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The Online Marketing Habits of Highly Successful Small Businesses

December 10th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

How can your small business reach the elite group of high-achieving small companies? Online marketing is the key, suggests a new Forrester research study commissioned by Act-On Software. In the face of continuing economic uncertainty, the study, “Driving Revenue in a Volatile Economy, found that the top-performing small businesses are those that truly embrace online marketing.

The study identified these lessons small businesses can take  from top performers and large companies:

  1. Don’t automatically cut your marketing budget in a down economy. Top performers were less likely than bottom performers to cut their marketing budgets (33 percent vs. 56 percent). On the contrary, top performers prove that maintaining or increasing marketing spending does pay off in terms of revenues.
  2. Take lead generation seriously. The top-performing small businesses carefully manage sales leads, vetting, qualifying and nurturing them before handing them off to sales to close. They were also willing to spend more to get new leads, while bottom performers spent their time and money trying to squeeze new sales from existing customers.
  3. Adopt digital marketing techniques. All small businesses in the study focused primarily on traditional marketing techniques, such as print advertising, tradeshows, events and seminars. However, top performing businesses were more likely to have adopted digital marketing tactics and technology tools to help scale their marketing efforts.
  4. Get serious about social marketing. While larger businesses are realizing that “social media” is not just an abstract tool for generating buzz, small businesses are lagging behind in developing a social media strategy and making social media part of the sales pipeline.
  5. Increase collaboration between sales and marketing. By working together, these teams can drive leads more effectively and close more sales.
  6. Invest in marketing automation. Companies that automated marketing functions had better results. For example, 61 percent of top performers used CRM vs. just 46 percent of bottom performers. And only 5 percent of bottom performers used marketing automation, compared to 28 percent of top performers.
  7. Measure results. Nearly half of the bottom performing businesses did not measure any aspect of their marketing. In contrast, top performers measured everything.

Visit Act-On’s website for a free ebook, 7 Marketing Habits of Today’s Highly Successful SMBs.

Image by Flickr user ganesha.isis (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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Posted in Email Marketing, Marketing, Search Marketing, Small Business, small business, Social Media, social media, Technology, Thought Leadership, Web Design | 3 Comments »

  • http://twitter.com/viewbix ViewBix

    Great article. I would add that the ability to combine the points you mentioned above are extremely attractive for SMBs. For example, we at http://www.viewbix.com allow you to embed a mail app that allows people to sign up for your mailing list directly from video. If your video is in Facebook thats social, digital and lead gen all in one!

  • http://www.touchpointdigital.net/ David Deering

    Just to expound a little on point 3, every business should research the habits of their customers. If they find that many spend a lot of time using digital and mobile technology, then they should invest more heavily in digital marketing. The key is to go where your customers already are. For many consumers, digital marketing is the way to reach them. –David @ http://www.touchpointdigital.net

  • http://www.touchpointdigital.net/ David Deering

    Just to expound a little on point 3, every business should research the habits of their customers. If they find that many spend a lot of time using digital and mobile technology, then they should invest more heavily in digital marketing. The key is to go where your customers already are. For many consumers, digital marketing is the way to reach them. –David @ http://www.touchpointdigital.net