Following the arrival of the pandemic, small businesses across the country were driven to re-evaluate the way they operate. Research from Xero’s Rebuilding Australia report shows that almost a quarter of those that thrived in 2020 did so by increasing their focus on digital sales and services.
More than half of the 1,000 SMEs that took part in the research also planned to invest further in technology over the coming months.
With businesses of all sizes continuing to embrace the trend of digitisation in 2021, we’ve put together a list of our top five marketing tips for sole traders looking to grow their business this year.
Harness social listening tools to identify your audience
My Daily Business Coach founder Fiona Killackey says that all social media channels offer an opportunity for engagement and networking. The challenge lies in providing your audience with content that they’ll find valuable.
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“Attention is the greatest currency we have at the moment,” Killackey says. “If you use any kind of social media you want to be asking yourself what entertainment, education or inspirational value the audience will get from following your business on social media.”
Social listening tools can help to identify your audience and community. For example, Twitter’s Tweetdeck will allow you to set up filters and monitor the conversations around chosen topics.
Alternatively, businesses with a Facebook advertising account can utilise the audience insights tool to learn more about the geography, demographics and purchase behavior of their audience.
Whether you lead a small team or are going it alone, you’ll find the support you need at Xero’s dedicated resource page — complete with free tools and guides to help everything run smoothly. Xero is online accounting software designed to let you do business beautifully and simply, nab a free 30-day trial today.
Use site tags to set up the path to purchase
For sole traders looking to implement a strategy that includes investing in social media advertising, the initial step is ensuring you can track your investment and its results.
“Before spending money on social media advertising, I would ask what the destination you’re sending people to is? And have you validated that it works for your audience?” Killackey says.
Tools like Google’s Tag Manager and Facebook’s Pixel allow businesses to track potential customers on their journey towards making a purchase.
According to Xero’s The next chapter: how to thrive in a changed world report, two-thirds of Australian small businesses listed attracting and retaining new customers as a significant challenge. By discovering how to correctly implement site tags businesses will be able to gain new customers and keep them purchasing.
Grow your customer base with mailing lists
Building a mailing list can be an effective form of ‘permission marketing’ for a business because consumers actively choose to give their details knowing that they will be contacted.
Mailchimp’s customer relationship management (CRM) tools can be effectively implemented for sole traders and small businesses looking to build and send regular emails to their customers — a handy tool that integrates seamlessly with Xero’s accounting software platform. As a result, Xero users never need to worry about having to update contact information between the two systems and have easy access to their entire customer database.
Killackey sends a weekly EDM via My Daily Business Coach and says many of her customers initially got in touch because of those emails.
“It’s a way of keeping people engaged, but you’re also able to show your value much more compared to social media where, even if they love everything you do, the chances of them seeing more than 30 per cent of your content are pretty low.”
Killackey notes that since consumers voluntarily give their information businesses need to honour that by providing subscribers with valuable information to return the show of faith.
Preference engagement over social clout when looking to grow with partners
Despite the stereotype, not all influencers need to be Byron Bay bloggers with half a million followers on social media.
Businesses can get efficient reach and authority out of choosing the right talent that fits in with their brand — this is especially relevant if you’re a sole trader with a limited budget.
While social clout is important, Killackey says it can be equally, if not more, valuable to choose partners that fit the brand.
Here are two online tools that can help you get the best out of partners and find collaborations to grow your customer base:
- Phlanx Engagement Calculator: Allows brands to measure the Instagram following of potential partners to ensure their audience is actively engaged.
- Collabosaurus: A tool for connecting different businesses to form clever collaborations and partnerships.
Use your voice to inspire customers through podcasting
Killackey has released over 50 episodes of the My Daily Business Coach podcast, which she says provides “phenomenal” reach.
“Podcasting is a fantastic way to get your voice heard by your audience.”
Zencastr is an easy to use online tool that allows podcasters to record in studio quality without the cost. With remote recording on the rise, Zencastr acts like a producer to simplify the process.
“I bought a podcast course in 2016 and we didn’t release any episodes until 2020,” Killackey says. “I wish we had started earlier.”
If podcasting isn’t for you (at least, not yet), there are plenty of other content marketing options that you can explore such as creating a blog or sharing your expertise with relevant publications.
Xero is a cloud-based accounting software platform for small businesses with over 3 million subscribers globally. Through Xero, small business owners and their advisors have access to real-time financial data any time, anywhere and on any device. Xero offers an ecosystem of over 1,000 third-party apps and 300 plus connections to banks and other financial partners.