Step Two: Find your potential customers
Now that you know exactly who your market is and what you need to tell them, you’re ready to find ways to bring your brand to their attention.
Improve your search visibility
Want more traffic to your website without spending money? Optimizing your site so that you get found by search engines is easier than you might think.
Choose a long-tail keyword
First, figure out what phrase your target market might type into a search engine when they look for your products or services. Choosing a long-tail keyword — a phrase of 3 to 5 words instead of a single word — narrows your competition and helps you get higher placement in search results.
For instance, in the example above, one resort might choose “best vacation with young kids” while the other might choose “luxury beach getaway.” Both are better choices than a highly-sought-after and less specific keyword like “travel” or “vacation.” It would be very difficult to get to the top of the search results for a competitive keyword like that.
Note: If your business is local, be sure your metro or town name is in your long-tail keyword.
Optimize your content
Put your long-tail keyword in as many of the following locations as you can, so the search engines know that this is what your site is about:
- Your URL, if you don't already have one
- Your site name
- Your homepage title
- The first paragraph of text
- At least one subheading
- The meta description of the page
- “Alt” tags for images on the page
Sprinkle more repetition of the keyword phrase throughout the text where it feels natural — just don't overdo it. Search engines prioritize websites that use natural language over ones that pack keywords in where they don’t belong.
You can optimize for more than one keyword phrase, but it’s easiest to get started with just one. If you add more keywords later, create a landing page or blog post for each one and optimize that page. Including search engine optimization tactics in your online marketing plan can help you grow your business in the long term with little or no marketing budget.
Add blog posts
Publishing blog posts is a great way to bring organic traffic to your site for more keywords. You can write them yourself or pay someone to do it. Either way, think about the questions that your potential customers might type into a search engine and try to answer them. Use the words from those questions as your long-tail keywords for that page.
For instance, the family resort website might publish a blog post for the keywords “what to pack for children on vacation” or “best airline to fly with kids.” The blog posts would answer the questions thoroughly and invite the visitor to sign up for an email list, possibly offering a discount or prize drawing in exchange for subscribing.
Create a Google My Business Account
Setting up a listing with Google My Business can pay off in terms of search engine placement, especially if you run a local business, and it’s free. Your listing also lets you control how your company appears on Google Maps and gives options for collecting reviews and offering discounts.
Which websites and magazines are your customers reading? Email them a press release periodically, describing anything innovative or newsworthy that your company does. You can also let them know that you have experts on staff who are willing to give interviews when needed.
Writing guest posts for popular blogs that your audience reads is another good way to let them “meet” you and get links back to your website. If your business is local, be sure to include local news sources in your media outreach as well.
A small budget doesn’t need to limit your advertising options. Google and Facebook, the two giants of online advertising, both let you set your own budget. Even better, you can opt for a “pay-per-click” model, which means you only pay for advertising that brings traffic to your site.
With Google Ads, all you have to do is set a daily budget and Google multiplies that by 30.4 to reach a monthly maximum. So if you want to spend $30 a month on Google’s paid advertising, set a $1 daily budget. When you reach $30.40 for the month, your ads will stop running.
Creating display ads for Google is easier than you probably think. Once you specify which page on your website you want an ad to link to, Google will pull the headline and images directly from that page. Google can automatically build ads of different shapes and sizes using those elements, and if you don't like the results, you can change them.
Facebook's display advertising has very similar features. Facebook also lets you boost posts that you create on your Facebook page, setting limits as low as $1 per day to send your post to an audience you define. Facebook ads are a great marketing tool for promoting your business if you operate with a limited budget.
Both Google and Facebook let you specify an audience according to age, income, location, and interests. Whether you want your ads to reach young moms who love to knit, or retirees who like decorating, or teenagers in your town, you can accomplish that with either platform.
Focus your social media efforts by choosing just one or two channels to work with at first. Start with the one where you feel the most comfortable and where you think you’re most likely to connect with your target audience.
For instance, Facebook is widely used by people ages 30 and over, while Instagram appeals to teens and young adults. Men are more likely to be on Twitter or YouTube, but Pinterest is a good place to reach women.
Whatever social media Platforms you choose, create posts that reflect your brand identity while being useful to your audience. Some of your posts should be about your products, services, and promotions, but make sure you’re also offering tips, humor, and links that your followers will enjoy. Engage them in conversation by asking questions or polling them for their opinions.
If you’re already creating blog posts, you can use excerpts from those as social media posts, with or without links to the blog itself. Look for new ways to present the same information, like recording explainer videos or turning a series of tips into a collection of simple graphics that you can share individually.
If you keep sharing useful, interesting content, your audience will grow organically over time. You can also boost that growth with contests or giveaways.
Create contests and giveaways
Some small businesses use contests and giveaways as their main tool to build a social following, increase brand awareness and grow their email list. Here are some tips to make this marketing method work for your business:
- Choose a prize that your target market will be excited about.
- Create posts and ads to advertise the contest that also promote your brand and USP.
- Have people enter by joining your email list and/or following your social media.
- Give them additional entries if they share the contest.
- Follow up with a welcome email for all your new audience members.