How can small business owners make their companies stand out from the crowd? Finding effective, easy-to-execute marketing strategies can boost your business by helping you engage your customers while attracting new ones. Here are some proven ideas to help your business thrive!
(BPT) - With over 30 million small businesses in the U.S., it's tough to stand out from the crowd. Successful small businesses turn first-time customers into repeat business, building momentum and growing sales.
How can you achieve this? Marketing. Finding effective, easy-to-execute marketing strategies can boost your business by helping you engage your customers while attracting new ones. Here are some proven ideas to help your business thrive:
Engage first-time customers
Show new shoppers that they matter. Send welcome emails and recommend products to complement what they bought. Offer special deals to keep them coming back.
Utilize positive customer reviews
Did you know over 60% of consumers read reviews before buying? Reviews can include ratings, testimonials, photos, videos and more.
Treat reviews as marketing gold, sharing them with customers and prospects to build trust and increase sales. You can generate and integrate them into your website, on social media and other marketing efforts.
Turn shopping carts into opportunities
Let’s face it, plenty of potential customers add items to their online shopping carts and never check out. While these “abandoned carts” seem challenging, they're an opportunity.
An effective way to convert abandoned carts into sales is by drawing on the power of customer reviews. Adii Pienaar, vice president of commerce product strategy for the email marketing platform CM Commerce, says small businesses can change their fortunes with this approach.
“Our most successful small business customers don’t just send a reminder email to shoppers about items left in their carts,” said Pienaar. “They take it a step further and include positive reviews and ratings about that product with the follow-up, knowing how much importance buyers place on others’ experiences. By featuring personalized product reviews for abandoned cart items, there can be a recovery rate of 5-10%.”
Spark interest with special offers
Entice new and returning business by offering discounts, encouraging shoppers to give your business a try.
Also, if you don’t have one already, create a loyalty program for frequent shoppers, or a referral special for those inviting friends to your website or social media.
Shoppers don't want mass emails treating them like just another number. Small businesses that tailor emails based on each customer’s shopping experiences and interests are far more successful in driving sales.
Creating customized content may sound complex, but it all comes down to how you organize your customer list. For example, segment your customers by which products they’ve purchased, then use this information to inform them how to best use their products or remind them when it’s time to re-order.
Personalization really pays off when you incorporate dynamic content — information that changes based on a person’s interests — in promotional emails. Use a customer's previous purchases and shopping interests to generate ideas on products to complement items they already bought. For example, recommend a similar flavor of cupcakes to ones they ordered before.
These proven marketing approaches can springboard your business to success. But, how do you get started?
Marketing has greatly evolved, with many new, easy-to-use tools. You don’t need to be a marketing expert, technical whiz or creative designer to use them.
For example, CM Commerce is an email marketing platform designed for small ecommerce businesses. It can easily create professional email campaigns to enhance and grow your business.
To help small business owners, CM Commerce features pre-built email marketing recipes for everything from welcome emails and newsletters to abandoned cart reminders and more. Business owners can follow these guidelines and put their email marketing plans in place with a single click.
“I always recommend small business owners invest in email marketing,” said Pienaar. “It’s a cost-effective way to establish your brand and regularly reach your customers and prospects. Most importantly, email marketing has the potential for huge returns and can truly make your business stand out.”
For more tips and ideas to grow your business, visit The Marketing Resources Hub.
(BPT) - Over the past decade, technology has reshaped the retail industry in profound ways. Ninety-six percent of Americans are now shopping online, according to a recent study from CPC Strategy. Which means today’s business leaders face increasing pressure to keep retail spaces relevant and engaging for customers.
One solution to captivating today’s consumer is a simple one: Build meaningful connections with local communities, says Etienne Veber, president of Field Trip Factory, a firm that helps design, schedule and promote interactive learning experiences within retail environments.
“Technology provides greater convenience and lower prices,” Veber says, "but it is not a replacement for human interactions."
The increasing lack of human connections in our daily lives represents a unique opportunity for retailers to thrive in today's environment, he says, by identifying their core values and concerns, and then expressing them through meaningful learning experiences and a deeper sense of community.
"We learn by doing, and retail environments can be incredibly powerful as teaching platforms,” Veber says.
The value of purpose
When companies express a sense of purpose to their customers, it has a profound effect on the confidence in the brand. Eighty-five percent of companies with a strong sense of purpose say they are backed by their communities, because they are seen as “good and helpful corporate citizens,” according to a survey by Deloitte.
Furthermore, 89 percent of firms with a purpose say clients and customers trust the quality of their products and services — versus the 66 percent of firms that do not have this sense of purpose.
As a way to demonstrate its commitment to its local communities, multi-format food retailer Giant Eagle, Inc. developed an interactive program that connects with local school children. “Be A Smart Shopper” helps young students and their families learn about making healthy food choices.
Over the years, it has been a very effective way for Giant Eagle’s retail Team Members to uphold the company’s common purpose to improve people’s everyday lives and well-being in a community-centered way, and so far more than 600,000 families have been reached across Pennsylvania and Ohio. Educators love the program because it supplements the classroom curriculum and gets their students really engaged. Ninety-five percent of them are planning to come back with their students next year!
“Our Be A Smart Shopper program is an important part of how we fulfill our commitments to education and health and wellness,” says Giant Eagle CEO Laura Karet. “Through the program, our retail Team Members are able to meaningfully impact how the children in our communities think about the foods they eat, and encourage involvement from the children in family meal planning.”
Expressing purpose in the retail space
A retailer can build trust and loyalty by expressing their values in innovative ways. Their stores are more than places to shop. They can build opportunities right in the towns and cities in which they serve.
Host in-store classes and events: Business leaders, store managers and longtime employees, with their industry knowledge, are community gurus. With that mindset, what better way to connect with the community than to open the doors for an on-site event? Things like hands-on demonstrations, seminars, consultations and even heading up an ongoing club are all engaging ways to share knowledge and help people solve their most common pain points.
Champion local causes: Transform company values and industry knowledge into a community asset, and direct resources to solve problems in the community. Reaching out to local nonprofits, being a major sponsor to make a local event even bigger and better, or paying employees for their time to volunteer are all ways a brand can build a meaningful community presence.
Find a partner: Most businesses do not have the in-house expertise to organize, plan and publicize in-house events and initiatives, which is why some turn to a trusted partner for expertise in that field. For example, as Giant Eagle planned its Be A Smart Shopper Program, Field Trip Factory took the lead with the curriculum (with input from educators), and created the online tool that makes it easy for teachers to discover the program and sign up their class for an event. Each participating store can easily set its availability on the Field Trip Factory platform and these educational events take place without disrupting their day-to-day business activities.
Today’s retail climate is a uniquely challenging one, due to the rise in technology. To learn more about finding opportunities to engage with customers and communities, visit fieldtripfactory.com.
Consumers today increasingly rely on connected devices to research products and services before making purchases. Here are four basics you can focus on right now to promote your business and grow your customer base online.
Digital marketing basics for businesses
(Family Features) Consumers today increasingly rely on connected devices to research products and services before making purchases – so it’s no secret that small businesses need to focus more of their marketing resources than ever before on online strategies.
As the journey from consumer query to purchase becomes more complex – incorporating multiple devices, websites, apps and offline activities – so too do the options for tracking consumer behavior and leveraging online media for targeted advertising.
There are companies today specializing in almost every aspect of online marketing, leaving business owners with a dizzying array of options. For many the question is not the value of online marketing, but rather where to start and how much they need to do to accomplish their marketing objectives.
Fortunately, there are some foundational activities that are effective, manageable and comprise an important starting point for leveraging digital media to grow your business.
Here are four basics you can focus on right now to promote your business and grow your customer base online:
If your website is difficult to navigate from a mobile device, you can lose business to your competitors – especially since mobile searches are often about more than finding information. Consumers are using their mobile phones to take action after visiting a site, including calling a business, checking store hours and mapping directions. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly and easy to use from a variety of devices so you don’t miss out on potential customers.
The time and money you invest in search marketing can be undermined if you neglect the basics such as making sure your company contact information is accurate, consistent and easy to find on your website, in online directories and anywhere else your business appears on the web. Think about what makes your life easier when you’re searching for a product or service that you need and then strive to provide that same experience on your own website.
Keep in mind that each social media channel has its own rules and user base, and not all may be a fit for your business. Find the channel(s) that makes the most sense for you and your business, and be sure to incorporate social links in all of your marketing efforts to further grow your network.
Content and character
Does a local business really need a website?
Websites are how local businesses get found via directories and search engines. It’s the “home base” for pertinent information about your business, including hours, location, products, services and more.
Remember that keeping your website information current and correct is extremely important. Inaccurate information can get picked up by other sites and directories, which, in turn, makes it harder for your potential customers to find and engage with your business.
Summit fuels growth
For more information on YP’s Local Breakthrough Summit, visit adsolutions.yp.com/breakthroughsummit.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
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