“While [Facebook is] not yet anywhere near Google’s ability to generate leads, I have, over the past 6 months, started to see them surpassing Yelp in driving local key performance indicators on the pre-sale side,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm.
As local merchants increasingly shift their marketing spending to digital tactics, they’re becoming more sophisticated in how they manage those programs. Street Fight’s latest analysis of its local small business survey shows a much higher adoption rate of digital dashboards and the like compared with previous research.
Websites remain a foundational marketing element for companies of all sizes and they are likely the “home base” for customers finding the detailed information they desire as well as the basics, like store hours, contact information, product details and links to social channels. While on the surface it may seem like websites are the opposite of engaging—static, one-size-fits-all, impersonal—the fact is with a little bit of strategy, businesses can create a website that provides customers with a truly engaging experience with clear calls to action as part of the customer’s journey.
It turns out reports of voice calling’s death are greatly exaggerated. Despite an explosion in data usage and mobile messaging, voice calling — facilitated by search and virtual assistants — remains a popular activity among mobile users. A lot of those calls are going to local businesses, where they are more likely to convert to revenue than web forms or emails.
The past few years have seen the introduction of a whole universe of new tools designed to address individual aspects of digital marketing. In 2016, we will see a shift away from many of these discreet, single-purpose tools toward more comprehensive marketing solutions, DataSphere’s Gary Cowan predicts. Here’s a look at five ways SMB local marketing will mature in the coming year.
Almost half of small business owners say they’re being overrun by basic administrative tasks. When Roo’s World of Discovery owner Michelle Pollak Landwehr found herself in that same position, spending hours each week on basic administrative tasks like tracking member visits, scheduling classes, and managing recurring payments at her Washington-based children’s indoor play space, she began looking for digital solutions.
What’s on the mind of technology and marketing suppliers targeting the connected local economy? They’re keen on mobile — perhaps too keen — but struggling with their own companies’ brand awareness. The dichotomy between small businesses and national chains that sell locally is profound, and presents difficult challenges in scaling to support either, let alone both, according to Street Fight Insights analysis.
The pace of innovation is such that many new technologies are deemed “obsolete” before small business owners get the chance to fully understand them, let alone implement them in their business. Many feel left behind the curve as a result. But obsolete is not an absolute condition when it comes to marketing techniques. Where marketing tactics and technologies are underutilized, potential for competitive gains still exists.
Local search takes place across services that are proprietary and dedicated, even if indirectly, toward earning revenue for the companies that run them. But that doesn’t preclude us from thinking of local search as a kind of public utility whose objective is to provide accurate and consistent information. That means treating local listings primarily as a public good, not a business.
Speculation over the best model for providing and marketing SMB solutions — do-it-yourself (DIY), do-it-for-me (DIFM), or the middle-ground option, do-it-with-me (DIFM) — has been swirling for years. Columns from two Street Fight contributors indicate that while technology is part of the current problem, it’s undoubtedly part of the solution as well.
Facebook is known universally for its social networking features, but the company has quietly but consistently been rolling out a set of tools to make it the go-to platform for SMBs. From social buy buttons, call functionality, and Pages to messaging and free beacons, Facebook is staking its claim to online, offline, and online-to-offline marketing and commerce for SMBs.
As the head of digital strategy for a broadcaster operating local TV stations, Lorren Elkins has been challenged to clearly understand the digital marketing space from an SMB perspective. In response, he developed an interactive chart, now in its second iteration, to both enhance his own understanding and assist SMBs in identifying potential suppliers.
A roundup of today’s big stories in hyperlocal publishing, marketing, commerce, and technology… Starbucks Is Testing Coffee Delivery to Office Workers in the Empire State Building (Adweek)… Pinterest Will Automatically Add Venue Information to Place Pins (TechCrunch)… Postmates Expands API to Power Delivery for More Merchants (Forbes)…
Online scheduling platforms are supposed to save merchants time by automating client bookings, cancellations, reminders, and even payment collection. But when merchants stop trusting their own scheduling platforms, and start verifying individual bookings for accuracy, the benefits of online-only systems go out the window. For an exclusive Chicago salon, switching things up helped maintain buzz and business.
A new report from Street Fight Insights found that many local businesses don’t feel they’re getting return on their social media efforts. That’s in spite of the fact that two-thirds of them are using social media for marketing, and many plan to increase their efforts. Companies in the connected local economy value chain looking to best serve merchants should supply them with tools and services to measure the impact and efficiency of their social media marketing programs.
Fast-growing Yext is broadening its suite of location-based targeting products with the launch this week of Xone, a beacon-based program for businesses to engage in-store consumers with relevant content. Xone’s central feature is Tips, which enables businesses to customize and deliver messages to smartphone users who pass within range of an in-store Xone Beacon.