#LevelUp: The 5 Online Marketing Tactics Your Business Should Look at for Continued Growth

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

The middle of the year is a great time to identify the gaps in your online marketing strategy. Here are five ways you can improve it.

Wrapping up the first half of the year gives you a great opportunity to look back at your strategy and metrics and see what has worked for you, what hasn't and identify the gaps in your success and strategy.

We have seen some changes during the first half of the calendar year that has led to some new, some budding and some growing opportunities for business owners to implement into their marketing plan that can help them stand out amongst the crowd. 

Before we work through the list of the five tactics your business should look at in the second half of 2016, let's take a moment to point out that these are just tactics. None of these independently stand as strategies that your business should only move toward.  So let's get started. 

Related Article:Online Marketing Basics for Start-Ups

1. Instagram

It shouldn't really surprise you to see Instagram here. If you use the platform, you know that the meaningful engagements on Instagram as well as the ability to tell a powerful story for your business and mission are both heavily untapped resources through this medium. Instagram can be an important cornerstone to your local marketing and help you set yourself apart. 

Many small and local businesses haven't moved toward Instagram because they feel as though they don't have a story that they can tell with photos and graphics. However, I feel like these companies stand to benefit even more from using Instagram because the imagery that they would be forced to use is that of the people that they serve rather than of their day to day. 

Sure there could be some benefit in using the day to day photos if you are using them in a way that talks about the type of company culture you have. I think that is a great use case. But this makes finding the right images with the right messages that utilizes the right hashtag culture to build the story around your business and around your community even more important. 

One example of how to use Instagram as part of your strategy is easily found in the fitness industry on the platform. Because Instagram is so visually involved, you see a huge variety of brands in the industry who are using the platform to engage and identify themselves among the noise. However, it is critical to make sure that you aren't just speaking but also listening and engaging by leaving comments on other people's posts. 

2. Website Optimization

Too many business owners are still looking at their website and muttering to themselves "well, I guess it is working..." 

The Internet is still on fire with people talking about how businesses need to optimize their websites and make sure that they are driving conversions, have growing and improving copy, and that they have a user experience that is ideal for improving their audience of ideal customer's experience. 

If you aren't regularly looking at your website, doing A/B testing, and working to find the best ways to drive people down your sales funnel and toward that conversion, then you are underutilizing your website. Your website should be your round-the-clock sales person and be an irreplaceable marketing asset of which you should never be questioning the value. The website is a tool that should always be putting money into your pocket, not taking it out. 

Your customers will continue to shop online for everything from products to services. They will keep finding your social media, seeing your ads. Ideally, they should be coming into your content through your content marketing strategy. But if you don't take the time and effort to shape up your website and optimize it for business growth, you will continue to fall behind your competitors.

Here are some quick things that you can do to get started with optimizing your website. Using tools like Optimizely allows you to split test your website so that you can monitor small changes over a given amount of time and make improvements to your site based on what the data shows you at the end of each test. Doing A/B testing is a great way to start shaping your site each month toward optimization for conversion. 

3. Facebook Live

2016 brought us open public access to Facebook Live. Facebook Live is their competitor to Periscope which allows you to capitalize on your built-in community of connections through your existing Facebook platform and broadcast value to your audience of ideal clients all in one place. This can help you get to know your customer and people love buying from people they know. 

Having your audience already built in and committed to you as an individual or you as a brand is a great opportunity with Facebook Live. When you go online to do a video blog, an ask me anything or some type of office hours where you will answer questions, give advice or do high-level coaching, you can easily be shared by your connections very easily.

Related Article:How to Build a Strong Online Marketing Strategy from Day One

To get started using Facebook Live, Facebook has published some very high-level tips on how to use Facebook Live. The most important thing that you need to know about using Facebook Live is to make sure that you are being yourself. I can give you a number of tools and tactics and tips in addition to what Facebook has listed for you but the most important thing is to be yourself. That is the best way to get your audience to engage and connect with you. 

This has already been one of the fastest growing tools for small business owners and will continue to be as we move into the second half of the year. The opportunity to host some real-time open market webinars to provide value and the opportunity to opt-in can be a high-value opportunity to compete with big box stores and stay front of mind during the holiday shopping season. 

4. Building Your Community

If you think that the tactic of building your community seems obvious, then this section may not be for you. But for the business owner who is still questioning the value to having a community around your brand, consider this before continuing to fall behind your competition. The top 10 trending apps for social right now in the Google Play Store include four dating apps, three personal video streaming apps, Nintendo's new community app, and 1 other somewhat specialized community apps for after school and then Google+. 

While I have no idea why Google Plus would be trending now, the reality is still the same. In a digital world where there is so much noise and convolution, people are looking to connect. They hunger for it. Whether they are trying to connect with Karen down the street or connect with Donald Trump, they are still reaching out and trying to get injected into a community. 

Capitalizing on and building a community around your brand can be tricky but it is a definite and undeniable way to build brand ambassadors and advocates who are willing to be a 3rd party validator for your business's products or services. When you grow this network of community members, you are establishing a network of buyers who have already connected with your company. 

The first three things that you need to do to build your community is to identify your voice. Much like with the Facebook Live recommendation, being yourself is the best way to make sure that your audience connects with you as a person. That is when your community will start to grow. The second thing is to engage your audience where they are, not where you are. If you have the opportunity to connect with your audience in their own social media timelines rather than doing your own posts and hoping that they will come to you, that is a great way to build your engagements. 

The third thing is to not be salesy. You can not just go out and start sending sales messaging. You have to provide value and build your community up. Establish yourself as a member of the community rather than letting the community just happen around you. This will help you connect with the community and be someone who shared the same needs from the product or service that you offer. 

5. Snapchat

Snapchat remains the fastest growing social media application in the world. Just #AskGaryVee. Snapchat provides a great

Here is a great tactic that you can use for your business. Pick one percent of your followers. They don't have to be actual customers, they don't need to be someone who messages you regularly, and you don't need to know anything about them. Pick that one percent and send them a direct message. Tell them that they need to go out today and kill it. Give them those moments of inspiration that will help them improve and grow just one percent that day, and they will be a brand ambassador for you for the rest of their lives. 

Businesses won't fail because they don't use Snapchat in the second half of 2016 but they definitely run a risk of falling behind a competitor who does use it. And if you want to get some value from me, scan the Snapchat code and let's connect.

Related Article:The Small Business Guide to Online Marketing #DreamSmallBiz

Wrapping up

In case you had any question when you started reading this, whether you are rural or urban, digital marketing will still be your cornerstone of your marketing for the rest of 2016. We aren't suddenly going to see the return of the billboard sign as an optimal piece of advertising. Your responsibility is to analyze your marketing strategy and see if there is a place that one of these tools makes sense. 

  • Instagram is a largely untapped market by local or small businesses.
  • Website optimization is critical if you want it to be a marketing tool that works to put money in your pocket.
  • Facebook Live provides a great place for you to connect to your audience and use your existing network.
  • Building your community is a great way to establish a network of buyers and advocates.
  • Snapchat gets you in front of your customer for seconds, reminds them that you are there and allows you to add value with minimal time invested.

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