Updated January 1, 1 . AmFam Team
Ready to step up your marketing game? To help you craft a winning strategy, we asked experts to answer small business owners’ top marketing questions. See how their tips can motivate you to review and update your current marketing plan, set new goals and achieve business success next year.
Strategist, president of Heinz Marketing Inc., Seattle. Follow him on Twitter @HeinzMarketing.
Q: I am constantly getting phone calls from companies telling me that they can boost my online business. As a small business, every dime counts. Are there really marketing gurus that can help small businesses? —Gail Hawkins; Cultural Interiors; 10 years in business; Los Angeles
A: It can be hard to differentiate the real experts from the charlatans, for sure. I work only with vendors who not only take the time to understand my business, but focus on business and revenue metrics instead of just marketing metrics. For example, if someone tells me they’ll get me lots of traffic but fails to correlate that traffic to qualified prospects and new sales opportunities, I bail. If they pitch me on a solution without understanding my objectives, I’m done. Raise your standards, stand up for your objectives, [and] expect more from your vendors!
Q: How do I measure the return on investment of a marketing campaign when there can be so many touch points before a customer converts? — Kani Ayubu; The Black Art Depot; 11 years in business; Durham, North Carolina
A: This, my friend, is the critical challenge for modern marketers. There is no perfect attribution solution that I’ve seen yet that works in all cases. There are increasingly a number of solutions that get partially there — Bizible (Opens in a new tab), BrightFunnel (Opens in a new tab), Full Circle Insights (Opens in a new tab) — but I still believe intent is more important than reporting perfection. How well do you understand your target personas? Their buying journey? How precisely are you mapping content and offers to stages of that buying journey to move them closer to a sale? Execute more precisely with these answers and I bet you’ll start seeing lifts in much of your marketing.
Marketing expert, founder of Madison, Wisconsin-based social media firm Foxwell Digital. Follow him on Twitter @andrewfoxwell.
Q: What is the best way to purchase Facebook ads for my business when customers can only purchase in grocery stores and not on my website? Do I still want to attract them to my website or do I want to target potential customers that live around and shop in the grocery retailer’s location? —Junita L. Flowers; Favorable Treats (Opens in a new tab); 10 years in business; Minneapolis
A: There is a diverse suite of Facebook advertising options to help grow your business. Depending on the creative content you already have (i.e., photos, videos, storytelling, etc.), the first thing I’d do is promote a short, 30-second video about your business to the zip codes surrounding each grocery retailer’s location. To deepen the ad’s impact even more, you can then layer in your preferred demographic information (age, gender, etc.) along with interest targets (topics Facebook users have said they’re interested in, pages they like, topics they discuss in posts, etc.). This additional layering would allow you to show the video ad to your most relevant potential customers.
Sending users directly to your website is another helpful step. If you feel confident that your website looks attractive on mobile devices and could help someone understand your products quickly, then sending Facebook users to your website to learn more would make a lot of sense. For this option, simply create a custom audience from viewers that have watched at least 50 percent of your video via the Facebook Custom Audiences (Opens in a new tab) tool and then launch an ad to send those people directly to your website to learn more.
Q: What is the most effective way to warm up cold sales prospects using social media? —Dr. Tova J. Davis; Northstar Educational Consulting Group, LLC (Opens in a new tab); six years in business; Atlanta
A: If you already have a list of email addresses of previous leads, then creating a look-alike audience from that original list would be a fantastic way to start finding more qualified people who look and behave like your previous leads or current customers. Essentially, a Facebook look-alike audience is modeled on 2,000 similarity factors (online purchasing behaviors, page likes, topic interests, etc.) to help businesses find more customers who have similar habits to their most relevant audiences.
Right now, a Facebook video is a very effective way to warm up cold sales prospects. It captures their attention and is “thumb stopping” on mobile devices. Video aside, it’s important to remember that the best route on social media is still using all the different types of ads that Facebook and Instagram offer and telling a comprehensive, cohesive, compelling story over time. Don’t take cold traffic and send them directly to your pricing page, for example. Use ads to help users understand who you are first, what makes you and your brand valuable, and what makes your services unique.
Digital branding evangelist and founder of the Digital Branding Institute in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @JuntaeDeLane.
Q: I’ve been working on growing my mailing list. How do I keep my subscribers engaged? What can I do to make sure they see my email in their inboxes and want to open it? What is a good open rate? —Kalyn Johnson Chandler; Effie’s Paper: Stationery & Whatnot (Opens in a new tab); six years in business; New York
A: Send [emails] from a real person who recipients can reply to. Give your readers a preview of what’s inside and incentive to open by using an attention-grabbing pre-header.
You also want to personalize emails to improve click-through and conversion rates. Ultimately, study the behaviors of your recipients. What time of day do they usually open your emails? What links are they clicking on? What are they interested in? Open rates differ based on your industry. If you’re getting more than a 10 percent open rate, you’re performing well.