WHY YOU'RE READING THIS
No matter where your business is today, chances are you know it could grow a lot faster if only you had the right marketing systems in place.
But sorting through all of the information out there and deciding which marketing strategies are right for you can be incredibly confusing...and time-consuming!
At PaySimple, we believe that accepting payments doesn’t need to be complicated, and neither does your marketing strategy.
We've built the ultimate marketing guide for attracting more customers to your business and creating a more predictable revenue stream—all on a small business budget. We'll get you up to speed on the online and offline marketing strategies working for today's most successful brands, from SEO to event marketing.
Ready to get started? Dive in for our best marketing ideas for making your business grow.
Before you run your first marketing campaign, you’ll need to understand a few basic concepts, from the marketing funnel to commonly used marketing terms and what it takes to launch a successful campaign.
If you’re already familiar with these ideas, feel free to skip ahead to the next section and start putting your marketing campaign together. But if you’re fairly new to things like funnels, PPCs, backlinks, and meta descriptions, we’ll be covering it all in this section.
Let’s dive in.
UNDERSTANDING THE MARKETING FUNNEL
When we talk about the marketing funnel, we’re describing the journey a potential customer goes through on the way to purchase. Your goal as a marketer is to get them from the top of the funnel (when they may not even be aware they need you) to the bottom (where they’re entering in their payment details and clicking “Buy”).
To do it, you need to understand what they’re thinking at each part of the journey, so you can target them in ways that are relevant.
Let’s take a look at the customer’s journey at every step:
At the top of the funnel (TOFU), prospects are just beginning to realize they may need a product or service like yours. They’re doing research, exploring options, and trying to figure out exactly what they’re looking for. A lot of marketing comes down to bringing more people into the funnel: here, you’re casting a wide net and trying to draw potential customers into your orbit via social media ads, content marketing, search engine optimization, and so on.
At the middle of the funnel (MOFU), prospects have honed in on a specific need, and are looking for solutions. They may have signed up for your newsletter or connected with you on social media. At this point in the journey, your goal is to engage with them—perhaps by setting up a call or meeting, educating them, and leading them through to the bottom of the funnel.
At the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), your prospects know exactly what solution they need and are looking to make their purchase. They’re narrowing down their list and are ready to take action. This is when it’s time to get even more personal, because you’re working with those people who’ve indicated a strong interest in your services or products. Here, you may reach out directly to close the sale yourself or offer a special discount tailored to them.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The idea behind search engine optimization (SEO) is simple: when people search for you online, can they find you? SEO is a good place to start your marketing efforts; after all, it's free and the first thing a customer will usually do when looking into solutions is take to Google.
SEO involves making sure your website is set up in a way that’s easy for search engines to crawl (“see”), and that you’re using keywords your audience is searching for throughout the copy (writing) on your site. (For example if your website consistently uses the term “seafood in LOCATION,” it increases the chance that hungry people searching for seafood in your city will actually find your site).
Be aware that SEO will not bring you immediate returns and is more of a long-term strategy. It’s about increasing your natural, or organic traffic, over time. When you create good content over a longer period of time, using the language your audience uses when they’re looking for you, the idea is that you’ll naturally rise up in the ranks of search engines.
The big questions guiding your SEO strategy should be:
- Can search engines access and index your site content? This comes down to your URL structure and web development, also known as technical SEO.
- Is your content relevant to users, and is it optimized for search engines? This depends on your keyword strategy and web copy that incorporates those important keywords.
- Is your page the most authoritative page on the web? This depends on SEO link building (when other sites link back to yours), which improves your ranking.
SEO is different from SEM (search engine marketing), which involves paying to show up at the top of search results. You can see more immediate results with SEM, but it does require that upfront investment. This should be the second step in your strategy: once you have your SEO in place, expand on it by paying for search engine marketing.
But let’s start with very practical questions first, mainly: how can you make SEO work for your small business? In the next section, we’ll share practical steps and guidance to help you do just that.
USING LOCAL SEO AND GOOGLE MAPS MARKETING TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE EDGE
SEO is great, but if you’re a small business it does have its limits—mainly, how do you compete with large national brands that dedicate a huge budget to SEO and other marketing efforts?
The answer is local SEO and Google Maps marketing.
Local SEO is a powerful way for small businesses like yours to compete with national brands, on a limited budget. Because it involves optimizing your website for local search results, it’s an economical and highly effective way to generate more leads. So, for example, when someone searches for “homemade food in downtown Dallas,” a place like Wild Bill’s local BBQ Joint pops up in the search results thanks to local SEO.
Your small business needs local SEO because:
- It helps you reach local customers and forge local partnerships and connections.
- It offers a high return on your investment.
- It gives your business the stamp of authenticity.
- It is essential for mobile searches.
Google Maps marketing works hand-in-hand with local SEO, and since Google started featuring map results along with regular search results, it’s becoming increasingly important. In fact, Google now places Google Maps results above organic search results!
Google Maps marketing means optimizing your business info to be featured on Google Maps when potential local customers search for you online. It dovetails with the steps you would take to optimize your local SEO.
Bottom line: if you want to dominate search results for your area, you need to build up your local relevance in Google’s eyes. Here’s how to do it:
1. OPTIMIZE YOUR GOOGLE BUSINESS INFORMATION
Let’s start with the basics. If you want to appear in local search results via Google Maps and Google Search, you need an up-to-date Google My Business listing. Here’s what that looks like:
3. OPTIMIZE YOUR ON-PAGE SEO
On-page SEO includes the following elements:
- Title, meta, and header tags
- Page content and images
- A consistent name, address, and phone number on every page
Throughout your site, be clear about the product or service you offer, as well as the exact location you serve. This way, Google will know to surface your website when people search for relevant keywords.
4. ASK FOR REVIEWS
Reviews have a big impact on your local SEO rankings and Google Maps results. According to Google, the more positive reviews and ratings you have, the better your local ranking becomes. That’s added to the fact that great reviews help your business stand out and bring new customers your way.
Getting reviews is as simple as…
- Linking to a review site from your website, or including it in your email signature
- Printing review site information on your business cards
- Asking happy customers to submit a review
If you happen to receive a negative review, don’t stress out. Respond to it in a courteous and honest manner and follow Google’s review guidelines. Customers appreciate seeing that a business takes reviews seriously and strives to improve, and in that way even negative reviews can become a positive selling point for your business.
Plan to regularly manage and respond to reviews to keep your listing relevant.
5. BUILD UP LOCAL CITATIONS
A local citation happens when your business’s name, phone number, address, or website appears online on a site like Facebook, Apple Maps, Google My Business, Yahoo, the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, the Yellow Pages, and so on. You can also look for industry-specific and local directories as well as local blogs that might mention your business.
When Google evaluates your business’s local authority and relevance, it looks at local citations. The more local citations you have, the more relevant you appear to Google. That means you show up higher in search rankings and more prominently in Google Maps.
6. BUILD LINKS WITH LOCAL CONTENT
When other sites link back to yours, it’s called a backlink. Google considers these backlinks a reliable indicator of your site’s trustworthiness and relevance, so having several high-quality backlinks can help you rise in local Google rankings.
You can earn backlinks through locally focused, relevant, and useful content marketing (we’ll cover that in depth in the next section). Whether you create a blog post, a video, a podcast, or another type of content, get it in front of a local crowd by:
- Pitching the local media
- Partnering with local influencers
- Writing guest posts on local area blogs
- Capitalizing on local events
If you follow these five steps for enhancing your local SEO, you’ll put yourself in an optimal position to attract local business. And when you compound this with your other marketing efforts—like content marketing and social media marketing—you’ll see those results grow exponentially.
When paired with SEO, content marketing, or inbound marketing as it is often called, is a powerful and relatively inexpensive method of attracting interest to your business.
What is content marketing, exactly? Let’s break it down:
- Content is anything that you read, watch, or listen to—like a blog post, YouTube video, podcast, or eBook.
- Marketing is a way to reach potential customers, with the goal of getting them to buy your product or sign up for your service.
Putting it all together, content marketing is a way to attract potential customers and entice them closer to purchase. Content marketing can help you reach new customers, engage existing ones, and raise overall brand awareness. It has the power to spark that first conversation, and then nurture the relationship, with your audience.
Content marketing differs from more traditional, or outbound, forms of marketing in that its goal is to build relationships by offering genuinely useful content that people love. It can take many formats: for example, Equinox caters to its audience with a beautifully designed online magazine while SoulCycle curates their own Spotify playlists.
Content marketing is a proven strategy, and people tend to trust it more than ads on TV, movies, magazines, billboards, or the radio. It’s also more engaging than traditional advertising. If you’re anything like the rest of us, you probably just tune out the banner ads that pop up in your browser window. Most people do; it’s a real phenomenon known as “banner blindness.”
You can see why trying to attract customers through ads can seem expensive and ineffective when compared to content marketing!
THE MOST POPULAR TYPES OF CONTENT
If content marketing sounds like a great match for your business, your next question may be, “What type of content should I create?” While this list isn’t exhaustive, here are the most popular options:
- Blog posts. Blog posts are an all-around favorite, mainly because they’re relatively easy and inexpensive to create.
- Infographics. While infographics demand more time and energy than regular blog posts, they can really pay off in performance. In fact, image-rich content receives 94% more views than text-based content. You can use Canva or Piktochart to make your own, or hire a designer to do it for you.
- Videos. Videos are shared 12 times more often than text posts and links combined. They range from simple iPhone clips to sophisticated, agency-designed productions.
- Visuals. This category includes content like slideshows, photos, data visualizations, and diagrams.
- eBooks. eBooks are usually designed to educate your audience, and generally run 2,000 words and up. You can create a simple eBook by compiling blog posts on a topic, or by writing something closer to a traditional book.
- Case studies. Case studies help potential customers imagine what it’d be like to work with you or to use your products. They capture your clients’ success stories and are a little like extended testimonials. They generally describe the problem your client faced, the process of finding the right solution, and the results they achieved.
- Podcasts. Podcast consumption rises every year, with four out of ten people having listened to a podcast in the past month.
The type of content you choose depends on your goals. For example, if you want to educate people about a particular topic, a blog post or eBook may work best. A bike shop might write about finding the perfect bicycle for hilly terrain, while a personal trainer might create a free eBook full of healthy lunch ideas. On the other hand, if you’re trying to attract more social media followers, a short Facebook video or article on LinkedIn may be a better fit.
THE BUYER’S JOURNEY
Content helps move prospective clients through the marketing funnel, from first contact to final purchase. Ideally, your content marketing should engage customers at every stage of that journey. Let’s look at an example of what this might look like.
Imagine that you wake up with an extremely stiff back one morning. You hobble out of bed, sit at your laptop, and search for “cause of stiff back” or “stretches for a stiff back.” That search leads you to a blog post that addresses achy backs. From there, you click on a related post for how to solve back problems. All the suggestions in the post are good, and one of them is “buy a new mattress.”
The next day, you wake up with the stiff back. You Google “comfy mattress” and one of the first results that comes up is an ad for the mattress brand that published the blog posts you read yesterday. Because the brand took the time to build awareness with a blog post, you trust the brand enough to engage and ultimately buyfrom them.
That’s the power of effective content marketing: it can take you from knowing almost nothing about a brand to making a major purchase. That’s the buyer’s journey in a nutshell.
It starts with awareness (you realize you have a problem, like a sore back). It moves to consideration (you begin looking at solutions to that problem). Finally, it ends at decision (you pick a solution).
WHERE TO PUBLISH CONTENT
Just about anyone can create content these days, but how do you ensure people actually see it?
There are many different outlets you can use to promote your content, including:
- Your own blog. Publishing content here can help bring more people to your site and build your search authority (how trustworthy Google thinks your site is), which can boost your rankings.
- Other blogs. Try guest posting to reach new audiences and strengthen relationships with complementary businesses.
- Social media. Publish your content to social channels like Facebook or LinkedIn to engage with current and potential customers.
The great thing about content is that it’s flexible, which means it can be repurposed for multiple outlets. For example, you can upload a podcast episode to iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud and then publish a blog post transcribing some of the highlights.
CONTENT MARKETING FAQS
1. Should I invest in content marketing instead of ads?
No. Ads are still an effective tool, and the results are quick to kick in and easy to track. Content marketing, on the other hand, is a long-term strategy. We advise investing in both ads and content marketing.
2. How long until I see results from content marketing?
Before you see results, you’ll need to create content—and that can take up a lot of time and resources. At first, you probably won’t have much to show for your efforts: prepare for weeks or months of radio silence, because you won’t have many (if any) followers, subscribers, viewers, or readers.
However, content compounds in value over time. The more people engage with it, the more new people will see and engage with it. As people start sharing what you’ve published with their friends, it multiplies your exposure, increases traffic to your site, and tells search engines and platforms like Facebook that you’re producing valuable stuff. In return, it will be surfaced to more people.
At a certain point, your existing content will generate enough new traffic that you’ll be able to produce new content on a less frequent basis and still see great results.
3. How can I tell if content marketing is working in the short-term?
Content marketing takes a while to pay off, but in the short-term, you can look for a few different indicators that it’s working. Page views, social media likes and follows, overall website traffic, the number of people who share or comment on your content, and email opt-in rates can all help you determine whether your strategy is working.
4. Can I do this on a budget?
If you’re willing to do everything yourself (or even hire a freelancer) you’ll be able to accomplish a lot for fairly little investment. But if you hire a full-time writer, graphic designer, and SEO specialist, your costs will be significant. It depends how you want to approach it. A small business might opt for a pared-down approach at first, and then scale up as it grows.
Email marketing is a great way to nurture relationships with both existing and potential customers.
When somebody checks out your website, reads your blog posts, or has a positive interaction with your business, they may choose to sign up for your email list. When they do this, they’re essentially telling you that they like what they see and would like more of it.
Your job, then, is to continue that conversation: to inform, engage, and ultimately guide those subscribers closer to purchase.
But email marketing isn’t just about collecting a list of names (opt-ins) and blasting out a message every once in a while. To do it well, you’ll need to have a strategy. Many businesses will build their email marketing strategy around a basic weekly or monthly newsletter. This is a great place to start! Here are our tips for developing a winning approach:
1. DEFINE YOUR FOCUS
Your newsletter is a chance to build your brand and show off what you know about your topic. Think about topics that naturally suit your business, and that your audience would appreciate reading about. If you’re the owner of a yoga studio, for example, you might create content around yoga poses, as well as complementary themes like conscious living, healthy food, and yoga-inspired products.
2. CLARIFY YOUR GOALS
You’re not sending out a newsletter, or any email communication for that matter, just for fun. Be clear about what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, if you’re trying to attract new business, then your ultimate goal may be more web traffic or new leads. If you’re trying to nurture a relationship with existing customers, then you may be aiming for signs of engagement, like high email open rates. You’ll need to know what your goals are in order to answer the question, “Is this email ultimately doing what I need it to do?”
3. CHOOSE AN EMAIL SOLUTION
There are a number of email solutions on the market, from established platforms like MailChimp and Constant Contact to newer players like TinyLetter. The solution you choose will depend on your budget and specific needs. Do a little research and figure out what it takes to begin. For example, you can use some solutions for free up to a certain number of subscribers, after which you’d upgrade to a paid plan.
4. CHOOSE A TEMPLATE
Most email services like MailChimp and Constant Contact offer pre-designed email templates. You don’t have to labor over complicated design details just to send out your first newsletter: simply pick one of the existing templates, adjust the colors and fonts, add your logo to the header, and pop in your text.
5. ENCOURAGE YOUR FIRST SIGN-UPS
The first rule of email marketing is: don’t spam people. If you already have a list of customers or prospects on hand, and that list complies with CAN-SPAM laws, you can send a polite, one-time invitation to sign up for your newsletter. Do not just automatically add them to your newsletter list—that can feel annoying and spammy. While your list may start out small, the people on it are likely to be genuinely interested in your newsletter and more likely to share it with others. Your email solution should have a customizable signup form that you can link to in your invitation email (and put on your website or anywhere else people are likely to sign up).
6. SEND OUT YOUR FIRST NEWSLETTER
With your email solution picked out and your initial list of subscribers ready, it’s time to send out your first newsletter! The best time to send it out is within a week of the initial invitation, so it’s at the top of your subscribers’ minds. Not sure what to write about? You can always repurpose and link to an existing story on your blog, or link to relevant stories from third parties.
7. PROMOTE YOUR NEWSLETTER TO NEW SUBSCRIBERS
With your newsletter up and running, you can spend more time promoting it. Here’s an easy way to start doing that: simply link to it in your website footer and emails, and encourage subscribers and friends to pass it along to others and share it on their social feeds. In the long-term, you could investigate using display ads or other paid advertising to attract new readers.
8. KEEP A REGULAR SCHEDULE
It’s best to keep a regular newsletter schedule, whether that’s every week or every month. Your subscribers will get used to hearing from you, and it will feel strange to them if you disappear for long periods at a time. If you commit to sending a weekly newsletter, be absolutely positive that you have the resources and time to make it happen. We suggest starting with a monthly newsletter until you feel comfortable upping the cadence.
Remember that your subscriber list won’t grow overnight, but if you consistently provide great content, word will spread and more people will join your list in the long-term, making your strategy a success.
Social Media Marketing
Today, nearly half of the world’s population logs into a social media platform on a regular basis: that’s three billion people, or 40% of the global population. These social platforms include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and new ones that are constantly emerging.
That’s great news for small business owners: it means that your customers are almost certainly on social media. You can meet them there by making social media marketing a part of your overall strategy.
When we talk about social media marketing, we talk about two main things: first, there are the everyday, non-paid social interactions you have with your audience, often called organic social media. This includes content you share on Facebook and Instagram or videos you upload to YouTube, for example. It also includes all the conversations you’re having with your followers across platforms.
The other piece of the social media marketing puzzle is paid advertising. This is when you pay to get your content in front of more eyeballs, reaching a wider audience than your existing followers. Paid advertisements can take the form of a product ad on Facebook, a commercial that plays before a YouTube video, a promoted Instagram or Pinterest post, and so on.
It’s easy for most businesses to get started with the free side of social media. You can do this to build your brand online, connect with your customers, advertise events and promotions, and so on. There’s no cost associated with launching a Facebook Business page, opening a Twitter account, or making an Instagram profile.
But to get to the next level, you should consider paid advertising. Here’s why: in 2016, organic reach for Facebook pages dropped by more than half and an early 2018 announcement from Facebook notified businesses that these numbers are only going to get worse.
It’s not just Facebook that’s making it harder for businesses to reach people through organic content. Instagram prioritizes posts based on the user’s relationship with the poster and whether they’re likely to engage with the content. And Twitter’s algorithms serve up posts it thinks users will like the most.
Bottom line: even if you’re creating amazing content for your audience, it’s going to be difficult to reach them organically. The way to combat this? You guessed it—paid advertising.
We know paid advertising can feel daunting, especially if you haven’t done it before. You may be wondering, Where should I advertise? What kind of content should I produce? How much should I spend?
These answers depend on your individual business, but there are some general best practices that can guide your decision-making. Here’s what you need to know:
1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT PLATFORM FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Small business owners don’t have the luxury of huge marketing budgets, which is why it’s important to put your money in the right places.
Which social media platform—or platforms—should you advertise on? That all depends on where your audience is. You may already have a good idea of where your customers hang out, based on their engagement with you so far on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or other platforms you’re on. If you’re already seeing great engagement on Facebook, for example, that’s an indicator that it’s a good platform for your business.
Here are a few demographic trends to consider:
- Facebook’s user base is the most diverse, and more than three quarters of adults who are online use Facebook. It’s popular across age groups and can help you reach people that belong to a variety of groups, generations, genders, and ethnicities.
- Pinterest’s user base skews female, with 85% of users being women. If your products are highly visual, this image-based platform may be the right choice for you.
- If you cater to a younger crowd, consider Instagram. Nearly 60% of Instagram users are 18 to 29-year-olds, whereas only 8% are adults over 65. Overall, one-third of adults online use Instagram, and like Pinterest, it’s a great match for visual brands.
- Twitter is a favorite among urban teenage girls and moms with young kids, making it a good fit if that’s your demographic.
- College graduates dominate LinkedIn—as do people who earn more than $75,000 annually. Professional and career-related services are a great fit for this platform.
Of course, budget will also guide your decisions: some platforms simply charge more for exposure. For example, an Instagram post can come at a higher cost than one on Facebook.
2. SELECT YOUR TARGETING CRITERIA
Once you’ve chosen your platform, think about who you want to see your ads. Who is your demographic, and which criteria can you use to reach them?
As an example, Facebook will let you target people based on their gender, location, age, relationship status, job title, hobbies and interests, where they work, and more. If you’re trying to reach suburban men who are over 35 years old and love to bike, Facebook’s targeting options will show your ad to people who match that profile, and no one else.
Twitter, on the other hand, will let you target people based on words and phrases they’ve searched for or tweeted. You can also target people who follow specific accounts—like your competitors’ accounts!
As you experiment with targeting, you’ll get a better sense of what works and what doesn’t. You’ll start recognizing which audiences are most budget-friendly to reach, which are more likely to click on your ads, and which are most likely to buy.
In the beginning, however, you’ll simply have to form an educated guess for whom to target based on your current customer demographics. Think about commonalities your customers share. Do they live in a specific part of town? Do they own a house, or do they prefer to rent? Do they like eating out or preparing homemade meals? Take the time to figure out what your customers have in common, and begin your targeting based on that.
3. SET A CLEAR GOAL
As with everything, you have to be able to answer, “Why am I doing this?” What goal do you hope to accomplish with your paid ads? Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Build brand awareness and engagement
- Drive more purchases
- Attract more email subscribers
- Promote a free consultation
- Increase in-person visits to your store
These are just a few ideas, and there is no “right answer.” Your goals will depend on your business needs. For example, if you’re introducing a new product line, you may want to promote the launch to current customers. Or if you’re aiming for higher revenue, you may look for ways to motivate people to make an immediate purchase.
Our advice is to pick one goal (and one goal only!) and stick to it. Having a clear focus will make it much easier to run a successful paid ad campaign.
4. DECIDE HOW YOU’LL PAY FOR YOUR ADS
Now that you know your goal, you’ll need to decide how to spend your ad budget. There are a few different ways you can pay for social media advertisements:
- Pay per click. You can choose to pay each time someone clicks on your ad. If 10,000 people view your ad but only 1,000 people click on it, you would pay for those 1,000 clicks. CPC (cost per click) is what each person’s click costs you, on average. The lower the CPC, the better. Aim for at least a five-to-one revenue to ad ratio so that, for example, every $1 you spend on advertising generates $5 in revenue.
- Pay per impression. You can pay each time people see your ad. Cost per impression (CPM) is what it costs each time your ad shows up in someone’s feed. This is a good option if you’re trying to drive overall brand awareness.
5. CREATE AND LAUNCH YOUR FIRST ADS
No need to panic: you don’t need to be a design genius to create a compelling ad. If you have the funds to hire a professional graphic designer and copywriter, then go for it.
But if you’re working on a shoestring budget, for example, you can create a simple Facebook photo ad in minutes. You just need a high-quality image, a brief headline, and a short caption that encourages people to take action (like visit your site, opt-in to your email list, sign up for a consultation, etc.). DIY design tools like Canva can help you create beautiful ads for a variety of social media platforms, and Promo can help you create gorgeous video ads without the high production costs.
Once you’ve designed an ad, decide on a start and end time for your campaign, your target audience, and your budget. You may be prompted to enter a few more details, but the hard part is over. All that’s left is to click “start” and send your ad out into the world!
6. MEASURE YOUR AD PERFORMANCE
Once your ad is live, check on it regularly to make sure it’s running (you’ll be able to check on this in your social platform’s ad manager).
Once it has been live for a few days, step back and analyze the results. There are four main metrics to look for, though you don’t have to monitor them all: pay closest attention to the one that suits your business goals.
The main metrics to look at are:
- Click-through rate (CTR). The higher your CTR, the better—it means your ad is resonating with people and they want to know more. Let’s say you’re promoting a new service and want people to click on your ad to learn more. The CTR measures how many people clicked on it when they saw it. If your CTR is 10%, that means ten out of every 100 people clicked.
- Traffic sources. If you’re running multiple ads at once, on different social media platforms, you may be interested to see which is driving the most traffic. You can use a tool like Google Analytics to monitor where traffic is coming from. You can use tracking links to see which pages people viewed, what they purchased, if they engaged with any of your other content, whether they signed up for your email list, and more.
- Cost per conversion (CPC). This is the average cost of getting someone to “convert”, or take the action you want him or her to take, whether it’s booking a free consultation or signing up for your email list. If you run $500 on an ad and 20 people convert, your CPC is $500/20, or $25.
- Cost per acquisition (CPA). This is the cost of acquiring a paying customer. For example, let’s say that 10% of the people who booked a free consultation above now sign up for your paid service. That’s 10% of 20, or 2 people. Your cost per acquisition is $500 (how much you paid for the campaign) divided by 2 people, which is $250 per new customer. Of course, for these numbers to make business sense, you need each new customer to pay you more than what it cost you to acquire them. A $250/customer CPA is great if they’re buying a $1,000 service but not so great if they sign up for just one $200 product!
7. DON’T FORGET TO INTEGRATE PAYSIMPLE INTO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
You can use PaySimple’s eCommerce tools to run special offers and promotions on your social media channels. Here are ideas for making the most of PaySimple on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram:
Facebook: Add a payment button
- Find your custom online store or payment form link in the ‘eCommerce’ section of PaySimple. Copy that link.
- Log in to your Facebook business page. Click “add a button” in the upper right-hand corner of the page, and then “shop now.”
- You will be asked what website you want to send people to when they click the button. Paste your PaySimple URL in the field where it says “add a website link.”
Facebook: Create an offer
- Using PaySimple, create a discount code for the item you want to feature in your offer.
- Design a promotional graphic to advertise your offer. We created this quick version using Canva’s free design tools:
- Click the “create an offer” option on Facebook. Here, you can share your promotional graphic, PaySimple payment form link, and custom discount code.
Twitter: Share a promotion
- Using PaySimple, create a discount code for the item you want to feature in your offer.
- Find your custom online store or payment form link in the ‘eCommerce’ section of PaySimple. Shorten the custom link and copy it.
- Tweet the promotion to your followers, sharing the discount code as well as your shortened eCommerce link.
Instagram: Share a promotion
- Using PaySimple, create a discount code for the item you want to feature in your offer.
- Find your custom online store or payment form link in the ‘eCommerce’ section of PaySimple. Shorten the custom link and paste it into your Instagram profile biography section.
- Post on Instagram, mentioning your bio link and PaySimple discount code. If your business page has over 10,000 followers, you can add a PaySimple eCommerce link to the “swipe up” field on Instagram stories.
PaySimple: Get more followers
- Use PaySimple’s Website Return button to redirect your customers to your social media pages by using “Like us on Facebook” or “Leave us a review!” button text.
You can tackle social media advertising in a variety of ways, and with practice you will figure out what’s right for your business. These strategies, however, should give you a good starting point for effective ad campaigns.
Hosting or participating in local events can give your business excellent brand exposure, get you in front of new customers, and help you network within the community. Here is how to make the most out of this marketing opportunity.
1. HOST YOUR OWN EVENT
Is there an event you could host that aligns perfectly with your business? If so, it can be a great way to generate community involvement, attract new fans, and have fun interacting with customers in a fresh way.
Brainstorm all the event possibilities that could be right for your business. For example, if you own a local running shoe shop, you could host an annual neighborhood fun run, offer group training sessions at the local park, or treat people to a free chair massage after a major race. You could also create a local Meetup group around running, and lead social runs around different parts of town.
Here are some great event ideas to consider:
- A “how to” event that teaches customers something new. What would your customers love learning about? A cooking school could offer a quick seminar on 10 popular salad dressings, or a lawn care company could host a workshop around natural pest control methods.
- A special guest or celebrity event. Who’s the best at what they do in your field? Invite them to speak to customers, sign books, and mingle. For example, that running store could invite an elite runner or expert author to share their wisdom.
- A fundraiser or special event for your nonprofit partner. This is a great way to support your local charity and generate goodwill within the community. A pet store could host a stray animal adoption drive, for example, or a hair salon could invite people to come in and donate their locks for wigs that go to cancer patients.
- An online webinar. You don’t always have to host in-person events, and a webinar can be just as good (and even more convenient). Simply turn that “how to” event idea into a webinar format, and run everything online.
To host a great event, you don’t need to spend your entire marketing budget or make up complicated seating arrangements. You simply need to invite people to do something fun with you, and then show up. You can get as fancy as you want with your events, but the bottom line is that you don’t need much to create a great experience for everyone: your event can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.
2. PARTICIPATE IN AN EXISTING EVENT
If you don’t have the time, budget, or creativity to dedicate to your own events at the moment, you can always join someone else’s.
Continuing with the example of our running shoe shop, you could offer to host a refreshment table for the local marathon or triathlon, send your employees out to do complimentary shoe fittings at other sporting events, or set up a crazy obstacle course for a local school’s field day.
You can accomplish a lot by pooling your knowledge and resources with other community businesses, and this is also a great way to amplify your individual impact and get exposure to new audiences.
3. DON’T FORGET TO MARKET YOUR EVENT
Use the digital marketing techniques you learned in this guide to promote your event to customers, fans, and prospects. Build up anticipation across your social media feeds, include a link to the event on your website and within your email signature, and get in touch with local media channels to publicize it. There are a lot of creative ways you can market your event, and you can check out a more complete list here.
4. GET MORE MILEAGE OUT OF EVENT DAY
The event itself is a great marketing opportunity, but why not kick things up a notch and provide all the little extras people love? We’re talking about free product giveaways, free consultations, on-the-spot contests, and of course free food!
If you’re manning a booth at another organization’s event, for example, come armed with lots of goodies for the crowd: it could be sweets stamped with your business name or simply free refreshments served with a smile. Or, pick out a few great products (or services) to give away and host a raffle or competition to build excitement and anticipation.
Give people unexpected “treats” to look forward to on event day, and you’ll make the event more fun, more memorable, and ultimately more engaging for your audience.
5. MAXIMIZE THE ROI
Events can be costly, so it's important to set goals and objectives. A common goal for events is to collect email addresses. This can be done by simply requiring people to sign up for your event through Eventbrite or Facebook. Collecting email addresses allows you to continue to engage with attendees after the event so you can eventually nurture them into paying customers. If you are participating in another organization's event, ask the organizer if you can have the email list to market to after the event.
With so much happening online, it may seem a little old-fashioned to include direct marketing in this playbook. And yes, we’ll admit there are a few downsides to “snail mail” (not the least of which is that junk-mail stigma). But when you get down to it, there’s a reason millions of businesses still budget for it in their marketing plans: it simply works.
As with any marketing strategy, you’ll need to consider whether direct mail is the right choice for your business. If you’re an online retailer, digital marketing may simply make more sense. But if you’re a small business that serves the local community—like a bookstore, cleaning company, or ice cream parlor—direct mail can be a great option.
You’ll also want to consider cost. Postcards and other direct mail pieces come with their own printing and postage fees, which you’ll need to evaluate against (sometimes) more cost-effective digital methods.
That said, if you think direct mail could work for your business, here’s a quick look at two ways to get into people’s mailboxes (and maybe even their hearts).
USPS EVERY DOOR DIRECT MAIL PROGRAM
We recommend checking out the U.S. Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail program, which lets you easily execute direct mail campaigns in your area. Here’s how to get started with the program:
- First, register for an account with the Postal Service. This will give you access to the Every Door Direct Mail tool and the mailing service.
- Use the Every Door Direct Mail software to specify the zip code, city, or geographic radius you want to reach. The program will tell you the exact number of mail pieces you’ll need to create for that area, plus how much it will cost you to mail them. (With the retail program, you’re allowed to mail 200-500 pieces per day without a permit).
- Create your direct mail pieces and address them to “Local Postal Customer.” Each piece should be flat (e.g. a rectangular postcard, folded card, or envelope that adheres to USPS-accepted dimensions). You’ll need to create your own mailing labels and postal indicia based on post office specifications.
- Drop it all off. Bring your direct mail pieces to the post office, along with the paperwork generated by the software, and the USPS will handle the rest.
With so much communication happening instantly online, sending a postcard can come across as either incredibly archaic or…incredibly charming. After all, with so much being said online, a postcard stands out in a very tangible way. People interact with it physically, and it’s not something that can just be scrolled past on a screen or quickly clicked on and deleted.
While you may use email and text for most of your communication, what happens when there’s a special one-off occasion that merits something more than digital? Let’s say you want to send a special thank you card or carefully crafted sales message. Sure, you could send either via email, but imagine the impact of a postcard delivered at just the right moment, with just the right standout message.
That’s where Postagram comes in. With it, you can send polished-looking postcards to anyone, right from your computer, tablet, or phone. Just upload an image from your computer, phone, or social media streams; customize a special message; and let Postagram mail it to the address you provide.
For example, you could dash off a quick postcard after a sales meeting, complete with a concept image and customized sales message. You can send Postagrams from your phone, which means you can create a message right after a meeting finishes and the conversation is still fresh in your prospect’s mind.
Postagrams do come with some digital-age features, like a QR code stamp that lets recipients reply to your card, save the picture, or post it to their social media stream.
Get started with the service by setting up a free account, which lets you send out five free postcards (download the app here). After that, you’ll need to pay per card or buy bulk credit packs to keep the cost per card low.
Getting More Done in Less Time
As you get more comfortable with marketing and start seeing its impact, you may start looking for ways to accomplish even more in less time.
In this section, we’ll show you how to automate—and even outsource—some common business tasks so you have more time for big-picture thinking and planning.
AUTOMATE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
How much more could you accomplish if you automated some of your most repetitive business tasks? And what could you do with all that saved time? Here are seven ideas for making your marketing automatic:
1. ELEVATE YOUR EMAIL SIGNATURE
Your email signature could be doing so much more, and services like WiseStamp help it reach its potential. WiseStamp turns your everyday sign-off into a beautiful email signature that captures people’s attention and gives them a reason to reach out. Whether you’re sending a note to a colleague or a new connection, a WiseStamp signature shows off your professional side without seeming showy.
2. AUTOMATE YOUR EMAIL MARKETING
If you’re using email services like MailChimp and Constant Contact, you may have already discovered the ability to set up a series of automated emails for just about anything. So, for example, any time you get a new customer, you can automatically send them a series of pre-written emails that keep the conversation going. You can pick when these emails go out, whether it’s immediately after purchase or a couple of weeks later.
See how many automatic email sequences you can set up to save you time. You can use them to automate client follow-up, build up anticipation for a new product, or keep your customers engaged over the long-term. For more great ideas, check out HubSpot’s article on email workflows.
3. MAKE BUSINESS PROPOSALS AUTOMATIC
If you regularly send proposals to your clients, you can stop the copy-and-paste routine and make the whole process simpler with tools like BidSketch and Proposeful. These services will autofill proposal sections based on your past preferences, let you adjust as needed, and make it easy for clients to view and sign off on proposals electronically.
4. TAP INTO AN ENDLESS FLOW OF CONTENT IDEAS
One of the big challenges of content marketing is finding ways to consistently engage your audience over the long-term. It’s the eternal question content marketers ask themselves: “What do we cover next?” The more content you produce, the harder it can be to come up with fresh ideas—especially if it feels like you’ve already said it all!
Instead of struggling to come up with ideas, train the internet to automatically send you a constant stream of content inspiration. First, set up Google Alerts to tell you any time something relevant to your business pops up online. It’ll alert you to emerging trends and newsworthy topics you can then expand or comment on. (Bonus tip: Set up your inbox to send these alerts to a special “ideas folder” you can go through later).
Next, install the Evernote Web Clipper or the Diigo browser button. As you come across things that catch your interest online, you can save them for later, when you’re ready to incorporate them into a post or video. You can also get a list of hand-curated content ideas from services like Quuu.
5. AUTOMATICALLY POST TO SEVERAL SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Use services like HootSuite and Buffer to post updates across your social channels, at exactly the time of day your audience is likely to be paying attention. You can also set up IFTT (“If this, then that”) to automatically take the content you publish on your blog and share it on Facebook. If you still manually post things on social media, you’ll be amazed at how much time you can save with services that do it all for you.
6. REUSE YOUR BEST BLOG CONTENT TO DELIGHT NEW AUDIENCES
You’ve invested a lot of time and energy into thoughtful, relevant blog posts—so why publish them just once and then let them go to waste? MeetEdgar can recycle your past posts to generate fresh views and engagement from your community. Think about it: as your blog has grown, so has your audience—and that means you probably have a lot of really good older content people haven’t seen yet. That content can still feel “new” to them, with the help of MeetEdgar.
7. DELEGATE TO AN ALGORITHM
You could spend time creating your own social media ads, or you could simply delegate that task to a service like Needls, which designs and launches ads for you. Touted as the internet’s first “robo agency,” Needls pays attention to the social media conversations happening in real time, and then responds with targeted, relevant ads that send new business to you.
For example, if somebody takes to social media to complain about their flooded basement, Needls will automatically show them ads for your flooding solutions company. Or if someone asks for style advice for a new business wardrobe, Needls can point him or her to your tailoring business. Just feed Needls a set of images, videos, and a basic message, and it will put them together in a cohesive ad campaign.
The most important thing to remember about marketing automation is this: if a computer can do the job for you—and do it quicker and better—just let it. Set up automated marketing systems so you can spend time on more important things.
KNOW WHEN TO OUTSOURCE
As a small business owner, you get used to doing everything—especially in the beginning, when your budget is tiny and your time commitment is huge. You’re the business owner and the marketing person and the accountant and the receptionist, all rolled into one.
But as your business grows and you finally have the resources to hire people who can help you, it can be hard to break out of the initial “I can do everything myself” mindset.
That’s because when you started your business, money was probably scarce. To become more profitable, you had to either generate more sales or slash your expenses. You probably realized that spending less instantly increased your profits, and that’s the path you chose.
But as your business grows, if you insist on wearing too many hats, what will eventually limit your business’s potential is not your cash flow, but your time.
Think about how much one hour of your time is worth. Is it the hourly rate you charge customers? Is it the cost of producing a product, divided by the time it takes to produce it? Is it your monthly revenue divided by the amount of time you put into your business each month?
Take a moment to calculate what one hour of your time is actually worth. Whether it’s $20 per hour or $2,000 per hour, you’ll quickly realize that it’s not worth spending that precious hour on low-value tasks someone else could easily do for less.
Let’s use business accounting as an example. You may be tempted to say, "I don't need to hire a bookkeeper. That would cost me $300 per month, and I could save that much by just doing it myself!"
But unless you were an accountant in a previous life, chances are it would take you more than 10 hours per month to do your books. You’d have to do all the research, plan your ledger, map your accounts, and teach yourself the accounting software just to get started! Next, you’d still have to close your books each month and reconcile your accounts.
Let’s say all that takes you 10 hours per month. A good bookkeeper would cost $300 per month, so you’re essentially paying yourself $30/hour ($300/10 hours) to do the accounting yourself—and that’s not including set-up time.
If your time is worth less than $30/hour, then the DIY route might make sense. But if it’s more than $30, why would you ever waste time (and money) doing this on your own? And let’s be honest, if you have what it takes to run your own small business, your time’s worth a lot more than $30 per hour.
Think about the value of your time when figuring out whether you should hire someone else to do it for you, or if you should stick to doing it yourself.
As you start hiring people who can help you with those lower-value tasks, you’ll be able to dedicate more time to high-value tasks that grow your business. This, in turn, increases your cash flow and gives you more flexibility to grow your team. As you bring more people onboard, you can dedicate yet more time to high-level work.
Each task you give to someone else frees you up to grow your business. And great business owners know that in order to grow, they need to take that leap of faith and delegate to others. They know that great teams ultimately build great companies.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
We hope you enjoyed this marketing playbook and feel confident about running your first marketing campaigns using some of the tips and strategies we provided. At PaySimple, we love seeing small businesses reach their potential, which is why we love creating resources like these to help you on your journey.
If you're interested in learning more about how PaySimple can help you accept payments, market your business and manage your customers, all from one easy-to-use platform, then give us a try for free.
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