As a small business owner, your goal is to sell your products or services. To do this, you need to reach the right audience and then demonstrate how your business provides a solution to a particular problem they are having. This is where effectively marketing your small business can come into play, giving your company that competitive edge it needs to succeed.
Marketing should be thought of an investment rather than simply another expense. A few great reasons to invest in marketing for your small business include:
- Helps keep you organized to reach your goals
- Allows you to track and evaluate what campaigns are most effective
- Helps you identify and reach your intended audience – and turn them into customers
- Improves ROI
- Increases productivity and keeps everyone on the same page
This helpful guide shares a few great tips to incorporate into your small business’s overall marketing strategy to help ensure your company’s success. Let’s dive right in!
SECTION 1: Small Business Marketing Tips: Website Basics
Part One: Mastering a User-Friendly Website
There’s no doubt that websites have come a long way since the internet first rose in popularity 20 years ago. Today, it’s not enough for your small business to simply build a website designed to promote your products or services and hope it brings in a few phone calls. In today’s competitive market, it’s vital that your website is as user-friendly and as accessible as possible. If there are aspects of your site that aren’t pleasing to the eye, make it difficult to navigate or pages load too slowly, you can be sure your visitors will move on to another website to find the information they’re seeking.
If your marketing strategy includes plans to build a new website or redesign your current site, you can always get assistance from experts in web design and development. However, all small business owners can, and should, have a firm grasp of web design and user experience (UX) best practices.
What Makes a Website User-Friendly?
So, what are some elements of web design that keep the user experience top of mind? A few include:
- A simple navigation. Keep the main navigation as clutter-free as possible. User-friendly design dictates that you keep the number of links in the main navigation to seven. Having fewer items in your navigation is better for SEO and doesn’t overwhelm visitors with too many choices.
- Consistent design - logos, colors, fonts and images. Choose an overall theme for your website with complimentary colors that match your logo. Speaking of your logo, it should always be prominently placed in the header of your site and made clickable, so users can easily return to the home page. Make sure text is balanced with high-quality images, video and other visual components to make it easy to skim through for information.
- Fast load time. The average site visit lasts just 15 seconds, so it’s paramount that website pages load quickly, in five seconds or less. In addition to slow load times affecting user experience, it may also harm your site’s ranking in the search engines.
- Responsive and mobile-friendly. As of Q3 2018, 52.4% of global web traffic originated on mobile devices, meaning your site must work just as well on a phone as any other device. Remember, your site could be viewed on a laptop, phone, or tablet and in Apple or PC environments. Testing your site’s performance on all of these combinations is key to providing the best user experience.
- Strong, clear call-to-actions (CTAs). Every page on your website should have a clear call-to-action (CTA) that reminds visitors why they are there. Perhaps you want website visitors to contact you for more information; include a button that allows users to fill out a form, send an email or call customer service as quickly and as easily as possible.
Applying Website Analytics to Make Smart Marketing Decisions
Once you have a beautifully-designed, well-optimized website, the next step is ensuring you understand who is visiting your site and the actions they take while they are there. This is where analyzing data from your site becomes an integral part of your marketing plan.
Web analytics aren’t just for multi-nationals and mega-corporations. Any business can benefit from utilizing website analytics tools, which detail how people use and interact with your website. This knowledge helps you understand your website’s usage including how many people are visiting your site and what pages they’re landing on while there. Then you can utilize this helpful data to adjust your content to include more of what people respond to, making your site more user-friendly. While there are dozens of web analytics services that track and analyze visits to your website, most small business owners rely on Google Analytics, a free, powerful tool for brands and businesses.
How to Use Google Analytics to Create a Sound Marketing Strategy
Google Analytics is easy to use and repays you handsomely for the time you invest learning how to use it. The tool provides a wide range of valuable insights, but admittedly, it can feel a little overwhelming when you’re first diving in to the data. Before you get started, you’ll want to read two or three guides to using the program so you can get the most from all of its features. If you’re feeling especially motivated, you can even complete training courses to become certified in Google Analytics
To have Google start collecting the data your site has to offer, first set up your website as a property to be tracked, then get your tracking code. Finally, set up the tracking code on each page of your site. In just a few days, you’ll have the start of a running record of your website traffic.
So, what kind of data can you get from Google Analytics? A better question would be what can’t these robust analytics show you! Where your visitors are physically located, which pages they click on, how long they stay on those pages – website analytics show you all of these user interactions and more.
Without properly analyzing the traffic coming to your website, it’s difficult to understand what aspects of your marketing strategy have been most successful. Once you’ve designed and launched a user-friendly website, the next step is to test a landing page’s content and design and ultimately their conversion rates.
Landing pages are where people are taken to after clicking a certain link, such as from a search results page, a Facebook ad, your monthly newsletter, or elsewhere. Conversion rates are the percent of site visitors who take the action you want; this could be submitting a form to request info, subscribing to your newsletter, making a purchase, or another action. Your landing page design affects conversions, and by split testing (also known as A/B testing) landing pages you can find out which design results in the most conversions – and improve from there!
Blogging for Business: Bringing New Life to Old Content
Finally, you need to consider the type of content that lives on your website and how effective it is in your overall marketing strategy. Adding fresh, well-optimized content is key to keeping your site in Google’s good graces, and the good news is this can be easily accomplished through a blog.
Even in an age of increasing use of video content, marketing leaders agree that when it comes to growing your business, blogging is still essential. Your blog content is essential in positioning your business as a leader in the industry and driving valuable traffic to your website. Additionally, as part of your overall content marketing strategy, blog posts can complement the newer marketing vehicles – think Instagram and Facebook – in ways that exponentially improve both the user experience while increasing engagement.
After you’ve built up a great library of blog content on your website, you might find yourself struggling to come up with new topics and ideas. However, there’s a great way to get a bit more mileage out of your blog – simply reuse what’s already there!
How to Make Repurposing Blog Posts Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy
Your blog can help answer your customer’s questions about your products and services, showcase events and activities your company participates in, offer specific information customers commonly search for or simply provide some helpful advice. A happy blog reader is an engaged reader, after all. By repurposing some of the blog content you’ve already written, you can reach even more potential customers, drive more organic search traffic to your website, and best of all, have more time to focus on making sales.
The best thing about using blogging in your marketing strategy is that updating previously posted content is okay – as long as the content is still factual and relevant. If you’re wondering where to begin and how to choose the best blog content to repurpose, start by going into your Google Analytics account and take a look at your top-viewed blog posts. From there, you’ll understand what topics are resonating the most with your readers. Use these posts to create “spin off” posts. For example, if you have a blog post that discusses the top five things to know about one of your products, you can break down that blog into five separate articles, each focused on one of those top five things.
On the other hand, you can also take a look at some of your least-viewed blog posts and determine where these might be enhanced to appeal to more readers. Maybe the copy just needs some tweaking or better keywords. Make a few edits and push these live again to attempt to get more views.
Another easy way to get more mileage out of your older blog posts is to share them on social media channels a second or third time. Write a snappy new intro, use the right hashtags, include a new image and send it back out to your loyal followers – many of whom may have missed reading it the first time around.
Utilizing Blog Posts in New Formats
Once you’ve published a blog post, there are several ways you can use that content in different formats. For example, you could make an infographic version of the post, using key facts and bullet points to create an interesting visual piece. Another idea is to create a video or podcast discussing the content. You can even consider compiling all the blog posts you have surrounding a similar topic into a downloadable ebook, which you can add to your site as gated content users can access upon filling out a form. This also gives you the ability to capture the email addresses of visitors who download the ebook, allowing you to add them to any of your current email marketing campaigns (more on this shortly!) to reach them on a regular basis.
SECTION 2: Small Business Marketing Tips: Effective Messaging
Creating a Consistent Brand Strategy
The short answer to the question “What’s in a brand?” is “Everything.” As David Ogilvy, the famed father of advertising, described it, a brand is “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” Alternately stated, it’s what customers and prospects think of when they hear your business name, both the factual and the emotional. As such an important part of your business’s identity, it’s critical that you have a brand strategy and messaging framework that consistently promote the same ideas and ideals.
The Importance of a Consistent Brand Messaging Framework
As you’re developing messages for your various marketing initiatives make sure that at the heart, they’re all the same; they promote your business in similar ways using similar messages. For example, you won’t want to create an Instagram post using one logo and typeface and then use different marketing assets on your website. Similarly, if your website touts your company’s focus on community involvement you’ll want Facebook posts to promote the volunteer work you do. You’ll also want your staff to emulate the values your business holds dear, such as great customer service or individuality.
The Nuts and Bolts of Brand Development
There’s no doubt that larger, well-known companies have an established brand identity and a devoted customer base that keeps coming back for their products and services. This is why small businesses without unlimited marketing budgets need to find ways to differentiate themselves among the masses, and that’s where creating a robust brand strategy comes into play.
As you develop a brand strategy for your business, elements like your logo, color scheme, and messaging will evolve. This is expected, as all great brands are living brands that evolve with their customers and markets. But the fundamentals your brand is based on – your mission, your offerings – won’t change nearly as fast. To make sure your company stays true to itself and its core customers, identify a brand image that’s tied to your core values. These can be any number of traits such as strength, transparency, or innovation. Your brand elements relate specifically to what you want your venture to do for your audience and what you want it to become over time.
Once your core values are identified, you can create a library of foundation assets to be used consistently by everyone in the company. Templates for press releases, guidelines for press inquiries and other standards will help maintain brand consistency across marketing opportunities. Having a streamlined approval process for okaying marketing messages will ensure nothing off-brand slips through the cracks.
Taking Your Brand Strategy to the Next Level
To maintain the integrity of your brand you’ll need quality assurance processes to ensure no subpar products or services are delivered to customers. And, make sure your internal communications have the same messaging and overall tone as external communications, making your brand part of your firm’s DNA.
The Benefits of Using a Marketing Calendar for Your Small Business
An integral component to getting your business’s message out is simple organization. And, a great way to stay organized is to create a robust marketing calendar.
You’ve probably heard of a marketing calendar – also known as an editorial calendar – but may not be 100 percent clear on the concept. What is a marketing calendar? How do you use a marketing calendar in your overall marketing strategy?
A marketing calendar is a tool to help small businesses plan and execute a content strategy and coordinate marketing efforts with the entire team. A great marketing calendar keeps you organized so you’re better able to create and maintain deadlines, track the progress of any content promotions and visualize your entire content marketing plan in one place.
Why Should My Small Business Use a Marketing Calendar?
Companies of all sizes can benefit from using a calendar to streamline their marketing efforts. Admittedly, it will take some effort to create an actionable marketing calendar. However, once you do it will make your marketing life a whole lot easier. First, it will give you time to think about the content you’re going to create. Knowing what topics and projects are coming up keeps your team on track and also takes the pressure off when brainstorming content ideas on the fly. Many people have a terrible time coming up with ideas for what to write about when they’re looking at a blank page. With an editorial calendar, your topics are set in advance!
A marketing calendar will also allow you to coordinate your marketing plans with other parts of your business. Advertising, PR and the C-suite all contribute to marketing and should work from the same plan. With an integrated marketing calendar, no business unit will be surprised by marketing plans and can contribute ideas based on their needs.
Marketing calendars also make using themes for your marketing much easier, which helps ensure your messaging is consistent across channels. With a marketing calendar you can be sure that, for example, in April all messaging involves the theme of spring renewal. You could have a blog post, a video, direct mail and special offers all pertaining to renewal, making your promotions sharp and on-target.
Once you create an editorial calendar and a defined theme for your marketing each month, you have the necessary elements coordinating your real-world channels (such as direct mail) with advertising (printed materials like brochures) and digital marketing (pay-per-click campaigns, blog posts and social media posts).
What’s in a Good Marketing Calendar?
A good marketing calendar will differ from industry to industry, but all productive and useful marketing calendars will include information on your business’s promotional efforts. This may include advertising campaigns, events, content pieces, public/media relations, social media campaigns, email marketing and displays/signage. By including all your advertising and marketing vehicles in the calendar, you can rest easier knowing that each month every single element in your campaigns will be addressed.
A marketing calendar is at its most helpful when you’re able to easily use it to plan marketing campaigns and content promotion. With all efforts visible on your screen you can quickly see how core ideas, seasonal and current events and more can be populated across marketing avenues, all while using a consistent voice.
Leveraging Video: It’s Easier Than You Think
According to HubSpot research, 54 percent of consumers want to see more video from marketers. What does this mean for your small business? It means now is a great time to jump into video creation to give your business more of a competitive edge. Utilizing video can be an extremely effective messaging tool on your website, social platforms, email campaigns and more.
Making Great Videos for your Business on a Small Budget
You don’t need studio time, fancy equipment or actors to make compelling videos that engage both current and potential customers, because today’s smart phones have cameras capable of producing high-quality videos. There is even more good news about video marketing for businesses: videos you produce can be short! You don’t need to make feature films to create solid branding videos. Thirty seconds or less is all it takes to make informative, snappy videos that are easy to view on any device.
What Type of Video Should You Make?
When deciding how to make a video for your business, the first thing you want to think about is the type of videos you want to make and how you’d like to get your message across to your audience. The obvious choices for this initial foray into cinematography includes product usage, customer testimonials and your company story. During the process of creating these videos you’ll gather instructions, testimonials and background facts you can use in a myriad of marketing initiatives, making video creation for your business a truly great investment.
Tips for Shooting Videos Like a Pro
A great idea is to use two phones: one to capture the video and another one, located closer to the action, to capture sound. You’ll get great sound and can easily combine the two recordings with an editing program. You can also consider utilizing user-friendly software like Google Movie to create an informative video simply using interesting photos from your location, your products or recent events.
Another tip: Repurpose your videos as much as your other content, because videos are great content for your social platforms. Break the video into smaller, bite-sized pieces and add them to your Instagram Story. Post the first ten seconds of your video on your Facebook business page with a link to your website for visitors to view the rest. This has two advantages: 1) it keeps your Facebook followers more engaged with your content and 2) it drives more valuable traffic to your website.
The Basics of Effective Email Marketing
In the mid-1990s, consumers saw the rise of the first major internet service providers in AOL, Prodigy and CompuServe. This led the way for the adoption of both personal and business emails accounts and transformed the way society communicates. Today, businesses across the globe utilize email as an effective tool for marketing their services and products. Email marketing is known as a cost-effective solution that allows businesses of all sizes to reach customers on a regular basis; in fact, a recent survey
states that nearly 70 percent of businesses use email marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy.
Email Marketing Tips to Successfully Reach Your Customers
Whether your business has been utilizing email marketing campaigns for several years now or you’re just beginning to dabble in creating a strategy, having a “why” behind your “how” is always a good idea. You’ll find an abundance of email marketing tips by doing a quick search on the internet, but it’s important to revisit what makes email an important component of a comprehensive marketing strategy. Understanding how to collect email addresses, for starters, is an essential part of learning who your audience is and what they really need from your business.
For some, email marketing campaigns may seem old-school or outdated. But the fact remains: email is cost-effective, relatively easy to produce and lets you reach people in a place they are everyday – their inboxes. And, keep in mind that email is about 40 times more effective
than Facebook and Twitter combined in helping businesses land new customers – that’s a big deal.
Email marketing efforts will vary depending on what you’re selling, how you’re selling it and who you’re selling it to. But all effective email marketing campaigns follow a core set of best practices that help everyone get the most from email. These best practices include:
- Send email only to people who have opted in to your list. While there are ways to purchase email addresses, if none of those folks have heard of you they’re probably not going to be interested in your email.
- Create email subject lines that evoke emotion in your recipients. If someone reads your subject line and is curious, excited or scared by what they read they’re much more likely to open your email.
- Don’t forget the CTA (call to action). Marketing emails without a CTA are wasted opportunities! You might ask them to visit your website, stop in for a free gift, sign up for a white paper or pre-order a product. Whatever it is you’d like them to do, provide an easy way for them to do it.
- Test, test and test again. Before sending the email widely send it to yourself on as many different email platforms as possible. You want to know how it’s going to look in Outlook, Gmail and internal mail servers. And test different versions of your emails to pinpoint the phrases, images and links that result in the most activity.
- Send at the right time. 14 separate studies found that the best day and time to send emails is Tuesdays around 10:00 am. Use scheduling software to make sure your subscribers in different time zones get your messages around that time and you will see increases to your CTRs (click through rates).
Email Marketing Campaigns That Produce
For your email to have maximum effect you’ll want to be clear on the purpose of the e-mail and clearly know the points you need to cover. It’s important to make it easy for the reader to take action; let them know what kind of a response you’d like, if there’s a deadline and if or when they will hear from you again. Never assume people will understand what you want from them.
You also want to make your email marketing campaign a regular activity. Setting up an email schedule allows you to plan out topics (your editorial calendar), coordinate with holidays and events and send special messages to groups, among other things. Be sure to include upcoming email campaign ideas on your marketing calendar.
Perhaps most importantly, collect email addresses every chance you get. Add a short form with an email sign-up area on various pages of your website, collect email addresses at company events and use Facebook and Twitter posts to reach new folks to get them to sign up. And keep in mind that you’ll get more sign-ups if you offer a discount, resource or engaging video!
SECTION 3: Small Business Marketing Tips: Utilizing Social Media
Striking a Balance on Facebook
Today, an essential part of any small business marketing plan is ensuring your company has a presence on social media. Social media allows your business to connect with your customers online and build those important relationships that help you thrive. Keep in mind, however, that no one likes to be sold to. It’s a hard and fast rule you can count on, whether you’re at a car dealership or browsing through your newsfeed on Facebook. In fact, when it comes to social media marketing, sharing a laugh or supporting a cause can help you better reach your audience – and make your engagement levels soar.
Limit the Sales Talk On Your Facebook Business Page
With more than 2.27 billion monthly active Facebook users
, we can all agree that Facebook is too big of a marketing platform to ignore. Chances are your small business has a Facebook page and you understand the basics of Facebook for business. This means sharing content regularly that keeps your customers interested and engaged in your posts. Next up? Promoting your business page on Facebook – without annoying everyone!
Think about your business Facebook posts as if you are the potential customer. Do you want to see “Buy my stuff!” over and over again? Of course not. No one else does either, so balance your more sales-y posts with other content. Non-sales posts can be useful statistics, fun links, local events, or even the occasional funny meme. It all depends on what you’re offering and who you’re offering it to. While of course you want to let customers know of upcoming special offers, new products or services, recent employee hires and more, balance these types of posts with other types of engaging, informative content.
Emotion, the Secret Ingredient
No matter your audience, you can connect with them on an emotional level. Tell someone a fact and maybe they’ll remember it; make someone feel something and you’ve really gotten their attention. This works with making people laugh, reflect, get annoyed, or maybe even cry. A mortuary might hit the right note with a sad post, while an amusement park could post funny anecdotes several times a day. Both strike that critical emotional cord and get people more engaged with your business.
Twitter for Business: Finding and Using Trending Hashtags
Over the past ten years or so, hashtags have become an important tool in a business’s social media marketing efforts. Today, you’ll see them used on various social media platforms, but they got their official start on Twitter.
Hashtags are labels used on words or phrases in social media posts preceded by the number or pound sign (#), and they’re used to categorize specific content on relevant topics. They connect posts and conversations around the topic, making them easier to find and more convenient to search. Hashtags, especially trending hashtags, can help your business increase engagement with new users, so it’s important to incorporate them into your social media marketing strategy – and your overall marketing plan.
How to Know if a Hashtag is Trending
First, you need to figure out how to see trending hashtags on Twitter. When you log onto Twitter, the site will automatically show you the top hashtags and trending hashtags personalized for your account based on where you are and who you follow. To go beyond the few that Twitter shows you automatically, log onto Twitter on your mobile device, go to the search tab (or magnifying glass icon) and click on “Show more.” Instead of four trending topics, you’ll get the 20 top hashtags of the moment.
Next, you can create Twitter lists that help you find trending hashtags. Lists are curated groups of Twitter accounts. You can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others. When you view a list you’ll see only Tweets from the accounts on that list, as well as the hashtags they’re using.
Narrowing Your Focus by Using Top Hashtags
Of course, you can’t create a post about the latest specials on your restaurant’s menu and include the hashtag #BigBen; the two have nothing in common. But you can make a post that since it’s #NationalDonutDay, your company bought everyone donuts this morning. In this way you can capitalize on a trending hashtag while drawing attention to your business – without being in a “salesy” mode.
This is also where your lists come in handy. Let’s say your business sells IT management solutions. You have a list of IT thought leaders and see that #LowerITCosts is a trending topic. You can use that hashtag in your own post about saving money on IT and link to a services page on your website. Now there’s a much better chance that people following #LowerITCosts will see your post, increasing your targeted reach.
Using Instagram to Market Your Business
Instagram, the free photo and video sharing app, has shown it’s here to stay, with around 1 billion active users accessing the platform on a daily basis. Just like Facebook and Twitter, this social media app needs to be part of your small business marketing program. But how can you use Instagram for business? What’s the difference between Instagram stories and the Instagram feed? And isn’t Instagram marketing for strictly visual businesses, like photographers? It seems like a lot, but here’s the vital information you need about using Instagram for business.
The Basics of Using Instagram for Business
First, like your Facebook business page, you will need to create an Instagram business account, separate from any personal accounts. Instagram makes it even easier though, allowing you to switch between profiles with a swipe.
Any Business Can Shine with Instagram Marketing
Keep in mind that Instagram is an image-centric medium; the basis for every post is a photograph. For some businesses, posting photos of their work is a no-brainer – think photographers, architects and home staging companies. If your business is service-oriented, showcase the process behind providing the service. Any business can show their company culture, mission, or image-based how-tos. Other go-to ideas include posting pics of happy customers, offices and location, events you host or attend, or even holiday greetings. You can even upload GIFs, Boomerangs and videos up to one minute in length.
Posting on Instagram – Stories, Feed, or Both?
If you’re looking to show some behind-the-scenes or day-in-the-life content, go with Instagram Stories. Stories are short videos that can have text overlay that disappear after 24 hours. Take a vlog approach to your Stories and record snippets of a work day at your business, with subtle marketing content layered in. For example, your first Story post could be the staff having a morning meeting with yummy pastries and text about your upcoming sale. Later you can add to your Story with a Boomerang, an Instagram video app that takes a burst of photos that can be put together as a video, of a staffer dancing to a song on the radio and info on an open position you’re looking to fill. When the day’s wrapping up, pop into the CEOs office for a few words on what they learned today and hashtags referencing your mission, what you sell, or how you help clients.
Your Instagram Feed is more permanent, with posts staying live unless you delete them. When used with savvy hashtags, these entries serve as a way for people to find your business even months after you make the post. Focus on content such as well-lit product shots, client reviews and people using your product or service – a yoga class, items you sell, new menu selections or the weekly special. While you can’t layer text or emojis over Feed entries, you can use hashtags relating to what you do and the industry you’re in.
Build on That Momentum!
If Instagram for business seems daunting now, it won’t once you have a few Stories or Feed entries under your belt. And there’s no need to reinvent the wheel; browse your competitors and similar businesses for ideas and inspiration.
SECTION 4: Small Business Marketing Tips: Managing Your Online Reputation
Responding to Online Customer Reviews: It’s Not If, it’s How
There’s no denying that in this day and age, it’s easier than ever for consumers to share their thoughts about views about a product, service or even an entire company as a whole online, for the whole world to see. Once you’ve put a great deal of effort into building your website, brand strategy and social media platforms, the last thing you want is for one negative review to harm your bottom line.
It’s estimated that 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews
as much as personal recommendations. This means your small business’s online reputation is critically important, making responding to online reviews essential – especially the negative ones. There are hundreds of sites showcasing examples of good responses to negative reviews. We have a few tips your business can utilize to create a unique reply that can help ensure your continued success.
Customer Feedback: Why it Matters
Whether the customer truly is always right or not, it’s almost guaranteed that at some point at least one will be displeased by a particular experience with your business, and that individual may take this frustration to the internet with a negative online review. While this can present a challenge to your business, it can result in good vibes all around if handled correctly.
According to online review site, Yelp
: “Responding to reviews is a great way to learn from and build goodwill with one of your most vocal customers.” As an added benefit, your willingness to listen and learn might turn detractors into lifelong customers.
Keep in mind that customer feedback, whether delivered rationally or not, is always valuable. For example, perhaps your restaurant doesn’t offer take-out, and based on the online reviews your business has received you know this is a sore subject. It could be that you even need to consider offering this service, and the feedback provides a rock-solid reason behind the policy – and even a new revenue stream!
Protecting Your Business’s Online Reputation
Use these best practices when you respond to negative reviews your business might get:
- Seek humility. Acknowledge their frustration and apologize. Even if the complaint is unfounded, showing sympathy that they had a bad experience immediately takes the heat out of the situation: “I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience.”
- Take advantage of the opportunity. No one said you can’t use this exchange for some innocent marketing! Keep it relevant by explaining what your customers usually experience: “After all the compliments we’ve received on our customer service, your experience shows we are still learning.”
- Take it offline. As soon as you can, move the conversation to phone, email, text – anywhere but the public eye. Give the contact information of someone at your business they can reach out to and offer to help: “I’m Jessica and Gourmet Delights is my business. I want to make this right so please contact me at [phone/email].”
- Shorter is sweeter. Keep your response simple and short. They don’t want to hear a long-winded explanation and you don’t want to create room for perceived missteps. This way you’ll also steer clear of further upsetting the reviewer. Your target online review response is just three sentences: “I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience. After all the compliments we’ve received on our customer service, your experience shows we are still learning. I’m [name] and I’m the owner of [name of your business]. I want to make this right, so please contact me at [phone/email].”
One final tip to slay that negative review: Don't include your business's name or relevant search keywords and it's more likely this review will NOT show up in search results.
Remember, a strong marketing plan helps set your small business apart from all the rest. Instead of simply hoping your message gets out to your targeted audience, creating a marketing strategy helps you actively identify your ideal customers, understand their needs and develop, deliver and promote the customized content that speaks to them.
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