As we are wrapping up the first half of the year, it is time to reflect a bit, find the gaps, and strategize how your business is going to level up for the second half of 2016. So let’s discuss some small business digital marketing tactics that will help your business grow in 2016.

We have seen some things in the first half of the year that will carry over into the second half and even grow. I don’t anticipate that any major changes will happen in the second half of the year until we get closer to the holiday season unless some new major players or releases happen.

It is important to understand that these are just tactics and are not strategies. You shouldn’t go out tomorrow and start building any of these into your marketing plan just because they are listed here. You should sit down with your marketing strategist to discuss and analyze which of these hits your audience where they are and in the right mind frame that you are looking for.

Facebook Live

2016 brought us the open access to Facebook Live which allows people to live stream to people about, essentially, whatever they want. Businesses can also use the tool as a way of connecting with their customers and adding value. People love buying from people they know and this is a great way to get to know your customer.

This feature is a direct competitor to Twitter’s Periscope but has the added value of being able to tap into the existing audience of ideal clients that you have already built on Facebook without needing to exit to another platform. Periscope, on the other hand, is more robust for finding new broadcasts but requires that you go off of Twitter to watch the streams unless you want to watch it as part of your Twitter feed.

Some examples of ways that you can use Facebook Live are doing a video blog post or a vlog. You can do AMAs or ask me anythings. You can do regular office hours where you answer questions, give advice and do some high-level coaching.

To get started using Facebook Live, Facebook has published some very high-level tips on how to use Facebook Live.

In 2016, this should be the fastest growing tool for small business owners. It can be a tremendous asset when competing with the big box stores and staying front of mind as we move into the shopping season.

Website Optimization

You’ve been hearing us talk about optimizing your website for a while now. But there are still a ton of people who are either still using the same old website without any type of optimization toward conversions, bad copy, not strategically built or just slow.

Making sure that your website is driving people down your funnel and toward that conversion should be the primary objective of your website. It should be adding money to your pocket and not just be some artwork that you get to look at from time to time. You should never be questioning whether your website is actually working to grow your business. It should be working as a round-the-clock sales person for you and be your biggest and greatest marketing asset.

As technologies continue to improve, internet speeds get faster, and customers continue to shop online for everything from products to services, we will continue to see websites being optimized for business growth and more businesses that don’t take the time to shape up this channel of their marketing strategy will continue to suffer.

Snapchat

Snapchat is the fastest growing social media application in the world. The only competitor for that spot is Instagram but the reason that Snapchat is ahead is purely because people are realizing that there are so many more uses than sending pictures no one Small business digital marketing tactics for the second half of 2016should ever see to someone else. Instead, it is a great way to send micro-content to your followers and provide snippets of value to their lives and businesses, ingraining you as a leader and expert to them.

Another awesome thing that Snapchat lets you do is in the direct messaging. Sure, if you have 1 million followers, sending a personal message to each of them would be difficult, almost impossible. However, if you pick 1% of those or even .1% of those followers and send them a message, give them a little inspiration, just tell them to go out today and kill it, be 1% more today than they were yesterday, to those 1,000 people you could change their lives but at the very least will change their day. Then you will have a brand advocate for the rest of their lives.

And if you want to get some value from me, add me for tips and tricks by signing up for Snapchat and pointing the camera at this code.

I don’t see businesses failing because they don’t move to Snapchat for the second half of 2016. However, if you are in a market where it makes sense and you have a competitor who starts to build it into their strategy and it makes sense for your audience of ideal clients, then you may find yourself falling behind.

Building your community

This may sound obvious but if you go into the top trending apps in the major app stores, all of the top apps are some form of a group application. The top 10 trending apps for social right now in the Google Play Store include 5 dating apps, 2 chat apps, 1 football community app, a video streaming app, and Tumblr.

All of those apps (with a minor and arguable exception of Tumblr) tell me one thing. Despite people having a phone in their hand all day every day, despite the infinitely more accessible world that we live in, despite the instantaneous opportunity to connect with everyone from Joseph down the street to Mark Cuban, we are still lonely. We are looking for others who are like us, who will accept us, and who we feel like we can connect with.

Utilizing this functional need as part of your marketing strategy is a definite and undeniable way to build brand equity with your customers and clients and to grow your network of committed community members who have already qualified themselves as interested in your products or service offerings just by being part of your community.

You obviously can’t just go out and start hitting them with sales messaging. You have to provide value to that community to gain from it and you do that by being one of them. Many many many businesses are built off of scratching your own itch, building a product or service that fills a need that you yourself have. So making sure that you show yourself as a person who shares the same needs as the people that are members of your community is CRITICAL when trying to connect with them. If you can’t connect, you don’t exist within that community and you will not gain from it.

The rest of 2016 will see more and more businesses continue to capitalize on the equity that comes from being part of a community. Many businesses will succeed because they invest here and once the holiday shopping season hits, they will be top of mind.

Instagram

If you have been paying attention, then seeing Instagram on this list shouldn’t surprise you. Instagram is still an extremely powerful tool for storytelling in your business a well as a largely untapped resource as a local marketing tool.

Some markets, especially software and businesses like CPAs have a hard time finding a place that this type of graphic-based marketing can work for them. They don’t necessarily have a job that lends itself to photography on a day to day basis.

I would argue that it is even more of a benefit for these types of businesses to work with tools like Instagram because using imagery is a great way to tell a story that works for your business and allows the customer to connect with you. We can’t all work in a children’s museum or be a rowing club. So finding the right images with the right messages that build the story around your business and around your community is even more important.

Wrapping up

Digital marketing will still need to be the cornerstone of your marketing, whether you are a rural small business or urban. Mass print doesn’t carry any weight anymore and personalized print is not scalable. Take a long hard look at your current marketing strategy and see if there is a place that one of these tools make sense. Try it for a little while and evaluate. Always be evaluating.

If you aren’t sure of how these tools could be built into your marketing plan, please let us know. Reach out to us and we would love to sit down to discuss your ideas and give some thoughts.