If you’ve watched any TV news broadcast lately, you will know that the economic future is clouded by uncertainties. The COVID-19 epidemic is still around globally, and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine impacts soaring interest rates. This could all be a disaster for your small business.
Economists predict that the United States will enter a recession by late 2023 or early 2024. With a recession on the horizon, businesses and industry leaders are in uncharted territory.
People will continue to look for products and services online even if overall demand has reduced. Therefore, your digital marketing efforts should not be shut down during a recession.
In fact, this is likely the most useful marketing decision you can make during an economic slump. Digital marketing allows you to reach people who are actively looking for what you have to offer. Also, whoever most closely match your target audience.
Experts agree that strong internet marketing is the smartest long-term investment for your company during a downturn in the economy. Recession-proof business marketing methods are more important today than ever.
Prepare Your Small Business for a Recession
There is one thing that separates recession-proof businesses from the competition. The fact that they take action sooner, and start business planning for a recession before their competitors do.
Have you started making plans for a recession in your business? Follow these digital marketing tips to better prepare your business for a recession and safeguard your brand:
Improve Your Online Presence
Building and maintaining a strong online presence in any economy is one of the foundations of recession-proof companies. Maintaining a strong digital presence enables you to capture a larger portion of the market when a recession occurs.
You must stay top of mind with your target audience, invest in market research, and create a mobile-friendly website. Hire a expert to help you with your search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing.
There are many things to consider with a recession on the horizon. This includes establishing a stronger digital presence and staying on potential clients' radars.
Do Not Reduce Your Small Business Marketing Budget
During a recession, business owners must decide where to make sacrifices. Reduce their marketing budget, suspend marketing efforts, or double down on their digital marketing campaigns.
It may seem sensible to some to suspend marketing during a recession. Spending a lot of money on digital marketing may feel unimportant when sales are down. Consider what took place in 2020. Spending on digital marketing campaigns fell about the same time that 255 million full-time jobs were lost globally. Due to lower ad earnings during the COVID-19 epidemic, even Google had to cut its marketing budget by half.
Businesses that continue to market throughout a recession are more likely to survive, according to studies. During an economic downturn, many businesses reduce their advertising budget. This is a opportunity to show that your business is stable even when things are hard. So continue your digital marketing campaign efforts! Or, at most dial them back slightly, but never fully suspend them.
To keep business flowing, have a digital marketing strategy in place. Discontinuing your marketing efforts will make it much easier for your competitors.
It's Time to Optimize Your Website… Now!
Check out your website. Is it generating leads for your company 24 hours a day, or is there room for improvement? Not sure which parts of your website should be improved or updated? Consult with a reputable digital agency – it's what they do!
Agencies normally will employ conversion rate optimization (CRO) specialists. They perform in-depth website audits to evaluate your website's interactions. A specialist will also discover areas you need to optimize to meet your goals.
Conversion rate optimization helps you make the most of your traffic. This is done by examining the data from your website to improve the consumer experience.
You will learn what pages are visited the most and which pages receive the least engagement. You also can examine cart abandonment and overall customer behavior.
Gather this info to create a data-driven strategy. That way, you'll know that any changes you make to your website are more likely to affect your bottom line.
Maintain Your Social Media Efforts
During an economic downturn, many people prefer to stay at home in order to spend less and save more. This also shows that potential customers spend more time on their mobile devices. This is an ideal time to use social media marketing to attract new consumers. And, nurture leads via your sales funnel.
Continuing your social media marketing also ensures that your audience is aware that your business is still active online. A little can still go a long way to attracting new/existing customers.
Create Compelling Video Content For Your Small Business
Certain web marketing approaches pay off due to their cost-effective, creative approach to audience involvement. Video marketing is one example of this .
Video marketing is still one of the most engaging ways to connect with your target audience and deliver information. It fosters trust and confidence in ways that text alone simply cannot.
Consider creating video content that is evergreen and will continue to be useful content for years to come. This ensures that your dollar goes further than if you spend more on campaign-specific content.
Share videos on your social media platforms. Ask that customers create video reviews for you to use on your website. Allow followers to communicate with your brand and ask questions in real time by live-streaming on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.
During a difficult time, Americans are likely to spend time online keeping up with friends and news. Video marketing is a great way to engage with your target audience. Learn where they spend the majority of their time, and grow your customer base!
Optimize Your Marketing Budget and Choose Your Priorities Wisely
Digital marketing is not like a light switch. You can't just turn it on or off, it is an ongoing process.
Even if the economy is struggling, you owe it to your team and customers to figure out how to source, sell, and optimize your business to get through difficult times.
It is crucial that you begin improving your digital presence and investing in new digital marketing methods. These methods will make positive long-term benefits for your business.
When you go online, chances are that a lot of the content you see is in video format – and for good reason. Every day, approximately 100 million people watch at least one video online. So videos are an incredibly effective way of marketing your product and/or service.
If you have been avoiding making videos because you think they will be too expensive or difficult to make, it is time to rethink your marketing strategy.
Video Content Marketing Becomes a Must-Have for Small Businesses
For one, people complete video content more frequently than the average non-visual, text-based blog article. According to Vidyard, over a third of all video viewers (37%) make it to the end of the video’s run time.
Nearly all mobile users who watch video (92%) have a tendency to share video content with others. Simply Measured also says that video gets shared around 12x more frequently than content links or text.
Other studies show that audiences retain video in messaging better than text.
With these advantages, businesses putting video content out there will see higher levels of engagement. They will also see higher levels of shares and conversions into their marketing funnel. Having a video component to your digital marketing strategy will become a competitive differentiator in months ahead.
Business owners looking to get into video can start by transforming existing content assets into a short (around 2.5 minutes or less) summary. Look to the assets with the most views and shares for inspiration.
Video Becomes an Integral Part of the Sales Pipeline
Offering video content helps turn what could be a pushy and person-intensive sales process into a self-service nurturing pipeline. Interested prospects can view video content hosted on websites or shared via social to learn more about products and features. As they educate themselves, they move towards the end of the sales funnel with minimal person-to-person contact.
Self-guided lead nurturing not only reduces employee overhead, it also results in a more pleasant experience for leads. 19% of prospects claim they only want to hear from a company rep when they are actively considering a purchase. 40% of prospects want to be able to buy without talking to anyone at all.
Meeting this need involves considering how video assets can provide value at every stage of the sales/marketing funnel.
For instance, business owners can cultivate awareness by creating emotional or intriguing video advertising assets.
Video content marketing assets provided on their website next to text content can help buyers at the nurturing stage. In-depth explainer videos can help lay out different buying options. It can also lay out the final steps in the procurement process for those ready to close the deal.
“When you incorporate video into your sales processes, customers get what they want: a friction less, self-serve experience on their time, and on their terms,” says WireBuzz.
Think about buyer needs that were once traditionally met with person-to-person interactions. Imagine how video can replace these needs with a self-service, video-heavy customer journey.
Live Video, 360° Video, Slideshows and Other Video Formats Gain Traction
Like everything else online, the world of video marketing is evolving. While you can still upload videos to your YouTube channel and share them online, there’s also a new kid in town – live video.
One of the most accessible options, which allows companies to fully integrate video marketing into their Facebook marketing, is Facebook Live.
Preparing live video into your content marketing and social engagement strategy can quickly round out your assets without a massive up-front investment.
There are a lot of reasons that doing live is a good way to gain more followers. This is something that you should be investing in.
We could go into a lot of detail now about why Live might well be the ‘future’ of social media in many ways. For now, though, suffice to say that for you, it offers a unique way to communicate with your audience. This takes away the limitations of having to wait for a post or a message to be delivered.
Your audience will feel as though they’re getting real insight into your lifestyle, your business and your personality. You will be able to answer their question directly.
This is a fantastic format for a whole range of types of media. From AMAs (Ask Me Anything), to interviews and to product reviews.
On the other end of the spectrum is 360° video. These assets use a special camera setup to capture a full spherical range of images. Audiences can then use a smartphone headset like the Google Daydream to tilt and move their head as the video plays, changing their viewpoint as one might in real life.
360° video results in a truly immersive and memorable experience. However, the high cost of equipment and production means businesses require an airtight strategy for converting 360° videos into measurable returns.
Formats like these lower production costs for video — especially video ads. They still provide higher levels of engagement. Best of all, they can communicate well even without sound.
The social media giant is undeniably a powerhouse when it comes to marketing small businesses. And given how likely consumers are to connect with local brands on social media, it should come as no surprise that Facebook searches are making inroads against Google.
Two billion people have a ton of collective knowledge, and Facebook is now putting that knowledge to work for local businesses.
When a user checks in at a local business on Facebook, they get a series of questions about the business – questions designed to help other users learn about it.
For example, they might be asked:
Does this business have available parking?
Does your map show the correct location of this business?
The benefit of this type of crowdsourcing is clear. It ensures that anybody who searches your business on Facebook will have access to accurate and detailed data about your business to help them decide whether to buy from you.
#4: Friend Posts and Local Search Are Integrated
Would you be more likely to frequent a local business if you knew your friends liked it?
Even reviews from strangers on sites like Yelp carry a lot of weight, with 88% of people saying they read reviews at least some of the time.
Facebook now uses Friend check-ins and posts in combination with local search.
What does that mean? When you search for a local business, you might see an announcement that the business was “visited by friends.”
You can click to see which friends have visited. And when you search for a business, you will also get Friend Posts in your search results so you can see what your friends have to say.
#5: Facebook Has Created City Guides
Which would you rather do when you visit a new city: go to a business that caters to tourists or visit one that the locals love?
If you’re like a lot of people, you’d choose the latter option. Now, Facebook local search makes it easy for people to find out what the locals say about your business – and for locals to get to know about your business in a new way.
In addition to displaying business information such as location, hours, and reviews, the city guides also show which friends have visited each business listed.
Make the Most of Your Facebook Profile
Want people to be able to find you on Facebook? Here are some quick steps you can take to make it easy for them.
Fill out your profile completely. Make sure that your name, address, and phone number are listed properly and consistent with other online listings.
When you put in your address, check to make sure that Facebook displays a map with a pin at the top of your profile. (It should show up automatically, but doesn’t always!)
Answer as many questions as you can, even if it means simply answering “no” to questions that don’t apply to you. This eliminates the need for crowdsourcing and ensures accuracy.
Activate Facebook buttons like “Call” and “Make an Appointment” to streamline the interaction process.
Add additional business categories if they apply to you. You only need to provide one, but adding additional options can broaden the chances that people will find you.
Providing Facebook with the information needed to help searchers find you is easy – and can have a huge impact on your traffic.
Google Still Matters…
… But Facebook matters too when it comes to local search.
Take a few minutes to optimize your business description and page – and see the difference that local Facebook traffic can make to your business.
Small BusinessServices- Essential services can make or break your business. Whether you’re just starting up or heading into your second decade as a business owner, you’re always looking for the best solutions to partner with and make you more efficient and more profitable.
We’ve collected a few essential small business services that we use together into one listing for you. Whether you’re a client or not, we know you’ll find them strong contenders for your business!
Small Business Services: Payroll & Accounting
If you’ve got employees or contractors getting them paid can be a distraction- not to mention a headache if it’s handled poorly. Gusto is the payroll system and it couldn’t be easier to use. Not only is it geared for mobile but it also calculates payroll taxes automatically. If you need it you can also work in benefits, employee discounts and more!
Any business needs an accounting package, and Freshbooks isn’t only a great value, but also lets you access your books from anywhere! Though you’re not likely to need live, real-time support, it is easy to get live help quickly- and they really know their stuff!
If you want to launch email campaigns, there’s a lot of tools out there. But if you also want strong automation and great analytics you’ve got to check out Active Campaign. It’s also got a pretty darned CRM module too.
Social Media Management
We’ve got a couple of great tools that we use to grow and maintain our clients’ social media accounts. First of these is MySoPro.MySoPro is a free tool that serves as a personal social media assistant. This platform allows you to schedule social media posts in advance so you have more time to focus on the important things. You can manage all of your popular social media profiles in one location. You can also upgrade to the pro version for a small monthly fee.
Another great tool, but just for Instagram, is Onlypult. Onlypult’s great for not only scheduling your posts and reposting those of others, you can also optimize your Instagram campaigns for the best engagement.
Of course, you want to take every opportunity to make money online. Part of any key monetization strategy is landing page creation and management along with payment and upsell options. The best system we’ve seen so far is from Click Funnels. It’s powerful and robust and can have your first landing page live in minutes.
Our second essential service for monetization is AdEspresso, which is a great tool to optimize your Facebookadvertising and get the most traffic back to your offers. It’s easy to setup but they’ve also got a full suite of online guides and seminars to get you started. They’ve got a 14 day free trial, but even after that it is well worth the modest investment.
If you’re ever looking for an easier way to streamline your sales process and want to close deals faster, consider using Proposify. It’s an online business proposal software and serves as a great tool for delivering proposals to Clients. With Proposify, you’re able to maximize your time, organize your sales team and close deals faster than ever.
Of all of our essential services we’ve listed, Dropbox is one you’ve surely heard of before. Dropbox is a great tool both for keeping all your key documents in the cloud and having them accessible on most any device. It also allows you to share documents with folks either inside or outside of your organization. For smaller organizations, a free account may be all you need. For extremely reasonable costs you can get almost any amount of cloud storage.
Many busy professionals and business owners have a tough time staying organized, especially when it comes to keeping up with appointments and or scheduling/booking Clients. In order to stay on track, try Book Like A Boss. It’s an all-in-one scheduling platform for you to take appointments, sell your products and/or services and manage your business effectively.
If you’re like us, you’ve already thought of a dozen ways each of these small business services can make your small business more efficient and profitable. And if you’re already pulling your hair out over a lack in resources, dare we say implementing these might even make you happy? That’s at least one of the reasons you started your own business in the first place, right?
Did we leave something out that your small business can’t live without? Anything you use that is mission critical to your success? Let us know in the comments!
JVI Mobile Marketing has been in the reputation management business for nearly four months. We are helping several businesses generate hundreds of reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook and more. This is not only good for the obvious reasons, like word of mouth and building trust, it also has another huge meaning, often overlooked. Search Engine Rankings.
We don’t really talk much about offering SEOservices, but we do often let people know that by using our services, they will naturally rank higher. We are proud partners with Reputation Loop and sell their services, customize it for your business, and put it to work.
Their co-Founder wrote a great article today, and we wanted to share it. The original post can be found at:
Word of mouth is very important to a small business, especially a business that relies on the local market for sales. The most powerful signal for the local customer of your business’s ability to fulfill their needs and solve the problems of its customers are online customer reviews. Highly influential, and trusted more than personal referrals from friends and family, online reviews are consulted by nearly 90% of consumers either regularly or occasionally and 72% of those consumers stated that positive reviews make them trust a business more according to BrightLocal’s 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey.
What we are now seeing is that online customer reviews are also being seen by search engines as a powerful signal of whether or not your webpages are a good match for local search results. It is the job of your search engine to give you the best information, which is how they get you to continue to use their search engine and how they make money selling ad space. It makes sense that highly reviewed and high rated businesses would appear high in local search results as the best choices to fulfill your local buying needs. Whether it is a restaurant, mechanic, or dentist, search engines like Google have recognized that the majority of buyers are looking at reviews. And if it is important to the consumer than it is important to the search engine to give their users what they want.
How Search Engines Look at Your Customer Reviews
Local search marketing authority, MOZ, dug deep into the search engine data and found that review signals rank as high as fifth on local search engine ranking factors. So out of overall factors for local search rankings, your business’s online customer reviews were highly regarded, ranking just after My Business, NAP/Citation, On-Page Signals, and Link Signals in importance – all online factors that are largely in your control.
Review signals are the data, content and other aspects of the online customer reviews that search engines are dissecting and analyzing to determine how an overall value to your reviews. You can’t rate your own business and write customers’ reviews but with the importance of online customer reviews growing you should be putting emphasis on doing what you can to influence how often you get reviewed and how highly you are rated.
In the past two years Google has put a much larger ranking power on customer reviews, putting them front and center in the carousel and showing snippets of reviews on search engine results pages. Getting those golden star reviews and positive online reputation to pop out in search engine results helps click-through rates and Google is all in favor of more clicks and more user engagement.
When you know what is influencing your business’s review signal you’ll know what you need to do to put your online customer reviews to work for you as part of your search engine marketing and SEO strategies.
What is influencing your review signal?
Review Quantity and Velocity
The more positive customer reviews your business has online, the more influence you have over consumer buying decisions and search engine rankings. How quickly you’re able to get those reviews (velocity) also shows how highly trust-worthy your business is and is a good indication of how naturally those reviews were collected. Both consumers and customers see your ability to impress the customer enough to post a positive reviews as a good indication of the quality of your business, and its service or product.
Third Party Traditional Reviews – Authority, Diversity & Quantity
Google reviews are great, but they are not the be-all and end-all of the review signal. It is also important to have reviews on other trusted third-party sites. Authority sites hold more influence and your business’s ability to gather high marks on a variety of authority sites really helps. Authority matters more than diversity, which means that Yelp reviews are going to be weighed heavily while reviews from BestSacramentoDentist.com will likely not matter at all in local SEO review signal, but will help with keyword search for “best Sacramento dentist”.
Getting your customer reviews into the microdata and showing up as rich snippets on search engine results pages really makes your business pop out on the page. And when there is so much competition for clicks on local search results a golden five-star ratings immediately draws the eye, gets attention and starts the process of building trust with the consumer. Businesses who use Reputation Loop to automate the customer review process and build their five-star reputation utilize a widget that creates these gold eye-popping gold star ratings in search engine results.
Content and Keywords
You don’t write your customer reviews (and if you do stop before you get in trouble) so you have very little control over the content and have to cross your fingers that keywords that matter to you and search engines can find their way in there. But obviously a two-word five-star “Love them!” review isn’t going to be as effective as a five-star “Love everything about my dentist. He’s the best in Sacramento. Wouldn’t get my kids’ braces done anywhere else.” because dentist, Sacramento, and braces are words that search engine users are searching for.
Using Customer Reviews in your SEO
There are a few other factors that make up your review signal but we are going to focus on the ones you can do something about. So here is what you can do to get your online customers review working over-time for you by making them part of your SEO strategy:
1. Have a Customer Review Plan and Process
As important as online customer reviews and high local search rankings are to your business growth and success you can’t leave this to chance. Your process should include how you will solicit reviews, how you will collect reviews, how you will handle negative reviews, as well as how and where you will post reviews.
This isn’t an overly complicated process but taking into consideration that you will want to get as many positive reviews as possible it can be time consuming. A smart option is to enlist the low-cost but highly effective online reputation services of a company like Reputation Loop whose software automates the entire process of generating customer feedback and turning positive feedback into online ratings and reviews. Customers giving positive feedback are asked to click through to leave that review on your selected review sites such as Google and Yelp. But if the feedback is negative the information is directed back to the business and away from review sites so business owners have a chance to address negative experiences before they end up online. A ton of other features all come together to make Reputation Loop an easy choice for nearly hands-free review management to build customer review quantity and velocity while building a five-star online reputation.
2. Diversify Your Review Sites
Find out where your customers are and be there. That applies to so many aspects of marketing and selling your business and online is no exception. Google is important and Yelp is important but your industry has its authority review sites. Find out what they are, establish your business profile and page, and make sure that some of your reviews are being funneled there.
3. Get Your Gold Stars on Search Engine Result Pages
Stand out and be seen by getting the average of your star reviews front and center with your business name on search engine results pages. Reputation Loop users can do this easily, but if you’re more of a DIY business owner and webmaster you can visit the Google Developers Structured Data page on Enabling Rich Snippets for Reviews and Ratings to get examples, definitions, tips and code to get your gold stars seen.
Customer reviews have a direct impact on local search results, and knowing what you can do to get more and better customer reviews on the right place online means you have an advantage over your competitors. When you can gather and post more five-star reviews and have those ratings pop out on search engine results pages you become the clear winner in the battle for the consumers’ dollars.