5 Marketing Hacks Small Businesses Tell Me Have Changed Their Lives
I work with a ton of small businesses, and I love it. I love seeing different business models, helping entrepreneurs with limited resources and experience, and getting unique perspectives that you just can’t find in bigger, often more “cookie-cutter” business establishments. One-on-one, we can share information and insights, and build a strategy that’s helpful for their business.
I’ve been in the online marketing industry for about 10 years, so I can almost always help them learn something new. But sometimes, they help me learn something new as well. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the strategies you’ve found to be effective on your own, or in your own beliefs, and miss some of the less noticeable tactics that might have a significant impact on your strategy, either in terms of total results or in terms of efficiency.
These are just some of the marketing “hacks” small business owners have disclosed to me. Give them a try for yourself, and they might just turn your marketing strategy on its head:
1. Syndicate old content. Once you create a piece of content, push it out to social media, and follow up with your initial rounds of commenters, most brands consider that source “tapped,” and never revisit it again. In some cases, this is necessary — especially if the article is news-based or otherwise temporary in nature. But if the article is evergreen, it will hold a permanent value. Why let this value sit idly on your blog when you could continue tapping it periodically for long-term dividends? Keep a list of your old evergreen content pieces, and re-syndicate them occasionally. This will generate new interest from new followers, and may be valuable to older followers who didn’t see it the first time around.
2. Segment your email list. Most companies recognize the power of email marketing — it’s been claimed to be the highest-ROI online marketing strategy (though ROI’s a finicky measure to calculate, and my suspicion is that content marketing wins out long-term). But they try to tap into it with a single, massive email list of all their clients, visitors, readers, partners, and affiliates. Some small business owners I’ve talked to have segmented their email lists, sometimes splitting the list in multiple dimensions and have reported seeing better results. For example, they might keep different lists based on past engagements with the brand, or based on certain user dispositions. The bottom line is that this allows them to target their readers with more precision in the content of their email blasts, which reduces unsubscribe rates while improving open and click-through rates.
3. Earn and display landmark social proof. Social proof is an increasingly important phenomenon in the online marketing landscape. The concept is simple — show that you’ve done good work, or that you’ve earned the respect of other people, and people will be more likely to engage with you. Most brands attempt to do this, to some degree, through online customer reviews or brief snippets of testimonials. But the real power lies in “landmark” pieces of social proof, which stand out as more significant and more powerful in the eyes of users. For example, you might earn a long testimonial from a nationally recognized brand — these can be hard to get, but they’ll pay off significantly. You might also write up an engaging and persuasive case study from one of your best clients. The key is to have some anchor piece that’s both recognizable and convincing.
4. Use custom landing pages. Building a landing page takes time and effort, but they’re far more useful when they exist as a cluster. Each individual landing page should serve a highly specialized purpose, targeting a niche audience and serving one specific need; this allows you to refine the small details of your approach to cater to one specific type of conversion at a time. But beyond that, you’ll need to create multiple versions of each functional landing page, splitting your strategy even further into variants. The goal here is to compare and contrast how all your different landing pages perform, giving you more data and more user insights you can use to speed up the development of your campaign.
5. Cultivate brand evangelists. Brand evangelism isn’t an entirely new concept. As with most items on this list, the premise is simple; find someone who’s going to be passionate enough about your brand to “evangelize” it, advocating it to friends and colleagues, and sharing material on your behalf. But how do you find such willing participants? You start by building individual relationships with some of your closest followers. Most businesses shy away from this, instead only investing time in messaging with mass-market appeal. They see it as a waste of time to target only one or two users in one go. But if you do this, and nurture those relationships with regular engagements, soon they’ll become evangelists in their own right without ever realizing it.
I’ve been using most of these “hacks” regularly, both for my own business and on behalf of my clients, and I have to say, I’ve been thrilled with the results. Some of them are more consistent (such as syndicating older content posts) and some are more like gambles (such as brand evangelism), but all of them have the potential to elevate your marketing campaign. I’ve always said one of the best approaches in marketing is to take risks and experiment — and now you’ve got some good tests to try!