Lots of good stuff on NextWaveSMB, our sister site. Valuable SMB-centric articles are posted 2X a week. Here are excerpts from a selection of recent posts (Click on the title for direct access.)
Internet marketing has rapidly, unpredictably evolved in recent years. One reason: the growing use of universal, always-on connections. People not only access the Internet on their PCs and laptops, but on smartphones, tablets, their consumer electronics, “wearables” such as smart watches and Fitbits – and the list goes on (yes, payment devices, ticket readers and refrigerators, too).
Applications for the so-called “Internet of Things” (IoT) are mostly impacting large businesses. But small businesses have a major stake in IoT too, argues tech futurist Chuck Martin, founder of The Net Future Institute, author of 11 bestselling business books, and editor of MediaPost’s iOT Daily. For starters, SMBs have to compete against larger companies and stores that have iOT applications, says Martin. Larger stores may have their entire inventory online, for instance. SMBs need to go on the offense and turn IoT capabilities to their favor. They can level the playing field where they can, and focus more on what makes them unique: really understanding a customer and personalized service.
We’re increasingly hearing about how difficult it has become for SMBs to use search engine optimization to win a high ranking on Google’s “organic” (i.e. free) search pages. How should SMBs deal with these challenges? Should they start looking beyond SEO (and open their wallets for paid solutions?) We asked these questions to two SEO experts: Local SEO Guide principal Andrew Shotland, and David Mihm.
The good news is that plenty of SMBs are still being found with SEO practices, says Shotland. “There’s a ton of traffic out there.” But Shotland also notes that SMBs don’t have many options beyond SEO — free or paid. SMBs will face competition, whether they are going for free traffic via SEO, or when they are opening their pocketbooks to buy traffic on Google Adwords or Facebook.
Business-specific, location-based advertising has emerged as an important new addition to the the marketing arsenal for many SMBs. Its impact is especially strong for businesses that want to target consumers in-store for impulse purchases as they are shopping or travelling, or when they need to hire emergency services.
Location based advertising tends to complement or replace advertising on traditional local media outlets, which obviously less specific, less hyper-local, and less time-sensitive. According to a Unacast survey, beacons are the most popular location based ad channel among businesses that are targeting locally. Of these, 95% use beacons, 54% use GPS/Geofencing and 28% use WiFi. The influence of location based advertising is now spreading beyond its original just-in-time parameters. Google’s Waze traffic service, for instance, is applying all kinds of marketing to location for its traffic-impaired users.
The number one issue for SMBs is to win more customers. According to research presented by Thumbtack, more than 51% say it is a top priority. The next biggest issue for SMBs? To beat other SMBs. “Competition from other SMBs” is cited by 42% in Thumbtack’s survey. This is clearly the case with service providers.
The desire to beat other SMBs plays out in efforts to outgun other services via advertising. It also plays out in promotions, such as coupons and prepaid deals, and incentives, such as loyalty programs. It also plays out in social media, where the priorities are to get more reviews and win more “likes.” A separate survey from InfusionSoft and LeadPages conducted in Jan- Feb. 2016 reinforces Thumbtack’s findings. The survey found that SMBs top priorities are to win sales and reinforce their brand.