As the small business landscape continues to shift and change, the savviest business professionals know that it’s time to start planning ahead to ensure they stay miles ahead of the (you know who they are) competition.
So, what will 2015 bring? We don’t have a crystal ball, but you can count on customers and potential clients becoming more empowered by the vast amounts of information at their fingertips. More and more customers are increasingly demanding that all size companies communicate with them on their terms, delivering the right message via the right channel at the right time.
For many small businesses, that will mean expanding social, mobile and local initiatives to ensure they’re where their customers are. They’ll need to tap the unparalleled power of email to deliver highly targeted, revenue-generating content, and rely on marketing automation more than ever to deliver more personalized content to more people via more channels.
At beMarketing we thought it was important to share the trends we think all businesses need to get out in front of in 2015, along with a few key tactics you can implement now to ensure that in 2015 and beyond your competition stays firmly positioned behind you.
LOCATE THE TARGET
Nothing is more relevant and actionable to small business than knowing where their customers and potential clients are at a specific time. And for years, companies have dropped the ball with location-based marketing. As it turns out, people don’t want to be followed everywhere they go—unless they invite you to come along with them.
Key tactic for 2015 #1:
Integrate local initiatives with email, mobile and social to maximize reach and revenue, e.g. using email to send a location-sensitive To-Do reminder, announcing a check-in contest via your Facebook page or Twitter timeline, and responding via email or Twitter when customers check in at your stores.
The merging of location-based marketing with the social networking world has provided a permission-based model that, coupled with an increase in smartphones and tablets, has led to an explosion in check-in programs
Think about this – every time people check in on a mobile device, they’re spreading brand awareness and affinity to their social followers. With their potential for facilitating the delivery of highly relevant messaging at the right time, local marketing initiatives will be a key competitive differentiator. Whether you’re a retailer looking to boost sales or a tech company trying to generate leads, it’s time to take the mantra “think global, act local” to heart.
A LITTLE CHIT A LOTTA CHAT
Small business social media marketing used to be all about promoting your products and services. Regardless, if you are selling roofing services or elevator maintenance equipment, delivering your repeated message in a cold corporate tone used to be acceptable.
While delivering product news, service discounts and demos as part of your messaging is still important, expectations for engagement with a brand have shifted. With the rise of social channels over the last 6 years, customers and potential customers move quickly and effortlessly between your company’s social presence and their personal social media connections. As a result, small businesses need to focus on delivering helpful, educational content with energy, excitement and personality: “This type of thinking will create relationships with customers organically and add real value.
Key tactic for 2015 #2:
Spend less time talking at your customers and potential clients and more time paying attention to their behaviors and listening to them via social networks, community forums and surveys.
GO MOBILE OR GO HOME
Smartphone sales recently surpassed PC sales, and the gap is growing. Tablet sales are predicted to nearly double. And 25 billion mobile app downloads are expected by 2015.
“Getting screened” takes on a whole new meaning in 2015 and beyond when you picture how many of your customers will be viewing your emails, landing pages, blogs, videos and more on android devices, apple devices and tablets of various sizes, shapes and functionality, often using their phones to filter their and then reading what they’ve saved later on their tablet. However existing customers and potential are faced with deciphering text and images on a small screen that often provides a less-than-rewarding visual experience. And the need to use one’s fingertip as a mouse on touch devices can lead to even more frustration if emails, landing pages, etc. aren’t designed with this functionality in mind. User patience with emails and websites that don’t display in a user-friendly, intuitive fashion is likely to decrease. The result will come in the form of abandoned forms and shopping carts for companies that fail to take the necessary steps to ensure their user experiences’ are satisfying customers.
Key tactic for 2015 #3:
Take steps to ensure your content is readable on a full range of devices, such as using alt tags and larger fonts, making sure emails are always less than 600 pixels wide, and including key messaging in the top-left corner. Also, consider using style sheets that will adjust size of images and text to be optimized for screen size.
WRAP IT UP
Whether you’re a small, medium or large sized business your marketing programs have to be adapting to recent changes as quickly as possible. 2015 brings new opportunities for ambitious business professionals to engage their potential and existing customers.
If you liked what you’ve been reading and feel like it’s the right time to engage your customers, give us a call and let us start your 2015 marketing plan now. By planning now and looking ahead, we will be able to deliver marketing that ladders up to your overall sales goals. By collaborating and planning carefully, we’ll help you position your brand, business or service in the market as a leader.