For small businesses, every dollar counts, and it can seem difficult to find a dedicated budget for marketing. Yet your marketing budget need not be large to make an impact. The key is to be strategic with your money, focus on reaching local customers, and make sure your marketing supports your overall business goals. Done right, marketing tactics will build off one another so that you can leverage your investment, and formalizing a plan for how to spend your marketing dollars is the first step. Here are the top four ways you should be spending your marketing budget.
1. Search engine optimization (SEO)
More than one in five shoppers research their purchases online before buying. This makes your website crucially important to increasing sales. It pays to spend some money not only on creating an aesthetically pleasing site, but one that ranks well on search engines so that shoppers discover you when searching for your products or services. Simple changes, like showing images of products or improving the checkout flow, can really improve sales. Creating an e-commerce website can seem overwhelming, but there are many vendors who can help get you set up quickly with the right architecture to optimize for SEO. Clover Online, for example, can help design a mobile-friendly, e-commerce site that is fully integrated with your Clover POS system. You’ll be able to accept the same payment options you do in store with state-of-the-art encryption and security. Once you make the initial investment in building the site, it takes little effort and money to keep it optimized, especially if it’s synced with your POS and inventory system.
2. Email marketing
According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), every dollar spent on email marketing brings in an average of 38 dollars in return. Email is extremely cost-effective, which is why it’s still one of the most popular methods of advertising and should represent about 10 percent of your marketing budget.
The XLS Uploader app helps you upload your current spreadsheet of customers into your Clover POS device. If you already have a marketing automation service, such as MailChimp or Constant Contact, you should sync up your contacts regularly from your POS device to keep your database up to date. When first starting out, try to email your customers once a month about upcoming specials or tips on how to use products. Over time, you should start to develop automatic messaging to thank customers for their purchase, to re-engage old customers, or to build a community.
If you don’t already have an email automation service, start with Clover’s free app Promos to send out promotions and coupons to customers. When you’ve built up enough data, you can upgrade your email marketing by subscribing to Customer Engagement Plus to send real-time promotions, automated win-back campaigns, and more targeted campaigns.
3. Search engine marketing
According to WordStream, 64.6% of people click on Google ads when they are searching for something online. This makes pay-per-click advertising, whether on Google Adwords, Bing, or Yahoo, an obvious choice for small businesses. Paid search ads also allow you to target local audiences or even to upload your email list to target past customers. Because there is no minimum spend, you can start small with a few basic ads and build up from there. This type of marketing, whether on search engines or sponsored ads on social media, should represent about 20% of your marketing budget.
Extend the reach of your paid search ads with Voicemonk’s Smart Customer Engagement app. This app engages customers through Facebook messenger, Facebook ads, SMS, and Alexa making it really easy to leverage the ads you’ve already created for paid search. The Smart Customer Engagement app is also a good investment because it can also be used to respond to customer queries and offer better customer service.
4. Social media
Social media is one of the best ways to get word-of-mouth marketing…once you have a following. If you’re just starting out, consider adding a message to follow you on social media to every receipt. Apps like Rovely make this process easy. Rovely adds links to digital receipts, like emails and text messages, and QR codes on printed receipts so customers can follow or like you with a simple click. Offering incentives, like special promotions, previews to new styles and products, or unique content can help you build up your following fast.
Ninety-two percent of consumers read online reviews before buying, so part of your social media plan should be to regularly scan review platforms. BeSocial is a tool to help you track your ranking on Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare, and monitors your online reputation on Yelp and Google. BeSocial can also take some of the work out of posting content by scheduling and sharing content across your platforms throughout the day.
Nothing sparks sales like a good promotion. Whether creating coupons, combinations, or special discounts, you’ll need the technology to print coupons or apply instant discounts in the cart. Coupons N Combos is a very reasonable option for facilitating promotions and creating printable ads. Having this technology will help you quickly implement promotions during holidays or just to help perk up a slow period. Mix it up and see what gets your customers excited.
Before making final decisions on where to spend your budget, take the time to learn more about your best customers. One of the many benefits of using Clover’s POS are the free apps that give you marketing intelligence. Clover Insights, for example, offers trends in sales, who is buying what products, and when. This real-time data will help leverage your marketing dollars by targeting your ads to specific customers when they are most likely to buy.
Clover is sold by leading U.S. banks including Bank of America, BBVA, Citi, PNC, Sun Trust and Wells Fargo. You’ll also find Clover at our trusted partners including Ignite Payments, Restaurant Depot, and Sam’s Club. For more information, visit us at clover.com.[image: Budgeting by 401(K) 2012 on flickr]