3 Trends Impacting Small and Medium Businesses Now
Small and medium-sized business owners have experienced year-over-year improvement of business results, and they’re increasingly optimistic about the current economic environment. Marketing channels that will see the biggest investment include email, social media, display, mobile and search.
In short, marketing is now front and center for small businesses, who are considering what they can do to increase their momentum. We’ll see business owners continue to focus on three core areas that will shape the marketing ecosystem as a result:
- Social media.
The majority of small businesses now have some kind of social media presence, whether on Facebook, Twitter or other emerging platforms and they’re becoming more mature in their use of these platforms. We often see small business owners who think it’s a form of marketing to simply post updates about their businesses, regardless of who’s paying attention or interacting with the message being delivered. But this isn’t marketing, and is essentially like talking to an empty room. While the number of “likes” or followers of a business are important, small businesses need to be engaged in constant conversation with their customers, responding to inquiries, soliciting feedback and creating the perception that the business is accessible and interested.
Small businesses also need to be thinking about what they can do to connect beyond their core “friends and family” network. Facebook, Twitter and other platforms also offer paid media opportunities to serve targeted ads to potential customers in addition to simply engaging their existing followers. By determining the characteristics of their core customers, businesses can create look-alike models to execute pay-to-play campaigns that can actually drive new business leads, going beyond just “likes” and shares.
Lastly, with regards to social media, it’s said you can’t buy what you can’t measure. Small business must educate themselves on the rudiments of social media measurement to get a basic grasp of whether awareness, likes and site visits correlate with business goals, especially sales.
- CRM- Customer Relationship Management.
Digital channels such as email, social media, SMS (texts) and POS are all conduits for ad retargeting and nurturing your customer relationships. Each time a potential or return customer encounters your brand, incremental data is collected, which small and medium businesses can analyze to make future exposure more meaningful. Little by little, as customers engage with your brand, a long-term relationship develops.
SMBs are moving towards adopting more robust CRM systems that allow them to go beyond simple email distribution lists and connect all their digital channels.
For example, a local proprietor of supermarkets with several stores around the region can use a combination of digital and physical communications to manage local customer relationships.
They may provide an in-store “guest book” for customers to sign and provide basic information such as email. Using that information, the SMB can starts a friendly but unobtrusive correspondence via email with special offers to loyal V.I.P. customers and complement those communications with text reminders about weekend in-store sales. The store can also remind customers of those sales via social ads, and drive conversation to their Facebook page for additional interaction or promotion of specific pieces clothing to generate more excitement.
.3. High touch is in, self-service is out.
Website, SEO, SEM, facebook, text, email, pinterest, instagram. SMBs are now overwhelmed with marketing options, all designed to allow business owners to quickly get online and reach new customers. Spurred on by the introduction of Google AdWords. Businesses that cater to SMBs by way of consultative, high touch services will proliferate and prosper, much in line with the maturing of social media use and greater adoption of robust CRM systems.
Marketing technology is continuing to reshape how small and medium businesses approach the customer experience and allowing them to move beyond presenting themselves as a petty shop and more towards a sophisticated offering of their goods and services.
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