The digital ecosystem is alive and thriving. With people staying home and spending more time online, it’s more important than ever to create a visible online presence. But how can you get a piece of the action? You’ll need a modern strategy because digital marketing is a dynamic, fast-paced industry.
As a small business marketer or entrepreneur with limited marketing funds, how can you stand out, attract customers, and succeed online?
The digital grid is large but navigable with the right tools in tow. In this beginner’s guide, you’ll learn tactical tips for how to reach customers online. Apply these strategies, and you’ll build an undeniable digital presence worthy of attention — and action — from your ideal customers.
Which leads us straight into your first step:
Identify your target market
The first step to reaching new customers is to know your audience. Marketing is a series of moving parts but boils down to one big-picture goal: to communicate to your audience. In fact, it’s the core of your entire marketing campaign and why it lands a spot at the top of the list.
If you want to attract customers, you need to speak directly to them with laser-sharp messaging. First, you need to define precisely who you are talking to.
Who’s interested in you?
Without customers, there is no business. It’s not enough to know a little about your target customer; you need to know exactly who they are, what excites them, what they dislike, and the inner workings of their buying behaviors.
Your launchpad for reaching new customers online hinges on your ability to communicate with lazer-sharp precision. A few key questions to ask are:
- Who is your target customer?
- What do they want to buy?
- What problem are they having?
- How will you solve it?
From there, you can create buyer personas and build sales funnels and marketing content that resonates with their values, needs, and interests.
The finer you define your audience, the more successful you’ll be at identifying needs, offering solutions , and ultimately, gain leads that show a return.
Strong branding, email campaigns, and targeted advertising can land you new customers, but they’ll come back because you solve their problem.
Define demographics and create customer personas
You may have a general idea of your target customer, but that doesn’t mean that each one is the same. There are unique individuals within your demographics, and they’ll each fall into specified categories; these are your customer personas.
Instead of casting a wide net that catches all the fish, target a select group who are likely to buy from your brand based on their needs. This is the process of creating customer personas, and it dictates your entire marketing agenda moving forward.
Let’s dive into the psyche of your personas to discover their behavioral patterns:
- What role does your target customer play in society and at home? For example, are they go-getter career women? More specifically, are they a 30-something mother and HR manager in the healthcare field?
- Dive further: What is their highest level of education? Do they live in the city, country, or suburbs? Are they married, engaged, cohabiting? Do they have children?
- Explore their professional characteristics: What problems do they face in their workday? Are they an authority figure or entry-level position? What responsibilities shape their needs?
Let’s look at Hubspot’s buyer persona, “Erin.” As a recently married Director of Marketing Operations who oversees a large company, Erin is a well-educated career woman who struggles with tech overload and needs help with integrating all of her work systems into a coordinated, no-fuss marketing campaign. Her solution? Hubspot.
Does that seem painfully precise? That’s because it is, and it works. Now, let’s connect you with your personas.
Which platform are your personas on?
Now that you know your customers well, it’s time to find out what platforms they spend time on. How will your target audience find out about you? If we use Hubspot’s “Erin” as an example. Do we think she’s more likely to spend the most time on Instagram or LinkedIn? Chances are, she interacts with her network and builds connections on a business-oriented platform.
When she logs in to LinkedIn, browses her feed, or chats with connections, you should be there. Not with sales-y, overbearing promotions, but with relevant information and knowledge she finds useful, interesting, and click-worthy. So, let’s say you share a targeted piece of content to your business’s LinkedIn account, and your target persona clicks on it, then what?
Which of their needs do you fulfill?
Ultimately, when they land on your page, your target customers should instantly know which problem you can solve for them. In an ultra-quick decision-making process, they’ll decide if you are going to help them or not. How long do you have? Less than 15 seconds, according to Chartbeat.
So, how will you keep them on your website? This is where the problem-solution concept comes into play. By knowing exactly who your customers are, what they need, and how you help, you can build an emotional connection with them.
For example, the Instant Pot isn’t revolutionary in its function; it sells because it’s marketed as a cooking product that saves time without sacrificing the nutritional benefit of quick, healthy food. For busy professionals who don’t have time to cook but want to provide healthy meals for their family, the Instant Pot delivers.
Shape your personas on the basis that your target customer is, in fact, a real human. Don’t mistake them for dollar signs or overarching groups; get detailed and dive into the nitty-gritty of your personas, what they need, where they spend time, what their behaviors are, and why your business helps them.
What if you struggle to know if your personas are accurate? Fortunately, there’s a world of data to guide you.
Sharpspring is a powerful tool to get insights regarding audience behavior, and how they interact with your website and campaigns. With so much on your plate already, Sharpspring offers the means for you to automate your marketing by setting goals that provide support marketing and sales in the long term, and implementing those goals with a slew of automation features, like automated emails, landing page builders, a built-in CRM system and more.
Generate brand awareness
Finding your target audience is an extensive process, but now you’re ready to reach new customers online. How? With on-brand messaging that speaks to them in their language. This goes beyond their mother tongue to access their specific phonetics, vernacular, slang, needs, and thoughts. These factors are the heart of your brand messaging.
Develop key brand messaging
Every article of content — including visual, written, and interactive — should revolve around brand messaging, but what exactly is that?
Brand messaging is the language you use to articulate your values and offerings to your target buyer. When you nail brand messaging, it humanizes your brand into a perfectly packaged (and highly relevant) sales funnel. In addition, key messaging encapsulates the personality of your brand — be it business professional, athletic, youthful, feminine, academic, or comedic.
Examples of brand messaging include:
- Slogans: Like Nike’s “Just Do It”
- Taglines: Like De Beers’ “A Diamond Is Forever”
- Website copy, visuals, and interactive content, like Apple’s undeniable simplicity, Google Suite’s recognizable icons, or Geico insurance’s unbelievably simple but highly relatable “15-minutes or less” promise that’s over 20-years strong.
How can you solidify your brand messaging to captivate your target audience and persuade them to purchase from your brand? Write out your mission statement, think about what you offer and how you want to position your brand in its niche.
Now, does that sound like something your target audience would want to read? Maybe, but let’s refine your message so that it’s in their language.
Speak to them in their voice
When it comes to brand messaging, you need to balance your offerings, brand pillars (your mission statement and value proposition), and your personas’ tone with hefty finesse.
How does your target audience speak? Are they scholars or groundbreaking creative types? Your messaging, language, verbiage, and even grammar should all mirror how they talk.
If slang is a large part of your ideal buyer’s language — say a millennial — speak to them with language they use with their friends. Conversely, if your business is in the medical or academic fields, you’ll need to ensure that all copy is grammatically flawless. Fortunately, you can easily self-copy in the free Grammarly App — which checks your writing for formality, authority, tone, clarity, engagement, and of course, grammar.
So, let’s take your product or service and wrap it into brand messaging tailored to your ideal customer.
Here’s how to fine-tune your offering:
There are seven key concepts to incorporate into your brand messaging, let’s have a look at each.
- Target audience — I’ve talked extensively about this, but it’s vital to always keep your target buyer at the forefront of all brand messaging. Don’t put a word in that doesn’t align with their values.
- Brand promise — What is your offering and how does it benefit your ideal buyer?
- Value proposition — This is a written statement that tells people the value of your product or service. It’s a chance to convince your ideal buyer to buy from you and not your competition.
- Mission statement — Not to be confused with a value proposition, your brand’s mission statement clearly outlines your goals, core values, and big-picture plan for the business.
- Brand pillars — What are the primary selling points of your offering and why are they vital? All of the above factors will help you deconstruct your business into a few key values that serve as your brand pillars.
- Elevator pitch, a.k.a Book synopsis — If you had less than a minute to sell your brand, could you? Create a concise, short, zippy pitch that encapsulates your brand in a compelling way.
- Tone and voice — This is a chance to get creative with your brand messaging. Is the voice of your brand serious or playful? Is your audience youthful or pensive? Is your messaging informal or formal, perhaps even academic?
Lastly, use buzz words wisely
Specific terms can compel your target audience, but there’s a strong chance your competitors are using the same language. That’s why it’s crucial to choose buzz words wisely.
If you’re an “innovative startup,” who’s to say your competitor isn’t? Buzz words can be powerful, but they shouldn’t be your only sales point. Clear messaging will always trump flashy buzzwords, but there is a way to combine the two.
As an example, let’s say you own a B2B planning and operating system for organizations. Here’s an example of buzzword packed brand messaging:
“An innovative communication software that transforms your workflow processes into a streamlined communication system.”
The above statement is cumbersome and unnatural, but many companies use this type of verbiage. Ultimately, they all start to sound the same. Instead, keep it straightforward and only use 1-2 effective buzzwords. Let’s reframe it:
“Together. In projects, processes, and success. Wherever you are.”
Which statement do you think is more relatable? If you guessed the second one, you’re right! And it works beautifully for Monday.com because it’s concise, humanized, targeted brand messaging.
All of your messaging should use buyer-specific language that speaks directly to your ideal customer. Lackluster messaging that’s scattered, confusing, or off-target can significantly hinder your business. Fortunately, the right brand messaging can grip people and convert them into loyal customers.
Establish a presence on social media
There’s no denying that social media is a powerful tool to reach new customers online. Be that as it may, the social media universe is a little intimidating for first-time marketers. There are many platforms available; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and TikTok.
Choose two to three platforms that suit your brand and start sharing content and interacting with the community. Be sure to apply your brand messaging to your bio and about sections. Also, add your logo as your profile picture, and remain consistent with your branding on each profile.
Now, you’re ready to tap into relevant communities and contribute. Social media communities are like little digital worlds where people with shared interests and values interact.
Here are a few examples:
- Facebook groups are available for literally every topic, niche, and community interest. Obé Fitness is an at-home streaming program with a 10,000 strong Facebook group called “Obé Fam”
- Instagram hashtags are a great way to join the conversation within your niche. Take a look at #NeverStopExploring, which has 25+ million posts. Travel enthusiasts, brands, blogs and publications all connect by sharing content with the hashtag.
- Pinterest boards are a fantastic way to join an online community and grow your web traffic. Pinterest is a visual search platform, and 335 million people use it every month to find information, products, and services.
- Twitter communities are perhaps some of the most active spaces of the internet. Enter the broad topic of your niche and scroll the feed of recent posts. As a content writer, I frequently browse the #amwriting or #digitalmarketing hashtags to connect with my peers and find new content.
There are communities on every social media platform, but each one operates differently. Your branding, messaging, and offerings will largely dictate which platforms serve you best.
Where should you post your content?
Let’s say your business sells wellness products, and your audience loves finding health-related content on Instagram and Pinterest. To start, focus on posting branded graphic images to Instagram using relevant hashtags like #wellness #holistichealth, and #mindbodyspirit.
You can create custom graphics using PosterMyWall’s easy-to-use editor or browse thousands of customizable templates. With your content ready to share, the social media publishing and scheduling tools make it easy to post to multiple platforms with one click.
But first, create rich pins featuring your products and pin them to your Pinterest boards. Rich pins contain an optimized pin description and title with related keywords.
Don’t have time to create all this content? There’s an affordable and time-saving solution for that. Take the Instagram content you made in the PosterMyWall editor and use the resizing tool to match the dimensions of a Pinterest Pin. In just minutes, you’ve repurposed content and already have a batch scheduled for two platforms.
Are you feeling bold? Why not further use that same image and create a tutorial or how-to video? All you have to do is convert the existing graphic into video format, customize the text, and set your content into motion.
Speaking of Instagram Stories…
Right now, videos are a fierce marketing trend because 54% of consumers want to see video content from their favorite brands. For most of Instagram’s existence, it’s primarily been an image-sharing platform, but now 500 million people watch Instagram Stories every single day.
If there’s one platform to focus on for sharing content, including links to your products and highlighting your offerings, it’s Instagram Stories.
Grow an email marketing list
Email marketing is an effective strategy to reach new customers online. While the investment is minimal, the benefits are sizable.
- Email marketing will get you $38 back on every dollar spent
- 59% of business marketers attribute email marketing as having the most substantial ROI
- 46% of people open newsletter emails on their phone (which they carry with them everywhere)
Growing an email list might take some time, but it’s worth the wait. You’ll build an audience and create a lucrative sales funnel with every email you send out.
Not sure where to start? First, choose an affordable newsletter platform like MailChimp or Flodesk that make email marketing simple. Then, add a newsletter signup form to your website. Place it as a banner at the top of your site, as a popup, in the sidebar or footer. Lastly, incentivize visitors to subscribe. People will give you their email if you offer them something valuable in return.
In marketing, this is known as a lead magnet.
If you own a product-based business, offer new customers a 10% discount when they sign up for your newsletter. If you’re a service-based or software business, create a short freebie that’s helpful to your target audience.
A freebie can be anything from a 10-page ebook, content checklist, free webinar, workbook, printable template, or even a quiz.
So, what type of content should you email subscribers?
Now that you’ve got your lead magnet running and are building an email list, what should you send your subscribers? Newsletters should be mutually beneficial for both your subscribers and your business. Focus on building connections with your audience. Otherwise, you’ll risk people opting out the second they get their free content or discount.
Here are some opt-in ideas to get you started:
- Send targeted content that’s relevant to your audience. Newsletter content should be valuable, otherwise, it will go straight to trash. Send new recipes, how-to guides, blog posts, insider tips, and relevant content.
- Send discounts or promotions based on activity. If you have abandoned carts, offer a 20% discount on the customer’s first purchase. Balance promotional emails with valuable content so that your subscribers don’t opt-out.
- Send more freebies. When you have new content on the docket that’s beneficial to your audience, send it to their inbox.
Visuals are everything in marketing, so you’ll want to greet your subscribers with stunning imagery the second they click on your newsletter email. If you need inspiration, start by customizing a email header template with your branding and content.
Ready to reach new customers online?
If the online universe were a sports-stadium, you’d want to sell out tickets, right? The difference between the Yankee Stadium and the internet is that there’s no maximum capacity online. With these tactical marketing tips at your fingertips, you’ll have a robust online presence that attracts your ideal buyers.
You can grow an audience online and gain new customers. Focus on your target audience, stay concise with brand messaging, build a presence on social media, and start a conversation via email marketing. Time to step up to bat and swing for the fences, you’ve got this!