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Posts Tagged ‘small business marketing’

Is Your Small Business’s Mobile Marketing Strategy Falling Short?

November 5th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

How does your small business’s digital marketing strategy measure up? A recent study from BIA Kelsey, Local Commerce Monitor Study, Wave 16 found that small businesses are expanding their digital marketing efforts. Some 40 percent of small and midsized businesses in the study say they plan to increase their digital spending budget in the next 12 months; just 3.7 percent say they plan to cut digital marketing spending.

Beyond spending more on digital marketing, small businesses are also expanding their reach into more channels. In 2007, small companies in the survey said they used an average of three media channels; in the latest survey, the average almost doubled to 5.8 channels.

Overall, small businesses’ spending on all kinds of advertising and promotion is holding steady, at about $3,000 annually. Given that limited budget, it’s probably not surprising that Facebook was the top digital channel for small businesses. More than half (52 percent) of small businesses use Facebook for marketing. By comparison, 25 percent use email marketing, about 20 percent use Google + for marketing, 17 percent use online videos for marketing and 14 percent use online ad banners. “Social media appears to be rapidly evolving into a core medium for SMB advertising and promotion,” the study reports.

While small business owners are mastering Facebook as a marketing tool, one area where they still have a long way to go is mobile marketing. Only 20 percent of small business owners had a mobile marketing strategy in place. About 50 percent have heard about mobile marketing, but either don’t know much about it or simply aren’t using it. Ready for the real shock? Thirty percent haven’t even heard of the concept of mobile marketing.

Given that local, social mobile marketing can bring huge advantages to a small business that relies on a local clientele, this knowledge gap is especially amazing. If you’re a small business owner with a community focus, you need to get your feet wet in mobile marketing or your business is going to fall behind.

Image by Flickr user FutUndBeidl (Creative Commons)


Small Biz Resource Tip: YouMail

March 1st, 2012 ::


YouMail takes caller ID to a whole new level and allows small businesses to benefit with an innovative marketing tactic. Check out what your caller ID says when you call a customer by going to http://who.youmail.com from your smartphone or computer; then update it by filling out a simple form. Add a “Visual Caller ID” to have your photo, name, address, city and state show up. You can even include your company logo so recipients are immediately reminded of your business. Make sure you “own” your Caller ID, as any YouMail user can add info about any other public phone number.


Small Biz Resource Tip: Quipol

February 24th, 2012 ::


Taking polls is a great way to engage your audience, build fans and followers, and keep customers coming back for more. Quipol is a simple, one-question poll building tool you can create and embed on your blog or website. The simplicity is what makes the poll so engaging. No long essays or explanations to read: Quipol limits your question to 75 characters and the explanation of what you’re asking to 350 characters. You can use images and videos to make your poll more interesting; poll takers are directed to choose their answer with one simple click.


Small Biz Resource Tip: SocialBro

February 23rd, 2012 ::


If you’re looking for ways to improve your Twitter management and activities, SocialBro has many features that can help. This tool helps manage your Twitter community and get more information about who’s following you and who’s not. See where your community is mostly located on Google Maps, then store followers’ information in a database you can refer to even when you’re offline. After you’ve gained valuable insights about your community, SocialBro then helps you clean up your account by blocking unwanted followers and quickly returning the favor by following new fans. Finally, you can use SocialBro stats to determine the best time to tweet for the most interaction and best response.


Small Biz Resource Tip: PowerInbox

February 22nd, 2012 ::


If you’re feeling the need to get more from your emails, PowerInbox wants to help. PowerInbox can incorporate ecommerce, videos, photos, real-time updates and more within the body of email messages. There’s no need to click out of the email to accomplish a task with PowerInbox, which makes it great for both marketing emails (to customers and prospects) and project management-related emails (to employees or independent contractors). Recipients can browse stored items, schedule meetings or appointments, interact with project management duties and more–right in the email. They can also watch videos or buy products directly within the email. PowerInbox works with Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and Outlook and the platform is easy to use and understand.

Mobile Marketing’s Hottest Audience

February 20th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

If you think mobile marketing is all about reaching out to teenagers, techies or Gen Y hipsters, think again. One of the hottest markets for mobile purchasing is one you may not expect: moms.

It’s no secret that moms are major decision makers when it comes to household purchases. And if you know any moms, you know how much they rely on smartphones to stay connected, whether at the office, at home or on the go with the family. Now the advent of tablets is changing the game even more by giving moms a new way to access information and shop wherever they are.

Over the holidays, tablet computer ownership surged, with many of them given as gifts. Pew Internet and American Life data shows nearly 20 percent of Americans now own tablet or ereader devices. And a Nielsen study late last year found almost half (43 percent) of tablet owners are female.

The Kindle Fire and the latest iteration of Barnes & Noble’s Nook are also changing the game because they compete more directly with the top-selling tablet, the iPad, and are heavily marketed to women.

Tablet users are desirable customers: Many studies have found tablet users spend more time browsing online, are more likely to buy online and spend more when they do buy than smartphone users. Simply put, the tablet shopping experience is a lot more enjoyable than shopping on a tiny phone.

So what do you need to do to grab tablet-toting moms’ business? First, make sure your business website is optimized for tablet use. This means focusing on visuals, so be sure you have outstanding photos of your products. Think of tablet shopping like a digital catalog. The phrase “couch shopping” has been coined to reflect where most tablet use takes place—while relaxing at home—so your tablet experience should be fun, easy to use and engaging.

Of course, moms aren’t mindlessly flipping the pages of your digital catalog. They’re hunting for information and bargains, so be sure your tablet shopping experience is packed with product details, including reviews and comparisons to help Mom make the right decision.

While research so far seems to indicate tablet shoppers prefer browsers to apps, you shouldn’t discount apps altogether. If you can create an app to make shopping more fun, faster or simpler, do so. Also keep in mind that many moms share tablets with kids or use them to keep the kids entertained. If relevant to your business, an app targeting kids (such as the ability to create a “wish list” that Mom can access later) could be a great marketing tool.

Take the time to explore how tablets can help you reach moms, and your business will reap the benefits.

Image by Flickr user anurag adrihoti (Creative Commons)



Small Biz Resource Tip: Get Smart Content

February 17th, 2012 ::

Get Smart Content

You can’t be all things to all visitors on your website, but you can try to give each visitor a little individual attention by adding Smart Content. Smart Content lets you customize text, images or calls to action to different audiences simply by embedding code directly into your Web pages. The application lets you set rules, such as where the visitor is from, and then leads the visitor to their customized content. You can get Smart Content analytics to see how your new content is doing, and the app also works with your current analytics program such as Google Analytics.

Why You Should Use User-Generated Content

February 17th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Is your small business getting reviews and recommendations from customers on social media? If not, you may need to take steps to encourage this type of social sharing. A new study from Bazaarvoice, reported by eMarketer, found that consumers of all ages are increasingly relying on recommendations and reviews—both from people they know and from strangers online—when making purchasing decisions.

Bazaarvoice studied how “user-generated content”—which includes reviews, recommendations, questions or comments—was used by consumers in deciding what products, services and brands to patronize. The study focused on two different age groups: Millennials (29 and under) and Baby Boomers, and looked at content on brand websites, social networking sites and third-party websites (such as Yelp!.com).

What differentiates Boomers from Millennials? Boomers (aged 47-65) were more likely to rely on people they knew for recommendations; 66 percent relied on this source. Millennials, however, rely pretty much equally on people they know (51 percent) and anonymous user-generated content (51 percent) when deciding what to buy. websites (51 percent) to influence their buying decisions.

Millennials were also more likely than Boomers to share their brand experiences online, both positive and negative. One-fourth preferred to share this type of information on third-party sites (such as CNET), but the biggest group (42 percent) said social networking sites like Facebook were their favorite place to share information about brands.

Although 17 percent of Boomers do share positive brand experiences via social media, and 21 percent share on third-party websites, the preferred method for Boomers was email (38 percent). In comparison, just 24 percent of Millennials used email to share purchasing experiences.

While there are some significant differences among the age groups, there are two major takeaways for your business:

1)    Both age groups are becoming more comfortable with relying on other consumers’ input and advice when making purchases. As familiarity with social sites increases among all age groups, the age-old practice of “word-of-mouth” is only going to get more and more digital.

2)    Both Millennials and Boomers trusted user-generated content significantly more than they trusted advertising or publicity. In fact, they trusted other users’ opinions even more than impartial news articles about brands.

If your business isn’t already encouraging this type of feedback from customers, this study is a clear sign that you need to start.

Image by Flickr user Owen Brown (Creative Commons)



Are You Using QR Codes in Your Advertising?

February 10th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

What’s the deal with QR codes? The little black-and-white codes that users scan with smartphones to visit a Web page have been alternately praised and criticized by marketing experts in the past year. But one thing is for sure: QR codes are rapidly becoming ubiquitous in magazine advertising.

A survey by mobile marketing company Nellymoser of the top 100 U.S. magazines (based on circulation) found that the number of QR codes used in both advertisements and editorial content surged in 2011–from 352 uses in the first quarter issues to 1,899 in the fourth quarter.

The percentage of pages with codes climbed steadily, from 3.55 percent in March to 8.36 percent in December. And the average number of codes per issues rose from 2.3 in the first quarter to 6.5 by the fourth.

The bulk of QR codes in magazines were advertisement-based. The number of QR codes in ads outweighed those in editorial content by a ratio of 25:1 by September 2011.

So what are advertisers doing with their codes? When QR codes first came out, most companies were using them to drive customers to their websites. That has since been found to be less than effective. As social media use has increased, along with mobile phone and tablet use, the way QR codes are being used has changed, too. Today, most QR campaigns link to product demonstrations, social media tools, contests or sweepstakes, and m-commerce.

Here are some popular uses for QR codes:

  • 54 percent feature video to demonstrate products, provide a glimpse behind-the-scenes or explain how to do something.
  • 30 percent were used for list-building (i.e. capturing consumer information).
  • 23 percent allow users to share a video or product information with social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • 19 percent link to an e-commerce store.

The biggest users of QR codes, both in magazines and in retail store displays or windows, are beauty, home, fashion and electronics companies. QR codes are also predominantly targeting women; the top 10 magazines on the list, which accounted for 28 percent of all codes in 2011, primarily targeted women.

The way advertisers explain QR codes is also changing. In the second quarter of 2011, almost half of the codes had instructions for downloading a QR code reader. By the end of 2011, just 23 percent did—indicating that users are becoming comfortable with the technology and don’t need it explained to them anymore. Instead, by the end of 2011, 70 percent of codes were accompanied by information that explained what would happen when users scanned the code. Nellymoser says this type of call to action is a “best practice” for using QR codes.

Image by Flickr user Orangeadnan (Creative Commons)


Small Biz Resource Tip: Instant Flipbook

February 8th, 2012 ::

Instant Flipbook

With sales of tablets reaching 72.7 million last year and expected to surge over the next five years, marketers are rethinking the way they showcase products and services to their customers. Instant Flipbook can help you transform your paper brochures into things of digitized beauty. Simply upload your pdf file, and Instant Flipbook will convert your brochure to a Flash flipbook that can be uploaded to your website. The whole conversion process is automated and only takes a few minutes. You can also add links, plus readers will be able to do a keyword search if they’re looking for something specific in your publication.