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Competing against larger competitors in your niche or sector is difficult at the best of times. It’s not always a level playing field either. When the bigger competitor with greater revenue enjoys a more substantial marketing budget, it’s tougher for a small business like yours to compete.
Here are four smart ways that small businesses on a tighter budget can use digital marketing for continued growth:1. Use social media to dominate your niche
Social media is a confusing landscape for SMEs. Most small businesses only have a few members of staff or just a solopreneur at the helm. Taking the founder or one of the critical members of staff away from their regular duties to handle the social media accounts is often a losing strategy. Also, it’s difficult to justify employing a full-time social media manager because of the cost and a lack of belief that their salary package (plus benefits) will deliver an ROI for the business through increased sales.
For SMEs, the best idea with social media is to hire a social media agency to handle their accounts. A dedicated agency has the required skill set and is far better able to keep abreast of the changes in the social media landscape. The agency can agree on a price plan based on the number of accounts handled and the posting frequency to match the SME’s available budget.2. Invest heavily in email marketing
While technology features such as web browser notifications and mobile apps have proven useful for internet users, nothing has replaced or surpassed the power of email. Small companies shy away from building a mailing list because they worry about what type of content they can produce and how they’ll organize it. The content marketing tends to be their stumbling block and that’s even for businesses that already publish a company blog.
Email marketing, with the opt-in from site visitors who supply their email address and agree to repeated emails (per new EU GDPR regulations), is one way to ensure a prosperous future. Subscribers can be emailed about new blog posts, price discounts, new product launches and helpful industry information that makes the brand look good. For businesses selling high-priced products that need repeat visits before a visitor makes a buying decision, capturing their email address is vital.3. Use photographic imagery to inspire
The web is increasingly a visual medium. With photos shared on Pinterest and Instagram, and videos on YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook, content marketing with a visual component encourages more people to visit your website and follow your social media accounts.
Look at all the images used on your website and social media accounts. The headers on social accounts could surely do with an update. Find a way to inject some life and personality into them even if you’re an SME selling small home improvement tools.4. Gain visibility through industry guest posting
Most SME’s don’t really understand the concept behind guest posting. It seems like a lot of work for little gain, but this is actually not the case. When you find a website that focuses on the same or similar target market as your own with a suitable demographic mix, then there’s bound to be some likely customers there. The idea is to go where your potential customers are, publish a post, and grab their attention!
Small businesses must always focus on their marketing budget. Making sensible choices about which campaigns are the most affordable and deliver the highest ROI should be top of their priority list. Doing so maximizes available resources and offers the greatest potential to boost growth.
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Technology can help to increase collaboration between your employees, as well as boosting your business effectiveness and customer satisfaction.
For example, it is likely that as a small business you may not yet have centralised office space and some employees may work from home. Having the right collaboration tools in place such as Slack, Zoom and others can help you keep track of employees’ activities and schedule team meetings.
You might also want to consider marketing solutions which go beyond basic email. It’s important to have a website, as customers expect this and it allows them to see what you offer and potentially even purchase your services or goods.
Overall, there are a number of benefits technology can bring, and it might even mean there’s less work to do.
The tech tools you need for your business
It can often be difficult to get your head around everything that needs to be done when starting a business. These are some of the best methods to kick-start growth for your small business.
Solutions such as GoDaddy and 1&1 IONOS are good for building your website.
GoDaddy starts at £6.99 a month for the web builder, with a one-month free trial. 1&1 IONOS offers six months free, and then it costs £9 a month thereafter.
A good website builder will include guided help on building a website from scratch. You can find out more about the best website builders here.
Just like having a website, social media is equally as important when it comes to building an online presence and promoting your business.
One of the best places to start is
Facebook for Business goes into more detail about how this works.
You might find handling finances challenging, and maybe you don’t have the budget to employ an accountant. There are software solutions such as Sighted and Sage Business Cloud Accounting that help with the basics of account management such as invoicing, payment tracking and so on.
Sage Business Cloud Accounting pricing starts at £6 a month, with a 30-day free trial.
You can find out more about the best accounting software for small businesses here.
Adopting collaboration tools can help to build seamless interaction between employees. It is a good way to minimise the use of email, get faster responses and share files quickly and easily across one platform.
For many businesses, email can often be seen as a non-urgent form of communication and also something that can use up a lot of time. Adopting a collaboration tool such as Slack can help to change that and also speed up responses.
Slack is free to use, but the premium package offers more storage space for keeping more message history. This starts at $6.67 (£5.25) a month per user.
You might also want to consider Whatsapp for Business and Microsoft Teams.
Evernote is a good option for sharing files and photos starting at £10.99 / $7.99 a month, per user. This is a good platform for small businesses on a budget as it also includes some free services.
There are also some other apps for small business owners you might want to check out.
How technology can automate processes
Automation is another option to consider. From automatic replies to enquiries to automated payment tracking and contactless payments it is all designed to make your working days easier.
Some platforms to consider are GoCardless, for automated payment and invoice processing, and IBM Watson AI for automated customer assistance. GoCardless is available for free.
USPS delays, caused by COVID-19 and service changes, are impacting small businesses.
The effects of these delays are seen in transportation, customer satisfaction and financial transactions.
While businesses can’t control the holdup, there are different ways of working around the problem.
This article is for small businesses challenged by the ongoing USPS delays.
Over the past few years, changes from the top down at the United States Postal Service (USPS), coupled with ongoing issues surrounding COVID-19, have caused the U.S. mail system to experience a slowdown in the processing and delivery of mail. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year plan, announced in 2023, implements money-saving changes, such as slowing mail delivery that will affect the services of the USPS dramatically. In addition, ongoing COVID-19 impacts still limit transportation availability, according to the USPS.
Besides being a major annoyance for most people, it has caused severe problems for many sectors of the economy and small businesses have been hit especially hard. Although there are private sector competitors, such as FedEx and UPS, the USPS is still a crucial service.How are USPS delays affecting small businesses?
The USPS has long been vital to the operation of small businesses and the postal service has only become more important with the increasing popularity of online shopping. This makes service changes or slowdowns difficult for small businesses.
Some help is offered with the Postal Service Reform Act of 2023, a new $50 billion relief plan for USPS passed by Congress last year. Part of the deal requires the USPS to deliver mail six days a week, except in rare weather exceptions such as natural disasters.
Despite this legislation, mail-delivery delays still exist. Here is how small businesses are being affected.Alternative delivery services are more expensive.
The USPS delivers a staggering number of packages, letters and other parcels — approximately 425.3 million individual pieces per day, according to the USPS. As deliveries get delayed and expected delivery dates become murky, small business owners like chúng tôi owner Yungi Chu, have had to deal with slower deliveries.
“Slow USPS service has been causing havoc to our online mail order business,” he said. Although he could use another shipping service, like UPS or FedEx, to alleviate the problem, the difference in cost between those services and the USPS is too wide for them to be a feasible answer to the problem.
“The same three-day service [with either FedEx or UPS] would cost two to three times more, so it’s a lose-lose situation right now,” Chu said. “Either we pay more through UPS or FedEx or we gamble with the slow service.”
Let’s take a shipping comparison website, chúng tôi and compare a package traveling from New York City to Los Angeles. For a package that’s 10 x 10 x 10 weighing 10 pounds, using a general average, typically USPS is still the cheapest option (a seven-day delivery time is $9.03) while the ground option for UPS for a four-day turnaround (or FedEx for five days) is $27.04.
Did You Know?
On a global scale, the USPS has suspended international services to various countries. This might cause your business further headache, forcing you to use a different service.What’s causing the USPS delays?
There are two main reasons for the USPS delays. First, the postal service is strained by the increased shipping volume resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Second, recent changes implemented by USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have resulted in slowdowns.
Because of COVID-19 closures many Americans shifted to purchasing products online while staying at home and the country has experienced a shift in how it conducts business. Increased online sales have led to a higher demand for the USPS’s delivery services, resulting in some deliveries taking longer than expected.
Along with the logistical troubles that come from an unanticipated surge in packages, the coronavirus itself had an impact on the USPS’s workforce. According to a Government Executive, approximately 55,600 USPS employees had tested positive for COVID-19 among its workforce back in July 2023. The number of COVID-19-related deaths among postal workers has not been widely reported by the government, but it is estimated that at least 197 workers have died from the disease, according to ProPublica.
The other major reason for these slowdowns is a series of changes, implemented by DeJoy’s 10-year plan. Changes being made included adding a minimum of a day to First Class delivery times, a shifting focus from air delivery to ground delivery, increasing domestic rates, limiting overtime and reducing post office hours. These changes, plus more, are meant to major financial issues facing the postal service.
Congress also passed the bipartisan-supported relief plan for USPS in 2023 to help offset the losses suffered by the organization, with a crucial piece of it undoing 2006 legislation that required the USPS to prefund retiree health benefits of all of its present and past employees for 75 years — a more than $120 billion commitment.How small businesses can adapt to USPS delays
As the federal government continues to wrestle with these delays, small businesses are looking for ways to ensure faster deliveries to customers, who are still reluctant to shop in brick-and-mortar stores because of COVID-19 risks.
Although some business owners, such as Chu, said they’re sticking with the USPS, others are switching to other shipping services, like FedEx and UPS.
“In the past, we had always given people options for shipping, but due to issues over the past couple of months with COVID, we instantly upgrade them to express shipping so that the customer receives their package on time,” said Jeff Moriarty, marketing manager at Moriarty’s Gem Art. “People are still used to receiving packages quickly due to companies like Amazon, so to stay competitive, we need to do what we can to make the customer happier than ever and receiving their package fast helps a ton.”
He’s also looking ahead to prevent delays during the holiday season. “We will be completely removing the first-class option and only giving the option for express shipping, which we will be offering for free,” Moriarty said. “This will be the only way we can guarantee the customer receives their package in a timely manner.”
In a new post-COVID-19 shopping world, it’s important to prepare for any special occasions. Here are some helpful ways to prepare for holiday sales.
Companies that rely on prompt payments are shifting to online services, such as Square, PayPal and Venmo. David D. Schein, president and general counsel at Claremont Management Group, said one way he’s dealt with the delays has been to move most of his business transactions online.
In the past six months, two of his checks, both over $1,000, did not arrive at their destinations. “One was returned two months later, with a bogus explanation,” Schein said. “The other check has never surfaced or been cashed. I replaced one payment with Zelle and the other with Venmo.”
The shift to a more cashless society offers businesses lots of options for accepting online payments, including PayPal. [Read related: 5 Important Things to Know Before Accepting Online Credit Cards]How your small business can work around USPS delays
How your small business deals with USPS delays will not have a simple solution. COVID-19 delays, though frustrating, are becoming less of an obstacle since the development of vaccines and with new variants seeming less fatal. Delays from the USPS itself, specifically the 10-year plan, is a different story. The changes in policy, pricing and services is not something that is likely to reverse course.
What your small business can do is be diligent and proactive when it comes to deliveries. The USPS provides service alerts, which allow you to get an idea of what might delay your package, giving you time to adjust. Being flexible and adaptable is a key component to surviving with an ever-changing world around you.
Additional reporting by Andrew Martins.
Which would you prefer: To read a description of a product or to watch a video of how it’s used, what it looks like, and it’s features? If you’re like most people, 68% in fact, you’d prefer the video.
Video marketing is quickly becoming the hottest way to communicate with consumers, and consumers are loving it. Video marketing is engaging, can be fun, and gives a lot of information quickly. It’s no wonder that 87% of businesses now use video as a tool in their marketing.
If you’re not using video marketing yet, now is the time to take the plunge. How can you use video in your marketing efforts? We cover five ways to incorporate it here!1. Introduce Yourself on Your Website
When consumers come to your website, they’re looking for a solution to their problem from a business they can trust. One of the easiest ways to quickly share what you do and instantly build a personal connection is to place an introductory video on your home or about page.
The video should be short ““ under two minutes ““ and can feature members of the team explaining what you do and why you’re passionate about your work. It can also capture your business’s brand story or the value you aim to deliver consumers so they can connect with you and your business.
Learn more about building your business’s brand story here. Then, watch this video we made for our website about who we are:2. Get Personal in Your Emails
Email marketing remains an incredibly effective way to reach prospects and customers. Incorporating video into these emails is a way to boost their effectiveness even further.
Maybe you include video in your newsletter, introducing your mailing list to a new item or service. Perhaps you send explainer videos to new customers, giving them tips for how to get the most out of their recent purchase. They don’t have to be overproduced videos, either. They can be quick, short videos filmed right from your phone! The purpose of video marketing is to connect with your audience, and audiences have grown used to seeing videos that are more pared down (which is good news for you!).3. Go Live on Social
Sharing videos on social media is a great way to engage with your audiences. Live videos are the perfect option for businesses looking to promote a new product or event. Because of their ephemeral nature, people get excited about live videos or Instagram stories.
When viewers react to your video marketing efforts, reach back out! Starting a dialogue with your fans builds trust and a personal connection. Think about incorporating hashtags into your event and product promotions, so that you can keep the conversation going even after the live video has ended.4. Add Viral Content on YouTube
Users watch over one billion hours of video on YouTube every hour. Why not create something that could be discovered by that colossal audience?
It’s free for businesses to set up a YouTube account and easy to upload video. Once you’ve established your presence, the key to creating a successful channel is uploading content consistently. It doesn’t need to be a daily endeavor, but you should tell your viewers what cadence to expect and then stick to it.
A schedule encourages viewers to come back on a regular basis. And when the content you’re putting out is useful, they’ll subscribe and tell their friends!
Speaking of YouTube, did you know we’ve got a channel there? Check us out!5. Create Versatile Advertising Content
The great thing about video content is that it’s no longer costly to create a high-quality video. Most phones have pretty great video cameras, and investing in an external microphone and the most basic lighting setup can result in a polished finished product.
Video marketing is the way of the future. Getting smart about using video across your online assets will allow you to greet consumers with the kind of content they crave.
Get more YouTube video ideas to try here.Stephanie Heitman
Stephanie is the Associate Director of Content for LocaliQ and WordStream. She has over 10 years of experience in content and social media marketing and loves writing about all things digital marketing. When she’s not researching the latest and greatest marketing news and updates, she’s probably watching reality TV with her husband, reading, or playing with her two pups.
Other posts by Stephanie Heitman
Running an online business is not always easy. Since the beginnings are never easy, below we are going to give you a series of local marketing tips to make it easier for you to get ahead.
With these tips, effort, and perseverance, everything will be easier for you, and the business will be sure to succeed.
Becoming visible is one of the strengths of marketing for local businesses. A company that is not known to potential clients is a company that will not be able to reach them and consequently will not be able to get ahead. Advertising is, therefore, a great way to make yourself known.Offer good services
Once you are visible, it is important that customers refer you to others in order to reach more people.
As they tell us from this specialized Bilbao locksmith company, if you do a good job, the clients themselves will recommend you to others.
In other words, word of mouth will help you reach more customers and thus be able to significantly increase your customer base.
Also read: 10 Best Saas Marketing Tools And Platforms For 2023Bet on complementary products
Bet on Cross-Selling, that is, on complementary services. A company that only bets on a part of a market niche is a company that will have a difficult time getting ahead.
For this reason, the best thing you can do is offer complementary products that help you improve your services. Do not close yourself to one thing, but you always have to open the range of possibilities to increase the chances of success.
To get used to the idea, if you have a real estate agency, you not only have to sell, but you also have to rent.
At the same time, you also have to offer other complementary services that the client himself may need, such as a moving service among others. A good combination of services will make the client totally satisfied.Bet on good customer service
One of the things that matter most to customers is customer service. It is important that you are clear that the client not only needs good notice before hiring our services or buying our products. But customer service also has to be good afterward.
If the customer realizes that customer service is good at all times, you can be sure that they will not hesitate to reach you again.
That is, if you want to enjoy a client in your portfolio, the best thing you can do is offer a good service at all times.Seek alliances with other SMEs
Although it may seem like a lie, alliances with other SMEs can help you achieve success in your business.
The truth is, it is a good local marketing strategy for companies that join, despite the fact that it is a technique that is not used on many occasions.
Of course, it is also important to look at the competition to broadcast the things that you think they are doing well and improve the things that you think they are not doing well.
Despite this, you don’t have to make a copy of other businesses, but you have to do your bit to offer something different and thus stand out from the competition.Make yourself visible on the map
Just as you want to make yourself visible in the yellow pages or search engines, it is also important that you make yourself seen on the map.
To achieve this, I recommend signing up for Google Maps. This will help some clients to locate you more easily and consequently win more clients.
The more visible your business is, the more options you will have of getting new clients who are interested in your services.Keys to online marketing for professional services
Also read: 10 Best Chrome Extensions For 2023Online marketing strategies
In the digital age in which we are immersed, that company that does not have visibility on the Internet, it could be said that it does not exist or that it will stop existing in the years to come.
This statement, although it is very forceful, is a reality, seeing that all professional sectors are making the change, creating their company web pages, their profiles on social networks, or even the simple fact of appearing in Google Business can make a future customer find the service you offer.
When a professional is needed, or an opinion on a product is sought, it is common to go to the search engine and enter the keywords that will make the best-positioned companies come out, if you are not on this site, you may never get new customers in this way.
For this reason, having a website is essential to start having that visibility on the Internet and above all to enhance the online marketing of your professional service.
But it should be noted that the page should not be a mere wall where you can place two or three things and think that everything will come from there, but you have to take care of what you write in detail, having to put content on it, making users see That they are going to enter your portal, that you are someone to be trusted, who knows what he is doing. On many occasions, it is not only important to be professional in what is marketed, but also to appear and show it to the world, only then, you can begin to notice benefits.The transformation from physical to online
One of the keys to online marketing for professional services is the transformation from a physical store to an online e-commerce store.
With this, we do not mean that the store you have in your locality is closed, but in addition to having it active, you can also have the opportunity to sell your merchandise online.
Also read: Top 10 IoT Mobile App Development Trends to Expect in 2023Boost your social media
Like creating a business web portal, one of the keys to succeeding in online marketing with your professional service is enhancing your social media.
This means that you have visibility on social networks, be it Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, which are the main ones of the entire wide range that exists today.
These platforms are one of the best ways in which to publicize your services and what you offer, something that will motivate people to end up hiring you or buying your products, or even giving more traffic to your website.
It is necessary for your social media to be effective, that you not only go to create profiles on social networks and leave them forgotten, but you must write once or twice so that the algorithms of these platforms make you appear when your followers go to read its walls.
As marketers, we have to spend our days working on various tasks, such as writing content, reporting, and putting out files. There are plenty of free online marketing tools that can help us do these activities more easily, but some of them require a lot of learning. One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a digital marketing professional is having the opportunity to use various free tools.
The Race Growth System is a widely used marketing framework that enables startups, international corporations, and SMEs to develop and implement effective digital marketing strategies. This marketing can be used for both long and short-term goals. With its integrated marketing tools and templates, you can easily implement multiple marketing techniques and strategies to grow your business.Why are online marketing tools important?
Companies can use various marketing tools to promote their services and goods. These tools help them track their progress and implement marketing campaigns. While traditional marketing techniques are commonly used to reach a wide audience, digital marketing lets brands reach specific audiences.
Through marketing, a company can interact with its customers directly. It can use various tools to collect data and analyze it. Each type of tool has a unique purpose, and businesses often have multiple options when it comes to implementing their marketing strategies.9 best free online marketing tools for hands-on marketers
There are many types of marketing tools that organizations can use. Here are some of the best and free online marketing tools for marketers.Talkwalker Alerts
One of the most essential tools for online marketing is Talkwalker Alerts. This tool allows you to monitor the various mentions of your clients and competitors. It can help you identify what’s being said about them and their industry. Setting up an alert can be very easy, as it allows you to choose which keywords or brands you want to receive notifications about. You can also choose which channels you want to receive them via, such as email, Twitter, or a blog.Google Alerts
Google Alerts is one finest tools to use to review mentions of their campaigns, keywords, or competitors. However, it’s mainly used to analyze sites and doesn’t take into account social media mentions.Google Docs
Google Docs is one of the most useful applications that Google offers. Most of us have a free Gmail account, but most of the time, we don’t explore what other features it can provide. For me, one of the most painful aspects of using Microsoft Word is remembering to save every few minutes. With Google Docs, I can easily write my articles and keep track of all of them.
You’re writing a research paper while trying to make sure that you don’t miss anything, and suddenly the power goes out. You have no idea where to save your progress, or if you have a backup. You may have to say goodbye to a productive five-hour work day, but I never looked back after discovering Google Docs.Feedly
Although RSS isn’t in vogue anymore, I still find it useful to keep up with the latest developments within your industry. One of the most popular platforms is Feedly, which lets you monitor the most popular posts in your feed. Even though it’s not in fashion anymore, it’s still a great way to keep up with the latest news in various categories.Grammarly
One of the most useful tools is Grammarly. It helps in avoiding spelling and grammatical mistakes. Being too close to the content can lead to a lot of errors, and when you’re not paying attention to the details, you can easily get caught off-guard. This is why it’s important to download the Chrome extension that allows you to use Grammarly.Hootsuite and Buffer
Over the past five years, I’ve used the social media management app HootSuite, to post updates to various networks and review what others are saying. It’s one of the most popular tools for doing this, alongside Buffer. But it’s also great for keeping track of other influencers and competitors.LastPass
Several years ago, I had no idea that there were tools like LastPass. I remember writing down all of my passwords in my notebook, and I can still recall how it felt when I failed to remember my password and had to go through the whole process of resetting it. This was only possible because I was rushing to get something done and didn’t have time to reset my passwords.
I discovered that there is a tool called LastPass that will automatically log you into your account after saving all of your passwords. One thing is required, just remember the master password.Ubersuggest
The Ubersuggest extension is useful for summarizing the suggestions and autocompletes behavior in different countries. It was created by Neil Patel and is now owned by him. It is a powerful tool that shows you the monthly search volume, competition data, and CPC for various keywords. In addition, it can provide you with valuable insight into keywords related to specific phrases on GoogleTM.
Basic level SEO, website auditing, and link analysis tools are included in Ubersuggest. Beginners can benefit from its site audit features. However, it lacks some of the in-depth capabilities that are offered by SEMrush, such as keyword gap analysis and link analysis.SocialBee
SocialBee is a great tool for managing your social media accounts. It’s easy to use, and it has a feature that I have been wanting to use for a long time: the ability to create a calendar inside the app. This feature allows you to organize all of your social media activities in one place. SocialBee is built on a category system, which allows you to create categories for different types of content.
The SocialBee app lets you create a weekly calendar for each of your social networks. It also allows you to select the category of content that you want to add to each channel. The great thing about this is that it only takes one set of calendar settings, and you can focus on adding content to each channel as often as you want. Over the years, the app has developed into a great tool for social media management.Conclusion
Your marketing plan should be built around a proven funnel that will help boost your performance. With free online marketing tools, you can easily create a customized, step-by-step strategy that will help you achieve your goals.
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