If you’re like most small business owners just starting out, or currently looking for recession-proof strategies for your business, you’re constantly on the lookout for:

  • The latest marketing trends, especially the ones that you have direct control over, are free or cost-effective, and are high impact for your business.
  • New channels to communicate directly with your audience
  • Growth opportunities or recession-proofing your business (especially in times like these)

Although the global economy is contracting due to the Coronavirus pandemic, online purchases continue to grow. As a matter of fact, online sales have seen a spike.

In every crisis, there are winners and losers. I want to help you be on the winning side. So today, I'll be going through my top 10 marketing strategies that you can use for your own business starting now and throughout 2020.

If you’re currently employed and concerned about your future employment, check out these online business opportunities you can start as a side-hustle and come back to this article to help you with your marketing.

Below are ways to create a two way marketing network with your customers so that you are always on top of what exactly they expect and how you can meet their expectations.

1. Leverage Facebook Groups

As Facebook ads become more and more expensive, Facebook groups have become the platforms most popular feature, and it’s pretty obvious why.

Remember when Facebook actually had solid organic reach?

Well, organic engagement in Facebook groups is currently going through the roof. And It’s likely that a big segment of your audience already lives on Facebook, so you can easily create huge value for your business by building a community you have control over.

Once you’ve built your Facebook tribe, you can keep your customers engaged while communicating with them directly in a two-way stream. This makes it easier to introduce  new products, receive honest feedback, run giveaways, generate testimonials and handle customer support.

A great example of a small eCommerce business killing it with Facebook groups is Bloom & Wild, which offers a flower delivery service. Their Facebook group currently has 231,440 members.

They’ve used it to drastically increase sales by allowing their customers to communicate freely with each other and with them directly. Each customer’s review is free promotion for potential ones.

Here’s an example of how they communicate directly with their customers and handle customer support through their group. It’s effective & generates an instant testimonial!

2. Sell To A Huge Community On Facebook Marketplace

When Facebook Marketplace was introduced, it was essentially just people buying and selling second hand goods.

But businesses have been quick to exploit it as an additional sales-channel, and it’s no surprise why. With over 800 million buyers, small businesses can sell directly to a large community of motivated buyers.

Combine that with Facebook's built-in targeting power and great product categorization and you have a channel to boost sales.

Listing your items on the Facebook marketplace is easy. Navigate to the marketplace on the left hand menu on Facebook and click on the “Sell Something” button.  Follow the simple steps. Once you list your item, Facebook automatically includes Marketplace as the audience.

When you sell a product through Marketplace, it will automatically show up as part of your store. Your store is accessible through the shop button of  your businesses Facebook page.

Check out Groomsshop as an example of a brand that is killing it on Facebook.

3. Turn Your Weekly Newsletter Into Cash

Most free marketing strategies are time consuming. Think about the time invested in writing blog posts, creating content and optimizing for organic search traffic.

You’ve probably over-heard the marketing adage “the money is in the list.” But it’s true. An active list is one of the most valuable assets your business can have.

Why not use free weekly emails to communicate with and sell to your audience?

The trick is to never be too sales-y and give your audience real value and something they look forward to reading. Don’t always make it about your business and the products you sell.

Here’s an example of a creative newsletter from Body Shop.

And check out this list of great newsletter ideas to fire up your inspiration.

If you know your target audience, figure out a way to engage them weekly with new information to keep them interested in your business.

To do this successfully:

  • Figure out your newsletters goal
  • Gather content throughout the week
  • Design your own template

Analyze and iterate the days after you've sent the newsletter. You can do this by seeing which parts of your email got the most clicks, and which parts contributed most to your goal.

4. Keep Your Active Audience Number Up

The active audience number can help you figure out how many people are actively engaged in your content. If you have an email list of 1000 people, it’s likely only around 20% of them open your emails and even less actually click.

So how do you focus on keeping your active audience number up?

First of all, segment your list based on how frequently people engage. If someone hasn’t opened your email in 6 months, it’s likely they never will. You can further segment based on people who opened your emails in the past 3 months and people who open them more frequently.

Then, focus on your most engaged subscribers and simply ask your less engaged segment why they aren’t engaging as much. Write a short, humorous email with a subject line like “Why do you hate me?”

Almost all email marketing tools show you the data so you can easily segment your audience and see exactly how many people are engaging with each piece of content in your emails.

5. Use Auto-Responders

Auto-responders have been around for a long time, but they still work better than ever if you know how to use them.

What is an auto-responder?

It’s simply an automated email that is sent out as a welcome email when a customer subscribes to your newsletter or an order confirmation. Auto responders are great because they have high engagement rates. For small businesses, it’s over 25% across the board.

Your customer has already taken action, so roll with the moment and point them to other free things to check out or up-sell them if it makes sense (over 25% opens)!

Here’s a great example of a welcome email from the brand making the best mattresses on the planet, Casper.

An easy way to set up your auto responders is to split them up into 2 or 3 emails:

  1. Point them to things they can check out to find out more about you and your business
  2. Invite them to a group where they can interact with other consumers, check reviews and see what other people are suggesting
  3. Provide a list of products services they might be interested in according to your first email

Remember to focus on content that adds value to subscribers, keep them short, simple and engaging to read. The best way to achieve this is to target certain customer categories with different emails.

6. Max Out The Use Of Customer Testimonials

Recent research shows that 84% of customers trust what they read in online review as much as they would trust a personal recommendation. Positive reviews also improve your businesses SEO helping you get that sweet search traffic from the big G.

You can encourage reviews by providing incentives, running free surveys using Google Forms or simply  directly asking your customers. Use these reviews in your emails, on your homepage and on your product pages.

7. Build A Community Offline

Obviously this isn’t viable until the global quarantine is over, but with everyone competing online, offline events are much more personalized and give you the chance to interact with you and your in real the real world.

The greatest advantage to offline events is that you are giving your customers something tangible that they can associate with your brand, switching something passive and easily ignored to an active authentic experience that current and potential customers will remember.

MCT Bars recently hired 80 people to go into stores and give samples of their bars. This is much harder for companies to copy and the effect it can have on your business closely rivals the costs of online advertising.

While this may not exactly seem cost-effective, it can be done on a much smaller scale, exposing your products to potential customers locally.