A 2014 survey conducted by Bright Local showed that 37 percent of small businesses planned to increase their Internet marketing expenditures over the next year. Only 16 percent stated that they would not increase spending leaving the remaining 47 percent unsure. These numbers, however, do reflect confidence on the part of small business leaders when you consider that when asked the same question in 2013 only 21 percent were willing to commit to increasing their spending and 32 percent were not. Again, 47 percent were unsure.
So, while small businesses are looking to spend more money on marketing, not all of them are spending it in the right places. In order for those dollars to work hard and to avoid marketing failure, it is important that they be spent on the right marketing techniques; ones that have been proven to be successful and promise to remain successful in the near future as well.
Increase the quality of your content
There are statistics out there that encourage small businesses to create more content because it increases their visibility. More can be better, but only if the content is something that visitors find both easy to read and useful. Littering a site or a blog with pages and pages of poorly written posts kills your credibility with both existing and potential customers.
In one SearchMetrics Ranking Factors study there was a correlation shown between higher rankings and sites with high quality, relevant content. Specifically, content that contained the following characteristics were considered to be high quality:
- Semantically comprehensive content
- Long form content
- Media enriched content
- Content that is easy to read
Individualize your message
Email marketing is a proven tool for increasing sales, however people are tired of receiving generic messages; and they can spot these poor attempts at engagement from a mile away. Instead, start segmenting your mailing list in ways that make sense and customize your email messages to those specific segments. For example, if you recently stocked a new product line send an announcement to customers who haven’t been around in a while. Those who have recently made a purchase are likely aware of this fact and could find your announcement annoying. Conversely, you could reach out to those people who made a recent purchase with a survey to capture feedback about their experience or offer them a coupon for their next visit.
Tap into technology
Data is the best tool a business can have when it comes to smart marketing. Without knowing where your customers are coming from, what they are buying and what they are saying you’re pretty much flying blind. Luckily, there are many software tools that can help smaller businesses big data from collection to analyzing and reporting. Some of these tools, like Google Analytics, are free to use and still extremely powerful. However, if you are looking to really dig deep into the data and have easy, instant access to that information, you are going to want to look at some type of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution.
Work on customer retention
Small businesses often spend a bulk of their marketing budgets on acquiring new customers and they forget about their existing ones. Building customer loyalty should receive equal attention however. Consider a starting a customer loyalty program like the large retailers use; not only does it keep customers happy but it’s a great way to collect data as well.
Plus, keeping customers happy means you are creating a good word of mouth buzz and those happy customers will start to evangelize your business and products for you.
Measure success the right way
When 60 percent of business to business marketers still use web traffic to measure the success of their campaigns it shows how many are still hung up on analytics that are far too generalized to be effective. Each campaign could very likely have a different measure of success. To really see what works, and what you should replicate in the future, set a specific goal for each marketing campaign and use the right tools to collect information that will help measure its success. It could be something as simple as increase qualified leads by a certain number or as complex as which version of an infographic will generate more social shares; just make sure that you are able to measure its effectiveness in a way that makes sense. And don’t be afraid to test different versions of content, web sites, etc. The process of A/B testing is frightening to some, and may seem like a waste of time for a smaller business, but do a bit of research on how effective it can be and you will likely change your mind rather quickly.
Trends in marketing will change over the years, but one thing that will always remain consistent is knowing your customers and knowing what makes them happy. Since the numbers never lie, having the tools that allow you to harness data in your favor will help keep you up to speed with what your customers want and need.
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