Starting your own business means you suddenly become the owner of several hats – one for selling, one for bookkeeping, one for planning, one for looking after customers and one for marketing to name but a few.
The marketing element of a start-up is one of the most complex, especially given the changing ways small businesses need to reach customers in a digital world.
Digital marketing can be a bit of a mystery to many small business owners, so to help you explore how you make the most of the opportunities it offers, we’ve asked Tink Taylor, founder of dotmailer, to share some simple tips to get you started on your digital journey.
1. Focus your attention
The world of digital marketing is a complex one to navigate, and trying to keep up across too many channels can result in too little impact across an overabundance of platforms. Focus your attentions on doing a couple of things well and then, once you’re confident and ready to bring another channel in, do so.
Patience is a good thing when it comes to adoption of new behaviours and channels. Digital marketing can be hugely beneficial and platforms like Facebook, Twitter and email can be hugely effective at maximising exposure for your brand and driving leads, but undertaken poorly will result in a mediocre first impression you can’t shift.
2. Research, react, repeat
Before even contemplating a digital marketing strategy, ask some key questions about your brand;
- Who is your target market?
- Who are your customers?
- What do they represent?
- Where do they come from?
- What channels do they use most?
Asking these questions will help you find the best approach to targeting customers in a relevant and personal way.
Building strong profiles of your customers and capitalising on this data will enable you to target them with relevant and poignant information at the right time, on the right channel.
Your customers will be being targeted by more businesses than just you, so make sure you stand out for the right reason and send personalised, targeted information where you can.
Make sure you never lose sight of the importance of being relevant and, critically, welcomed by your customers – you don’t want to be that email that always gets deleted by the recipient; be the one that’s always opened.
3. Don’t forget about those you lose along the way
Re-engage prospects where possible. Some customers will inevitably lose touch at some point and sending out personalised, subtle reminders, without being annoying, will remind them they are still being thought about. Provide incentives, or offers – maybe a gift voucher, to draw them back in and prompt their memory about why they chose you in the first place.
The more you analyse customer data, the more you will understand your lost customer’s buying habits and therefore will be able to re-target them effectively. These customers will quickly recognise that the correspondence from you is going to have information and products they want, as it did when it first enticed them in, and the returns could well be as effective (if not more so) than new business targeting.
Never underestimate the opportunity organic growth brings you in lieu of from-scratch new business activity.
4. Keep an eye on the competition
Identifying what other brands are doing is also an essential part of remaining fresh. Explore brands that you like, and brands that you aspire to emulate, and see how they exploit digital marketing to build their reputation and become leaders in their industries.
Finally, don’t stop this research. Being informed is crucial – continue to collect and use data about your customers to make more informed decisions and create the most effective digital marketing strategy possible.
5. The value of testing
Simple A/B testing is crucial when it comes to finding out what works. Try different times of the day, different days of the week, different subject lines of emails – anything you can think of – to see what works best.
By whittling down those areas which don’t work, you’ll be iteratively refining the elements which do, becoming more relevant as a result.
Such testing should be a constant in your marketing activity – you can never stop learning about how to refine your outreach and engagement plans. The moment you become complacent is the moment you risk becoming stale and undoing all your good work, so make sure you set time aside to split test and, equally important, analyse the results to see what insight they give you into the best strategic approach.
Don’t fix what isn’t broken. Continue to innovate, but if something is working keep doing it! And if it isn’t working, improve it.
By constantly evaluating performance and results through a robust framework, your business will only grow. Build this into your business plan so it becomes a habit and constantly feeds into updating and improving your digital marketing strategy.
The only way your business is going to succeed is if you are able to effectively evaluate so you can get better. Continuous improvement is key. There are numerous challenges start-ups face and learning how to address these effectively will help make your business a success.
Digital marketing, whether it be via social media, email or another channel is a cost-effective, straightforward and efficient way of communicating with, and accessing a large customer base in a relevant and informative way.
Understanding your customer and using this knowledge effectively is going to ensure that you not only draw potential customers in, you will also retain them and where necessary, re-engage them.
Frequent evaluation will help you gauge the success of your business and making the most of this feedback to re-use or improve will put you on the path to digital success.
Tink Taylor will be opening the inaugural dotmailer Summit on the future of marketing on 1st March 2017, at Grange Tower Bridge Hotel, London.
You can also find more help on marketing your business online in these other popular ByteStart guides;