If you follow any sort of marketing news at all, you’ve at least heard about omnichannel marketing. This gold standard of marketing is often touted as a must-do strategy for any business that wants to crush its goals. The problem is, the omnichannel approach is simply out of reach for millions—maybe even the majority—of businesses in the United States.
What is Omnichannel Marketing?
You can Google the term “omnichannel marketing” and receive tons of dry definitions, but that’s not why you’re here! To be frank: omnichannel marketing is when a company is all up in your business. You get a text message about a sale from Banana Republic while you’re in their store. You receive an abandoned cart email an hour after you decided not to buy those shoes. And those damn Amazon ads follow you EVERYWHERE online.
With so many devices connected to us these days, companies can identify and target us in many ways. If it all feels a bit big brother, that’s because it is! Add in the power and trackability of the internet, and you’ve got a massive amount of data that tells the story of you.
From your hobbies to your brand preferences and everything in between, it’s recorded into databases. This data creates a profile of who you are and, subsequently, how to sell you stuff. Grocery stores have been doing this for years through their “value cards.” They track everything we buy under the guise of offering discounts and then sell us out to manufacturers. Offering us coupons to buy the manufacturers’ competitors’ products is not a coincidence.
Why Omnichannel Marketing Won’t Work for Small Businesses
Let’s face it—omnichannel marketing is not a viable option for small businesses. True omnichannel marketing relies on data, and the analysis of large amounts of data requires the use of AI. Most small businesses can’t afford to invest in the platforms using this kind of AI technology. Not to mention, you have to pay to access the databases that are collecting the information in the first place. Big data is not the playground of even the largest family-owned business or non-tech startup.
Even if you had the money to invest in this kind of AI, would it make sense to? Even if you have a brick-and-mortar storefront or shop, how much foot traffic do you get on the average day? A massive chain store can use the power of AI to target thousands of people across the nation anytime they come in. But if you’re a single store or even a local chain, you just won’t have the numbers to make that investment pay off.
So what’s a small business owner to do?
Use Multichannel Marketing To Its Fullest
Now being villified by marketing snobs, multichannel marketing was the previous gold standard. This strategy delivers the company’s message on multiple channels—like social media, email marketing, direct mail, etc.—to reach as many people as possible. Being present on many channels makes sense, as not every person is present on every channel. The problem comes when people are lazy with their messaging (or just time-strapped).
Multichannel marketing campaigns aren’t inherently bad. Reaching your customers—consistently—where they are is always a good thing. You just have to build a strategy on how to best deliver your message to your audience using the channels and tools available to you. Strengthening and being strategic with your multichannel marketing can create impressive results.
In the past, multichannel marketing was a lengthy, manual process. Because of the time it took, companies often distributed the same content on every channel. The lack of true strategy around what message is delivered on which platform equated to a “spray and pray” method. There was no consideration for the content an Instagram user is most likely to view and engage with versus the content that works best via email.
Now, there are social scheduling tools that not only help you plan content in advance, but help you tailor your posts on each platform. On Hootsuite, for example, you can include hashtags on Instagram posts but remove them from LinkedIn. Email marketing tools have also come a long way, with some even offering workflow builders to automate sequences and follow up.
Using an all-in-one tool like Hubspot can be expensive, but it’s usually still WAY cheaper than trying to use an omnichannel AI platform. With Hubspot and others like it, you can trigger emails from website actions, build automated workflows, and use your database to its fullest. (I’m not a Hubspot rep—it’s just the product I have the most experience with!)
Side note: A marketing audit can help tailor your multichannel strategy and point you in the right direction. For example, if you’re posting consistently on Instagram but your target audience isn’t there, you’re wasting time and resources! You can either try to audit on your own or work with a professional who specializes in audits and strategy.
Fake Omnichannel Marketing With a Little Manual Labor
You also should think outside the box and develop ways to use the data you keep on your customers and prospects. If you’re an oil change service, pull a list of everyone who came in 3-4 months ago. Then send them a personalized email with a $20 coupon. If you’re a wedding photographer, send a text message to all clients within the past year and offer them a referral bonus.
The trick is to really look at the data you have access to and brainstorm ways to use it to your advantage. (P.S. Please don’t ever sell this data to outside companies. That’s a sure way to tank your reputation.)
If you’re one of the millions of small business owners in the U.S. and you want the best marketing you can get, I have one thing for you to remember. One man’s treasure is another man’s trash! Meaning: the gold standard for the Fortune 500 isn’t going to do you any good. Build your strategy, focus on your own business goals, and you’ll be on the right track!
How do you promote your small business? Some of the items on this list might seem like no-brainers, while others may be truly enlightening. Even if you already know about these activities, this list is a good reminder of all the ways to drive marketing for small businesses. It’s broken out by category for easier perusing. Enjoy!
1. Establish a web presence with clear, concise copy. Speak to your target audience and talk about the problems you solve for them.
2. Publish SEO optimized content consistently. For most businesses, this would be in the form of blog posts.
3. Show social proof of the solutions you offer. Publishing testimonials (with permission!) is a great way to do so.
4. Develop a content repurposing strategy. Break your long form content into digestible chunks for social posts in various formats.
5. Post consistently. Create a content calendar and use scheduling tools so that you can create content in batches when you have time.
6. Engage, tag, comment, and respond! Social media is just that—social—so you should be engaging with your network.
7. Use video (like Reels) and live feeds to humanize your brand. People like people, so show the faces behind your company’s name.
8. Join groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, then be active. Post your own content, ask questions, and comment on others’ posts.
9. The first step is to actually collect email addresses! Set up ways to obtain this information—new customer forms, surveys, digital giveaways (aka lead magnets), etc.
10. Deploy an email newsletter with helpful content. This should be information of value to your target audience, so minimal selling!
11. Print (yes print!) business cards. Include a QR code on them to drive traffic to your website for more information.
12. Create direct mail campaigns to take grab people’s attention. You’ll catch their eye a lot easier in their mailbox than in their inbox, where there is a LOT more competition.
12. Set up a Google My Business page. Millions of people are searching for your services, so make sure you can be easily found!
13. Be active in your community. Attend local networking events and join the Chamber of Commerce in your area.
14. Support local organizations that align with your brand values and sponsor their events.
15. Create a referral program so that your customers can market for you.
16. Submit guest posts to blogs that your audience reads. Look to partner with other businesses that share your target audience.
17. Appear on a podcast. Again, focus on interviews that your target audience will hear.
18. Provide expert, white glove service to each customer. Solve any problems quickly and express your gratitude for their support. A happy customer is the best salesperson!
This post was contributed by Sadie Aram for Silverbrook Marketing.
Celebrating gratitude is one of the most fulfilling parts of the holiday season. Although it’s fun giving gifts during the holidays, remember that appreciation should happen year-round—especially when it comes to your customers. After all, they play a crucial role in your company’s success. No matter the size of your business, implementing a strong customer appreciation strategy can set you apart from your competitors.
Think of going the extra mile for your customers like a chain reaction. When you openly recognize a customer’s value, they become more loyal to your business, increasing your customer retention. Loyal customers are also more likely to refer your business to their friends and family (and referrals are also likely to be star customers).
If customer appreciation isn’t on your radar, it could be one reason you’re losing customers. Almost 70% of buyers abandon a company because they believe the company doesn’t care about them, compared to less than 15% of buyers who abandon a company due to product or service dissatisfaction. Fortunately, upgrading your customer appreciation efforts can start with these 7 tips.
1. Handwrite thank you notes.
In a world where commerce is highly digital, showing authentic gratitude can go a long way. Sending a personalized letter is a great approach! It shows your customer that there’s a human behind the company that wants to form a connection. If you’re short on time, try drafting automated emails for specific occasions instead. You could thank customers for recent purchases or even celebrate milestones like their “customer-versary.”
2. Spotlight loyal clients.
Promoting customers or businesses on social media and via email can be equally fun and productive. You do this by posting a customer’s story, highlighting a rave review, or grabbing an existing bio if your clients are other businesses. By consistently featuring supporters, you make customers feel good while also creating content for your company.
3. Give discounts and freebies.
Gifts of any size are sure to flatter your customers. It can be as small as a coupon for their next order, a free sample with their purchase, or branded swag like a t-shirt or a mug. If you’re feeling extra gracious, offer an upgrade to their current service or send them their favorite product free of charge. Remember to be thoughtful; consider sending your handwritten note with the gift to deliver the full package.
4. Build a loyalty program.
Loyalty programs are an effective way to express your gratitude to your most supportive customers. Discounts on future purchases, early access to new products, and other perks are sure to keep your customers happy and coming back for more. Programs can be based on different tiers of membership, points earned from each purchase, or a simple “punch card” approach.
5. Encourage (and reward) referrals.
Incorporating a referral program is one of the most highly praised marketing methods, as it generates several quality leads per customer. Like a loyalty program, a referral program is beneficial to both your customers and your business. As mentioned before, regular clients are likely to recommend your company to others. Since that helps your business, why not reward both parties for it? Cash back and free service offers are foolproof ways to encourage customers to refer a contact to your company.
6. Correct your mistakes.
Since there are humans behind every business, occasional mistakes are inevitable. While you can’t go back in time to prevent the mistake, you can control how you take accountability and apologize. In fact, 78% of customers will forgive a mistake if their customer experience is excellent. You can quickly turn a customer’s poor experience around by promptly fixing the problem and going beyond what was initially asked.
7. Give back to a cause close to your customers.
Free stuff can be the way to some people’s hearts, but customer loyalty runs much deeper to others. Show your consumer base that you care by donating to a charity that aligns with their values. You could even consider making a few small donations in each client’s honor to show that they played a role in the support. Having a consistent corporate social responsibility initiative can also contribute to a strong brand identity.
These tactics are a great way to foster beneficial relationships with your clients, but they’re not a “one-and-done” deal. Practice gratitude frequently and genuinely to send the right message to your customers.
This guest post was written by Sadie Aram for Silverbrook Marketing.
The United States is home to over 4,000 higher education institutions, and each one is competing for the attention of prospective students. If that doesn’t produce enough stress already, college enrollment numbers have been on a decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, it’s important for higher education marketing teams to implement engaging and effective campaigns to reach future attendees. If you’re struggling to spread the word about what your school has to offer, make sure you have these four strategies in your marketing plan.
1. Personalize the experience.
Use emotional marketing to connect with potential students. They will be better able to see themselves at a school that recognizes and addresses their unique needs. Tailor your message to specific groups based on marketing personas developed from existing demographic data. A persona is a semi-fictional description of your ideal candidate that can help you envision the audience you’re appealing to. It can look something like this:
“Alexis is a 19-year-old high school senior. She is a section leader for the marching band and excels in her honors classes. She hopes to pursue a career in engineering when she is older. Alexis values a strong community and hopes to have security in her adult life.”
Each student has a different motive for pursuing higher education, so your institution should develop multiple personas appealing to small groups with like interests. For example, you wouldn’t market to a high school student the same way you would market to a mother looking to further her education.
2. Spotlight success.
College is no small commitment to make, so students want to get a glimpse of what’s waiting for them. Showcase student, faculty, and alumni achievement to demonstrate to prospective students the influence that their education could have on their future.
Showcasing success doesn’t require someone to be the next Albert Einstein or Brad Pitt. Are professors conducting innovative research? Are alumni holding impressive positions at high-profile companies? Are student organizations making an impact on the world? These are all feats to celebrate, and they could be strong factors in someone’s decision to choose your school.
And don’t stop at academic success! Any achievement—whether in athletics, art, entertainment, etc.—is a great way to spotlight your institution in a positive way.
3. Highlight the numbers.
When making critical decisions, we tend to rely on data evidence to inform our choices. Numbers help prove the effectiveness of your institution in a tangible way. Data reinforces your school’s success, and numbers are easier to consume than a chunk of text that portrays the same information.
Does your college have an impressive selection of majors and minors? A high freshman retention rate? A small student-to-professor ratio? Don’t be afraid to brag and show them off! Have general facts and figures easily accessible as well, such as total number of students, price of tuition, and average test scores of admitted students.
4. Adopt a digital-focused approach.
Most of today’s students belong to Generation Z, a group characterized by more digital media usage than ever before. Establishing a space for your institution in the digital world is a foolproof strategy for grabbing your audience’s attention. Here are a few ways to do so:
- Build a responsive website: Your website is often the first place students will look for more information about your school. Additionally, over half of internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Because of this, be sure that your website is well-organized and mobile-friendly. Make requesting more information easy and use your website as a gateway for your other digital platforms.
- Improve SEO: Most people rely on search engines like Google to find the information they need. However, 75% of Google users don’t click past the first page of results, so search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to your digital success. You can bolster your SEO rankings by producing a variety of content and researching the best keywords to incorporate, but this is a highly technical field. The best results often come from the help of an expert.
- Email with intention: Students prefer email over direct mail, but you don’t want to end up in their spam folder. Remember to personalize your messages to peak your reader’s interest. You can streamline this process by using email automation software like Constant Contact or Mailchimp.
- Stay active on social media: A recent study showed that 94% of Gen Z use social media, so it’s a no-brainer that you should, too. Be sure you’re frequently posting consistent content to entice your audience. Consider posting various formats and subjects, including photos of campus, infographics, videos, and live streams.
- Leverage user-generated content: Amplifying images, videos, reviews, and other assets created by your followers is a great way to influence potential students. Having many different viewpoints from your connections gives your brand an authentic presence and gives students an exclusive look into the university lifestyle.
What do you think? Have you tried these strategies? Are there any that I missed? We’d love to hear from you!
This guest post was written by Sadie Aram for Silverbrook Marketing.
Autumn has arrived, which means the giving season is fast approaching. Nearly a third of annual giving occurs in the last month of the year, and the best way to kickstart charitable contributions to your organization is with a Giving Tuesday campaign.
Celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday is a generosity movement that amplifies charity across the globe. Last year, supporters donated almost 3 billion dollars across 80 countries. With Giving Tuesday coming up on its 10th anniversary, contributions will likely increase in 2022. Now is the perfect time to start engaging your donors by planning a Giving Tuesday marketing campaign. Use these 8 tips to develop your strategy.
1. Don’t forget the basics.
If you are accepting monetary donations, make sure to set up your collection system before you start your marketing campaign. If you opt for a third-party collection platform like Donorbox, GoFundMe, or Paypal, make a test donation to ensure that your donation page is working. Once you’ve confirmed that your page is working, include the donation link in easy-to-find places, like the organization’s website and social media bios.
2. Define your goal.
Having measurable and attainable goals will allow you to track the progress of your campaign and evaluate your strategy for optimization in the future. Once set, you can share your donation goals with your stakeholders so they can see how impactful their contribution will be.
3. Stay on brand.
Maintaining brand consistency during your Giving Tuesday campaign is crucial, as your goal should align with your existing tone and voice. The visual identity of your brand should stay true to your organization’s previous posts and emails. Don’t confuse your audience; make them identify with you even more than before.
4. Start early.
A successful Giving Tuesday requires careful planning, and the earlier you begin, the better your campaign will be. Most importantly, determine the best way to reach your audience and engage your target donors more effectively. This could be through social media, email marketing, direct mail, a live event, or a mix of channels.
Even though Giving Tuesday falls on November 29 this year, it’s a good idea to introduce Giving Tuesday to your audience soon to build up the hype of the upcoming movement. And always promote your cause in your communications! Tell your audience what their donations will support and make them feel like part of an important cause.
5. Use social media to amplify your cause.
Giving Tuesday revolves around the idea of online giving, so use your social media platforms to spread the word. Don’t wait to post until Giving Tuesday, though. Build awareness before the occasion and educate your followers on the best ways to support your nonprofit. Some best practices for your social media campaign include but are not limited to:
- Providing a clear call to action (donate, volunteer, repost, etc.)
- Using the Giving Tuesday logo in your graphics.
- Leveraging timely and fundraising-centered hashtags such as #GivingTuesday, #CommunityOutreach, #DonateNow, #Nonprofits, and more.
- Creating captivating graphics that include information about your causes and goals for Giving Tuesday.
- Update your supporters on the progress your organization has made because of its fundraising efforts.
- Posting videos and live streaming events as they are happening (they capture the user’s attention longer than a graphic).
6. Polish your email marketing strategy.
Social media isn’t the only digital marketing channel that you should utilize this Giving Tuesday. 99% of email users check their inbox daily, and over half of users check their email before checking their social media accounts. Like your social media strategy, identify the occasion to your contacts before Giving Tuesday. Your email campaign should include a clear call to action and updates on fundraising progress. Email is the perfect opportunity to tell an engaging story and explain the benefits of donating to your cause. Here is a loose timeline for your Giving Tuesday emails. Each message should build upon the last:
- One month before Giving Tuesday: Introduce your participation in Giving Tuesday and your donation goal. Start telling your story and the reasons why your cause is important.
- One week before Giving Tuesday: Acknowledge your contact’s previous support for your organization. Continue your storytelling and describe how a certain dollar amount will impact your organization ($25 can do X, $50 can give x).
- One day before Giving Tuesday: Remind supporters that the occasion is soon. Build upon your previous email. Make sure you have confirmation emails thanking your donors.
- Morning of Giving Tuesday: “Today is the day!” Ensure that your request is clear and has a defined call to action.
- During Giving Tuesday: Update contacts on fundraising progress. Whether you have met your goal or not, encourage more support!
- After Giving Tuesday: Report your final numbers and thank supporters for their final contribution. Encourage them to contribute even if they weren’t able to on Giving Tuesday.
7. Say thank you.
After your Giving Tuesday success, it’s important to send a thank you note to your donors. Handwritten notes are the most personalized approach, but they may be a logistically difficult. An email can send the same message with ease, and some supporters may also appreciate a social media shoutout. Regardless of the way you show your gratitude, this step is crucial and should occur immediately after the event. It reinforces the organization’s relationship with the supporter and can increase donor retention.
8. Measure your success.
Like any campaign, you should evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your Giving Tuesday strategy. What worked? What didn’t? What should you change for the next donation campaign? After all, Giving Tuesday is only the start of the most popular season for charitable gifts and some content can be reused throughout December.
Need more help to boost your Giving Tuesday Campaign? Book a call with Sarah to build a custom strategy for your organization.