Leveraging social media and online marketing for your small business is crucial for business success in the digital space. However, the online space can be overwhelming for many small business owners who already wear every single hat in their organization. At BizHack Academy, we’ve developed five pillars of online marketing specifically for the already-busy business owner. 

To optimize organic or paid social media campaigns across any platform, such as Google or Facebook, here are the five pillars that are the foundation of any effective online marketing endeavor:

TL;DR: The 30-Second Summary of our Tips

  • Pillar 1 – The Campaign Objective: Identify precisely what you want to achieve.
  • Pillar 2 – Target Audience: Define the ideal customer for your business.
  • Pillar 3 –  Irresistible Offer: Give them an offer they can’t refuse.
  • Pillar 4 – Strong Visual: A dynamic photo, video, or graphic is worth at least 1,000 clicks.
  • Pillar 5 – Compelling Message: Close the deal by clearly telling your audience what to do next.

5 Reasons Small Business Owners Must Master Digital Marketing

Before we dig into how to create online marketing campaigns to drive small business digital success, let’s first talk about why business owners must learn how to own their digital presence. Here are the five reasons why you must master online marketing:

  1. It’s quickly becoming the only way to cold sell to new audiences.
  2. Digital is more scalable than nose-to-nose, in-person networking.
  3. Don’t outsource your growth engine: Know how to set a strategy, hire a team, and evaluate their results in the online marketing space.
  4. Leverage a multi-channel marketing strategy.
  5. A business owner knows intuitively which audience and offer will work.

To learn more about the five pillars of success for online marketing for small businesses and how to adapt to the changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, keep reading.

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Pillar 1: The Campaign Objective

As a small business owner, any online campaign’s high-level goal should attract new profitable leads that result in sales for your business. So, every campaign and piece of content you create must have a purpose and metrics that align with that goal. That’s where strong campaign objectives are vital. Strong objectives are SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

For example, let’s say you’re a florist, it’s early April, and you want to sell some very specific flower arrangements or special gifts for Mother’s Day. You could create a generic image that says “Happy Mother’s Day” and wait to post it a few days before the second Monday in May and cross your fingers for a result. However, that content wasn’t created with an audience, SMART goals, or metrics in mind, so it likely will fall flat. Here’s a different campaign objective and scenario. Instead, you start connecting with people who want to celebrate the mom in their lives in a unique way in the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day. You share content that is meaningful and compelling so that audience engages with your business via link clicks, video views, conversations, or by filling out online forms. After a few interactions, you’ve built a relationship with your potential clients and customers. You could then share ideas for your one-of-a-kind Mother’s Day gift with those individuals and a link to where they could buy it. Now you’re talking—and converting!

The difference between these two approaches is specificity, intention, and the desire to build a relationship with your potential customers and clients. Remember, you’re not trying to get married on the first date. Embrace the customer journey and work your way to the sale. The key to understanding if a campaign worked, is first knowing what your objective was.

  • Traffic: Link clicks
  • Video Views: Thruplays
  • Lead Generation: Form fills
  • Messages: Conversations

Tip: Before you create a single post, video, or advertisement, think about what action you want your potential customer to take and how you will measure the content’s success.

Pillar 2: Target Audience

As you can see from the example above, understanding who you’re talking to and what you want them to do is vital to achieving digital success. To understand who you’re talking to, it’s important to break down potential customers into groups, which is called segmentation. Segmenting your audience allows you to serve highly customized content to your ideal customers and see a higher return on investment.

There are four ways to segment your audience, and often they intersect.

  • Where: Geographic Location
  • Who: Demographics 
  • What: Behavior
  • Why: Psychographic

TIP: If you define a segment but have no way of reaching them in the digital space, the information is of no value. Focus your efforts on audiences who you can reach AND who want what you’re offering.

The Goldilocks Principle

As you’re defining and segmenting your target audience, you might feel like Goldilocks looking for the one that’s just right. It’s true. Finding your ideal audience on digital media is an art and a science. 

Here are three key takeaways about audience segmentation that can help you find the right-sized group.

  • An audience that’s too broad will result in too many folks who aren’t interested. In our florist example, defining the audience as “someone who has a mother” is too broad, and you could spend money trying to reach people who don’t really like their moms, those who don’t like to give gifts, or those who live too far away from your location.
  • Conversely, a too-small audience won’t reach enough people or a wide enough pool of options. Targeting sons who are 22 years old within a one-mile radius of your shop who actually like their mothers and who have money to spend is very specific—but to a detriment.
  • Instead, try to reach a group in the middle. Here’s another way to approach this question: Ask yourself what interests you would target for your business? For example, if you own a golf retail store, don’t target people who like Tiger Woods (too broad). Instead, target Bubba Watson—a golf enthusiast would know who he is, but hobbyists would not. This is also known as the “But No One Else Would” trick, separating superfans, your ideal audience, from the rest of the pack.

TIP: Use Audience Insights inside Facebook Business Manager to test and play with different audience segments by plugging in audience interests, such as Bubba Watson.

Pillar 3: Irresistible Offer

Once you know who you’re talking to and what you want them to do, it’s time to identify what your business’ irresistible offer is, which is its overall value proposition. Start with a free irresistible offer that you know people would pay for and use it as a way to gather contact information from potential leads by getting their name, email address, and phone number. In the florist example, it might be a customizable card to send before Mother’s Day. For the golf shop, it might be exclusive tips from Bubba Watson.

TIP: Show your audience that you understand them by creating an offer that’s perfect aligned with their interests and desires. You want to address their pain points and present an easy solution.

Pillar 4: Strong Visual

Strong visuals can compel users to take action, especially video. Video is highly engaging on social media, and Facebook has a video creation tool embedded on its platform. Creative Hub is another great tool that Facebook offers. Think about stopping your customer’s thumbs as they scroll through their feed. What image would make them do that? That’s the one you’re looking for!

TIP: You don’t need to be a pro-photographer, videographer, or graphic designer to make a compelling image. Use the tools available to you!

Pillar 5: Compelling Message

To tie it all together, create a call to action that ensures your online marketing success by urging potential customers to buy, enroll, or sign up—whatever your campaign objective is based on Pillar 1. To craft this message, focus on your unique value proposition and tell the customer how you will solve their problem or pain point?

TIP: The most compelling messages create urgency and are direct. Set a deadline for your customers and tell them precisely what to do next.

How Has COVID-19 Changed Marketing & Advertising?

While online marketing was important before the pandemic, it’s even more crucial for small business digital success. We’re all spending more and more time behind our screens, which means there’s more of an opportunity to connect with your ideal audience via social media. For example, time spent on Facebook has increased by 70%, and Instagram engagement is up 76% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social-media messaging is up 50% across the board. This means that if you’re not reaching your audience on social, you’re not reaching them at all. This increase in use has created an additional inventory for online advertising—i.e., eyeballs. As a result, the cost of advertising is less expensive, and you’ll get more ROI for your ad spend. 

When creating any online marketing campaign—during COVID or otherwise—the key is to add value to your ideal audience’s lives. Whether we like it or not, customer behavior has shifted fundamentally, so marketing must adjust accordingly. Want more tips? On Wednesdays, join BizHack Academy for our FREE#BizhackLive Webinars and hear experts discuss the latest and best small business marketing strategies. For a list of upcoming events, click here.