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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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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Find Your Customers Where They Truly Are

A  few months ago, I moved to a new flat. Before that, I had been doing thorough research on what part of the city is the most child-friendly in terms of security, what are the prices and how far the flats are from the public transportation. I took many things into consideration before even getting in touch with an agent.

Did I Google things? Of course! Was I keen on reading research on what parts of the city suit my needs? You bet I was! Did I spend some time scrolling on Pinterest for furniture inspiration? Yes, I did.


I was lucky to meet Josh, a real estate agent who has been in the business for some time. We got in touch after I visited his website and read his article about the prediction of real estate prices, plus went through some interesting content on his LinkedIn profile. 


I was astonished by the speed of his reaction. Within two days, I had 5 flats to choose from. And a few days after that, I went to see them all.


What I did, nonetheless, within those two days, was thorough research – again. This time, I examined Josh's Instagram profile and checked out the other flats he had to offer. I read the reviews on his Google listings and read more educating articles on LinkedIn. I am a social media freak and I probably use all of them. But Josh was always there… Offering me exactly what I was looking for. At the exact time I needed it.


What I just described, was a perfect user experience and great customer-centric approach. Josh knew his business would grow if he invested in these channels. He also knew what content to serve on each of them. And I engaged, liked, followed – was totally sold! – Successfully ended my buying journey – call it whatever you want. Josh won. So did I.


Do I live in one of these aforementioned flats today? I surely do and I am happy with my decision.


Reach your customers wherever they spend their time. This is a golden rule Josh and other successful businesses completely abide by. 


The fact that you are missing out on the chance to speak to your customer or potential customer on any channel can only be leveraged by your competitors… If you don't worship the customer-centric approach, they will.

And by customer-centric I mean going beyond on what YOU want to be doing to what a CUSTOMER wants to do – where she spends time, where she expects to get in touch with your business, where she takes out her wallet and pays for goods or services...

We are not talking solely about social media here. Customers visit your store – interact with you personally, get in touch with someone from support or sales, search for a cheaper substitute on Google or Bing and eventually visit your website. To gain trust, users tend to rely on reviews and customer feedback listed on your social media profiles. One customer – multiple channels. And you'd better be on all of them.


Customer Interact with Multiple Channels
Your Customer Interacting with Multiple Channels



Every touchpoint matters. Everyone builds the complete image of you through your customers' eyes. And everyone determines whether a customer chooses you instead of your competitors.


In 2018, the average time spent daily on social media was 136 minutes. That is more than 2 hours of one's precious time. And more than 2 hours for you to catch their attention with what you have to offer.


What you can count on, is the fact that they will search for products like yours. And if they don't find you, they will buy somewhere else…

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Hype vs. Trend – What Really Matters for Your Business?

AI, Chatbots, Blockchain, self-driving cars, cloud-computing... You have probably heard of all of those, right? Do these terms represent trend or a hype? What is the actual difference between those two words? And are they important for you, as an entrepreneur who's just getting started? These are probably the questions that jump to your mind when hearing these buzzwords.


There is a HUGE difference between what stays and what doesn't. In other words, not everything will stick and change our behaviour. This is how we can define our keyword, trend: as a change in the behaviour, habits or ways in which things work. It is a constant change. Let me explain trend in a graph, as I am a visual learner and a numbers freak…

Trend Line
Trend Line

On the contrary, hype is something that simply occurs and fades away… without any lasting impact. If I spoke in graphs, hype would look like this:

Hype Line
Hype Line

When the terms are clarified, let us look at the history and point out some of the trends and hypes we, as humans on this earth, have been through…


  1. 1950 – Year when the first credit card was introduced

Presented by Diner's Club, the very first universal credit card came to use and was accepted by some establishments. Had it been just a hype, no one would be using credit cards today… Non-cash payment instruments play a huge role in our lives today – this trend changed our behaviour for good.


Now, imagine a bank not issuing a credit or debit card after opening an account – a business that did not catch the trend. This bank would for sure not survive in today's world…


  1. 2008 – The word shared economy was loudly spoken for the first time

… and changed the way we travel, transport ourselves and purchase goods. Startups like AirBnB or Uber have shown us there is a new way of ordering a taxi or renting a flat for a few nights. Have classic taxi companies had to react to this change? You bet they have!


You can probably guess where this is heading. There are a plethora of examples of trends that have changed our lives. These are real changes that – if businesses ignored them – could be very harmful... 


  1. Now – Podcasts, home voice assistants and voice orders

Here we go. 2019 and podcasts, home voice assistants, voice search, voice order and – you nailed it – everything that has something to do with voice is slowly changing the way we behave. Is this something you should keep an eye on? I believe so. Is this something that is about to change / threaten / boost your business? That truly depends on your business industry and approach.


On the contrary, hype can calmly be ignored (or shortly leveraged). Do you remember the Bitcoin bubble in late 2017? 


If not, let me briefly explain. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that was invented in January 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto. Its price has been slowly rising since then, and in 2017, one Bitcoin was worth around 20,000 USD. With no real value behind it! In other words, so much money was invested in this currency that the price rose rapidly. An easy economic rule: when the demand rises (while the offer is limited), the price goes up. But what is crucial, is the value behind it. There was no value at all. And in January 2018...BOOM!

Bitcoin Chart (2018)

Identifying hype and trend can be crucial for the survival of your business. But no one really tells you how to get started. Well… saying that there is a manual would mean there is a way to predict the future.


But there are some ways to prepare yourself. As Gartner puts it: “Three key factors will ultimately enable you to identify the potential impact of a particular technology trend on people, business, IT and the technology market:

  1. New value. Identify clear business opportunities that this technology trend could help exploit, or challenges that it could help solve to produce better business outcomes.

  2. Level of digital disruption. Decide whether adopting this trend would mean changing your organization’s business model or inventing a new one. Could this new trend replace existing technologies or ways of doing business? How could this trend disrupt the technology market? Although, there will probably be opportunities for new providers, new trends can disrupt the services and performance of existing providers on which your organization may rely.

  3. Type of impact. Investigate whether the trend’s impact will be felt only within your organization, or whether it will have an external impact on your organization." 


Yes, you have to know your business and industry perfectly in order to answer those questions. If you decide to simply ignore everything that goes around you, you may get kicked out of business soon… But if you learn, build on your knowledge and keep an eye on the current trends & hypes (as you may not recognize them at the beginning), your chances will rise.


Build on your knowledge. Do not pay attention to what does not affect your business, but be aware of something that does…

We at groost.com are leveraging online advertising for small businesses, which has shown to be a strong trend that is here to change many industries. In 2018, for the very first time, 50 % of the world's population was online. Never before has the percentage of people with access to the internet been so high. And guess what… The number is rising. Is this a trend or a hype? You are now able to answer the question for yourself.


Are you up to date with what's on trend for 2019? Check the Gartner's research here: https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/5-trends-appear-on-the-gartner-hype-cycle-for-emerging-technologies-2019

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Beginner's Guide to Facebook Advertising

Facebook gathers more than 2,4 billion monthly active users. That being said, it is obvious that the possibility to reach your potential customers is high. On the other hand, getting to know the platform takes time or costs tons of money (for agency fees). For small business owners who decide to leverage this platform, time and money are the core assets.

So how can you get the most out of the biggest social network? First of all, know the basics. Facebook (and any other advertising platform) can be overwhelming, which makes it easy to get lost. Don’t try to understand everything. Choose to learn what matters to your business the most!

We have prepared content that will help you get to know the very basic idea behind advertising on Facebook. We call it the Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Advertising and within it we cover the following topics:

  • Setting up the right strategy.
  • Get to know the Facebook interface.
  • What is Facebook optimisation and how does it work?
  • How can you effectively target your audience?
  • Where does Facebook show your ads?
  • How do you pay for your ads?
  • What are the types of ads you can run?
  • Petr’s case study- a story of a man who successfully sold his company after a few months by growing his business on Facebook.

Dig into the Facebook advertising by downloading the e-book below and let us know how it helped you boost your business!

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Marketing Funnel Explained (for Non-Marketers)

Have you ever wondered if the journey of your customer is trackable or even viewable? I have good news for you – it is. You can – in many cases – track how many people know about your business, how many of them consider purchasing your goods and, of course, how many already bought and referred your product to a friend. Being able to view the customer journey, optimise its steps and analyze your efforts is crucial for any kind of business. Trust me, the size does not matter (in this case). Every business should do it.


Marketing funnel is a term that resonates with the majority of marketers. They tend to use this model to illustrate the customer journey – from brand discovery to purchase. As stated, measuring every step of the funnel brings you a much better overview of your efforts and, thus, a higher return on investment, which is your goal, isn't it? The more you can get out of every stage of your customer's journey, the better the results are in terms of number count or revenue.


Let's say your customer journey has three main phases:


Three main phases of the customer journey (attention, consideration, decision)
The Three Main Phases of Customer Journey

Please note that in this case we don't cover the scenarios that happen after the purchase is made (retention funnel).


Each stage represents a different behaviour stage of your potential customer. Say she has a problem which she is able to name. She begins to search for a solution – which you offer with your product or service. As soon as she discovers your business – among others – offers the solution she is already in the awareness stage.


Your presentation, product, its price and other factors determine whether she will move further on the journey. The consideration stage, needless to say, is a phase in which a potential customer already considers your product, is comparing it to your competitors and is aware of its pros and cons.


Decision. That's the phase we aim for. We want her to buy our product, right? That's when a decision is made. In this stage, your potential customer has already conducted the research, has chosen you over your competitors and is happy to buy what you have to offer


We just described (in a very simple way) what a customer journey can look like. Sometimes it takes weeks to guide her through all stages of the journey, sometimes it is a matter of minutes. Imagine yourself buying a coffee in the city center. You probably don't do any thorough research, but you certainly look for coffee quality and price. You don't spend days comparing the product to other cafés or bars. You make the decision according to a few key factors. Your journey is fast and your decision is made pretty quickly. But it does not mean the café owner should not pay attention to the key factors, like what the café window looks like, or if their prices are reasonable, as it influences the customer's journey.


The customer journey can easily be viewed as a funnel. Therefore, marketers use it to analyze their efforts. To explain the basic idea behind the marketing funnel, let's use the widely-known model AIDA which stands for attention, interest, desire and action. Each of these phases represent a stage in which you might find your customers. 


Obviously, your ultimate goal is to guide them through the stages without friction and in the shortest time possible. 


Let us look at an example of a basic marketing funnel:


AIDA - Attention, Interest, Desire, Action

People obviously start at the top – marketers call it the top funnel. This represents the awareness stage. As customers move further in the funnel, they know more about you and your offer and start, as well as continue to consider it more and more. 


Here is what a perfect marketing funnel would look like:


Example of a Perfect Marketing Funnel

This would mean that everyone who discovers your product will decide to purchase. Going back to our example, 100% of the people who enter your café will buy a coffee. Of course, that's a seller's utopia. In an ideal world, this would work, not in the real one.


Your task is to carefully measure your funnel and optimize its steps.


Let's finally give a more concrete example of what a marketing funnel can look like in your case. Say you run a real estate business, and aim to attract potential house buyers with your website. That's also where you generate leads that you can then convert. Your main channels would be:

  • social media or ads on Google or Youtube
  • a website
  • a chat or phone call


You would try to attract as many people as possible with your marketing budget and lead them to your website to show all the products or services you have. After they land on the website, ideally you want them to fill out a form, in case, they are interested in a particular offer. As soon as they do so, you connect with them via phone or email and find out whether their interest can lead to a conversion. 


This is what your funnel would look like:

Example of Marketing Funnel

Let's do some math now. Say your marketing efforts help you reach 10,000 people with your ad. 3% of them interact with your ad and visit your website. That would mean you have 300 people on your website, right? 


How many of these people are you able to convert into leads? That depends on how your website attracts its users and how juicy your offer is, doesn't it? Let's say you have a 10% conversion rate (10% of website visitors convert into leads). In this case, you would have 30 leads waiting to be contacted. 


How many of them can you convert into sales? Again, factors like your response time, will play their role now. If you made it to 50%, you just made 15 sales. Now go back and think about what can be improved...


You can see that there are more factors that influence the efficiency of your funnel (and your efforts). One bit of advice would be: measure each step of the funnel, focus on the customer and do your best to improve the areas where it falters! 


Going back to our example, simply by making your ad more appealing, you can increase your outcome from 3% to 6% which (if other metrics don't change) make 30 sales at the end of the day! Improve your website from 10% conversion rate to 15% and you almost hit the sky… You know where I am heading, right?


You may be wondering where you can get all of this data? Tools like Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook Business Manager or our own app that simplifies the process of ad management, can give you great insights into how many people you reached, how many of them interacted with your content, how many made it to the website and finally, how many were converted into leads. There is a plethora of ways to measure your marketing funnel – the customer journey. Even a piece of paper and good data sources can create miracles… 


One thing is for sure: if you don't measure your efforts carefully, you may be investing money and energy into something which does not bring you results at all.


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How to Define The Optimal Budget for Your Marketing Campaign

All small businesses need a good marketing plan to help it reach its targets and aspirations. With every marketing plan comes a marketing budget. You can say they go hand in hand. Creating the optimal marketing budget will ensure you spend the right amount of money in the right places to achieve your marketing goals. Creating a marketing budget used to involve a lot of trial and error which can lead to unnecessary expenses and ineffectiveness. But nowadays with everything becoming easier thanks to the amount of information available on the internet, so is creating the optimal marketing budget, everyone can do it.

Small business owners are finding new ways and techniques to plan out their strategies and design successful marketing budgets. It all comes down to how much are you willing to spend to acquire new customers and increase your brand awareness.

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