Posts tagged small business marketing
How long it takes for marketing to work

Are you wondering how long it takes before your marketing should be expected to begin boosting sales or lead conversion? Do you get impatient to see marketing results? I do! 

As business owners, we should be interested in how our marketing is doing and regularly check performance, but I have also seen clients give up way too quickly on a strategy because they expected too much too soon. Or the wrong results from the wrong type of marketing.

How long should you wait to measure your marketing or make a call on its effectiveness so you can either keep it going or make improvements? It depends on the platform, your audience and what type of results you're after. 

how long for marketing to work

Paid search ads, for example, can take several days - even a couple weeks - to "learn" how to get in front of the right people at the right time. Google utilizes complicated algorithms and testing to help your ad get to peak performance. Facebook does the same and is increasingly allowing more defined targeting with its paid ads. As long as an ad is showing decent adoption each week, I recommend clients give it a solid month before making a judgement call on how well their ad campaign is doing. A good ads manager will make tweaks about once or twice a week but still give it space to let the learning happen. 

Social media posts can also take days to work all the way through your following. I try not to put insights down for a social post until at least 48 hours after posting to make sure it's run its course. Even then, you'll notice older posts still getting traction since they're available to new followers or anyone randomly browsing your account (that's not creepy at all).

SEO doesn’t register with search engines for a few days and can take months to really gain traction. This is because Google and other search platforms are looking for combined SEO tactics to rank your website. It’s the power of the consistent combo. I’ve had clients ask me to help them rank higher about 60-90 days after their website is built. Unless their site was built by someone with very little SEO knowledge (a website builder worth their salt will optimize it fine), the problem is usually that they haven’t given it time to prove itself in cyberspace.

My advice is to take SEO very seriously when you first build your website, it’s much harder to get it caught up after the fact. You can, however, make changes that help a lot - but it still isn’t an overnight solution. AND, while I’m harping on SEO, if this is a priority strategy, you need to have it handled by a pro. For realz.

Some marketing campaigns are more about brand awareness and others are pushing an audience already following you to take the next step to engage with your content or buy. Some strategies are to gain leads and others are about warming up leads for a big promotion you're about to do. These can all factor into how long you need to wait to see if your marketing is actually working. 

You also need to consider the product you’re marketing for. Some purchases - like buying a home, car or college enrollment - require a longer period for the client to make a decision about. If you're a luxury real estate agent pushing high priced properties, that's a BIG ask. You have to let a would-be buyer marinate on that big, important purchase for much longer than, say, a new pair of shoes. 

The bottom line is to commit to a marketing strategy and let it loose for a reasonable amount of time before you make any major changes. Usually, I recommend a solid 90 days for a well planned campaign. With some tweaking along the way, three months will give your marketing enough time to consistently do its job and reveal all its strengths and weaknesses for improving upon. 

Failing to give your marketing time to work will only cause you to assume it was a bad plan and remain in the dark on what your audience wants and will respond to, which is only going to hurt your business and have wasted your efforts.

If you’re tired of guessing and are ready to turn your small business marketing over to a professional marketing director, I’d love to talk with you about your needs and vision.

Six data-driven tips for stronger email performance

Email marketing makes small business better. In fact, it surprises me how little emphasis a lot of business owners put on growing an email list and sending that list regular emails. I think many entrepreneurs get distracted by the attractional qualities of their website, social media and ads, and neglect to recognize the conversion power of a strong email marketing play. 

small business email marketing

Anyway, getting off my soapbox, because this blog is for the business owners who get email and want to strengthen their email marketing game. How do we make our emails more effective? We listen to what the data tells us.

Some of this will probably surprise you - data doesn’t always back up our preferences and untested opinions - so if any of these tips make you go, hmmm, really? I’d love to know why in the comments.

Here are a few ways to make your emails better:

Run your subject line through a subject line checker 

This one is easy-peasy and if you do anything differently after reading this blog, it should be this. Subject lines are critical to getting email opens and earning interest at first glance, so make sure they pass the test. I use this one but there are others you can find through a simple search. The subject line checker may not always feel human but it’ll help you compare options and learn what is preferable to a general audience. Or, it may simply give you confidence in a subject line you already know is strong.

Use emojis, first names and text-only

Okay, so this is a three-in-one tip and may not hold true for long as trends change, but the data shows emojis in subject lines get higher open rates, using someone’s first name in the greeting is gold and images at the top of the email deter readers. Yes, images may look nice in an email but audience behavior indicates it can have a negative effect. I think it’s because email is still a medium where text is expected and reigns supreme. When someone gets an email, they’re thinking; okay, just tell me what you can do for me. They’re not as likely to have patience for scrolling past a pretty picture to see what you want to tell them. This isn’t Pinterest or Instagram.

Send emails on these optimal days

Most reports I’ve found show the middle of the week being the best time to email. Some even get more specific and cite Tuesdays, but I’ve personally found Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to work just as well. In fact, I use this incredibly handy top performing email dates calendar by Worlddata.com to schedule emails at optimal times. Generally, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday beat the other days of the week, but there are factors that impact this on the regular. Holidays, seasonal events like summer vacations and back to school, audience culture, and big news days can all shift where people’s attention is and if it’s on their inbox or not. The best way for you to nail down your optimal times is to experiment with different times of the week and see what’s working best over time. 

Send emails at these optimal times

Most email marketing gurus recommend sending first thing in the morning or around lunch time which are both times that have worked well for me. Since emails are usually more content-heavy than social posts and often ask for the reader to continue exploring whatever it is they’re teasing such as a blog or website, you have to get it in front of your audience when they’re on their computer or phone and can spend a few minutes reading and following the trail you’ve set - usually during work or productivity hours. This is a different strategy than social. 

Make it mobile-friendly

This article on Hubspot says emails that display incorrectly on mobile may be deleted within three seconds. I gotta be honest, this part drives me nuts. Although digital marketing data screams at us to make everything better for mobile screens, many website and email platforms still have a ways to go. It may take a little extra time but do what you can to make your emails show up nicely on a phone. And pay attention to how much scrolling a phone user will have to do to get to any calls to action. What may seem accessible on a laptop or desktop screen is going to land in an entirely different location on a phone. 

Spend 15 minutes looking at your previous 6 email reports

Over time, your audience will tell you what works best for them. If you’re using a platform like MailChimp, Constant Contact, MailerLite, etc., to send emails, you have a goldmine of data reports to show you what’s working and what’s not for your audience. For the stronger open and click rates, take note of the strength of the subject line and the day and time you sent them. These three factors can make a world of difference once you pinpoint what is consistently performing well. 

Of course, if the content of your emails isn’t helpful or interesting to your readers, none of these tips will help. Ready for a professionally written email campaign that works? Schedule a free strategy session with me.

Four ways to automate your small business marketing

When I speak with small business owners, their main issue is not creativity, know-how or desire to run an effective marketing strategy. Their issue is time.

Great small business marketing takes time and many preferred marketing methods like emails and social media can start to feel like full-time jobs if you’re doing them right. Every effective email and social post requires thought, planning, writing, art and learning from the results. An effective marketing campaign requires all of this ten-fold across the weeks. Who has time for that when your actual business is not to do small business marketing!?

small business marketing automation

Here's a tip to help you get a handle on time-consuming marketing so you can give yourself some hours back: Automate. Putting as much as possible on auto pilot is a SAVING GRACE for us business owners. Here are my favorite ways to automate small business marketing:

1. Website pop-up. Get emails added to your list while you're sleeping. Most website platforms have a way to add a pop-up or announcement bar. If not, there are opt-in services you can add to your website (just search website opt-ins or website pop-ups). Come up with a great reason for a visitor to give you their email and tease it using a pop-up. Try a few different ideas and see which works the best, then stick with that for a while. Need ideas for what to use? Here are a few.

2. A Google listing. Random? Maybe. SEO savvy? Absolutely. Create a simple Google listing for your business that connects to your website and includes basic business info. This is especially important if you're a local business trying to sell to your own community. Having a presence on Google helps validate your business and is an SEO enhancement. Create a Google account or use the one you have and get that listing up and running with all the proper info.

3. Email campaigns. Ya'll know I love my email campaigns. Even if you only have 50 people on your email list, start emailing them! Writing and automating emails takes some work upfront, but it's soooooo worth it a couple months down the road when you're cultivating your community and pushing sales without lifting a finger. Hit me up if you’d like to learn how I create email campaigns for my entrepreneur clientele.

4. Marketing plan. Okay, so this may not seem to entirely fit into set-it-and-forget-it automation, but it actually comes close if you do it right. Many of the small business owners I work with don’t have the budget to hire someone like me to run their marketing full-time, but they do realize a professional plan can save them hours of time each month. The plans I create show the entrepreneur what to post and when week by week - saving them from the constant “uh, what should I post now?” or “crap, I probably need to send an email for that new service” or “shoot, I just spent an hour stressing about a Facebook caption”. A customized marketing plan can truly revolutionize a business owner’s life. Check out my customized marketing plans in the add-on section of my services list to see what options I offer.

I’d love to know how you’re automating your marketing, or if you’re planning to try any of the options I mentioned here. Leave a comment to share your marketing automation experience!