In marketing, adaptation and flexibility are essential. Customer preferences change, new trends emerge, and market demand changes.
But that doesn’t mean you can fly by the seat of your pants and expect success.
Choosing the right strategy for your business is key to long-term success, but you must remain open to change throughout your journey.
In this article, we’ll learn more about six strategies to help boost growth for your small business.
Understand your sales funnel
Your sales funnel is your customer’s purchasing journey. It shows you the process from gaining a prospect’s awareness through converting that prospect into a customer.
Understanding your funnel, how it works, and how to tailor marketing campaigns and strategies to it is essential to driving growth in any business, but especially crucial in a small business.
Your sales funnel includes five stages:
These stages are the top-of-the-funnel (ToFu), middle-of-the-funnel (MoFu), and bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu).
ToFu marketing targets potential customers who don’t know much about your brand, product, or service. Strategies in this funnel stage grow brand awareness and share information about how your product or service improves the consumer’s life.
Customers in the middle of the funnel know your brand but haven’t purchased yet. Strategies at this stage help nudge them into a decision. These may include testimonials, SEO case studies, and other social proof.
Finally, ToFu marketing strategies target customers with the intent to develop loyalty and long-term relationships. Referral programs, “thank you” email campaigns with discounts, and other loyalty programs help retain customers and build brand ambassadors.
By understanding your sales funnel and designing your marketing efforts to work with it, you’ll be able to drive faster growth in your small business.
Let’s look at six marketing strategies that work with the stages of your sales funnel.
6 small business marketing strategies for driving growth
Before diving into strategy, there’s one thing you absolutely must address – your target market. Knowing who you’re marketing to is essential. Everything else depends on it. If you get your customer base wrong, none of your marketing will work, and your business will ultimately fail.
So, ask questions like:
- “Who is my ideal customer?”
- “What’s their age (range)?”
- “Where do they work?”
- “What’s their annual income?”
- “Are they married?”
- “Do they have children?”
- “Where do they shop?”
- “Where do they hang out online?”
- “What publications do they read?”
Do thorough research and then put the answers to your questions on a form – a buyer persona. This will be your go-to resource when you reference your target audience.
Be as detailed as possible and, whenever needed, create new, separate personas for different audience segments. This will help you effectively target different parts of your greater audience without wasting effort. It also prevents audience segments from receiving irrelevant marketing content.
- Build a website
Your website is your digital storefront. It’s often the first impression your brand makes on a potential customer, so it needs to be as perfect as possible. It can influence prospects and customers at every stage in your sales funnel.
Depending on your industry, your website may be strictly informative or offer a shopping experience. However, regardless of its function, it must be visually appealing and easy to navigate.
All websites have things in common. These include a domain name and hosting. The domain name is your website’s address on the internet.
Hosting refers to providing facilities (servers) to create and maintain your website and make it accessible for you on the internet.
Many companies offer hosting services, including GoDaddy, WordPress, BlueHost, etc. Prices vary wildly depending on the company and the service provided.
Almost all websites use a Content Management System (CMS). These systems include WordPress, Wix, Shopify, and many more. The CMS provides the framework for the front and back end of the website design.
Many CMSs offer templates (some of them at no cost) for the front-end design to allow for easy design without coding knowledge or experience. WordPress offers free and paid templates for a wide variety of businesses.
However, for those with coding and web development skills, WordPress also allows for tremendous customization on the back end of things.
The CMS you choose will primarily depend on your industry and niche. For example, if you’re in e-commerce, you’ll want to use a CMS that can accommodate those needs. Whereas if you provide a service, your website will serve as an information hub and means of contact between you and your prospects.
- Content marketing
You’ll have the avenues to implement a winning content marketing strategy through your website and social media platforms. Content marketing is an approach that focuses on creating and distributing value to your audience by sharing relevant blogs, videos, podcasts, and other content.
80% of “very successful” businesses have a documented content marketing strategy, according to The State of Content Marketing 2023 Global Report by Semrush. The flip side is that 52% of unsuccessful businesses do not. Small business owners can’t afford to ignore such a clear predictor of success.
When you implement content marketing, you receive the following benefits:
- Increased online presence – The more branded content you produce, the more you spread your brand’s online presence, which increases your brand awareness.
- Generating more leads – As people view your content, they’ll follow your calls to action. Prospects become warm leads, and those warm leads become customers.
- Increasing customer loyalty – Content isn’t just for generating new leads. Create content to remind customers you value them too (think “thank you” discounts and rewards programs) and keep them coming back.
- Improving brand authority – As you produce quality content, your website will increase in Domain Authority, and your content will rank higher in the SERPs. This will draw more traffic and improve your brand awareness even more.
It’s so worthwhile 79% of “very successful” businesses spend over 10% of their marketing budgets on content marketing.
If that number feels intimidating, look at it this way – it’s an investment in your business. There are also many ways to reduce costs and streamline your process.
For example, you can use AI tools to generate content quickly. Just don’t forget to have a human editor proofread before you publish.
There are also tools like Wordable that can help save time in the publishing process. Take your drafts from Google Docs straight to WordPress in one simple click.
When you’re ready, hiring help is a step toward success that can feel scary initially, but when done right, the rewards are well worth the risk.
Finding a freelancer or an agency to help create and publish content for you frees you to focus on business-building projects you may have had to put on the back burner. Finding a balance and a great partner or team can take your business to the next level.
Let’s look at Skale as an example of a content agency.
The type of services they offer include:
- SEO content briefs designed for buyer personas – An experienced SEO content team creates content optimized for your ideal customers and search engines. This means it’ll rank well in SERPs and prove valuable for prospects, crucial for ToFu strategies.
- On and off-page optimization – The content team will look at the elements of your current site and see where to make improvements to increase search engine rankings. Search engine optimization is critical to driving organic traffic to your website (ToFu), but it can also play an integral part in decision-making (MoFu) and customer loyalty (BoFu).
- Keyword research – The content team researches the right keywords for your content, ensuring they aren’t too competitive and have enough search volume. As a central component of on-page optimization, keyword research can play an essential role in every sales funnel stage.
- Link building – Backlinks are an excellent way to boost domain authority and SERP rankings. A good agency will facilitate relationships with other professionals and websites to generate backlinks to your website and grow your industry authority. Higher authority can influence a prospect’s decision to purchase, and backlinks can introduce new prospects to your brand. Link building is vital to the ToFu and MoFu stages.
If you’re not ready to outsource your content marketing, the above services are key pieces of strategy you’ll need to focus on to ensure success. High-quality content doesn’t come easy, but it’s worth the effort.
- Use social media channels
Social media users number around 4.8 billion. It’s a marketing channel ripe with opportunities – you just have to know where to start.
Begin with your buyer persona. The social platforms your target audience uses are where you should start with your business.
If your target demographic is older, they may use Facebook, while the younger crowd leans more toward Instagram and TikTok. Professionals and B2B businesses frequent LinkedIn.
It’s imperative to know your target market and where they are online. Social platforms can be helpful for all three sales funnel stages – it’s all about engaging with your audience.
Once you do, you can begin to plan content. A social media planning tool can help you plan, schedule, and post. For small businesses, it can be a lifesaver.
Tools like Hootsuite and SproutSocial take the guesswork and stress out of social media content for your business. You can create batches of social media posts (for the week or month), schedule them to post when you choose, and the tool will do the rest! Easy peasy!
Hiring a social media manager is another option, but it can be much more costly than using a tool. However, if you have the budget, go for it! Having a professional who knows the ropes and has the experience to manage your business’s social media accounts can give you a real leg up over your competition.
Each platform has rules for the best time to post and how frequently a business should post to achieve maximum benefit and reach. Remember to research and be consistent when handling your social media marketing. That’s where publishing tools help the most.
- Send ”thank you” messages
Saying “thank you” is a universal way to convey gratitude. That’s probably why thank you emails have a 65.7% higher open rate than others.
By taking advantage of the higher open rates, you can share special promotions or limited-time offers as part of the thank-you message. It’s a great addition to your retention strategy.
You don’t have to make it complicated. It can be a simple email message like this one.
It’s common for small business thank you messages to customers to include a discount like the one above. It’s a tangible way to show your appreciation and one every customer can enjoy.
- Consider influencer marketing
Influencer marketing increases brand awareness (ToFu) and helps convince your audience that your product or service is peerless (MoFu). However, working with an influencer in your industry or niche is important to ensure you share a target audience. Otherwise, the influencer’s marketing may not be relevant to your target market (or vice versa).
Influencers have various sized audiences, from nano (1,000 followers) to mega (over 1 million followers). Working with influencers can cost anywhere from $100 to $1.8 billion per post (yes, with a “B”) for a top mega-influencer.
While mega influencers are out of reach for most businesses, nano, micro, and even macro influencers could be a smart strategic choice for small businesses with an adequate budget. The trick is finding someone who resonates with your customers and matches your brand’s voice. Do that, and you’ll create marketing magic.
- Reward referrals
Referral rewards are an excellent way to help you grow your business (ToFu) while simultaneously rewarding your existing customers (BoFu). Depending on your industry or business, you can offer matching discounts or a smaller discount for each new customer with a more generous deal for the existing customer for every X referrals.
For example: Every friend you refer gets 10% off their first purchase, and for every three friends you refer, you get a 50% off coupon redeemable for anything online or in-store!
For businesses, a b2b referral program might look more like an affiliate program. Your customer (your affiliate) gets a unique code or link to give their friends and customers a discount when they purchase your product or service. Then, when someone uses that code or link, your affiliate earns a small commission on the purchase.
Working smarter, not harder
Running a small business is not for the faint of heart. But by understanding your sales funnel and matching winning marketing strategies to each stage, you’ll build a well-oiled money-making machine.
Form a solid foundation with your website and social media platforms. Don’t try to master everything at once. Pick one or two and perfect them before moving on to the next.
Remember, influencer marketing isn’t just for the big guys. There are plenty of nano and micro-influencers you can partner with. Just make sure they fit your brand and meet your audience where they are (on the web).
Once customers know your brand and your initial strategies are working their magic, it’s time to engage in retention mode. Always thank your customers for their support and reward them for referrals. They’ll repay you in spades.
Master these strategies, rinse, and repeat. You’ve got this. Now, get to work!