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Want to up your marketing game? How about improving your marketing habits?
As cliché as this sounds: marketing habits can either make or break a small business. And if you want to level up, you need to start building habits that those who run successful businesses have.
And which habits are those, you ask?
Let’s answer that for you based on what we learned from 101 contributors – 98 of whom are small businesses.
Briefly, we found:
In short, SME owners need to approach marketing strategically and meticulously: content-wise, in data analytics, customer service, and targeting, social media management, and so on.
Let’s now dive into the marketing habits you need to develop:
It’s easy to conclude that a marketing tactic or channel doesn’t work. What’s difficult, however, is putting in the work consistently.
Put another way, the key to a lot of marketing success is consistency. After all, savvy marketers know that it’s pretty unrealistic to expect quick results. What helps in such a case is consistently executing the strategy that you create.
Explainerd’s Natasha Rei agrees. “The most important marketing habit for a small business owner is to be consistent with their marketing efforts.“
“This means consistently publishing content, promoting their content, and engaging with their audience,” Rei points out.
“For some businesses like eCommerce, that might mean having a consistent eNewsletter, push notification schedule, or active social media presence,” adds Colton De Vos of Resolute Technology Solutions.
“For more brick and mortar type businesses, it might be including reminders to repeat customers to leave a review on Google or other review sites.
Remember: “Marketing is a long-term investment, and it’s important to be consistent if you want to see results in the long run,” shares Rei. “It may be difficult to maintain this consistency at first, but it’s important to make it a priority so that you can continue to grow your business.”
The good news? You can always create processes to be consistent. For example, block time for content distribution in your calendar. What’s more, create a distribution checklist so you can slowly but surely focus on promoting published content better.
De Vos shares another example. “If you have the data around what tactics drive new customers, figure out a way to make that repeatable and dedicate a set amount of hours to it each and every week.”
“If you’re able to document this process, that’s even better! As you expand and bring more people on board, it will be easier to scale up these high-value activities with additional resources.”
This marketing habit is closely related to building a muscle for consistency.
To start off, Hannah Wester from Rewind Creative advises you to “choose the channels that you most want to dedicate your time or investment into, and stick to them.”
This takes some upfront research. For example, identifying marketing channels your audience uses the most. Best to talk to them or someone close to your buyer persona to find out which channels you should be using.
Additionally, “looking at competitors’ activity or similar companies in your field can be a great start in understanding which channels work well and which don’t,” Wester says.
The idea here is simple: find out 2-3 marketing channels your audience is present on so you don’t spread yourself too thin.
From there on, stick with them, advises Wester.
“Results don’t happen overnight and a huge part of marketing is testing and learning how each channel can work for you and then running with it.”
“It can take some time to understand how to get the best results, so don’t give up hope and focus your time and energy on the channels that will best give you the results you’re looking for,” Wester writes.
Also, one effective way to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts is by using a marketing dashboard software. With this tool, you can stay on top of your most important metrics and KPIs.
Related: How to Run Effective A/B Tests According to 28 Marketing Experts
Effective, audience-engaging marketing stands on one solid pillar: it’s focused on helping the target buyer. But instead of assuming how well you’re doing to solve your customers, ask them.
And make sure you do so regularly. This will help you not only identify your target audience better but it’ll also give you a strong idea of how well your marketing efforts are resonating with them.
Plus, getting your hands on positive feedback means you can grow your bank of customer reviews too. Interesting, the folks we talked to rate asking every satisfied for a review as the most efficient marketing habit to have.
To add to that, “feedback from your customers is crucial to identifying where things can improve, which is extremely helpful to the optimization of marketing strategy,” opines Roy Morejon of Enventys Partners says.
What’s more, “Gathering feedback ensures consumers feel valued and keeps them loyal, and if they’re willing to share their feedback publicly, it can help sway other consumers to take a chance on you.”
It’s why it’s essential “to give consumers what they want than to ask them about their experience, giving small business owners the opportunity to step into their audience’s mind,” Morejon comments.
Office Timeline’s Tim Stumbles is of the same view. “I think every small business owner should develop a useful habit of talking with their customers by working as a customer support agent for at least several hours a month.”
“Marketers can also take advantage of this opportunity to get to know their customers better. It’s the best way to get real, honest customer feedback about your products or services without expensive market research,” continues Stumbles.
“You’ll learn about the real problems your customers may encounter and get a better understanding of how your products meet customer expectations and how well your team is doing their job.”
Plus, “talking with your customers will allow you to make sure they receive quality support, establish trust, and improve customer relationships.”
Put simply, “One of the best marketing habits small business owners can form is a commitment to gathering consumer feedback,” according to Morejon. “Feedback data is part of any strong marketing strategy, and small business owners should build the habit from the get-go.”
Related: 7 Ways to Use Customer Data for More Efficient Marketing
Analyzing data regularly is another one of the most important marketing habits that you need to build.
“There’s a wealth of statistics, information, and results that can be overwhelming if you aren’t skilled in data analysis,” outlines Logan Mallory from Motivosity.
Fortunately, “with a solid understanding of data analytics, a leader will be able to make projections and present solutions based on solid facts and statistics,” Mallory points out.
Essentially, data is another way of finding out what’s resonating with your audience. In fact, it’s a surefire way to get to grips with not only who your target audience is but what their interests are, how they behave on your site, and much more.
In fact, Finn’s James Shalhoub goes on to say: “Outside of the bread-and-butter marketing strategies every business should use, your user-centered data is the most important information to use to curate your business to meet the needs of your customer.”
Shalhoub elaborates, “In the same way that businesses stay on top of logistical, administrative work like inventory management, they should be tracking their user analytics to make sure their business is getting the most out of its marketing capacity.”
More importantly, Shalhoub stresses on making all your business decisions based on what the data shows. For example, “if your A/B testing for your homepage is showing one design is converting more visitors to browse your products, conform to that design.”
In short, “between market testing and user data, any business can shape itself to accurately meet the needs of its target consumers,” in Shalhoub’s words.
Like most marketers and marketing managers, you want to know how well your efforts are translating into results each month. How much traffic and new contact conversions do you get? How many new contacts do you get from organic sessions? How are your email campaigns performing? How well are your landing pages converting? You might have to scramble to put all of this together in a single report, but now you can have it all at your fingertips in a single Databox dashboard.
Our Marketing Overview Dashboard includes data from Google Analytics 4 and HubSpot Marketing with key performance metrics like:
Now you can benefit from the experience of our Google Analytics and HubSpot Marketing experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template that contains all the essential metrics for monitoring your leads. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your HubSpot and Google Analytics 4 accounts with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
This doesn’t mean you follow up daily – to the point that your approach comes across as intrusive. Instead, follow up after giving your leads a healthy time to get back to you.
Brian Snedvig from Jofibo shares their experience on this. “For me, consistently following up on leads is the one marketing habit that I find to be the most important and the most rewarding.”
“As a business owner, it’s easy to give up on a lead if they don’t make a purchase on the first or second contact. However, these are individuals who have already shown interest in your product, and nurturing them over time by keeping in regular contact with them will help increase their chances of making a purchase from your business,” Snedvig advises.
“Warm leads are much more valuable to your bottom line and you should put every effort into convincing them to convert.”
Put another way, focus on building your relationship with warm leads. Instead of pushing them to buy right away, keep nurturing them so that they end up buying from you whenever they’re ready.
“Make it a habit to know your audience and target market,” advises Sofia Morale from MediaPeanut.
“I’ve known so many employers and business owners who think having a bright idea is enough to coast through the business,” Morale says. “But with little insight on the type of audience and the kind of consumers to target would make the business venture fail.”
“By identifying a target market, business owners and their marketing employees may concentrate their efforts on individuals who are most likely to buy their product or avail of their services.”
“By limiting the population and keeping focus on a particular market segment, research and expenditures are directed to the most profitable consumers,” Morale adds.
In fact, whether you’re launching a product, starting a new service, planning content, or selecting marketing channels to establish your presence on, it’s essential you first understand your audience.
Knowing your audience thoroughly answers all the essential business and marketing questions that you have. For instance, understanding your audience helps you:
What’s more, regularly talking to your target audience also helps you understand the words they use to describe your product. This, in turn, assists you in creating marketing copy that uses the audience’s language.
“As a business owner, I’ve noticed that taking a few moments to reflect is very helpful,” Profitable Venture’s Tony Martin shares.
“Every business owner has a specific marketing aim in mind. Reflection is important because it allows you to keep track of your development and determine what you need to do to improve.”
The idea? “Every small business owner should know the inputs and outputs of their marketing,” explains Matt Lally of MattyAds. “These are daily and weekly habits that lead to more profitable marketing investments and business growth.”
Outlining their process, Martin writes, “I do this by measuring web traffic to see the general results of my efforts. I also look at whether our campaigns get enough reactions on Facebook etc. These small check-in sessions allow me to keep my finger on the pulse and catch mistakes before they turn into disasters.”
Checking your metrics or campaign performance, however, isn’t enough. Pencil in some think time in your calendar to evaluate performance. Muse over what’s working and possibly why it’s working.
The more time you take time to think about your performance, the more you’ll see patterns in what resonates with your audience, helping you market your business better. Incorporating marketing reporting software into your reflection process can provide a deeper level of insight into your business’s performance and help you make data-driven decisions for more effective marketing strategies.
Related: How to Prepare a Complete Marketing Report: The KPIs, Analysis, & Action Plan You Need
Instead of making mental notes of the strategy you’ll execute or glossing over portions of it in a hurry to get things rolling, a crucial marketing habit is taking the time to plan.
As Katana Lemelin from Clicksuasion Labs puts it: “Potentially, the most productive habit for a small business owner is taking time to craft an effective strategy.”
“This plan should most likely include measurable goals, target markets, and measures for building relationships,” Lemelin points out. “These key components can measure ROI to maximize long-term profit with short-term adjustments.”
For instance, it will help:
To explain the importance of effective planning further, Lemelin quotes the example of planning a social media strategy.
“Without a social media strategy, it’s easy to fall into the trap of posting whenever there is time,” Lemelin observes. “The content may decrease in quality to do time constraints, lack relevancy, and take more time to complete.”
Plus, “rushing can reduce audience interest and chip away at audience loyalty by appearing unprofessional.”
In contrast, investing time in planning helps you “ensure quality control, research relevant content, and determine the appropriate tone of voice that matches the target audience.“
Heads-up though: don’t over-invest time in planning. This can slow you down significantly, leaving open room for inaction.
Related: How to Write a Great Marketing Plan? Get Inspired By These 7 Marketing Report Examples
A lot of your success as a marketer depends on how you’re evaluating the campaigns you plan – the marketing metrics you’re looking at.
Initially, vanity metrics like followers, likes, and more are going to attract you quite a bit. However, it’s important to understand that these are results-driving metrics.
A simple question that you need to ask then is: “‘ Am I getting my money’s worth?'” suggests Woody Sears from HearHere.
“It is easy to become focused on the number of shares and likes of posted promotions, however, the goal is sales, which means your attention should always be on ROI,” explains Sears.
“Calculating what each ad or promo effort is costing, and then applying the number of sales it generates, can not only show you whether a campaign is successful but which ones are most successful.,” Sears says. “Crunching your ROI numbers allows for you to attain your best results while eliminating unnecessary costs, and bettering your bottom line.”
Whether you’re marketing a small business or an eCommerce store or building a personal brand, content will help you win at each step of the way.
How, you ask? By assisting you in positioning yourself as an authority in your field and, subsequently, gaining your audience’s trust.
“Whether you are doing B2B or eCommerce, you need to convey that your company is trusted for delivering results and that you are considered an authority, not by you but by others,” comments LookinLA’s Ali Payani.
“This is why public relations efforts can be so valuable too. Gaining credibility and trust is imperative for marketing success,” Payani adds.
Rajat Chauhan from Ace Infoway, also commends the habit of producing content regularly.
“As knowing your customer is crucial and an ongoing journey, it becomes important to create content to serve them the best way to solve their problems and present your business as an absolute solution,” Chauhan comments.
“For small businesses, it becomes essential to make their target audience aware, educate and engage them with consistent content creation for all types of media including online magazines, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and others that exactly suit them.”
Related: What’s the Right Content for Each Stage of Your Content Marketing Funnel? 40 Marketers Share Their Advice
Skills Training Group’s Mark McShane agrees. “To build authority in our niche, we know how vital it is to consistently upload fresh blog content.”
In fact, McShane’s team focuses on “consistently producing long-form content targeting key phrases with high search volume and low competition.”
“We see every new blog post as a new marketing asset,” McShane shares. “With this in mind, we want to give ourselves as many opportunities as possible to rank for keywords with high search volume.
We also know that Google tends to reward domains that are consistently uploading and sharing high-value content by crawling their websites faster. This can lead to ranking faster for competitive keyphrases.”
“If you’re starting to take SEO seriously in 2022, I strongly recommend building a marketing habit around the consistent production of high-value blog content,” advises McShane. “If you cannot do this yourself, you should outsource this work to ensure you constantly have fresh blog content ready to upload to your website.”
One more thing: content creation doesn’t translate to blogging alone. There are different types of content you can be leveraging. Video, testimonials, newsletters, and LinkedIn posts are some examples.
Of these, Payani applauds video. “Video beats out all other mediums because it captures people’s attention and provides the most value and engagement.”
“With all of this well-executed, you then must look at what channels you are using and selecting the right way to deliver to your targets, and educate your targets,” Payani advises.
“When you educate and showcase third-party validation, that is when you gain customers.”
Put simply, two interrelated marketing habits to have include creating content and building the muscle of providing value consistently.
“I think the most important marketing habit for a small business owner is the ability to continually build your network with the right individuals,” Henry McIntosh from Twenty One Twelve Marketing Ltd writes.
“Whether digitally or in the real world, your ability to build the right connections will inevitably lead to more opportunities and faster progression.”
Interestingly, if you’re working on building the marketing habits that we discussed above (providing value and creating content consistently), growing your network would get easier.
Because at the end of the day, a value-first approach and consistent content development will help you gain your network’s trust. Eventually, as they start seeing you as a field expert, not only will they want to work with you but they’d refer others to you too.
Says McIntosh: “From my experience, one of my most important KPIs revolves around how many new people I can meet each month. I have to use marketing techniques on LinkedIn, events, and networking to create these meetings.”
Speaking of the results their driving with this approach, McIntosh writes, “What I know is that for every few meetings, my agency will acquire a piece of work. It also helps us find great suppliers and partners, as well as helping me stay on top of new developments by continually meeting savvy people.”
Want to start growing your network too? You can do it virtually. Start with picking a social network where your target audience hangs out. Then, publish regularly (remember: valuable content is going to help) and engage with people. This will slowly but surely help you build your connections.
Another one of the top marketing habits you should work on this year is studying your competitors regularly if you already aren’t.
“Studying your competition will help you to differentiate yourself and stay one step ahead of the market,” shares Dean Kaplan from Kaplan Collection Agency.
Here’s what you should be doing according to Kaplan: “You should study the features competing brands offer, how much they charge, and how they build customer loyalty. Browse their websites, scroll through their social media posts, and subscribe to their mailing list.”
In a nutshell, “pay close attention to their marketing efforts and devise a way to outdo them in quantity or quality, and preferably both.”
Curiosity to explore and learn new things is a marketing habit that’ll always help you stay on top of your game.
Intuitive Digital’s Max Allegro points out learning basic SEO, for example. “From an SEO perspective, it’s important for small business owners to simply know the basics of SEO and how so many things can impact a business’s online performance.“
“Building the habit of thinking in terms of SEO opportunities can really set one small business apart from another,” Allegro continues.
“From naming products in an SEO-friendly way to understanding the value of links, building the habit of asking ‘is this okay from an SEO standpoint?’ will always lead to a more successful online strategy.”
Related: Earn Higher Local Search Rankings With This 15-Point SEO Checklist
To recap, according to our research, one of the most important habits SME owners must adopt is approaching marketing strategically and meticulously – and that can’t be done without proper data analysis skills.
While your data analysis skills won’t approve overnight, a good place to start is by monitoring and analyzing the performance of your most important marketing campaigns on a regular basis. And that’s where Databox comes in.
With Databox, you can quickly create a comprehensive marketing dashboard with all of your most important marketing metrics displayed in one place. With a centralized dashboard in place, you can regularly review your metrics and reflect on the numbers you see. Plus, you can share the dashboard with your team so all of you can discuss performance together.
So, what are you waiting for? Improve your marketing habits today – starting with signing up for Databox for free and creating marketing dashboards that will help you understand and improve your performance.
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