By Rieva Lesonsky
The world of online marketing changes so fast, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are three areas that most small business owners say are priorities for them this year. How does your business measure up?
In a recent survey by j2 Global about small business owners’ marketing goals, over one-fourth (28 percent) of small and midsized businesses say increasing their online presence (by developing or improving their website or ecommerce site) will be their top marketing priority this year. That was the number-one priority overall.
Close behind, 23 percent of respondents say their top priority is to use email marketing automation so they can easily and efficiently reach customers. Finally, 14 percent say adopting mobile marketing best practices will be their number-one priority this year.
What do these numbers mean to your business?
1. Work the Web. First, if you don’t already have a website (I know there are some of you out there), it’s time to get on the ball. Creating a basic website is easy and affordable today, and even if you don’t sell online, it will help consumers find your business so they can head to your store or office. (When was the last time you hauled out the phone book to look for a business?)
If you’ve got a website, don’t congratulate yourself just yet. Was your site last updated in 2001? Do the stock photos still show people holding flip phones or wearing acid-washed jeans? If it’s been a few years since you “shook up” your site with a new look, new functionality or new images, have some trusted (and honest) friends or family members look it over with a critical eye and tell you what they really think. A dated-looking website will convince customers your business is behind the times, too.
Or maybe it’s time for you to consider adding ecommerce to your site. Don’t think just because you’re a local store you couldn’t benefit from a website. I recently met a retailer whose social media presence was so successful that she was getting calls from customers around the country asking to ship products. After months of fielding phone calls and emails and dealing with each order by hand, she finally launched an ecommerce site to do the heavy lifting. “I’m so glad I did,” she told me. Now, the site handles orders and she can focus on growing her business. Plus, in just one month her sales are up 15 percent thanks to the new site.
2. Upgrade your email. Next, consider how you’re using email marketing. I sure hope you are using it, because email is still one of the most effective sales drivers around. Like the entrepreneurs in the study, you can take your email’s effectiveness to the next level by automating things like welcome messages and reminders, as well as segmenting your email list to deliver targeted emails to specific groups (women, men, new customers, existing customers…you get the idea).
3. Get mobile. Finally, think about mobile marketing. It’s surprisingly affordable and can be a great way for a small business owner with a local clientele to grab consumers when they’re nearby. According to Millennial Media, 44 percent of smartphone owners use their phones while in a store to seek coupons or deals from that retailer. Consumers want to hear from you—so check out services like Mobivity, LocalVox or ePrize to see what they can offer you.