With over 28 million small businesses in the U.S. it can be a challenge to stay competitive and up to date on the latest tools and trends to grow your business. Creating a comprehensive marketing strategy is the first step to improving your business’s discoverability and relationships to drive new and repeat customers. But with ever-changing and evolving technology, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7-8% of your revenue on marketing, but more than half of small businesses report spending 0-3%. Most business owners also devote an average of 20 hours a week to marketing tasks. There’s only so many hours in a day so with a seemingly never-ending list of tasks and duties making this commitment can feel burdensome. However, the results driven by these tried-and-true tactics continue to prove the merit of investing in such practices.

Email and SMS Marketing: Strengthening Customer Communications

It’s no secret that email marketing remains a powerhouse when it comes to promoting your business’s products and services. It allows you to connect with customers and keep your business top of mind. Businesses see an average of 4300% ROI, making this a compelling area to invest in.

However, SMS marketing (also known as text message marketing) goes ones step further, cutting through much of the noise that customers have become accustomed to in their inboxes and delivering messages via their preferred medium. Given the number of people glued to their phones at all times, consumers tend to receive and read your messages almost immediately (within three minutes). This is also the reason that open rates for SMS marketing are typically 98% (compared to 22% for emails).

Grow your lists with signage instructing customers how they can opt-in, as well as placing these instructions (typically texting “Start” to a number) on your site and in your email signature. Make sure that you adapt to the nuances of this approach, including limited character space (140 characters), being text only, and keep the mobile experience in mind. This is also a good time to audit your website and ensure that it’s optimized for mobile with fast load times and renders correctly across various screen sizes.

With either of these tactics, it’s essential to maintain a consistent cadence. However, the life of a busy business owner is seldom predictable, so unfortunately these vital communications are usually the first to fall by the wayside. Luckily, by leveraging intelligent marketing automation software businesses can set it and forget it. This means that the technology will send out targeted emails and SMS messages, automatically, at the right moment to educate these customers on your business. This then drives them towards making a purchasing decision and becoming a frequent repeat customer. Being a hands-off engine that generates outcomes while also saving time and money, it’s no wonder business owners credit marketing automation software with increasing conversions by 77%, according to a recent survey.

Online Presence

Online presence and reputation management is the key to being discovered by potential customers. Make sure that your website is optimized with customer testimonials, photos of your products or services that you update frequently. It should also include call-to-action (CTA) buttons to prompt any visitor to action, whether making a purchase, scheduling an appointment, requesting a quote or simply contacting you for more information.

Next, it’s important to check that your business information is listed accurately and consistently across all directories and social pages that you’re on. And, while you’re at it, make sure that you’re listed in as many of these as possible with links back to your site, which aid in your SEO efforts. This directory of top SEO listings is a great way to jumpstart this initiative, and the most important place to start is with your Google My Business page. Be sure to claim this to accurately list your business and start getting reviews. This is believed to be a significant factor in page ranks, especially for searches with local intent. Supplementing your SEO goals with a content marketing strategy is also helpful in improving your rankings. Demonstrate your prowess and establish yourself as an expert by creating a blog or video series that educates potential customers on various topics associated with your business.

Of course many keywords aren’t so easily won. Google AdWords or another pay-per-click campaign can be an effective way to bridge this gap. Google ads can help place your business above the fold on mobile searches, which is more important than ever since the recent switch from seven to a three-pack card display for local results. Always use a test budget to try out different keywords and see which perform the best for your business, converting at the highest rates. Once you’ve identified these, you can continue to target them for your organic SEO efforts.

Always Be Tracking, Evaluating and Optimizing

One of the biggest advantages of digital marketing is the ability to track and analyze the results of campaigns and various efforts. Be sure to set aside time to evaluate your campaigns and initiatives. It’s necessary to be constantly refining and optimizing them so that they’re driving the most value to your business. Look for areas to improve, and discover what resonates best with audiences that you might not have expected, as well as discarding anything that isn’t moving the needle. Like running a business itself, marketing is part science and part art, so continue to innovate, test and evaluate and your bottom line will reap the benefits.

About the author:

Jenny Hayward is the Content Marketing Manager at Signpost where she oversees the Local Marketing Blog.

Views, claims and opinions expressed within this blog post are those of the guest author.