Small businesses make up the backbone of our nation’s economy. They’re an essential component of the American Dream. So why are so many small businesses incapable of achieving long-term growth or sustainability? The truth is, the American Dream isn’t easy to achieve. An estimated 60% of businesses fail within their first two years and only 50% make it to the five-year mark. Even a large majority of those businesses may not survive past a decade, no matter the economy or the community they are located in.
In our digital-dominated world, people are glued to their phone while they stroll past your shop windows and if you’re not securing your digital presence in the community, it’s highly unlikely people will ever see or hear about your business. Establishing a business in a world dominated by digital media can be difficult because the online community is saturated with people and businesses. If you want to see your business celebrate a 5-year or a 10-year anniversary, follow these digital marketing and business practices.
1. Establish a digital presence and implement SEO
Not every business owner has a shop or business located in the heart of town, where people often waltz by and stop to look into your business. There are many business owners who work remotely (at home, in office suites or coffee shops) where the chance of getting noticed is even lower. With exception to the community building and networking going on within a co-working space, how will you get the word out about your services? How will people know your business exists if you’re not actively marking your territory in your local market?
If people can’t find you online, you’ve got a real problem. If someone is searching for the goods and services your business provides but not being directed to your business, you’re going to need an expert to help you with Search Engine Optimization. SEO is more important than ever when building or re-launching a website.
2. Your website should be user-friendly and mobile-friendly
When you’ve finally built your beautiful, working website to present your business to audiences everywhere, it’s important to ensure it is both user-friendly and mobile-friendly. What does this mean exactly? A user-friendly website means your audience should be able to easily and quickly load your website on a computer and be able to navigate as well as successfully click through each and every link. Your website should also be visually appealing to your user. Colors that contrast too much and website copy that appears jumbled or “thrown” together won’t make your audience want to click through your site.
Equally, with the drastic increase in the number of people who use a mobile phone to view websites on the internet, your site should be mobile-friendly, too. The number of audiences visiting websites on their mobile phones or devices has increased over the years and in 2017, it’s become more important than ever. Read what we recently wrote about mobile-friendly websites.
3. Engage your audience on social media
Customers of any business, let alone small businesses, want to feel they are important and integral to your brand. Social media management does not equate to throwing status updates out into the world, hoping someone will see them and magically share it with 10 million of their friends. Your business should be both strategic and active on social media, posting updates and relevant information to your business or industry. Your business should encourage people to join the conversation online. Ask your audience questions they want to answer, share photos, and respond to comments and check-ins at your business.
Simply creating a presence online – whether it’s a website or a Facebook profile just isn’t enough. You must actively build a community around your presence through digital marketing efforts like social media engagement.
4. Become an expert to your audience through blogging and email marketing
There are still those who underestimate the power and importance of blogging and email marketing. Producing a blog once or twice a month that provides your audiences with valuable information relating to your industry or community not only drives traffic back to your website, it can help audiences find you through search engines and build on the relationship between your business and your customers.
Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to get your business, the products, and the services you offer in front of your audiences all the time. Sending out a monthly newsletter or a weekly promotion through email is an excellent way to start a direct conversation about your business, your community, or your industry.
5. Network with other owners of small businesses and leaders in your community
There’s nothing small business owners in a community want more than to see other business owners succeed. One of the major elements to success in the world of small businesses still involves getting out in your community and physically representing your business. Networking is a powerful tool to utilize in your community. Connecting with the right people in your community can establish a foundation for great connections and relationships, both of which can lead to referrals, word-of-mouth advertising, and potential new customers. The best ways to present yourself and your business and connect with others in the community is to participate in community events and expos for small businesses as well as join networking groups or even start your own. The possibilities are endless.
There are numerous other factors involved in keeping small businesses profitable and operating for many years. From financial rules to live by to great branding and adapting to the evolving digital world, businesses have a lot more to think about than adopting digital marketing strategies. We know business owners can’t do it all and that’s why Hot Dog Marketing is here to help. As we celebrate our 5th anniversary in March 2017, we have a lot of advice to offer. Ready to listen? Let’s chat.
Recent Public Relations graduate and intern-turned content marketing specialist. When I’m not swimming through waves of web pages for new content, you can find me at hockey games or reading a fantastic book.