Local digital marketing firm ReachLocal has been engaged in a lengthy turnaround effort. It announced last week that it was exiting direct sales in the U.K. and focusing on markets with “potential for positive, sustainable economics.” The announcement indicates ReachLocal is still focused on cutting things that aren’t working rather than regaining growth momentum.
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.
With the holiday season upon us, local merchants are pulling out all the stops to entice shoppers into their stores and away from their computers, with many focusing on customer service as their differentiator. Here are five ways local merchants can improve customer service this holiday season by implementing hyperlocal technology.
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.
Booker CEO Josh McCarter opened his Street Fight Summit keynote address with a question that’s on the minds of many small business solutions providers: “How do you take a system that’s designed for one vertical and take it across more categories?” Factoring in the differing needs of various service-based businesses makes that question even more complex. But given the size of what McCarter termed the “local service commerce” opportunity, answering it could be tremendously lucrative.
The future of SMB marketing solutions isn’t do-it-yourself, do-it-for-me, or even do-it-with-me. Rather, it lies in a new go-to-market model called “do nothing” that combines context, content, software, and automation into solutions that are low-cost, have next to no barriers to entry, and require little in the way of learning or doing from customers.
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.
The question of whether or when SMBs are going to self-provision online marketing has been a topic of intense debate for at least a decade. Signs now point to the emergence of solutions simple enough to make self-service viable within three to five years. Ultimately, rather than a do-it-yourself vs. do-it-for-me dichotomy, we’re likely to see an increasingly stratified local market that looks a lot like a three-cabin airplane seating chart.
Email is the go-to channel for pitching within the hyperlocal community, but with 81 percent of small business owners now being contacted by between one and five sales reps each week, according to a survey by Street Fight and Thrive Analytics, it’s becoming harder for digital marketing vendors to stand out from the pack. Here are six strategies vendors say they’ve successfully used to break through the clutter in local merchants’ inboxes.
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.
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 lot of companies started with a one-product solution — ReachLocal in search and other companies in email marketing or social. But our customers’ needs evolved, and they needed more than that one product. In order to stay relevant with your market, you have no choice but to broaden,” said ReachLocal CEO Sharon Rowlands about the pressure to offer a full suite of services.
Data is a core principle of digital marketing today, yet when it comes to local, big data has not penetrated very deeply where the sales process is concerned. All of that is about to change with the appearance of multiple companies trying to put data at the center of the way digital marketing is presented and sold to local businesses.
“There is no way a company can start with a holistic service. You have to specialize then grow. But I will say because of the cloud it’s very easy to bolt on other providers to create a holistic service,” said ShopKeep founder Jason Richelson about branching out beyond his company’s initial focus on SMB point-of-sale software.
There are 28 million small businesses in America, and Locable considers all of them candidates for its expanded “Main Street for the 21st Century” marketing services. Now Locable is reaching out to those millions of small businesses through its IMPACT Marketing Suite. We caught up with Locable founder and CEO Brian Ostrovsky to talk about his new initiative.
The marketing of digital marketing services was once built on guarantees of leads, new customers, clicks, and the like. But when it comes to promoting small and medium-sized business (SMB) marketing products and solutions, the rhetoric and tactics have shifted. The new direction is more consultative and driven by content.
A roundup of today’s big stories in hyperlocal publishing, marketing, commerce, and technology… You Can Now Get Your Prescriptions Delivered to You Within an Hour from Walgreens (Business Insider)… Twitter Courts U.S. Presidential Campaigns with New Donations Service (Wall Street Journal)… Why Ad Blocking Is Good News for Almost Everyone (Ad Age)…