According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, an incredible two-thirds of small business owners and entrepreneurs (66%) are personally responsible for three or more areas of their business, including marketing.
From email and social media campaigns to pricing, branding, and strategy, it can be a challenge for many small business owners to excel at marketing while also focusing on growing their business.
That’s where we hope to help!
That’s why we teamed up with Mailchimp, Square, and WooCommerce to bring you a brand-new small business marketing playbook. In this five-part email series, you’ll receive specific and actionable marketing strategies that you can use in the remainder of 2018 and throughout 2019 to grow your business in meaningful ways.
We’ve also put together a special Buffer Podcast episode as a bonus to our the new email series. Whether you’re looking for a fresh approach to your marketing strategy or just a few new ideas to try, this episode will help you get where you want to go in 2019.
Let’s dive in!
Your go-to small business marketing guide for 2019 (Podcast)
What follows is a lightly-edited transcript of the Buffer Podcast for your reading pleasure.
Table of Contents
Hailley: Hi everyone! I’m Hailley Griffis and this is The Science of Social Media, a podcast by Buffer. Your weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation, and learning.
Brian: Welcome to episode #120, I’m Brian Peters and this week we have a very special episode lined up for you. 2019 is almost here which can only mean one thing… It’s time for small businesses to shine. Whether you’re looking for a fresh approach to your marketing strategy or just a few new ideas to try, today’s guide should help you get where you want to go.
Hailley: We’ve heard from so many folks how challenging it can be to keep up with the latest small business marketing strategies and tactics. So this episode is for you all. Hopefully it’ll bring you a ton of success in the new year.
Brian: We are incredibly excited to launch this new campaign.
Working with Mailchimp and Square has been really insightful because they work with small businesses every single day and so everything we talk about in that email series is brand new and highly relevant.
Part I: High-level small business marketing strategies
Hailley: Let’s start high-level and then dive into some more specific marketing strategies.
We’ve dwindled down small business marketing to three essential, high-level strategies. By practicing these 3 things, you’re setting yourself up for long-term success rather than aimlessly trying new tactics for short-term gains.
Make a commitment to marketing
One of the biggest hurdles for small businesses looking to improve their marketing efforts is simply making a commitment to good marketing. Without that commitment, it’s bound to not meet your expectations.
Brian: In order to make a commitment, we suggest doing the following.
One is to set time aside. Brands like AJ&Smart, for example, that we talked about episode 113, set several hours aside each week to plan out their social media and email schedule for the week. Then, they carve out 3-5 hours for pure content creation so that they can get back to running their business.
Two is to set clear goals. Research shows that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a regular basis. Write down specific marketing goals that you would like to achieve over the coming month(s) and year.
Hailley: Three, of course, is to stay patient: All good things take time. Try not to fall into the trap of thinking good marketing happens overnight.
Small businesses that play the long game by creating consistently great content are the ones that eventually reap the rewards.
Brian: The next high-level strategy is to:
Focus your efforts on a few core channels
If you try to do everything with your marketing strategy you end up doing next to nothing. Focus is key when developing new marketing ideas, and exploring opportunities.
Hailley: This goes back to setting time aside, right? If you only have a few hours each week for marketing, you have to be super focused on doing things that will have a big impact.
The key is to experiment often until you find one or two channels that show really good traction and double down on those small business marketing channels until they become ineffective.
Brian: Finally, as a small business, it’s important to:
Share your authentic story
Creating great marketing content for your small business isn’t only about showing the value of your product or your services to customers. It’s also an incredible way to help people get to know you and your business.
Hailley: Many top brands today thrive by creating and cultivating a personality. They each have an opinion, they stand for something, they’re relatable. In other words, they’re human.
Brian: One of my favorite brands is an outdoor clothing and gear retailer called Huckberry and from the very first welcome email, they use a sort of brand storytelling approach that’s woven into even the smallest of details.
Every word perfectly placed to give their readers a sense of what they stand for.
Hailley: We’re good to go on high-level thinking.
Part II: Social media strategies for small businesses
First up with social media is to embrace video. Video is absolutely the most effective way to engage with your audience across all social media channels.
Brian: There are stats to prove it, too. Did you know that 4x as many people would prefer to watch a video about a product rather than read about it or that, when making a purchase decision, 4 in 5 millennials look for video content as a form of research?
Whether it’s time or resources, small businesses just aren’t creating a lot of video for social media and other small business marketing channels.
That being said, we’ve got some quick how-tos for easily creating great videos.
Hailley: First, start with what works. Sort your blog or website content in order of most traffic and create videos around those topics using a video creation product like Animoto.
Or, try following your peers and/or competitors with Facebook Pages to Watch and create content based on popular topics.
Or, you might embrace exciting trends such as the emergence of Instagram Stories by creating fun, relatable Stories content that’s easy to put together.
Brian: As for what makes for a great video. Believe it or not there are some scientific factors that people are more likely to interact with.
- Keep your videos between 20-90 seconds for highest engagement.
- Get right to the point. The first 3-5 seconds of a video is key in keeping people watching.
Boost your top performing content
Hailley: The next takeaway for social media is that we highly recommend jumping on the advertising trend and boost your top performing content.
What’s great about social media for small businesses is that you don’t have to spend a ton of time creating variations of ads to see success with advertising. Your audience is already telling you what they like in the form of organic engagement numbers.
Brian: The way we like to think about it is that organic social media posting (traditional posting) is the perfect testing ground for effective Facebook and Instagram ads. In other words, you’re using organic reach to determine what posts you should put money behind.
Hailley: At Buffer, we’ve seen incredible results with video ads on Instagram Stories, for example. One ad, in particular, has driven more than 5,000 clicks to our website for less than $0.10 per click.
All we did was look at our top performing posts, identify that this post was performing abnormally well, and put some ad dollars behind it.
Understand the science behind great content
Brian: Lastly, when it comes to social media, it all comes down to your content.
At the end of the day, a majority of social media success comes down to your content.
You can have the best product in the world as a small business, but if no one sees or cares about your content, it’s going to be difficult to generate engagement and results on social media.
Hailley: We like to think that quality content is at the intersection of entertaining and educational.
Think about how people use and consume content on social media today. Many times they are on social media to connect with friends and family and watch the occasional brand video. But there’s more content on social platforms than people can consume, so if a post doesn’t look interesting or useful, people simply scroll past it.
Part III: Email marketing strategies for small businesses
Brian: Moving onto something we don’t talk about too much on this show and that’s email marketing.
However, as a small business, email is one of the few remaining marketing channels that you actually own as a small business (meaning you’re not relying on a third party like Facebook to show your content to your audience), making it a critical piece of any marketing strategy.
Hailley: An engaged email list will allow you to share your story, promote your business, and showcase your products, all while turning subscribers into paying customers.
With that, we’ll start with growing your email list.
In order to turn visitors to your website into paying customers, you first must have subscribers. To do so, we recommend using branded pop-ups and email signup forms on your website.
Brian: According to research, Mailchimp users have seen their list growth rate increase by an average of 50.8% after adding a pop-up form to their site.
Pop-up pro tip: Set the form to appear immediately – or with a 5-second delay. That’ll help capture the attention of your audiences immediately.
Pop-ups were one of the main reasons we were able to double our email list size in just 30 days.
Automate your email flows
Hailley: Next, you gotta’ automate those email flows.
As many small businesses owners have experienced first-hand, automating important marketing tasks (such as email and social media) can save several hours per week – and lots of headaches in the process.
Brian: When it comes to automation, we highly recommend focusing on four key email flows:
- Welcome new subscribers
- Abandoned cart emails (ecommerce)
- First-time customers
- Re-engagement emails
First is to welcome new customers.
This one is key for welcoming folks to your family. Welcome emails are a great way to share fun resources, discounts, top-selling products and more.
Then you have your abandoned cart emails for all of the ecommerce businesses out there.
These are important for people who might have left your website early for a variety of reasons.
Hailley: Then, of course, you have your special first-time customers.
You can send them a special thank you and even offer them future discounts or deals on your other line of products.
And finally, customer re-engagement emails.
Part IV: Final thoughts for small business owners and marketers
Brian: There you have it. A small business social media and email combination that we are sure will help boost your marketing results.
But before we go, we wanted to leave you with a final thought.
Hailley: We know how hard it can be to run a small business. There’s a never-ending list of things to do and marketing, understandably, tends to get put off for more important tasks.
You’re not alone.
The team here at Buffer is cheering you on this holiday season and into 2019. Remember, focusing on one or two channels like email, Instagram, Facebook, or Google will allow you to see much better results than trying everything at one.
Brian: If I had to choose two marketing channels right now, I’d bet on email and Instagram.
And we’re a social media company so that’s saying a lot!
Email is such an important part of the customer journey and Instagram (including Instagram Stories) is the fastest growing social media channel on the planet.
There really is an incredible amount of potential in both channels.
Hailley: Thank you so much for tuning in to the Science of Social Media today. The show notes for this episode are now available on the Buffer Blog at blog.buffer.com with a complete transcript.
And don’t forget, if you want to signup for our brand new, five-part email series. You’re going to love it!
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About The Science of Social Media podcast
The Science of Social Media is your weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation, and inspiration. Every Monday (and sometimes more) we share the most cutting-edge social media marketing tactics from brands and influencers in every industry. If you’re a social media team of one, business owner, marketer, or someone simply interested in social media marketing, you’re sure to find something useful in each and every episode. It’s our hope that you’ll join our 18,000+ weekly iTunes listeners and rock your social media channels as a result!