Guide: Online Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

online marketing strategies for startups

What strategies can small business in Zimbabwe use to attract more businesses in the new age of mobile connectivity? Here are some of the online marketing strategies small businesses can use for effective online marketing.

Social Media Marketing

This goes without saying. Your online marketing journey should definitely encompass some form of social media.

Small business online marketing strategies that include some form of social media will help you get were the customers are. These days its hard to find an industry without customers active on all social media platforms.

The hard part however, of SMM (Social Media Marketing) is choosing which social network to focus on and what strategies to employ, this all depends on what kind of business you are into.

I am going to simply use two classifications of business here; Business 2 Consumer (B2C) or Business 2 Business (B2B) types. Business to Customer being a business that offers products or services direct to customers, examples are a retail, restaurants, media broadcasting. While Business to Business refers to businesses that offer products or services to other businesses.

This classification is important to us here at Admedia because it helps making it easier to determine tactics for targeting our potential clients, for example some of our Content Marketing strategies allows us to create content that is for the young and probably not business savvy. I know you guessed the social media we would likely use, TikTok and maybe Instagram, considering we’re in Zimbabwe, we would likely avoid investing much in SnapChat.

When it comes to products that are most likely going to be B2B our best bets are on Facebook and LinkedIn for obvious reasons, FB is where everyone is, it is estimated that about 6,2% of Zimbabweans are on Facebook, this is not a bad figure considering that only around 33% of the same population uses the internet as of 2020.

And LinkedIn? Well if you know a thing about this social media network now owned by Microsoft, you definitely know that, it prides itself in being a professional network. This is a must consider for any B2B marketing.

After deciding on the right platform to use for your marketing, its time to determine the content.

What content will your audience likely connect with? This comes to the same decision making process that we have employed above.

What are your audience likely to connect with? Is it cute pictures of cats doing funny stuff, maybe if your target audience is likely to be females of a certain age, or maybe motivational videos, if your audience is likely to be ambitious young adults who are likely to be persuing entrepreneurship.

You see where I am getting to here, right? Always make sure that the content you create considers what your audience likes and, maybe dislikes.

Paid Adverts: Social Media

One thing to also consider when it comes to growing your audience online is paying for your posts!

I know most businesses hesitate going this route at first but in the end, you will realize how discouraging posting on Facebook is without boosting your posts. Boosting is when you pay FB to show your post to more people who arent likely to see it otherwise.

Boosting is how most businesses are surviving on these social networks these days. Why? Because its now harder than ever to reach your audience organically (people that see your posts without paying) as many companies post everyday, than people can read.

The points above also work when you decide to go this route, consider the audience, consider the social network, consider the content.

Search Engine Marketing

There are also other ways to do your online marketing that dont involve the word ‘social’. One of those is search engine marketing (SEM).

SEM involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages primarily through paid advertising. Basically you are paying search engines like Google or Bing to put your website somewhere on the first page of search results of a keyword you choose.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is that page that Google or other search engine of your choice brings up whenever your enter a search, while keywords are specific words that the search engine uses to bring out results that will be displayed.

Whenever you advertise with these search engine, you need to understand keywords, that is you need to research words and phrases describing your product or service that will be used to determine when and where your ad will be displayed in search engine results.

Social Media Pages

Just when you thought we were done with the word ‘social’, huh? Well, this method is slowly becoming favourite option for most small businesses.

Businesses are opting to promote their business products using pages that are already popular with their audiences. Pages who have already built an audience that might be interested in your products or services are an ideal way of boosting your page’s performance.

There are many pages in Zimbabwe already doing this a few that comes to mind are, the popular Zimcelebs page, that is popular for local celeb gossip and Zimweddings page. Once you send a DM to the admins on Instagram, they will let you know their rates and conditions.

Influencers

This route is similar to the one above, but instead of dealing with popular pages, you are dealing with popular figures. You engage popular people who are likely already connected to your potential clients to help you amplify your marketing strategies.

All you need to do is find someone who has a dedicated following and who is also viewed as an expert within their niche. Some of Zimbabwe’s popular influencers are MadamBoss, Comic Pastor, RayVinnes and the BustopTV.

You can also engage popular artists who might be interested. A good example is that of Jah Prayzah being appointed the lifetime brand ambassador for West Property (WestProp) Zimbabwe.

This kind of marketing works because of the high amount of trust that social influencers have built up with their following, and recommendations from them serve as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is the act of sending a commercial message, typically to a group of people, using email. Wikipedia

Why Email Marketing? It is considered the most direct and effective way of connecting with your leads, nurturing them, and turning them into customers, consistently winning out over all other marketing channels.

With Email Marketing you dont rely on big tech companies to help you get in touch with your customers, you own your list.

How do you get emails? The most recommended way to get emails for your list is usually through building it by offering something to potential clients in return they will opt in to your email list.

So you can do this through your website, add an item customers can download after entering their email, create a survey where they enter emails, offer discounts for adding an email, promise updates on up-coming discounts through emails, as you can see, there are a lot of ways to get someone to sign up, most of them just require you have a website.

Once you have those emails, its time to be a little bit more creative, send emails that you would like to see in your inbox. Please dont spam people, just try to write in a human format as much as possible.

Encourage Reviews

My last point for this blog is an advice. Encourage customers to leave good reviews on your platforms, social media, website, Amazon etc. These reviews will work as social proof to future potential customers.

How to get good reviews? Its not always easy getting good reviews from people because usually people are ready to give a review when they are not happy but usually reluctant when the service was good, or just not bad.

Always ask for feedback from your customers, when they purchase something ask them how was their experience, when you finish a service they ordered send a short questionnaire and when the feedback is good, you then ask them to leave a review on your platforms.

I hope this post will help you conquer your online battles, if you would like us to expand more on some of the topics we touched here, dont hesitate to get in touch. P.S at Admedia Zimbabwe, we employ all the strategies above to help your business grow and surpass competition, if you would like to review our packages check them out here, or get in touch for any questions.

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Google Changes its Algorithm; 3 Ways to Optimize your Content 2019

Google has announced a ‘major update’ to the way its core search algorithm works. The changes are likely to affect rankings of one in ten queries made on the search engine.

What this means is that some websites are likely to see a decrease or an ‘improvement’ of up to 10% in their search traffic.

Why is this Google update important?

Well ten percent is a lot especially if your business depends on Google for most of its traffic. Getting a drop of up to ten percent can lead to a huge loss in revenue!

According to Pandu Nayak, Google’s VP of Research, ‘this is the single biggest,’ most positive change they have had in years! That says a lot to a Search Engine Optimization expert.

Whats changing on Google?

Google is implementing what it terms, Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers or BERT for short. According to Inc, BERT is a tool that helps optimize natural language processing (NPL) by using AI and massive data sets to deliver better contextual results.

What that means is that Google is focusing ‘around improving language understanding, particularly for more natural language/conversational queries.

In the past Google used to focus on words that it thought to be important and didn’t took much into the contextual meaning of the search phrase. For example a search on “how to catch a cow fishing?” would bring results related to livestock and cows.

However in New England, the word “cowin the context of fishing means a large striped bass.

In another example from Google, is a search like “can you get medicine for someone pharmacy?”

The old algorithm would pick out the words ‘medicine’ and ‘pharmacy’ and serve you results of nearby drugstores.

Now the new algorithm powered with BERT would notice the words ‘for someone’ and realize you are trying to see if you are allowed to pick up someone’s prescription.

Example of changes in search results

What should I do to optimize my content?

1. Think like your readers

This has always been a point when it comes to SEO, but its now important more than ever.

You need to write your headings in a way addressing a query from a user rather than a bot.

In the past Google has been turning down the need to obsess over keywords when writing your posts. Remember the days you had to write your keywords about five times in the first paragraph? Well its time to move on.

Create your content in the way that is human friendly, instead of trying to game the search engines.

2. Measure your conversion rate

If your conversion rate, for example you were trying to get people to sign up to train in places with mountains, is in the doldrums, its probably likely you were benefiting from the previous algorithm that ignored words like ‘no’ and direct traffic for negatives to your site.

Over the next 30 days traffic might dip on your site, but conversion is supposed to improve otherwise its a sign you need to take a look at your content.

Make sure your content is still relevant, makes use of the right pronouns and is answering a direct query.

3. Don’t cut off pronouns

In the past it was okay to ignore words like ‘no’, ‘to’, ‘with’ in the heading of an article because Google didn’t think much of them.

Things have changed with the BERT update which gives precedence to contextual meaning. That means trying to reduce your headline by cutting these pronouns might also reduce the number of relevant traffic to your site.

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Read this Before You Invest In a Blog

You have probably heard about a thousand times right now that you need to invest into a blog if you want your website to matter? Are you now thinking about investing into a blog for your business? I have compiled a useful checklist for you to go through before you embark on this journey. I hope you will find it useful somehow.

What is a blog?

This might seem like a stupid question to some, but a genuine place of curiosity to some. In simple terms a blog is a section on your website were you constantly update with articles on different subjects. What you are reading here is part of our blog.

Blog is short for weblog and they have been around for long times now as part of what has become to be known as web 2.0 that allows websites to be more dynamic and less static.

The main use of a blog on a business website is to update customers on what your business is up to, but if you want to tap into the biggest benefit of having a blog on your website, which is to rank higher on Google, you are going to incorporate some useful how to articles on your blog. I will not dwell into what how to blogs are in this article, but in short your blog has to answer questions users of your products and services might be searching.

Do you really need a blog?

The first thing on your checklist should probably be answering the most basic of the questions. Does your business need a blog? The answer for most people is going to be, why not!

A blog is one of those insignificant costs that will hardly show up at the end of the year on your monthly costs. It cost less than five dollars a month to maintain a blog online if you already have a business website running, this cost should be zero.

However, that’s not entirely true to some. If you don’t maintain your blog in house some developers will charge you monthly fees to maintain it for you, if you don’t write articles you might need to look for writers online, whom you will need to pay. At the end of the day though, it might be slightly higher than I stated above.

What are some of the benefits of having a blog?

The internet is awash with articles about just about anything. Do you really need to invest the time and resources it takes to maintain this thing?

You need to check some of the benefits a blog offers to your business.

If you have a business card near you, it is most likely there is a company website on that thing. When was the last time you checked that website? Why don’t you visit it more often, if you don’t? The answer is simple; more websites have fallen into the trap of becoming simple portfolios for business.

Once you visit a website and check their services tab, about section and a couple more pages, there is no reason to check it again, because you will most likely see the same things. This is when a blog becomes a little bit necessary.

A blog will help you keep your customers coming as you are constantly updating your content. Sharing your articles on your social media pages helps you retain some customers who might have forgotten about your website. You will likely get new once who will see your articles and click through.

The biggest benefit of a blog as usually advertised however, is to rank higher on Google and other search engines. It’s part of a program we help small businesses with called Search Engine Optimization. Google ranks websites with useful and constantly updated information higher than others.

You will also catch new customers who might not know your brand, but are facing some of the challenges that you write about in your blog. We know that most people with questions will turn to Google for answers, but a few times will someone search for a specific brand and your website will fail to take advantage of this if you don’t have an updated blog.

A blog is also useful when you need to update customers about changes to your products, policies, supplies or if you are facing any issues customers might need to know.

You can also monetize your blog and earn some extra revenue using advertising platforms like Google Adsense.

Do you have the time to write articles?

Content creation is the most important task when it comes to a blog. Do you have the time and resources to write at least one article every week?

Before you think of starting a blog for your business, you will need to assess how much equipped are you to keep that blog running. You don’t necessarily need to be writing the posts yourself. You can hire other people to write these posts for your business.

You need to make sure you hire trustworthy people who will not reap off these articles from other website, plagiarism will not help you, it might actually cost you if they end up using copyrighted materials. Luckily for you, there are services that will help you hire content creators such as freelancer.com and fiverr.com. If you are looking for those articles specific to your industry and are in Zimbabwe, you can check our content creation services too.

Where are most of your customers?

In this day and age, its highly unlikely that most of your customers are not opening pages online, but if you have one of those rare cases where there are less likely to be people looking for your services online, there might be no reason for you to create a blog for your business.

If you still have any questions after reading this article, I would like to hear them in the comments section or hit me up on [email protected], I will try to help you as much as I can.

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