It's that time of year again where everyone who owns a business is thinking about how they can make the next year better than the last.

The constant need to improve is a quality most business owners have in common, so if you’re looking for ideas to make your business better in 2015, here are some marketing activities to consider working on.

Let’s get straight into it!

Oil up the customer acquisition machine

This is probably the most important thing on this list. Knowing your sales funnel inside and out will give you the insight you need to make important business decisions.

Everything affects the sales funnel, from your social media posts to the atmosphere in your brick-and-mortar location. If you want to take your sales up a notch, you’ll need to examine the ways that your customers are currently finding you, and then improve that journey.

I do this by taking a pen and paper and drawing out the sales process from the moment the customer has the initial need or want, to after the customer has left the place of business. If you’re unsure about some of the stages, think about what you would do if you were a consumer.

Once you’ve got this down, you can look at the different parts of the sales funnel and see where customers are dropping off or where you can make improvements. Set a customer acquisition goal for yourself that’s reasonable, and then plan out how you’re going to scale everything that affects your sales funnel. It sounds complicated and tedious, but it won’t take you long to do and it will be very valuable to you in the future.

Get that website going

Everyone keeps saying this, but it’s just too important to not continually repeat! If you don’t have a website, can you get one? If you do have a website, can you make it better?

Websites are important marketing tools because they’re the primary destination for new people trying to find your services. If you’re only on social media, it’s unlikely that you’ll get customers from search engines, which means you’ll be missing out on a large potential stream of clients.

Open a new tab in your browser and search for the type of business you own in your location. Where do you sit on the results page? If you’re not on the first page, you should be. The people who are on the first page are not there because of luck. They’re there because they’ve optimised their websites to rank highly when people are searching for services they offer, and it’s not all that difficult or expensive to do.

Additionally, a website allows you to create landing pages, which are good for use in targeted social media or AdWords campaigns. Say you’ve just hired someone who’s talented at doing nails, you could create a landing page that’s targeted to people looking for nail salons, and then promote that page anywhere where there’s an audience. Put a Timely booking button on the page and watch the volume of bookings rise!

Websites aren’t actually as expensive as most people think they are. You can use Squarespace or WordPress to make your own, but if you decide to go to a web designer, make sure you get quotes from a few different people, and check out their portfolio.

Be social on social media

Most people have a Facebook page and focus on getting as many fans as they can, but like many things in life, it doesn’t matter how big it is; it matters how you use it.

The trick with social media is provide your fans with something you know or have, that they don’t. In other words, for social media to be effective, you need to be giving value to your audience, which is much easier to do than it sounds.

As a professional with experience in your field, you know so much more than your average customers does about your specialty. Share things with them that they’ll find useful, inspiring, or amusing, and they’ll appreciate you for it.

If you’re a salon owner, haircare tips could come in handy to your audience, or you could post new hair styles that you’re working on. Images that serve as a source of style inspiration do very well on social media. Personal trainers could post images of their healthy meals along with their workouts, which adds a level of authenticity to their personal brand. Health and wellbeing clinics could post about the benefits of relaxation or massage, which would would align with the high stress levels at this time of year. The possibilities are truly endless for all businesses.

Audiences are becoming increasingly frayed. They’re spending less and less time on any single platform, and when they do, they’re rarely giving it their full attention. Don’t be afraid to try the newer networks like Instagram or Snapchat. Think about your audience’s needs and experiment to find what works.

Start email marketing

Email lists are still a big part of the marketing arsenal. How big? Facebook was able to get everyone using their social media platform by sending out email notifications, as did Twitter and countless other companies. Email can be used to get people returning to your website, and traffic that returns is more likely to purchase or convert.

In addition to being a good marketing tool,  email lists add value to your business by giving your client database substance. Use emails to promote customer loyalty, and make sure that your newsletters are known to be of high quality. This way, when it comes time to promote your business, your emails won’t be falling on deaf ears. (eyes? How does that work!?)

Growing your email list is much easier with Timely. Simply connect your MailChimp account to Timely and import all of your customer information, including email addresses. This allows you to segment your email list so that, for example, you could send an exclusive offer to your highest-paying customers or your newest clients.

In general, try to use your email list to let customers know about things you have going on. Make it interesting and personal, and most of all, make sure there’s a “call to action” in the email. Make it something that needs to be done, and done today.



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