To continue delivering products and services to their local communities safely — no matter the fluctuating restrictions — businesses are offering order-ahead, curbside pickup, touchless payments, and sophisticated delivery options, whether through their own operations or through third-party providers such as GrubHub and DoorDash. These flexible distribution options not only help drive continued momentum, they also create a myriad of new valuable customer data points that must be captured and incorporated into rapidly evolving customer engagement strategies.
For many of the small businesses that have stayed afloat so far, e-commerce has become the new focus. A quarter of brick-and-mortar retail businesses surveyed in June said they’ve already added an e-commerce channel to their operations this year. Retail SMBs either want a piece of the growing pie that is e-commerce sales in 2020, or they’ve realized they won’t survive without an online sales component.
Whatever the motivation, the uptick in e-commerce sales has set the stage for SMBs to start boosting their revenue. And to complement the current market conditions, the rise of no-code tools is making online retail success more accessible than ever to SMBs. These solutions are proving to be the surfboard that helps small businesses successfully ride that e-commerce wave.
As we roll into August, it’s time to establish Street Fight’s monthly editorial focus. After our standard ritual (no animals harmed), we’ve settled on “The Next Normal.” Forced to adopt new technologies just to survive, some local businesses have experienced a decade of evolution in just a few months.
So the question is, how will newly elevated local businesses transform the local commerce landscape? If a large share of the local business universe has raised its game, what will be the new “bar” in local media, advertising, and commerce? How should tech providers adjust to new demand signals?
It has been an especially hard few months for small businesses, many of which will never reopen or will take months – if not years – to recover financially from the shutdowns and reduced patron numbers.
Despite the challenges, there are very real opportunities for sustained growth during this time. To survive and thrive during this next period, local businesses must deepen their customer relationships despite having fewer resources available. While it may sound like a conundrum, this actually presents a significant opportunity to deliver a personalized customer experience and drive loyalty.
Building a brand will never stop being essential for companies with brick-and-mortar locations hoping to secure the dollars of nearby consumers. But a new report from location marketing firm Uberall suggests the rise of location-based or “near me” search is undermining the power of branding alone, increasing the importance of optimizing for searches in which consumers are simply looking for the closest, most convenient option while on the go.
CRO is the process of setting up a website in a way that leads site visitors to take action and purchase products. As a result, they are converted into customers of the business.
If you have a site that has high traffic, that is naturally a good sign. But it doesn’t mean much unless that traffic leads to conversions. Based on current research, we’ve compiled the top 5 CRO tools that you can use to increase conversions and bring in greater profit.
The announcement follows massive layoffs at the company as advertising plunged along with SMB revenue in the face of coronavirus-fueled lockdowns. But a recent Brandify survey showed Yelp remains a massive presence in the local digital marketing space: 64% of US consumers are somewhat or very likely to turn to Yelp when searching for restaurants, second only to the leader across verticals, Google.
Yelp’s new features will prove especially helpful for businesses in the months, if not years during which Covid-19 continues to affect everyday habits, but a number of the changes align with digital marketing best practices that will serve Yelp clients well beyond the next 12 months. Below is a rundown.
Experts at helping SMBs adapt to a tech-first commercial landscape say the pandemic has led some businesses to tap into their long-dormant potential as digital marketers and sellers, possibly setting them up for gains in the aftermath of the recession. Now that e-commerce is the only path to survival, mom-and-pop shops, aided by martech firms, agencies, and Silicon Valley giants, are capitalizing on cutting-edge marketing and retail techniques, many for the first time.
Thousands, if not millions, of Main Street businesses will close their doors for good as a result of the pandemic. Those that survive will be technologically savvier and sleeker than they were before.
One in four small businesses has temporarily shut down, and 43% believe they have fewer than six months until permanent closure is unavoidable. With the small business community in panic mode, budgets for digital marketing have been slashed, and agencies are feeling the pinch.
“Everyone has been in panic mode, and rightly so. Businesses are worried about who might have to be furloughed [or] laid off, getting their PPP loans, what kind of regulations do they need to comply with, [and] what their contingency plans are for keeping any amount of revenue coming in,” says Simon Schwartz, founder of Locasaur. “Businesses are not interested in being pitched new marketing tech.”
While Congress continues to deliberate on a stimulus package that will provide as much as $400 billion in aid and loans for small businesses, tech companies that serve SMBs are stepping in to offer their own assistance packages. Among them is reputation management, CRM, and email software firm Womply, which has launched an SMB stimulus program in collaboration with its capital partner, FundRocket.
A quick Google search on this column’s headline reveals a large number of sites offering recommendations to businesses large and small about how to prepare for the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak as it moves into pandemic territory. Articles on Inc., Fast Company, and the World Economic Forum echo a common theme: Businesses need to develop a plan of action for containing the spread of the illness, as well as contingencies that allow normal operations to continue as smoothly as possible.
In the sphere of digital presence management, key players like Google, Nextdoor, and Facebook are offering recommendations to help businesses develop plans and communicate effectively with consumers who need to access their products and services. The advice comes at a time when business operations may be modified or interrupted by multiple factors such as quarantines and supply chain interruptions.
David Mihm and Mike Blumenthal offer their take on a decade in local search. Among other topics, they take stock of Google’s dominance.
Mike: Now, it seems that the battle to become the hegemon of local has been signed, sealed, and delivered by Google not just in the US but worldwide. Their well-played hand with Android seems to have been the push they needed. And they managed to gain a totally dominant position IN SPITE of the Google Plus fiasco, which started around that time.
David: Google Plus! I’d honestly forgotten about that debacle already. In our little corner of the world, the fact that Google could waste all those years, person hours, and billions of dollars developing Google Plus and still ascend to its current position in local search shows you just what a colossal opportunity Facebook has missed in this space.
David: I’ve been thinking quite a bit about our product mix at ThriveHive recently. And in particular the segmentation of the various offerings of our newly combined GateHouse/Gannett company by customer budget.
It has surprised me, frankly, that so few agencies seem to go to market with the essential digital marketing bundle for local businesses you and I proposed exactly two years ago. In re-reading that article, I’d still give the same advice today and with even more urgency based on the rollout of Local Service Ads.
During the holiday shopping season, it’s Amazon’s world — or is it?
Outside the digital sphere, brick-and-mortar holiday sales at big-box shops like Walmart and Best Buy continue to be buoyed by bullish shoppers willing to hit the streets in search of timely deals during consumer-focused quasi-holidays like Black Friday. As a result, shoppers are spending more during the holidays than ever before.
And then there’s the independent, local retailer. How is a small shop supposed to compete with the ease of mobile e-commerce or the allure of big-box doorbuster deals? Turns out, they have an ace in the hole: last-minute shoppers.
Constant Contact, known for its email marketing platform, is expanding to offer an AI-driven website builder as well as tools for branding, productivity, and e-commerce. It’s the first major expansion for Constant Contact since its acquisition by Endurance International Group.
The company’s new website builder is specifically designed for SMB owners and operators without the time or expertise typically required to build an effective site from scratch. Constant Contact claims sites can be created in minutes.
Headlines about retail closures suggest it’s Amazon’s world and we’re all just living in it, but there’s more to the story. For local businesses, in particular, there’s ample reason to be optimistic that the retail apocalypse doesn’t have to spell end times. In fact, exactly the opposite could be true. Let’s walk through a few of the reasons for optimism.