There’s a reason why they initially called the internet the “world wide web.” Our super information highway is HUGE! Today, everyone has their own website, blog, Facebook page, etc. It is no longer easy to stand out among the crowd. So while the old business proverb of “You have to spend money to make money” may be true, for many small businesses and startups, spending A LOT of money just isn’t feasible. But with thousands of articles about ‘marketing tips’ out there, how do you know where to spend your precious time and resources?
Being a small business in the online marketing field, we’ve read a gazillion articles, taken the latest online marketing classes and tried hundreds of techniques to grow ours and our client’s businesses. We know how daunting online marketing can seem so we thought it’d be helpful to share our own marketing tips and instead of saying they’re all equal, we added tags so you can see how each one benefits us.
- Time Saver
- Money Saver
- Growth Generator
- Top Tip
1. Add Social Links to Your Signature
You can invite people to visit your business’s Facebook page, your Twitter feed and LinkedIn profile every time you send them an email with a custom-built signature. You can create your own, but folks at Wisestamp have made it so easy to use one of their templates for free. And if you want to splurge a little, you can pay a bit more to get something that is uniquely “you” but still looks professional.
2. Use Your Social Media Header for Sales
While you shouldn’t go overboard with the promotion of your product in your social media profiles (and in some cases you can’t), you might as well use every pixel available to help promote your business. For instance, social media guru, Kim Garst, regularly features messages like “I just added 100,000 subscribers to my email list in a year” and then provides a call to action. Who could resist an offer like that? Or here’s an example from Netflix promoting one of their shows:
3. Use Canva to Create Social Sharing Images
We are all familiar with social posts that feature inspiring or funny messages that can go viral in no time at all. There are two tricks to make these kitchen-magnets-for-the-internet work: (#1) Write something witty or inspirational and (#2) Create a great design. If your idea of creating artwork is drawing stick figures, you’ll appreciate Canva. Canva is a design service that helps you create stunning social media images that will elevate your business in a heartbeat. And it’s FREE! Canva is by far the best value of any tool we’re using today, we can’t recommend it enough. Need a second opinion? Neil Patel also swears by Canva and uses it to design sharable images for Facebook.
(Are you using Canva yet? How ’bout now?)
4. Use Post Planner for Sharing Great Content
If you want people to continue to engage with you on social media, you need to regularly feed them great content. This can take you away from more valuable projects if you’re having to search for articles all on your own, but if you enlist the help of a service like Post Planner, you can save yourself heaps of time. Post Planner is a social media management tool used by over 200,000 marketing professionals. It’s an affordable, simple, yet powerful way to source ‘most shared’ content and easily repost it on Facebook and Twitter. In no time at all you’ll be a go-to source for the latest and greatest information. Here’s how we use Post Planner for maximum Twitter growth.
5. Catch an Udemy Course
The average commute time is 25.4 minutes, multiply that by two and we’re each spending almost an hour in the car every day! Download an Udemy course or two and listen to them while you drive, watch them on the treadmill or while you’re doing boring housework like folding towels.
6. Include a Call to Action Button on Your Facebook Page
A newish feature on Facebook is the Call-to-Action button that you can adjust to read “Sign Up”, “Contact Us” or similar options. By clicking on this button, Facebook visitors will go directly to the page you select for them to visit on your website. Facebook explains how to set this up. What they don’t explain is how to get the big blue button – you’ll see some CTA buttons are small and grey, while some are big and blue. If anybody knows, please enlighten us in the comments below! Check out how Roxy uses their big blue button to send people to their homepage:
7. Speak with Normal Words and Phrases
What are the three most overused words or phrases that mean nothing? According to marketing and sales strategist David Meerman Scott, they are “next generation,” “flexible” and “robust.” He wrote about them in his Gobbledygook Manifesto stating that companies are frequently using words over and over again that don’t really mean anything. You might have a “robust” company, but what does that actually mean to the consumer? Instead of being super general with your writing, hone in on the specifics. Everyone will thank you for it.
8. Convert Your Blog Post Into a PDF
This is a killer tip we learned from Ana Hoffman, Traffic Generation Café: To syndicate your writing quickly and easily, use Print Friendly which can convert your blog post into a simple and easy to read format in just a few minutes. The end product will contain everything you want and nothing that you don’t. In fact, in the preview window, you can select which items you would like to delete. All links after page 3 are functional too – (it’s Slideshare’s way of preventing spam). You can even set up your own Print Friendly browser tool and website button for added convenience.
9. Create Evergreen Content
Unless your content contains information about an upcoming event, avoid writing about subjects that will be obsolete in the near future and instead opt for more “evergreen” content. As the name implies, this is content that readers can benefit from whether they read it now or three years from now. For instance, talking about a book sale happening next week will be old news quickly, but a book review will last until the next edition comes out. And the beauty of this content is that it brings in traffic every month, – however small – when you have multiple pieces of evergreen content working for you, it takes you that much further away from zero visitors. Here’s a great illustration of this from Hubspot:
10. Create Multi-Use Content
It works with birds and stones (two birds, one stone) and it can work for your business as well. When you sit down to write your next great content piece, challenge yourself to make it longer than you need. Then, edit it down to what is appropriate for each venue that you choose to use. For instance, we like to create Slideshare presentations and then turn that same content into blog posts and vice versa, like this one “Growth Hacking With Facebook Ads.” You might find that cutting your blog post into two separate articles might be perfect to send to other websites as a guest post that links back to your website. Each time you write something, ask yourself, “How can I use this again?”
11. Give Your Old Content New Life
A lot of your old content can be used again without having to write a whole new article. For example, chances are that your Christmas post will be good to use next year as well. Add a few tweaks here and there and re-publish it. Rand Fishkin goes into great detail explaining re-publishing in one of his Whiteboard Friday’s:
12. Promote Old Content
This goes hand-in-hand with #10 and #11. Continually go back through your archives and pull out relevant and evergreen articles and promote them on Facebook and Twitter as if they were fresh and new. Chances are, many people in your network missed it the first time. Another idea is to pull related content from your previous posts and create a best of article.
13. Tweet More Than You Think is Necessary
Have you ever read through a whole day’s worth of tweets in your Twitter feed? Nobody else does either (with the exception of @DanClark29). Experts agree that the average lifespan of a tweet is just 20 minutes. This means that the tweet you sent at 9 a.m. has already been forgotten by 10 a.m. The answer to this problem is to update your feed numerous times each day. Social guru Guy Kawasaki tweets each tweet four times at eight-hour intervals. He’s on the extreme side. But test multiple tweets with your audience. If you’re still getting likes and retweets on each one, then you’re reaching more people and it’s ok to keep it up. Here are three different tweets by Michael Hyatt on Jan 28 about the same blog post:
14. Use A Social Media Dashboard to Schedule Your Tweets
You may be thinking #13 sounds daunting… you’re right, that’s where a good social media management tool like Hootsuite, Buffer, or Post Planner comes in. It allows you to quickly create and schedule multiple tweets at once for the times you want them to go out. Spend a couple hours and schedule them all for the week so you don’t get sucked in to the social universe each day.
15. Pick One Social Platform
We all know that companies large and small need an online presence, but sometimes, less is more. Instead of spreading yourself too thin and posting infrequently on all social media channels, be choosey and do a good job with one social channel, like Facebook. Do this for a month, and move on to Twitter for a month then go Reddit, and back to Facebook. Do this while you learn and soon enough you’ll be able to handle more than one at a time.
16. Just Write
If you want to be relevant in this dog-eat-dog-world, you need to have fresh, relatable content. You may hate writing but do it anyway or hire a freelancer and keep in mind that your efforts will pay off later down the road.
17. Make Your Business More Transparent
From the colonel’s 11 secret herbs and spices to McDonald’s secret sauce, businesses have kept many of their secrets to success under wraps. The fear of course is that if you give away all your secrets, customers will no longer come to you or your competitors will use them against you. However, modern business leaders are realizing that this risk is worth it and if you actually share some of your secrets or show others what you do to succeed, you’ll look like a more “transparent,” and trustworthy source than those who don’t. To get you started, here are 17 Ways To Increase Your Business Transparency.
18. Update Your Social Profiles
Update all of your personal social profiles with your company information so that your network of friends and family are aware of where you work. Here’s my Facebook profile, notice the Into…
Extra benefit: Maybe your mother will stop saying that she has no idea what you do. And just as you update your personal profiles, be sure to let all of your business social contacts know what your company is all about by updating Linked In. This will also help assure that your information shows up correctly in search results. Here’s an example – Melanie Dodaro’s Linked In profile outranks everything else when you search for her on Google. Go ahead, search for your name and see which of your profiles could use some love.
19. Answer questions on Quora
If you are not familiar with Quora, you really should get to know her. It’s a website where people ask questions on just about everything and “experts” (aka – “you”) answer them. Scan the list of questions that you can answer with your great wisdom and then include your contact info and a link to a relevant blog post on your site. Don’t just give a short quick answer though. Be thoughtful and leave them wanting more so that they will look you up. Keep in mind these are ‘no-follow’ links which means whatever links you include don’t help you rank better in search results, but they are great for building awareness. We put Quora in the same category as Twitter – helps you build your reputation.
20. Give a Review
Do you use a particular product that you just love? Tell others about it on your blog or post a YouTube video of your review and then send the link to the company who makes the product. Chances are, they will post your information or at least give you a shoutout on Twitter. For example, here’s this article being shared by @Wisestamp to their 7K+ Twitter followers. A nice trade.
21. Get More Bang for Your Buck with SumoMe
SumoMe is a simple little WordPress plugin that’s super easy to add to your blog – when readers come in to your site, SumoMe helps them share your articles on social networks. In fact, see that little bar over to the left? That’s SumoMe. We’d really appreciate it if you gave it a spin by sharing this article.
22. Slap a Logo on It
People may not remember your name, but they will remember a snappy-looking logo. For all your correspondence, make sure that your logo is there for all to see. This is especially true for sharable images you create with Canva. When your well designed social posts are getting shared around the Interwebs you want your brand impressions to be adding up. Don’t miss out on this easy add-on. Here’s one from fitness expert Chalene Johnson that was shared 571 times on Facebook.
23. Have a Bias for Action
If you want to survive in the business world, you have to have to hustle. While you need to mix long term planning with short term production, don’t wait until you have a plan before you start marketing. All you planners out there, by the time it took you to plan your next tweet and get approval, your competitor already scheduled 20 – so start tweeting and don’t worry about making mistakes. Essentially, you’ll be learning by doing because those 20 tweets will be giving you data so you’ll know what’s working and what isn’t. This same concept applies to everything you create for the internet, especially in the early days when you’re trying to figure out how it all works. Remember, even the experts had to learn somehow, their first blog, Facebook post, and Tweet were probably all duds but they kept at it and got better with each try.
24. Make a Memorable Business Card
Sure, people don’t use business cards like they used to, but they do still use them. Today, you can do so much more than just print your name in royal blue on white cardstock. Online services like Moo offer many different templates to choose from and you can use other snazzy tools to help save money on your designs. We chose two $10 stock images from Shutterstock that represented our brand and had a ‘wow-factor’. We then used Canva to add our logo on top of the image and uploaded both designs to Moo. Tip: Make sure you make your Canva image about 10x the size Moo requires, that way it’s high enough resolution for print. A box of cards will last a long time and each can serve as a mini artwork that your contacts can take with them to remember you by. Need some ideas? Here are 50 creative business cards from Canva.
25. Toot Your Own Horn
Better yet, have someone else do it for you. With permission, write up a testimonial or case study from a recent customer and use it on your website. Sure, you can tell the world how wonderful you are, but if you can have someone else do it, you’ll be golden. There’s an art to this so we’ll let Kissimetrics teach how to get Customer Testimonials for your website.
26. Create a Slideshare with Your Company Story
This might sound a little left field but it relates: What is a fan’s least favorite type of superhero movie? The ones that focus on an origin story. Yes, fans are curious how Bruce Wayne became Batman, but they don’t want to sit through 60 minutes of a movie telling them the whole story when a five minute montage will do (sorry, Christopher Nolan). Many of your customers want to hear how your company became your company, but they don’t want to read umpteen pages to do so – and they won’t. Instead, tell your story through Slideshare where your can break up the details in easy to chew bite-size pieces like Piktochart:
27. Follow a Marketer
While we don’t advocate stalking fellow marketers, we do suggest that you learn from the big dogs by following them on Twitter for daily marketing tips. We recommend a couple of our favs, @DMScott, @KimGarst and of course, you could follow @OnTheGridNow too. We won’t mind.
28. Wish Someone Happy Birthday
Wishing “happy birthday” to everyone you know on Facebook gives you an excuse to keep in touch with them. Chances are, they will visit your page to see what you’ve been up to, how many children you now have and where you’re working. They might even check out your website. It’s advertising in the form of a nice gesture.
29. Comment on Facebook
Another way of communicating with friends that you don’t see often is to comment on their recent posts. Try to pick about three friends a day and make an honest connection. Engaging with people on Facebook, not only boosts your Facebook posts, it keeps you close to the people that matter in your busy life.
30. Find Out What People Think of Your Website
If you’re doing all this work to send people to your website, don’t you want to make sure your website’s doing it’s job? One of our go-to tools is User Testing – they’re fast and cheap, but watch out, watching videos of people using your website can be addictive! The best deal is UserTesting’s ‘Mobile App’ package which gives you all the benefits of their Pro package at an amateur price – it says ‘mobile’ but any small business can purchase it. Here’s a User Testing highlight reel to give you a taste of real-time customer tests:
31. Get Help With Your New Business Name
Choosing your business name is the most important first step on your way to a strong brand and a growing business. We use SurveyMonkey to test different business names and always throw in ones we don’t expect to win — ‘OnTheGrid’ was our wildcard name yet people picked it as their fav in three different surveys. For more on business naming, you can check out, 10 mistakes to avoid when naming your business.
32. Grow your mailing list, one email address at a time.
“I have literally built a multi-million dollar business on the strength of my email list.” Says Michael Hyatt, a NYT best selling author and acclaimed Virtual Mentor. He goes on to say, “Ninety percent of my income comes from it. Even today, my email list is still my number one business priority—and asset.” – @michaelhyatt has over 115,000 subscribers. We recommend using a free email service like MailChimp to help you manage all your email marketing.
33. Send Out a Regular Email
Create a regularly scheduled email to attract new visitors to your website and keep communication going to your current customers. Whatever you send, it should be valuable but that doesn’t mean you need to spend a ton of time on it. Take a look at #15 from Hubspot’s 15 Email Newsletter Examples We Love Getting in Our Inboxes. Vero’s newsletter is straightforward, simple, and useful:
How regular is regular? See what works best for your customers. A daily email may be too often but a monthly one may not be frequent enough.
34. Get your ebook cover designed on Fiverr
Fiver is a cheap marketplace where people offer services like logo design, or resume writing for $5 (get it, FIVE-rr). We’ve had some good and some bad experiences but we still use them from time to time because no matter the results, it only costs $5. One service that’s never let us down is professionally designed ebook covers.
35. And of Course, Always Include a Call to Action
According to Hubspot, “A call-to-action (usually abbreviated as CTA) is an image or line of text that prompts your visitors, leads, and customers to take action. It is, quite literally, a ‘call’ to take an ‘action.’ The action you want people to take could be anything: download an ebook, sign up for a webinar, get a coupon, attend an event, etc. A CTA can be placed anywhere in your marketing — on your website, in an ebook, in an email, or even at the end of a blog post.