Establishing greener business practices can seem like an uphill struggle sometimes, but trust us, it is getting easier! Although some green practices can seem like a sizable investment (transportation methods, eco design and the sourcing of local materials), the continual move towards digital has offered endless benefits to the environmentally conscious business. Marketing your business online is not only more effective, but it’s cheaper, greener and gives you the opportunity to extend your reach.
If digital is new to you then it can seem intimidating, but with just a few starting points you can promote your brand intelligently without a scrap of paper in sight. So collating top tips, useful tools and powerful marketing strategies, we bring you the ultimate small business guide to saving on your marketing costs and going greener.
DIY SEO and content marketing
Technical search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t straightforward and if your website has absolutely no visibility then it’s probably best to enlist the help of a digital marketing expert. But if you already have a usable, well-designed site that’s looking for a little boost, then DIY SEO is well worth exploring for long-term visibility.
So how do you begin to make your site more search engine ‘friendly’ when you have little to no web development knowledge? Firstly attack your site content. Every page product or service should have its own individual description or introduction and cutting corners and using the same copy just flags up Google duplicate content sensors – basically it doesn’t do your site any favors. Setting time aside to craft bespoke copy for each of your pages and products can really pay off in the long-term and helps both your users and your rankings.
Once your site content has been perfectly tailored, you can then set about establishing a simple blog for multiple brand and SEO benefits. A blog allows you to become an authority in your field, build up a loyal audience and give you some meaty content to promote via social media – fantastic for your customers. But from an SEO perspective, a blog is also useful for internal linking to your site (and external linking to relevant sources) and flagging up the fact your site is brimming with fresh content.
If your site doesn’t already have an integrated blog and development costs prohibit you from going down this path, then Tumblr is a great way to set up a free user-friendly business blog. You will have to include social media icon ‘buttons’ though (a minimal development cost) so your customers can go straight from your website to your blog.
If you already have a WordPress blog, however, then be sure to download the WordPress plug-in Yoast; it allows you to optimize your post in seconds and is incredibly easy to use. Simply use Yoast to write your meta-description (this is the ‘snippet’ you will see in Google results) and highlight your keywords.
Maximize Your Social Reach
Once your digital marketing strategy is up and running, then social media is your next (free!) step to getting your brand heard. Some brands can shy away from social media in the fear it’ll bring any public negativity to light, but social media shouldn’t be seen as airing your dirty laundry, it should be viewed as a way to intelligently manage your customer services and offer exclusive deals to your following.
It goes without saying that a social media strategy requires commitment; an abandoned account with no interaction can make it look like you’ve closed for business and can appear very unprofessional if customer queries go ignored. But that commitment doesn’t have to eat into your busy schedule and just 10 minutes of posting and checking morning, noon and night is all it takes to establish a well managed account.
So once you’ve set up your social media channels, how can you go about making sure your target market is being reached? Luckily, there are a number of free insight tools that allow you to see when your audience is using social media and what times they are mostly likely to respond to your posts. Followerwonk is really useful for determining Twitter insights and can consequently help you target your audience at your brands ‘optimum’ time. Facebook insights for your business account are also impressively detailed and, combined with your Twitter stats, these can help you see what sort of posts are popular amongst your audience (photos, links etc) and what time your audience are most likely to interact.
Once you have established when it is best to target your audience, you can then schedule tweets (using Tweetdeck for free) and Facebook posts accordingly. It helps if you’re able to interact at this time, but don’t worry if you can’t, a friendly response the next morning will show you’re available and active via social media.
Make a statement with sustainable business banners
Print marketing has become as annoying as it is unsustainable. Your customers should be able to remember you, not become bombarded with leaflets destined for the bin. If your business regularly features at fairs, conventions or you engage in the ‘pop-up’ scene, then a little intelligent branding can help your brand shine and attract those all important conversions. Using a pop-up display banner is a great way to instantly showcase your branding and strap-line and can be moved around to cater for a multitude of events. Of course, aside from great branding displayed well, you’ll also want to give passers-by something to remember you by, so try the green option and provide a couple of tablets for people to register their interest.
Once you have collected a valuable database of names and email addresses, you can then establish targeted email marketing to reach potential customers without wasting reams of paper on print. If you advertise you’re a ‘green business’ then your efforts will be appreciated too – especially if leaflets and business cards are the bulk of your competitor’s campaigns.