Small Business Saturday has come and gone. Maybe you’re feeling the rush from all the extra customers, or maybe you’re wondering why they didn’t show up. Either way, you might be considering what you can do to increase your online presence and continue to drive sales to your small business after the shopping holidays are over.

Here are three easy digital marketing tips you can follow to set your business up for success for years to come!

1. Get your business on local listings.

If you have a brick and mortar storefront, you want people to be able to find you! Make it easy for them by getting your business published on local business listings. Most of us already know about sites like Google+, Yelp, Yahoo Local and Yellow Pages. Don’t underestimate the power of getting your listing on all available sites (check out Hubspot’s comprehensive list of review sites). While it may seem tedious, it can be worth it in the end: Some of these sites share data, and the more consistent your listings are across them, the more chances you have of ranking in a local search query on a search engine.

Still think a small business can’t make an impact on the big search engines? Consider this: More than 50% of all searches are mobile, and nearly half of mobile searches have local intent. That means that someone is actively searching for a product or service near them. If you offer what they’re looking for, that means you may have someone close by who wants something you have right now. But the search engine needs to know where you have, and what you have to offer.

2. Get social!

Those of us on Flying Cork’s content team will be the first to admit that a full social strategy isn’t exactly easy, but for a small business owner, it’s an accessible, affordable place to start. Most social platforms are free to join, and some of them offer inexpensive advertising options. On Facebook, for instance, a $100 monthly marketing budget can go a long way, whether that’s through fan growth, deal promotions or eye-catching product ads.

Because social media can be a time-consuming effort, I recommend that you start small. Pick one platform you can stick with, and plan to post consistently. When choosing your platform, think about both your product and your message. Do you want to post specials and deals, blog posts or product photos? Do you want to explain a service, start a conversation or show off product functions?

More importantly, picture your ideal customer – who are they? Are they young or old? How do you think they would want to engage with or learn about your offerings? The answers to these questions will help you find your ideal social platform.

3. Create an online review strategy.

Online reviews can have a huge impact on your business. Sure, this can lead to some negative feedback, but that gives you, the business owner, a direct opportunity to join in the conversation, learn more about your customers and immediately remedy problems you may not have been aware of otherwise.

But how do you get reviews? Help your customers help you. Make sure they’re aware of various review sites where they can find your business. Consider creating separate printouts, follow-up emails or extra information printed on receipts that point customers in the direction of review sites without outright asking for a review. Talk to your staff about a review strategy; make sure they know to direct their happy customers toward an online review.

Just make sure you’re up-to-date on guidelines for various review sites. Yelp, for instance, can be pretty unforgiving with their standards in order to keep fake reviews out of the mix. They also discourage business owners from asking for reviews.

So just remember: never pay for reviews, and never leave fake reviews for your own business. Doing so could backfire and cause potential customers to lose trust. Also, know that this can take time – you won’t get a ton of reviews overnight, and that’s fine. You’d rather have a slow, steady stream of reviews than a bunch all at once and then silence. And remember, the best way to ensure positive reviews is to consistently delivery stellar customer service.

Marketing in any form can be time-consuming and often even frustrating, especially for small business owners who have so many other things to think about. By doing a little bit at a time, you can set yourself up for a future full of success!

Gone are the days when tween girls ruled the world of “Instagram aesthetics.”

Crafting a beautiful Instagram aesthetic is becoming a powerful branding tool, and the number of companies hopping on this trend is steadily increasing.

An Instagram “theme,” or “aesthetic,” is like a jigsaw puzzle. It’s made up of hundreds of different images, but when these images come together they create a bigger picture, a bigger story. This is the story of your brand. The goal of an Instagram theme is for your brand to be recognizable once your puzzle is put together.

The key to creating a cohesive, visually appealing Instagram theme is consistency. You have to commit to posting photos that stay within your brand guidelines. For Flying Cork’s Instagram, we stick to a bright color palette of blues, whites and a pop of red or orange here and there.

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If your business has a very minimalistic logo, you might want to try a neutral, minimalistic Instagram theme. If your brand is bold and powerful, model your Instagram aesthetic after that.

So how do you create an Instagram theme that exemplifies your brand and is visually appealing?

Edit your pictures the same way

Once you’ve chosen a theme that aligns with your overall brand message and feel, it’s easy to stick to if you apply the same basic editing techniques to each photo you post. One photo processing app that we recommend is VSCO. It has plenty of free filters that allow you to customize the tone of your pictures.

Filters can make a huge difference in the look of your picture. Here’s one photo that we recently posted with three different filters applied:

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See how drastically each filter changes the overall tone? Choosing one filter to apply to all of your pictures will assist in unifying your feed. Again, choose one that compliments your brand message and the colors in your photos.

Utilize negative space

One of the easiest ways to distract from your Instagram theme is to post too many “busy” photos. Notice how the row of pictures below has lots of negative space that allows for the colors of our aesthetic to stand out:
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Posting photos that have too much going on can take away from your Instagram aesthetic and become distracting.

Limit your color palette

In the row of photos above, our color palette is pretty clear. One of the keys to establishing an Instagram aesthetic is knowing what won’t fit. Make sure that you only publish posts that have the same color scheme and flow nicely. Be ruthless! You’ll thank yourself later.

Also, don’t assume that because you’re limiting your color palette, you’re also limiting your creativity. You might be surprised at how much this opens your options and refines your eye.

Plan Ahead

If you want to preview how your photos will look next to each other, you can either create a separate, private Instagram account or download Planoly. Both of these options will let you see how your feed will look ahead of time and allow you to play around with the order of your future posts.

Remember, the purpose of Instagram is to engage your audience with visual content, so imagine you’re one of your own followers. What do you want to see? What would make you hit “follow” or “like?”

DO YOU HAVE ANY INSTAGRAM AESTHETIC HACKS? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

Whether you want to believe it or not, the holidays are right around the corner and with this season comes the need for a strong holiday email marketing strategy.

As the days get shorter and your holiday to-do list grows longer, you might be feeling a heightened sense of anxiety. Though we can’t help much in this department, we can help you in another. If you’re in charge of implementing a holiday email marketing campaign for your company, you’re in luck because we have some tips to ease your stress and sleigh your efforts.

Timing and testing

In the past, best practices have told us that sending emails on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday during mid-morning or early afternoon was the optimal time to reach your audience.  According to Adobe, outside of work, some of the most common places people check their email is while watching TV (70%), from bed (52%) and from the bathroom (42%).  It is widely known that more than half of emails are opened on mobile devices now, which means your emails are only an arm’s length away from the coveted holiday consumer’s eye. It’s safe to assume that your subscribers aren’t only checking their emails during the week – so what should you do? Test! AB testing can offer a lot of insight into peak engagement days of the week and times of day.

Subject lines and Preheaders

I like to think of subject lines and preheaders as ‘the windows to your email’s soul’.  During the holiday season, your audience’s inboxes are flooded with promotional emails daily, all vying for attention with promises of “Free Shipping” or “50% off”. Strong, attention-grabbing subject lines are what separates the Rudolph’s from the Blitzen’s.

Preheaders are also valuable inbox real estate that should be taken advantage of. The preheader is often considered to be the ‘second subject line,’ as it’s used to reinforce the primary message of the email.

Testing subject lines and preheaders should be a staple of every holiday campaign and don’t be afraid to get creative.

For example: Testing your subject lines will help you understand if your customers respond better to personalization strings or more creative ideas, like the use of emojis.

Loyalty

Your subscribers have been loyal to you all year long, right? Now it’s time to reward them, and we’re not talking about a barrage of sales-y emails—we’re talking about nurturing existing relationships as well as new ones.

Retail companies often send deals to new subscribers, and as a result, those Welcome emails have tremendous open and click-through rates.  Don’t let the success of your email campaigns end there! Build loyalty with your audience by giving them what they want using dynamic email content.

According to eMarketer, 81% of online shoppers who receive emails based on previous shopping habits were at least somewhat likely to make a purchase as a result of a targeted email. Not only does this build customer loyalty, but I would also argue that it builds brand loyalty by making your subscribers believe that your company truly knows and understands their needs and wants.

CTAs

When it comes to holiday email marketing conversions – your CTAs better be as strong as Uncle Bob’s eggnog. Encourage and entice your subscribers to click by offering them a deal or providing a holiday gift guide with best-selling items. Place your strongest CTAs above the fold to ensure they’ll receive the first (and maybe only) glance.

Think of these ideas like they are part of Santa’s list; check it once and check it twice to find out if your email marketing strategy is naughty or nice!