There have been many studies to determine why customers frequent small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), and the results are almost always the same. Today’s consumers place high value on the personalized experiences and service they receive from SMBs compared to larger companies. In fact, they cherish the 1-to-1 relationship so much that most claim they are willing to pay higher prices to get it.
The questions for SMB marketers: Does your strategy reflect this? Are you using every digital interaction as an opportunity to treat each customer as an individual? Are you helping or hurting the reason consumers want to do business with you?
As you think about this, avoid the temptation to qualify your answers with ‘I would but’ and ‘if only’ responses. Your customers don’t care about the size of your budget or team, and neither should you. Here’s why.
Use Digital Marketing to Level the Field
While SMB marketers will always need to do more with less, the divide between the ‘haves and have nots’ has narrowed substantially thanks to the emergence of digital marketing.
Today, digital marketing enables businesses of all shapes, sizes and industries to develop 1-to-1 relationships. Of course, nothing is free--most especially your time. You can’t afford mistakes and must choose your tactics wisely. While you may not be able to employ every idea, let’s take a look at some proven ways technology allows you to market a growing business.
Leverage the Many Benefits of Fresh Content
Giving your consumers a reason to get and stay engaged with your brand should be your number one priority. Blogs are the place to start.
Blogs are the perfect medium to position your company and demonstrate the value you place on helping your prospects and customers. The best content speaks directly to a specific audience (SMB Marketers), and helps them solve a problem (Competing with Larger Competitors) with tactics and solutions they can implement immediately (Digital Marketing).
But sharing your ideas is just part of the value blogs provide. They keep your website fresh--which creates more indexed pages for search engines--which in turn improves the likelihood of interested parties finding your content.
Best of all, they provide you with an opportunity to capture high-quality leads through simple web-based forms. In exchange for providing basic information, you offer a valuable call to action (CTA) like an invitation to an exclusive in-store event, limited-time discount, or in the case of this post, an ebook that provides more ideas for getting maximum results from digital marketing.
Make Customers Look Forward to Your Emails
When it comes to the old standby, expand your thinking beyond lead generation and consider ways you can engage with prospects and customers throughout the lifecycle.
The first step is to build your list of subscribers. You’ll undoubtedly use those CTAs in your blog posts to make it easy for people to opt into your communications, but look for other opportunities as well. There are simple things you can do at virtually no expense like add interstitials (brief, strategically placed forms) on your website, add opt-in language to every employee’s email signature, invite people to join when they stop by your business, offer electronic receipts at POS, and cross-promote your killer content on every digital channel you use.
Next, make sure your email marketing creates the right impression. It’s not difficult to use a single template to reach large audiences, yet deliver a personalized message based on every subscriber’s preferences, attributes and history (check out this example from Grammarly). It can even be formatted so that it renders correctly regardless of what device the recipient happens to be using at the time of open.
And finally, establish a regular cadence with just enough--but not too many, emails (test, test, test). A few examples: Consolidate your blog posts into a monthly newsletter, start a welcome and onboarding campaign, build emails into your event registration and follow-up routine, add transactional emails for order confirmation and shipping, and re-engage dormant customers with special ‘come back’ offers.
Share and Listen with Social Marketing
A recent study from LinkedIn examined the impact of social marketing on SMBs. It revealed that emerging companies in ‘hyper growth mode’ increased their social focus at a far faster pace than other businesses--namely 73% over the year prior--and 90% attributed social media as highly effective to their success.
Feel like you’ve missed the boat? It’s never too late to get started with social marketing. Establish a company account and join groups on a few channels your prospects and customers prefer, whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest or elsewhere (see this example from the New York Racing Association).
The temptation will be to share all that great content you’ve created, but don’t forget that social isn’t a one-way conversation. Social listening enables you to hear what the world is saying about your brand and competitors, and gain invaluable insights into your market.
Connect with Every Customer as an Individual
Think about the experience you receive when you walk through the door of a successful brick-and-mortar SMB. Done right, you instantly feel welcome, appreciated and understood.
While the name can sound intimidating, Predictive Intelligence can help you deliver that same exact experience to every individual who receives your emails and visits your website. It enables you to observe customer behavior like products they’ve purchased, items they’ve viewed on your site, or emails they’ve opened, then leverage that data to deliver relevant, personalized content for each individual.
For example, suppose somebody makes an online purchase from you. Predictive Intelligence would detect the sale, and then automatically send an email suggesting they consider complimentary items. Similarly, it could display those items on your website the next time the customer visits. It actually anticipates the intent of the customer—then provides unique recommendations based on what has been observed.
Sound complicated? It’s amazingly simple and provides incredible opportunities to deliver the 1-to-1 experiences your customers value from SMBs.
Embrace What Makes SMBs Unique
Prospects and customers have infinite choices, but many choose SMBs--even if it sometimes means paying more. They place a premium on the personalized attention they receive, and value the 1-to-1 experience of doing business with those who understand their wants and needs. So embrace what makes you unique, and reinforce the bond across every digital touchpoint.
For more tips, download this free ebook today!