Drive Business Value and Growth with Online Visibility with Anna Lebedeva SEMrush

Drive Business Value and Growth with Online Visibility with Anna Lebedeva SEMrush

Anna Lebedeva is the Head of Growth Marketing at SEMrush. Her areas of interest are SEO strategies, brand awareness, start-up investment, public relations, and influencers trends. As an author, Anna has been featured in The Next Web, and contributed to Search Engine Journal, Foundr, Business 2 Community, PR Daily, Spin Sucks, and more.

Anna presented at The Exit the importance of online visibility and invest in the appropriate strategies to drive business growth and value to customers. Also, she shared an impressive marketing strategy case study where a dental services company increased its traffic by almost 5,000% and revenue by 100%.

“Even with a budget, it is so difficult to get found in a crowded market, you have limited online space and thousands of companies that will love to take this place and be present”

Mechanism to promote Growth

Marketing is the tool to drive business and promote growth. Companies invest an important part of their gross revenue, between 5% and 20%, on marketing initiatives throughout different channels.

The challenges of a Crowded Market and the Attention Economy

Elements such as limited online space, a large number of competitors, and a new scarce commodity called human attention make the allocation of resources in marketing a real challenge. With the right strategies, businesses can maximize their marketing efforts efficiency and target the proper audience at the right place with the optimal frequency.

Marketing is an Investment, not an Expense

To achieve the greatest return on investment, you must invest wisely by focusing marketing activities for your ideal customers via the right channels.

Customer Context and Efficient Brand Presence

It is vital to find the relevant online environment, understand the needs and search intent of consumers. To achieve this, marketers must have a clear vision about:
• Business type and the limits of the industry
• Search intent of target users
• Channels and sources customers use to find information
• Optimal offer according to intention and behavior

Case Study – UK-based Dental Service

Smileworks, changing their marketing strategy, achieved a revenue growth of 100% and multiplied their customer base becoming the leading dental practice. Their starting point was a 10% of revenue spent in marketing with paid ads with good coverage and leads but from an audience who was not genuinely interested or not ready to pay for their services. The actions they executed can be summarized in:
• Identified the needs of their audience and the relevant keywords with high consumer interest
• Changed the approach with an optimized site with users and search engines in mind to drive intent and get loyal followers
• Created useful content with most commonly asked questions to educate and show their expertise
As a result, Smileworks experienced an unprecedented turnabout in revenue, trust, and visibility, even reducing the advertising spending.

5 Marketing Tips for The First 90 Days Post Acquisition

5 Marketing Tips for The First 90 Days Post Acquisition

Implementing a merger and acquisition is one of the hardest things any business can do. It involves several moving parts, lots of preparation, and high-pressure conditions. When it’s finally over, many business owners believe that all the hard work is behind them. But that’s far from the truth. The most important work takes place within the first 90 days post-acquisition.

Marketing is especially critical during the period after the acquisition. A strong marketing plan will secure your company and set it apart from competitors. In this article, we’ll cover five marketing tips every business must consider after an acquisition.

Update customer communication plan

The first step to take in the early days post-acquisition is to update your communication plan. By doing so, you’ll increase customer engagement, loyalty, and user retention. Research has shown that user retention and customer loyalty are particularly vital.

According to Marketing Metrics, businesses have a 60 to 70% chance of selling to an existing customer. But only a 5% to 20% chance of selling to new prospects. Research from Bain & Company also shows that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by as much as 25-95%.

Look at these stats, and it’s easy to see why having a solid communication plan makes sense. But how exactly do you create a plan that works? Here are five simple steps you can follow:

  1. Define your goals and objectives
  2. Figure out what makes your business stand out from the competition
  3. Choose the right target audience for your messaging
  4. Pick your communication channels
  5. Execute your plan

When creating a plan, make sure you get input from all relevant stakeholders. For example, these could be your customers, employees, partners, and suppliers. The more information you get, the more refined your plan will be.

Define branding strategy

Once you’ve created a communication plan, you’ll need to create your branding strategy. Branding is something that you cannot ignore. In fact, a consistent brand has been shown to increase average revenue by 23%.

 The key to developing an effective branding strategy is to know all the aspects that make up a brand. A brand is more than just a logo or a name. Instead, it’s made of all the intangible elements connected to your customer needs.

Within the first 90 days of an acquisition, it’s essential to make sure that your branding matches customer expectations. The best way to do this is through market research and customer surveys. Find out what your customers value and then add those elements to your brand.

 If you want to see an example of great branding, take a look at Apple. Their branding resonates highlights the same qualities as their products. It’s targeted to customers who are innovative, imaginative, and creative.

 Remember, a brand isn’t contained within your company. It’s something that exists only in the minds of your customers. Your goal should be to increase the number of positive customer experiences. That will do wonders for your branding.

Run an audit

In most cases, you won’t have to make major changes to your marketing after an acquisition. If there are strategies that are already working, then you shouldn’t change that for the sake of it.

Conduct a full audit of all marketing campaigns. It will help you figure out what’s working and what isn’t. You should audit every part of your strategy, from digital all the way to any offline campaigns.

 Depending on the size of your company post-acquisition, an audit can take a few days to a few months to complete. You should be looking at three components when creating your audit. These include the marketing environment, marketing organization, and marketing functions.

  • Marketing environment. The position of your business relative to your industry, market, and competitors.
  • Marketing organization. This is how workers at different levels of your company perform when it comes to marketing. It also includes the policies that are in place to support their roles.

Marketing functions. This refers to your company’s core marketing competencies. For example, its communication channels and salesforce.

Use Content Marketing

Creating content is another crucial step to take 90 days post-acquisition. Customers today expect to find answers to all their problems online. That’s why content marketing is included as one of our marketing tips.

 Content marketing allows you to position your brand as an authority on any topic. It also helps your website rank for keywords on search engines. This further leads to an increase in traffic and conversions.

According to Pew Research, 81% of Americans say they go online on a daily basis. Among them, 28% go online almost always, 45% go online several times a day, and 9% go online about once a day. Content marketing allows you to reach these customers with valuable content. These could include blog posts, infographics, ebooks, and more.

Connect with Customers Via Texts and Emails

Keeping in touch with existing customers is also necessary after an acquisition. You can keep things simple and send out an email announcement about the acquisition. But you can also create a text messaging campaign to share this news and other updates.

 Text messaging is a highly effective channel for reaching customers. It is the #1 most used way of communication among Americans younger than 50. Furthermore, 89% of people always have their smartphones easily accessible.

The key to creating a high performing text messaging campaign is to choose the right platform. With it, you’ll be able to track the performance of each of your messages and make any changes along the way

Final Thoughts On Marketing Tips

An acquisition doesn’t have to be stressful. If you take steps to plan things out, everything will go a lot smoother. Be sure to pay close attention to the 90 days after an acquisition. This period can make or break your business.

If you follow the marketing tips we covered, customers will know what to expect from your brand. They’ll also be able to tell you apart from competitors and be more likely to become loyal to your business. That, in turn, will lead to more sales and profits. And of course, long-term growth for your business.

How to Make a Successful Affiliate Website (Step-By-Step)

Your Step-By-Step Guide to Turning a Newly Purchased Website into a Money Making Machine

Affiliate marketing isn’t as easy as the experts make it seem.

Sure, it would be nice if we could all buy an established website and trade in our full-time job for Mai-Tai’s on the beach.

Affiliate marketer on the beach

Image credit: http://gph.is/Zeq0fl

But an early retirement requires work.

Today, we’re going to talk about how to earn those Mai Tais. We’re going to talk about how to convert your affiliate website into a passive income machine with the help of search engine optimization (SEO).

We’ll delve into evaluating the most valuable pages on your website, analyzing the competition, and finding a profitable niche to target. We’ll then talk through capitalizing on your top SEO opportunities,  stealing the success of your top competitors, and scaling the most impactful initiatives to maximize your results.


Why SEO Matters

“SEO seems like an arbitrary place to start.” You might be thinking. “Why not focus on social media or YouTube instead?”

Data on the ROI of SEO

2018 study conducted by SparkToro shows that Google drives 10x more referral traffic to the average website than Facebook.

In an ideal world, you would be focusing on SEO, social media, and every other marketing channel out there. That being said, we believe in putting the most emphasis on the initiatives that drive the best results.

With that in mind, we’re not going to delve into using email marketing or a massive social media following to drive affiliate commission. Instead, we’re going to talk about how the most successful affiliate marketers build those massive email lists through SEO-centric blogging.


Assess the SEO Value of the Site

The first step after buying an established domain name is to look under the hood and see what you have to work with.

We break this down by asking three questions:

  1. Which pages hold valuable keyword rankings?
  2. Which pages have the most meaningful websites linking to them?
  3. Which pages drive the most organic traffic?

As we search for those answers, we note our current standings and identify how this stacks up to competing websites in our industry.

1. What Keywords Do You Rank for?

Our team uses SEMRush for this process. However, any keyword research tool will work.

Plug the site into your keyword research tool. Look at the top keywords that your website ranks for.

Competitor analysis for an affiliate website

Does one page hold 80% of these keyword rankings, or are rankings spread out evenly across the site?

Notate your top 10-20 keywords, as well as any keywords that you rank in positions 11-20. Highlight keywords that have a high search volume or a strong commercial intent.

Keywords that you rank in the top 10 positions for drive value to your site today. Keywords that you rank in position 11-20 for will be the easiest keyword ranking wins to focus on first.

2. Which Pages Have the Most Meaningful Websites Linking to Them?

Backlinks are the currency of the internet. Take 30 minutes to understand which pages on your website drive the most link value.

Use a tool like Ahrefs to sort your pages based on their link profile. Hover to “Best by links” and sort in descending order based on URL rating or root domain backlink count.

You should see something like this:

Top pages for a profitable affiliate website

Note the top pages that show up here. These pages have the most authority that can be passed to more meaningful pages on your website.

If you see that 50% of your links come from 3 different articles, ensure that those articles include a link to relevant, revenue-driving pages to enhance rankings of those pages.

3. Which pages drive the most organic traffic?

Google Analytics Screenshot

Now log into Google Analytics and review your site’s organic traffic.

Set the time range to view the last 12 months of data (if you have access to this data) and view “Landing Pages” within the “Behavior” tab.

Note the pages that have driven the most organic traffic to the site over the past 12 months.

You should see a strong overlap between the three and have a better understanding of your site’s current search value.

 


Evaluate the Competition

With a stronger understanding of your site, it’s time to see how you stack up against the competition.

Review your top 5-10 highest traffic-generating keywords. Search for each keyword and list the websites that appear above you in search results.

Now describe your website’s niche in 2-3 words.

Go to Google and type in the phrase “best [insert 2-3 word descriptor] blogs.”

Click on each of the search results that look like these:

List of popular affiliate websites

Open up each article and list out all of the websites that show up in these lists.

Take all of the websites in your list and plug them into Ahrefs. Write down their total count of referring domains and estimated organic traffic.

Successful affiliate website metrics

Add your site to the list to get a stronger sense of how you stack up against the competition.


Identify a Niche (and Revenue Model)

If you find yourself at the top of the list, you’ve found a great opportunity for a niche site. You can now focus on monetizing.

If you find yourself towards the bottom of the list, it might be time to think about finding a narrower niche that you can outrank the competition in.

Once you’ve solidified your niche, it’s time to start thinking about your revenue model.

There are pros and cons to each option, but the most common forms of monetization for authority websites are as follows:

  • AdSense (or similar display networks) – advertisers pay per impression or click that you generate to their site via display ads. AdSense provides minimal revenue per visitor, but can be an excellent source of affiliate income for sites with millions of monthly pageviews.
  • Sponsored Posts – offering others in your industry the opportunity to write full-length articles on your site as a form of advertising.
  • Affiliate Products – build relationships with advertisers and taking a commission for each customer or lead that you generate. For simplicity, start with an affiliate network like ShareASale, Commission Junction, or Amazon’s affiliate program. Matt Diggity made a list of the top affiliate networks here.
  • Ecommerce – sell your own products/services on the site, or drive visitors to another site that generates revenue.

If you struggle to find a revenue model that for your niche, search for a more profitable niche to target.


Optimize Top Pages

With your niche and revenue model at the front of your mind, it’s time to target the low-hanging fruit.

Revisit the top pages that you identified in step 1. What opportunities do you see to enhance the value of those pages?

  • The average first-page result on Google is 1,890 words. If your page is shorter than that, focus on expanding the contents of the page
  • Look at the pages that rank above you. What content do those pages include that your page lacks? Does it make sense for you to add sections about those same concepts to your page?

More SEO opportunities to scale these pages here.

Next, log into SEMRush and filter down your keyword rankings to show all keywords that you rank in positions 11-20 for (we also recommend filtering out keywords that receive <50 searches/month).

As mentioned above, these keywords will be the easiest opportunities to capitalize on.

The pages that rank for these keywords are on the cusp of seeing massive traffic gains. Expand these pages; improve their readability; link to these pages from other sections of your site.

Optimizations for building an affiliate website

Keep your revenue model at the front of your mind when prioritizing these updates. Some search queries will be more valuable than others. However, all queries that relate to your niche have the potential to drive revenue (more on how blogging drives revenue here).

After capitalizing on these top opportunities, it’s time to steal your competitors’ top search rankings.


Steal the Success of Your Competitors

Revisit your list of top competitors. Plug each of those competitors into SEMRush or Ahrefs and isolate each competitor’s top-performing pages.

Add those pages to a list and analyze each of those pages. Break down the length of the content and estimated search traffic that the page sees.

Now evaluate your site. Do you have a piece of content that relates to this overarching theme? If so, is your page more or less comprehensive than the top-ranking page?

The average first-page result on Google is 1,890 words. Scour your competitors for any top-performing pages that are <1,500 words and focus on creating higher-quality content.

(More on how we find and write top-performing content here).

Identify pages that you have an opportunity to enhance. Then identify new content ideas that make sense to add to your editorial calendar.

P.S. Download this sample template for evaluating competitor content.

Set aside time to promote each article that you write.

Link building is the most effective starting point for scaling long-term visibility. One of our favorite link building techniques is to pull a list of all the websites that are linking to similar content. From there, we start conversations with those publishers.

Build relationships and encourage them to link to your article as a helpful resource for their readers. Outside of that, here are a few simpler link building techniques to gain high-quality backlinks.


Scale What Worked

Take time every 1-2 months to identify the pages that see the most meaningful traction.

  • Review keyword rankings and organic traffic to see which pages gained the most visibility
  • Review on-page metrics like bounce rate and average session duration to see which pages kept your site visitors most engaged
  • Review goal completions and goal conversion rate to see which pages generated the most leads/customers

Look for trends in performance. Do how-to articles have a higher goal conversion rate than product reviews? Do image-heavy articles keep people on the site longer than articles without images?

Scale up what works as you learn more and more about your visitors.

Converting a newly purchased site into a successful affiliate site is hard work, but follow this framework and you’ll be well on your way to building an industry-leading website.

Interested in working with experts who do this on a regular basis? Learn about our content marketing services to see if we’re the right team to help you out.

5 Ways To Build an Email List From Scratch

5 Ways To Build an Email List From Scratch

If you’re a new business owner or operator wondering how to build an email list, rest assured you’re not alone. Email is one of the most – if not the most -effective online marketing channels today, but it’s also a tough nut to crack.

As the internet seems to be overtaken by social media likes and memes, email is still the gold standard for customer communication, and if used correctly it can be a very effective way of generating sales and ensuring customer loyalty. An established and extensive email marketing list can also increase the value of your website because buyers value sites that have already built up a customer following.

Getting customer email addresses can be tricky, though. Research shows that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one, and so you should expect to dedicate a significant level of resources to building your email list.

There are, however, some techniques that can be very effective in maximizing the time and money you spend on collecting email addresses. In this article, we’ll show you five of them.

1. Create A Personalized CTA

A core principle of marketing your email list – and, in fact, a core principle of any kind of marketing – is to make your CTAs as specific and personal as possible.

When building the CTAs on your website, you should remember that the vast majority of your visitors are looking for something specific, and not just cruising the web in the hope they find something useful. Let’s say a particular page on your site is attracting a lot of traffic, and that page is called “List-Building Strategy”. Instead of a generic CTA like “sign up for our email newsletter”, make a specific CTA for that page that invites customers to “enter your email to receive our list-building toolkit”.

Research conducted by HubSpot has found personalized calls-to-action have a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than generic CTAs.

2. Pop-Ups and Slide-Ins

Using pop-up windows is something of an art form. We all know that pop-ups can be really irritating, but they can also be very effective in prompting visitors to give you their email address.

Most of the best website builders today offer advanced tools for targeting and timing your pop-ups, and you should use them. One strategy is to time your pop-ups so that they only appear after a visitor has spent a certain amount of time on your site. This means that they have a chance to read about what you are offering, and are less likely to be annoyed by the prompt.

This was the approach that Digital Marketer used in a case study, and it was very successful. By timing a pop-up to appear after 15 seconds, they managed to generate 2,689 leads in two weeks, and increased their average time on page by 54%. They also made sure that these pop-ups highlighted the value of subscribing to their email list, which we’ll come to shortly.

3. Humor

Using humor in your CTAs can also be a very effective way of reaching your customers. Today, we are so used to CTAs popping up on every site we visit that in most cases we just ignore them. Injecting a bit of personality into your CTAs with specific phrases and techniques can be a great way of cutting through the noise.

Your aim should be to show that your business is run by humans and that you are trustworthy and friendly. Using humor is a good way to do that, and can also help you to quickly build up a strong eCommerce community: if your customers feel that they are dealing with a friend rather than a faceless business, they reward you with increased loyalty.

4. Highlight Value

Perhaps the most important aspect of your CTA is the value it offers to your customers.

Just think about the email lists that you subscribe to. If you haven’t marked a particular company’s emails as spam, that’s likely because you find them genuinely useful. No one wants another generic email newsletter so create inviting newsletters and be unique. What they want is information that is timely and relevant, delivered to them directly.

In practice, this means that you should avoid asking your customers to “sign up” or “subscribe” to your email list. Instead, make it clear what your emails can offer your customers: “download our exclusive content”, or “get access to our in-depth guides.” If you find yourself stuck for an enticing idea, consider producing an industry specific product. This company keeps the sign-up business brisk with free invoice templates for small business owners, which offer real world value beyond the the nebulous promise of a weekly newsletter.

Varying and personalizing your email content in this way also has another huge advantage: it makes it less likely that your emails get automatically marked as spam, and deleted. Email systems are now pretty good at detecting the most common email scams, and they do this by checking if your emails are too generic. In short: personalize your content, and your customers actually receive it.

5. Pitch Your Email Newsletter On Social Media

If you really want to build an email list quickly and effectively, social media must be a part of your strategy. Move away from the standard content-based CTAs, and use your social media profiles to pitch your email newsletter. The people who are following your business on social media are already interested in what you are doing, after all, so it makes sense to take advantage of this interest.

Using social media to promote a new business is best when you leverage the power of these channels, rather than relying on your customers checking their social media feeds. Use your social media posts to stress the variety of ways that your customers can stay engaged with your business – including your website and your email newsletter – and you can ensure that you are using every channel you have available.

Further, make sure that you’re sending an email to your social media followers when they’re most likely to open it. Research shows that the best time to send email is in the evening around 6-7pm, and then again later at night after 9pm.

Going Further: How To Build Your Email List

These five tips should get your email marketing list off to a great start, but remember that email marketing is a process, not an event. You need to continually vary your content and offer to keep existing customers engaged, and you should try to ensure that your email marketing list is constantly growing.

Once you have established a list, you should also make sure that you regularly audit it. Make sure that you are storing personal information safely, and delete any emails that don’t work. Above all, keep your email content fresh, and make every email valuable to your customers, and they’ll want to keep reading them.

The 3 Biggest Challenges of Growing an Online Business

The 3 Biggest Challenges of Growing an Online Business

Over 65 percent of people in America still believe that the American Dream is within reach. However, they also believe that in order to do so requires a certain level of financial stability. The best way to achieve this is to become an entrepreneur and eventually sell your business for a big profit. However, this means you need to begin an online startup and grow it to a decent size.  

Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done, especially when 20 percent of startups fail within their first year. Therefore, in order to get to a point where the company can be sold for a significant chunk of money, it first needs to focus on circumventing the common challenges facing online businesses and finding a way to successfully grow itself. Here are the five biggest challenges of growing an online business and how to overcome them. 

Fierce Online Competition

In many ways, competition is the foundation of capitalism. However, when it comes to operating a small online business, competition can often be overwhelming. Having a little bit of friendly competition is good for business because it forces companies to be innovative. Unfortunately, when it comes to the online marketplace, there seems to be simply too much competition in most industries nowadays. In fact, there are as many as 24 million e-commerce sites in the world. This can often make it hard to find ways to stand out amongst the endless sea of other competitors. 

Luckily, there are a few things that can be done to improve the chances of potential customers noticing your online business before any of your competitors. One of the most effective things to do is to ensure that your website is developed in a professional style that is in compliance with the current Google algorithms. This will help on two distinct fronts. 

Firstly, it will help your online business rank higher in search results, which will lead to higher click-through rates. The second way in which this will assist you is by being eye-catching as soon as the web page loads. Being greeted with a professional-looking website can often be enough to convince a customer to do business with you.

Retaining Customers

Getting new customers to visit your site is only part of the challenge online entrepreneurs face. Once they are on your site, you need to find a way to convert them into returning customers. Having a loyal customer base that repeatedly does business with your site can help to vastly improve your annual revenue. 

Not only will it result in more sales, but it will also lower your costs. This is because acquiring a new customer often costs up to five times as much as retaining a current customer. Therefore, online companies need to find a way to retain customers as much as possible. 

Unfortunately, there is no magical shortcut to ensure customer retention. It requires improvement in every part of the customer experience. However, improving the return and refund policy of your online business is a great start. 

When a customer is new to a site, they often have some hesitancy about the product or service quality. In order to help ease their anxieties, successful online startups offer an extremely easy return process. This allows customers to simply send the item back within a certain period of time and receive a full refund if they are not satisfied with a product or service. 

So if you want to retain more customers, then you need to make your return and refund policies very simple. This involves having as few steps as possible and following through with your promise to return the customer’s money. This will make the customer much more comfortable with an online business and a lot more likely to continue doing business with them in the future. 

Getting Sufficient Revenue

It is obvious that to be a successful online business, you need to get a lot of revenue. What is not obvious is how to go about doing this. There are a lot of different methods that can be used to help improve revenue. Some of the most popular include lowering product prices or reducing operations costs. However, one of the most sustainable ways to get higher amounts of revenue is to increase sales numbers. 

Once again, there are numerous ways to go about this. An effective place to start is with the website’s design. It needs to have a layout that is incredibly easy to navigate and a purchasing process that is as short and simple as possible. This will help minimize the frustration that customers experience when dealing with the website, which will help to vastly improve sales numbers. 

By overcoming these three challenges, your online business can quickly reach a point where it can be sold for a significant amount of money. Once your company is at a point where you are ready to sell it, visit Flippa to get it sold as quickly as possible for the maximum amount of money.

How to Use Social Media to Promote a New Business

How to Use Social Media to Promote a New Business

Creating and promoting a business is a big endeavour. You have to create a winning product, employ the right employees, and market your products and services successfully.

And while doing this, you also have that thought at the back of your mind that most businesses fail within 5 years.

However, we’re here to talk about your business success. And in order to have a successful business, you need effective marketing strategies to help achieve your business targets.

One of the best platforms to promote your business is social media. How big is it? 3.356 billion users big.

digital use around the world 2018

With social media, you can find your ideal customers if you target the right social media channels. You can deliver your message to your audience, interact with users to build trust, and, with the right approach, even convert followers into paying customers.

Now, how do you promote your business through social media? In this blog post, discover 7 best practices on how to use social media to promote a new business:

1. Create a buyer persona

To send the right messages to your audience, you need to create a buyer persona to help you understand your ideal buyer.

In this document, you’ll have as many details as possible about this ideal customer. Some of these include:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Income
  • Job
  • Solutions they need from your product
  • Favourite social media channels
  • Location
  • Ambitions

With a full picture of who your ideal buyer is, it becomes easier to send messages they’re likely to resonate with. Likewise, you’re able to build trust and make the right offers.

A tool that can help you to gather more details about your buyers is a social listening tool like Brandwatch; this allows you to research your audience based on relevant keywords so that you can gather important information, such as where they are from, what platforms and channels they regularly use, what influencers they follow, what other brands they interact with and, without enough research, even their needs and interests:

brandwatch screenshot

2. Set social media goals

Without social media goals, there’s no way to measure the failure or success of your social media activities. In most cases, businesses have the following goals when they use social media:

  • Brand awareness
  • Audience engagement
  • Leads acquisition
  • Improve sales

While setting your social media goals, you have to set objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART). This is vital because your goals will affect your social media strategy and other activities: when you know exactly what you want to achieve, you can focus on creating content that will help you achieve those goals.

For example, if you’re just starting out and getting a business of the ground, you’ll probably want to generate more brand awareness. In that case, you’d need to create highly engaging content for social media, such as images and videos showcasing your brand and your logo, funny and engaging images that are highly shareable and you’ll likely want to increase the amount of updates you post so that you can reach a wide an audience as possible.

3. Create a winning social media strategy

Social media is so big that it’s easy to get lost amidst the noise. And setting goals alone is insufficient to achieve them. You have to create a strategy that can help you achieve your goals.

Some important elements to have in your strategy are:

  • Your content types
  • Frequency of updates
  • Social media calendar
  • Social media tools you need
  • How to collaborate with team members
  • How to track your goals

A social media strategy will guide you through the right actions to take on your accounts and when to take them – don’t overlook the importance of creating a strategy as it will ultimately help you save time and boost your results.

4. Use social media tools for better productivity

There are many aspects of your social media campaigns that require tools. And these tools help you save time and engage better with your audience. Some aspects you should consider, are:

  • Social media management
  • Content creation
  • Content curation
  • Social media monitoring
  • Social media analytics

One of the most important tools you need to get is a social media management tool; this is because it will allow you to manage all of your social channels from one place, thus helping you save considerable time managing your profiles. What’s more social media management tools also have some extra features that can make a huge difference to your results: tools for collaborating with your team, access to social media analytics, monitoring features for keeping track of your brand name online and other handy features.

An effective tool you can use for social media management is SocialPilot. It’s an all-inclusive social media management tool that works with all major social networks and allows for team collaboration as well:

socialpilot screenshot

It provides an easy-to-use calendar that helps your team members plan and schedule updates ahead of time, as well as collaborate with others. What’s more, you can also engage with social media users, across channels, directly in your dashboard and access your social media analytics, among other features.

To satisfy your audience, you’ll find that the amount of content you produce might be insufficient. With content curation, you can get relevant content from other sources to share with your audience.

A tool you can use for this is Quuu. Before a piece of content is recommended for your account, it will be vetted by humans.

quuu screenshot

Monitoring provides business and industry mentions that helps you find opportunities to respond to complaints, find potential leads, and customers. With analytics, you can see the numbers that indicate your social media performance.

Many social media management tools offer monitoring and analytics, so you might need no extra tool; you can check this very detailed social media tool buyer’s guide to see exactly what to look for and how to choose the right tool for your needs.

5. Focus on a few social media channels

It might be enticing to run as many social media accounts as possible. But this could actually harm your results if you don’t really have the time to manage them all properly.

It’s better to maintain a strong presence on a few social media channels that are likely to bring results for your business. Based on your buyer persona and your social listening research, you already know the social media channels popular with your audience.

For instance, if you’re marketing a B2B product, then LinkedIn and Facebook are channels you should focus on. However, if you’re marketing food or fashion items, you’d achieve better results by focusing on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

If you find it difficult to know the social media channels your ideal buyers hang out, you can check on your competitors. Which social media channels do they focus on?

By focusing on a few social media platforms, you can invest your efforts where they’re most likely to yield results.

6. Add visuals to your social media updates

On social media, there’s so much content and you’re in a tough competition to attract your audience’s attention. Sharing only text updates can only go so far.

To get your message across more effectively and improve engagement, you need to implement visuals in your social media updates. For starters, the brain can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.

To create visuals for your social media campaigns, the expensive route is to employ designers. But by using the right tools, you can make professional visuals at a lower cost and at scale.

When you consider that you’ll need visuals regularly, using tools is the best option as a new business. A tool like Canva can help you create images you can use on various social media channels.

And you need little to no design skills to use them. You’ll find templates of various sizes made to fit specific social media channels. In a few minutes, you can get an image to use in your update.

canva screenshot

Another visual content format that is very popular right now is video. Over the years, video marketing has become more popular and you’ll find that most social media channels now support videos.

And that’s because customers now expect it. In a HubSpot study, 54% of consumers say they want to see videos from businesses.

content preferences study

To create video at scale, you can use tools to help. Many of them provide ready-made templates, easy drag and drop editing and are generally very easy to use, even as beginners. One great solution is wave.video which features numerous templates and a huge library of video clips that you can use in your videos (although you can also upload your own clips):

wave.video screenshot

Plus, you can add your watermark to videos, add calls to action and easily include captions in your video scenes.

7. Engage with your audience and build a community

Social media goes beyond sharing your updates and hoping for the best. Communication on social media, as with other online channels, is a two-way street.

You need to reply to comments and reshare interesting posts from your followers.

Added to this, social media is a popular platform for customer support. Many of your prospects and customers will make inquiries and send complaints through social media.

Your ability to respond in a short time will build trust with your audience. According to The Social Habit study by Edison Research, 42% of consumers expect a response from a company on social media within 1 hour.

social media customer service study

Through proper engagement, you can build a community with your audience over time, turn them into loyal customers, and even your very own brand ambassadors.

Conclusion

Social media can be overwhelming for your new business at first. But with the right strategy, tools, and execution, you can achieve your targets on social media.

Save this list and use it as a guide while building your social media campaigns – these are the most important aspects to developing a strong social media plan for a small business.