You’ve filed for your LLC, you’ve named your company and you’ve got your first client. Now what? You need a marketing plan to help your small business grow. Here are eight tips from small business owners to grow your small business through marketing in 2021.
#1: You Must Have a Web Presence
One of the most important steps you can take to market your small business in 2021 is to have a web presence. This might include a website, social media or blog — or all of the above. “Being invisible online is a terrible strategy so making sure your site is keyword rich, mobile friendly, loads quickly and produces meaningful content today is the price of entry. That also happens to be a great foundation for effective SEO,” says Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls.
Once your website is built, you then need to make sure it’s useable for your customers. “The goal is to make the navigation intuitive and easy so they follow the breadcrumbs to get their questions answered or problems solved. When your brand foundation is strong, the metrics show that you shorten the sales cycle and people spend more time on your site,” says Arnof-Fenn.
#2: Optimize Your Website for SEO and UX
Just having a website doesn’t quite cut it in 2021. You need your website to work for you. Clay McDaniel, CEO of Ripl Inc., says that goals, such as a regular content posting schedule, can help: “Having a page just to have a page isn’t the best strategy, so set some measurable goals so you know what’s working and not."
To up your SEO game, you can use free, easy-to-use, online tools. “Once you have traffic flowing to your pages, check the free Google Search Console to see what you can do to tweak your keywords and increase traffic to those pages,” says Nick Loper, Founder of Side Hustle Nation.
Optimizing your website for user experience or UX, SEO and good design means that it’s useable and findable. But, that doesn’t mean you need more stuff. “The trend toward simplicity and minimalist design means less is more in the new year as the world becomes crazier and technology gets smaller, faster and more complicated, people are finding new ways to simplify their lives more than ever,” says Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls. “Web pages that contain long high-quality content get more visibility and shares so becoming that trusted source and influencer with timely and helpful answers to questions get rewarded quickly.”
SEO isn’t just for your website anymore. Loper adds that “Facebook is the fourth largest search engine and I consider a Facebook group as a top-of-the-funnel marketing channel. I can almost guarantee people are looking for information on your niche on social networks.” With this in mind, it’s important to optimize your Facebook groups with keywords, so they’re findable in search.
#3: Optimize for Mobile
Not only do you need a web presence to market your small business today, you need to be reachable via mobile technology. “The world is moving to mobile first or mobile only, fewer people accessing web on big screens so everyone is tailoring their site, message and content accordingly,” says Arnof-Fenn.
Luckily for small business owners with a do-it-yourself attitude, most website builders offer mobile-friendly website templates. Optimizing your website for mobile becomes as simple as a click of the button.
#4: Utilize CTAs
When planning your small business’s marketing growth in 2021, you want to make finding your business and buying your product as easy as possible for your customer. One way to do that: use a CTA.
A CTA or Call to Action tells your customers exactly what you want them to do, and you want to make it specific. “Make sure it fits your business so potential customers can engage immediately to ‘Shop now,’ ‘Book now,’ ‘Sign up’ and more,” says McDaniel of Ripl Inc.
You can add a CTA to social media posts, on landing pages, in blog posts and any other place you want to suggest your customers take action.
#5: Leverage Your LinkedIn Connections for Sales
For most small business owners, their LinkedIn is a treasure trove of past clients and colleagues, all people who want to see them reach success. Those connections are the perfect place to start building your customer base.
Kent Lewis, the President and Founder of Anvil Media, Inc., shares a story of how LinkedIn worked for him. “At a board meeting in 2018, one of my advisors suggested I get over it and start contacting prospective clients via LinkedIn. I did just that and it led to five new clients, including Anvil's largest client in our 20-year history. I learned that my first-degree connections don't mind hearing from me or even appreciate it, so I have a new perspective about the power of sales via LinkedIn.”
#6: Chose a “Hero” Social Platform
For many small businesses, social media can be an overwhelming place that causes decision fatigue and becomes just one more thing on a never-ending to-do list. “If you feel like you’re spread too thin trying to manage all of your social channels, see if one is performing much better than the others and focus your energies there,” says McDaniel of Ripl Inc.
You don’t have to be on every social media channel, you just need to be where your customers are. Loper at Side Hustle Nation agrees, saying: “You can connect with customers through Facebook, Amazon, Google, YouTube, Fiverr, Udemy, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. and dozens of podcast apps — mostly for free. If you can reach your customers where they already are, they’ll be far more likely to listen to you."
Instead of spreading your time and energy over multiple social channels, pick the one (or two) where you see the most interaction and have the best chances of reaching your customers.
#7: Create a Content Marketing Plan . . .
. . . even if you’re not sure you’ll stick to it. “We advise every business to make this the year of the content marketing plan,” says Carly Fauth, Head of Marketing at Money Crashers. “Yes, facts on the ground will change — we certainly learned the hard way last year — but you should, nevertheless, have a general idea of the type and timing of content you’re going to create and publish in the third and fourth quarters of 2021 right now.”
A content marketing plan gives your small business a bird’s-eye view of the message you want to communicate to your customers over the next year. You don’t have to stick to it and you can make changes throughout the year, but it has the benefit of guiding your marketing decisions and helping you to see the big picture.
#8: Double Down on Ecommerce
The year 2020 pushed a lot of small businesses to offer services and products to customers online and to cobble together an ecommerce plan quickly. 2021 is your chance to up your ecommerce game.
“While customers were willing to tolerate a less-than-ideal online experience to support their favorite local small businesses, this year they're going to start expecting more,” says Dawson Whitfield, Founder and CEO of Looka. “As customers become accustomed to ecommerce and companies continue to contend with lockdowns, it's essential to not just provide an online experience, but a GREAT online experience.”
Whitfield suggests that a faster website, easy checkout, a strong website design and targeted marketing are all ways to improve your customer's online ecommerce experience. "If you can't provide the online experience your customers want, someone else will."
For any small business, marketing for growth is one of the keys to business success. These eight expert tips break down how to market your small business for growth in 2021, including creating a web presence, enhancing your SEO and doubling down on a great online retail experience.
Page is a freelance content marketing writer with experience writing about small business, the future of the workplace and health. She also operates a weekly email newsletter where she shares advice on living an authentic, intentional life. When not writing, you can find Page traveling, fostering older cats and working as a sexual assault advocate.