crucial. Online advertising is not a black box. It truly works and increases the ROI if done well. But if not, there is no positive ROI, just money thrown out of the window… What I am trying to say is, that there will be plenty of companies charging you for the ad management who are not truly willing to help you. As a result, your campaign ends up being inefficient.

Let’s say you are running the ads on your own and still suffering from lack of efficiency. We won’t let you down. We’ve prepared a few points which — when done well — will increase your ad efficiency.

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Take Your Small Business to the Next Level with Marketing Automation Software

One of the buzzwords and a key trend in marketing is automation. Even though it may sound complicated and unaffordable for small businesses, the opposite is true – you only have to know where to begin. If you know what to focus on, choose the right software and analyze your efforts, marketing automation can truly get your business to the next level.


Marketing automation is, as the name suggests, a category of technology that streamlines your marketing activities. It gives you the power to focus on customers with the highest potential and saves your time by triggering messages (campaigns) across multiple channels without you having to start them manually. A miracle, I know.


There is always a buzz around new technologies. We recommend reading our article about the difference between Hype & Trend. Marketing automation, we believe, is a trend to stay. Jump on the train as soon as you can. No matter how big your business is. If you choose an affordable solution, your business can never be too small for this.


There are more arguments to start using a marketing automation tool:

  • It saves you time by automating manual effort.
  • If done well, it increases the revenue and saves cost.
  • It allows you to nurture your most valuable customers and focus on new customers with the highest potential.


Stop. Doing. Manual. Work. Period. Let technology help you automate. It's not as hard as it looks. You will find out soon, just bear with us…


Where do you start?

Let us guide you through the very first steps to start using marketing automation that will take your business to the next level.


1. Set your priorities

Be clear about what you want to achieve and how you'll track it. This is a prerequisite to get started. If you don't clearly set your expectations, you won't know where to go and you won't recognize when you get there.


Do you want to save time? Great!  Are you more interested in increasing your response rate? That's cool too. Would you like to generate more leads? That counts as well. Goals and expectations should come out of your status quo - no one will help you here, just you, so start by defining your goals.


2. Define the customer journey & touchpoints

Know the journey of your customer. You can only optimize if you know what leads your customers to purchase. We are fans of marketing funnels that help you (in a simplified way) understand the customer journey. Draw one for your business – you will get a better idea of where your customers get stuck.


Let us give an example here. Say you run your real estate business. Your primary selling point is your website with all the listings and offers. You run Google, Bing and social media ads to generate traffic. You might send some newsletters too.


Your primary goal is to generate leads and close them, right? There are multiple touchpoints throughout the customer journey (before you close the deal). Here is what a customer journey may look like:


3. Find out what can be automated

Now that you know how your customers behave – you've identified the touchpoints, let's slowly start automating. Or better said, let's find out what can be automated. Tools like Hubspot, ActiveCampaign or Keap are mostly focused on email marketing, social media ads, search & display ads, SMS, widgets and pop ups on the website. These represent the channels that you can use to get in touch with your audience. Let us expand on our example above. The touchpoints where the communication can be fully automated are now marked in red:

4. Choose the right automation software

There are plenty of tools to choose from. Going back to your potential question: “Are these tools affordable for small businesses?”, note that you don't have to pick Marketo or Hubspot to automate your efforts. These are tools mainly for enterprises that operate with big marketing budgets. Not in our case. We go small. But effectively…


Let's list some of the tools you can use to start automating your communication:


  1. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign gives you not just marketing automation software, but CRM on top. Its pricing starts at 9 USD (if paid annually) and offers not just email marketing, but also SMS, Facebook targeting, subscription forms and personalised content on your website. It's a great tool.


  1. Keap (by Infusionsoft)

You will have to go deeper into your pocket here. Plans start at 49 USD, but they offer you a sales pipeline plus invoices & payment management on top of what ActiveCampaign gives you. If you lead a sales team, this can be a great choice.


  1. Drip

As well as other automation tools, Drip focuses on campaign orchestration – creating a single view across multiple channels. We worship the 360°customer view and so does Drip. Their focus is ecommerce and they offer great features, like personalised product recommendations.


  1. Mailchimp

It started solely as an email marketing tool, and is now moving into the automation platform. Mailchimp offers features like landing page creation, social media ads and soon-to-be-launched marketing CRM. Pricing starts at 9,99 USD plus they offer a freemium to play with the tool and use basic features.


  1. Zapier

We love Zapier – the glue of the internet. It allows you to connect two platforms that, by themselves, do not communicate with each other. Say you generate leads on your Wix website and need to send them to your Drip account. Zapier helps you do that – automatically of course. With more than 1,500 platforms, they are the real glue of the internet...


  1. groost

As much as we love Zapier, we adore our own solution – groost. The name itself says that it'll grow & boost your business. We do it by automating and simplifying your campaign management. If you need to generate more leads, increase website traffic or get more post engagement on your social media profile, you probably run paid campaigns – knowing that organic reach is constantly decreasing – which can be overwhelming. Learning how Google Ads, Facebook Business Manager, LinkedIn Campaign Manager or Bing Ads work takes ages. Not with groost – a single platform for all your marketing efforts. We do offer freemium too to show your business on both Facebook and Instagram – try it out!


5. Analyze your efforts after some time & improve

Make sure to come back and analyze your efforts. As Peter Drucker said, if you can't measure it, you can't improve it. Analyzing what works and what doesn't is crucial. We recommend running continual AB testing to optimise every step of your funnel and every touchpoint with your customers. All tools that have been listed above allow you to do so easily.


These are the 5 easy steps to get started with marketing automation. Some of them might seem obvious, but believe me, there is no shortcut. Set your priorities first, define the customer journey and touchpoints, find out what can be automated, choose the right tool(s) and after some period of time, come back, analyze and improve.

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7 Key Instagram Stats & Demographics

There are more than 7 billion people on earth. And 1 billion of those people are on Instagram. That means every 7th person uses this visual-based social media network. Launched in 2010, and eventually bought in 2012 by Facebook (with more than 30 million users back then), Instagram offers a huge opportunity to connect with your current and potential customers, as well as, your followers and fans. The growth has been tremendous, which makes Instagram one of the most well-known and most widely-used social media platforms of all.


You already know that you can leverage any platform if you have a clear understanding of the audience you can reach there – and whether or not it aligns with your target audience… To find this out, let's jump into the key stats about Instagram and its users!

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